The City of Santa Barbara has released the Draft New Zoning Ordinance (NZO) for public review and comment.  We want to give you a brief summary of the proposed modifications and let you know how you can find out more about these important changes for the City of Santa Barbara.

The NZO is an effort to update the City’s regulation of land use and development so they are more consistent with current practices.  The Zoning Ordinance defines zone classifications, permitted uses in each zone, development standards and regulations, and establishes the development review procedures for the City. The stated goal is a zoning ordinance that the City Council hopes will not only reflect the current state of Santa Barbara development, but will also provide consistency with the policy direction of the City’s General Plan.

The substantive changes in the NZO deal with zoning regulations.  Areas of substantive change most relevant to local businesses in general are:

  1. Combining the three existing commercial zoning designations into one zone, making all C-P, C-L and C-1 zones into C-R zones;
  1. Changing the downtown Central Business District (CBD) parking regulations, including a variety of scenarios to deal with different aspects of the downtown parking problem. The existing CBD is bound generally by Arrellaga Street, Garden Street, Highway 101, and De la Vina Street.  The proposals would expand the boundary to include additional commercial-zoned and commercial manufacturing-zoned parcels within 2 blocks of core downtown parking lots;
  1. Limiting the range of allowed uses in the M-1 (Light Manufacturing) zone. The M-1 Zone is currently the least restrictive and allows all uses except residential.  The City has stated that the revisions are made to allow neighborhood markets, update home occupation standards, allow mobile food vendors on private property, and expanding certain temporary use regulations.  The limitations would include removing the following from the M-1 zone:
  • Offices, Business & Professional, with the note that some of these uses may be allowed as accessory uses to an industrial use;
  • Community Assembly (generally);
  • Eating & Drinking Establishments;
  • Cultural Institution ;
  • Hotels & Extended Stay Hotels;
  • Day Care Centers;
  • Offices, Medical & Dental;
  • Instructional Services;
  • Schools;
  • Food & Beverage Retail Sales;
  • Banks and Financial Institutions;
  • General Retail; and
  • Commercial Entertainment (small-scale and large-scale, including theaters.)


The public is invited to special meetings of the Planning Commission for public comment and review of the NZO. The Planning Commission will be forwarding recommendations to City Council for adoption of the New Zoning Ordinance in late spring 2017.  If you would like to attend to comment, the meeting is on Thursday, March 9, 2017, from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., at 735 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara, California.  The complete staff report with exhibits, including the Draft New Zoning Ordinance, are available for viewing and download at the NZO Public Meetings webpage, which can be found at

If you have any questions about the potential changes to the Zoning Ordinance, or any other real estate or land use issues, please feel free to contact me or the BFAS attorney with whom you regularly work.



Lauren E. Joyce, Attorney



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