Where We Want to Be

In the future

  • Residents and employees experience acceptable noise and vibration levels throughout South San Francisco.

  • Land use and noise compatibility guidelines direct the siting, design, and insulation of new development to minimize noise impacts on sensitive land uses, such as residential, schools, and healthcare facilities.

  • The Noise Ordinance in the South San Francisco Municipal Code regulates noise performance standards for existing and all future city-wide stationary source operations and potential nuisances.

  • The City of South San Francisco has groundborne vibration exposure thresholds for construction activities and for siting sensitive land uses near existing sources of vibration, such as railroads.

  • The City of South San Francisco prevents construction-related vibration impacts on historic structures.




Exposure to unacceptable noise levels.


Zero noise complaints received by residents, employees, and businesses.


City to begin tracking data and provide in the future.


Exposure to unacceptable vibration levels.


Zero complaints received by residents, employees, and businesses in the city related to groundborne vibration.


City to begin tracking data and provide in the future

How Our Plan

Gets Us There

A quiet noise environment can contribute to a high quality of life, healthy living and working conditions, and positive physical and mental health impacts. The City of South San Francisco generally has an acceptable noise environment for living and working, but it does experience impacts that can impact quality of life. As a center of industrial and commercial activity, South San Francisco is surrounded by major streets and highways (U.S. Highway 101, Interstate 280, State Route 82, State Route 35, and Interstate 380). The proximity of these local and regional arteries, and the large amount of truck traffic serving industrial, warehousing, and freight forwarding uses in the city, make South San Francisco susceptible to traffic noise and vibration. Other primary sources of noise and vibration around the city include the San Francisco International (SFO) Airport and rail lines (BART and Caltrain). The Noise Element is designed to provide polices that will guide development in a manner that protects the residents and employees of South San Francisco from exposure to unacceptable noise and vibration levels and make the city a healthier place for all.

Key Issues and Opportunities

The primary sources of noise generated within the City of South San Francisco are vehicular traffic, rail, and industrial uses. The city is also affected by air traffic noise associated with San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

Vehicle Traffic Noise

Vehicle Traffic Noise

One of the city’s most important locational advantages is its excellent road access; however, this access also results in fairly high noise. Impacts over much of the city. Traffic noise depends primarily on traffic speed—high frequency tire noise increases with speed and the proportion of truck traffic—that generates engine, exhaust, and wind noise. The proximity of freeways and major streets, and the large amount of truck traffic serving industrial, warehousing, and freight forwarding uses in the city, make the city susceptible to traffic noise. Traffic noise depends primarily on traffic speed and the proportion of truck traffic. Traffic volume does not have a major influence on traffic noise levels; a doubling of traffic volume results in a 3 dB to 5 dB increase in noise levels. As a result, projected traffic increases on U.S. Highway 101 (US-101), Interstate 280, and major arterials within the city should not have an appreciable impact on noise levels in the city. As traditional industrial uses make way for less intensive research and development, office, and residential activities, it is expected that truck traffic will decline in the city, particularly in areas east of US-101 and in Lindenville.

Cars merging onto highway on-ramp
Rail Traffic Noise
Industrial Noise
Air Traffic Noise
Existing Vibration Levels
A train moving under an overpass



Goal NOI-1

Goal NOI-1:

Residents and employees of South San Francisco are exposed to acceptable noise levels.

Policy NOI-1.1: Ensure new development complies with Noise Compatibility guidelines.
Ensure that all new development within the city complies with the Land Use/Noise Compatibility guidelines shown in the table below.
  • Action NOI-1.1.1: Enforce Exterior and Interior noise limits.
    Enforce the standards of the table below Land Use/Noise Compatibility Matrix, which specify acceptable exterior and interior noise limits for various land uses throughout the city.
  • Action NOI-1.1.2: Incorporate noise compatibility conditions of approval.
    Continue to assess projects through the subdivision, site plan, conditional use permit, and other development review processes and incorporate conditions of approval and mitigation measures that ensure noise compatibility where appropriate.
  • Action NOI-1.1.3: Require noise study in applicable areas.
    Require a noise study to be performed and appropriate noise attenuation to be incorporated to reduce interior noise levels to 45 dB CNEL or less prior to approving any multifamily or mixed-use residential development in an area with a CNEL of 65 dB or greater.
  • Action NOI-1.1.4: Enforce Noise Insulation Standards.
    Continue to enforce the noise insulation standards of the State of California Administrative Code, Title 24 and the Uniform Building Code, Chapter 35 for residential development.
  • Action NOI-1.1.5: Require noise control for new developments.
    Require the control of noise at the source through site design, building design, landscaping, hours of operation, and other techniques, for new developments deemed to be noise generators.
Policy NOI-1.2: Enforce Noise Performance Standards.
The City enforces the Noise Ordinance noise performance standards.
  • Action NOI 1.2.1: Update Municipal Code section related to the Noise Ordinance.
    Update the Noise Ordinance in the South San Francisco Municipal Code to establish standards for permissible construction hours, and controls related to other potential nuisances such as music, dogs, special events, and mechanical/sound equipment; and encourage enforcement and penalties for violations of the Noise Ordinance. The update should not interfere with the regular course of business in commercial and industrial zones.
    • General Activity Noise Performance Standards:
      Establish general noise performance standards for the City’s established land use zones.
    • Construction Noise:
      Continue to restrict construction activities to acceptable time periods. Consider constructing temporary sound walls surrounding construction sites during construction.
    • Special Event Noise:
      Allow single-event occurrences at specific sites subject to special permit conditions which alleviate noise to the greatest extent possible. Limit the permissible hours for special single events and the number of special single events that are allowed to take place each year.
Land Use Categories
Categories Compatible Uses
Residential Single-Family, Duplex, Multiple-Family, Mobile Homes, Residence Care
Hotel, Motel, Transient Lodging Commercial, Retail, Bank, Restaurant, Health Clubs Office Buildings, Research and Development, Professional Office Amphitheater, Concert Hall, Auditorium, Meeting Hall, Movie Theater Manufacturing, Warehousing, Wholesale, Utilities
Open Space Parks, Neighborhood Parks, Playgrounds
Institutional/ Public Facility
Hospital, Schools, Classrooms Churches, Libraries
453 654
453 65
55 —-
50 —-
50 —-
65 —-
—- 65
453 65
453 —–
Interpretation: 1.Interior environment excludes bathrooms, toilets, closets, and corridors.
Interpretation: 2 Outdoor environment limited to private yard of single-family residential; multifamily residential and mobile home park outdoor common space area; hospital patio; park picnic area; school playground; and hotel and motel recreation area.
Interpretation: 3 Noise level requirement with closed windows. Mechanical ventilating system or other means of natural ventilation shall be provided pursuant to UBC requirements.
Interpretation: 4 Multifamily developments with private balconies that would not meet the 65 dB CNEL standard are required to provide occupancy disclosure notices to all future tenants regarding potential noise impacts.
Goal NOI-2
Goal NOI-3