Title. This Chapter shall be known as the “Language Access Ordinance.”
The Board of Supervisors finds that San Francisco provides an array of services that can be made accessible to persons who are not proficient in the English language. The City of San Francisco is committed to improving the accessibility of these services and providing equal access to them.
The Board finds that despite a long history of commitment to language access as embodied in federal, state and local law, beginning with the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, there is a still a significant gap in the provision of governmental services to limited-English language speakers.
In 1973, the California State Legislature adopted the Dymally-Alatorre Bilingual Services Act, which required state and local agencies to provide language services to non-English speaking people who comprise 5% or more the total state population and to hire a sufficient number of bilingual staff.
In 1999, the California State Auditor concluded that 80% of state agencies were not in compliance with the Dymally-Alatorre Act, and many of the audited agencies were not aware of their responsibility to translate materials for non-English speakers.
In 2001, in response to these findings, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors enacted the Equal Access to Services Ordinance, which required major departments to provide language translation services to limited-English proficiency individuals who comprise 5% or more the total city population.
Eight years later, the Board finds that differential access to City services still exists due to significant gaps in language services, lack of protocols for departments to procure language services, low budgetary prioritization by departments for language services.
The Board finds that the lack of language services seriously affects San Francisco’s ability to serve all of its residents. A 2006 survey by the United States Census Bureau found that 45% of San Franciscans are foreign-born and City residents speak more than 28 different languages. Among the 24% of the total population who self-identify as limited-English speakers, 50% are Chinese speakers, 23% are Spanish speakers, 5% are Russian speakers and 4% speak Tagalog.
(Added by Ord. 126-01, File No. 010409, App. 6/15/2001; Ord. 202-09, File No. 090461, App. 8/28/2009)