Empowering Citizens to Help Modernize the City’s Municipal Code Empowering Citizens to Help Modernize the City’s Municipal Code

San Francisco City Supervisor Farrell Introduces Constituent-Driven Housing Reform Ordinance

Made Possible by the New, Interactive Municipal Code Website


SAN FRANCISCO, CA (January 8, 2014) — The non-partisan, non-profit OpenGov Foundation and San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell today announced the introduction of the first-ever citizen-suggested reform to the Municipal Code of Laws powered by the first interactive, user-friendly and restriction-free online edition of San Francisco’s laws:  Local resident Gary Rabkin, a District 2 constituent of Supervisor Farrell, harnessed the website’s interactive features to discover and weigh-in on a law he believed to be severely out-of-step with today’s San Francisco: Section 603 of the Housing Code currently makes it illegal to store a bicycle in many public and private city garages.  And the penalties for violating housing laws appear to be significant.


VIDEO: Watch Supervisor Farrell Introduce the Ordinance

“This citizen-driven improvement to the San Francisco Code is clear proof that putting city laws on the Internet the right way not only contributes to a more transparent and accountable city government – it empowers residents like Mr. Rabkin to create a community that works better for them, their families, and businesses,” said OpenGov Foundation Executive Director Seamus Kraft. “We are excited to support Supervisor Farrell’s continuing efforts to put the power of online, interactive laws to work building a stronger city with his constituents, and look forward to growing the number Bay Area citizen-legislators.” was jointly launched by the OpenGov Foundation and Mayor Ed Lee’s Office of Civic Innovation in September of 2013 to increase every citizen’s ability to access, use, and share the single most important data set in the city: the law itself.  The website lifts and ‘liberates’ the San Francisco Municipal Code from unalterable, often hard to find online files —such as PDFs—by transforming them into user-friendly, organized, and modern website formats. San Francisco is the second municipal deployment of The State Decoded software, a free and open-source platform originally developed by Waldo Jaquith to open Virginia’s laws online. San Francisco is one of only four cities in the country where citizens face virtually zero barriers to accessing their own laws on the Internet.  America’s other “open law cities” are: Baltimore, MD, Chicago, IL and Philadelphia, PA.

“We live in the global center of technology and innovation here in San Francisco, and I believe it is incumbent upon everyone in City Hall to find ways for technology to drive civic engagement,” stated Supervisor Mark Farrell. “With this new interactive website, San Francisco residents have the opportunity to interact with our city’s laws, and not only digest the information, but also suggest new ideas to improve upon current policies or to update outdated ones.”

While introducing the ordinance, Supervisor Farrell also announced a forthcoming civic-engagement program for students, who could earn one of five $1,000 scholarships for the best policy ideas, products or apps built off, its open data and APIs.

OpenGov Contact: Seamus Kraft, 760-659-0631

Supervisor Farrell Contact: Jess Montejano, 415-554-7752