In 1959 the California State Legislature passed a bill enabling local communities to provide for historic districts and landmarks, and regulate their protection and enhancement. The bill inspired the passage of a resolution in September 1959 which created El Pueblo Viejo (The Old Town) historic district in the downtown and waterfront areas.
In March 1960, El Pueblo Viejo was further strengthened with City Council's adoption of an ordinance formally establishing the district and its styles of architecture, and prohibiting the demolition of any adobe structure in the district.
The Landmarks Committee was formed in May 1960 to ensure that El Pueblo Viejo would retain its unique early-California Spanish character and atmosphere through careful City planning and development. Its boundaries have been amended over the years.
A new historic structures ordinance was adopted in May 1977. It formally established the Committee's powers and duties. A Charter Amendment approved by the voters in November 1993 established the Historic Landmarks Commission with authority within landmark districts and for designated landmarks among other entities.
The Landmarks Committee first took inventory of the historic, public and private structures having architectural significance in 1961. In 1978 a comprehensive survey of the City's architectural and historic resources was initiated with grants obtained from the State.
To learn more about both the Architectural Board of Review and the Historic Landmarks Commission, watch this six minute video.
- Recommend to the City Council that certain structures, natural features, sites or areas having historic, architectural, archaeological, cultural or aesthetic significance be designated as a Landmark;
- Designate certain structures or objects having historic, architectural, archaeological, cultural or aesthetic significance as Structures of Merit;
- Review and approve, disapprove, or approve with conditions, plans for exterior alteration, demolition, relocation, moving, or construction of or on (1) any structures or real property within El Pueblo Viejo Landmark District, (2) any structures or real property within any designated Landmark District, (3) any additional property authorized by action of the City Council; (4) a designated Landmark. The area described in Section 22.22.100 of the Santa Barbara Municipal Code as it exists at the time of this amendment shall comprise El Pueblo Viejo Landmark District. Its boundaries may be expanded by the City Council through the adoption of appropriate ordinances. Any applicant may appeal in writing to the City Council from any action or decision of the Historic Landmarks Commission, whereupon the City Council may approve, conditionally approve or disapprove such application and the decision of the City Council shall be final. Any structure, natural feature, site or area owned or leased by any public entity shall not be subject to the provisions of this Section with the exception of those owned or leased by the City unless the City Council determines in its discretion that such review is unnecessary;
- Perform such other functions or duties, not inconsistent with the City Charter, as may be prescribed by ordinance.
All members shall have demonstrated interest in and knowledge of the history and architecture of the City.
- Five members must be qualified electors of the City.
- At least 2 members must be licensed architects.
- At least 1 member must be a professional architectural historian.
- At least 1 member must be a licensed landscape architect.
- The remaining members may represent the public at large.
Length of Term
Four years and until successors are appointed. Staggered terms expire on December 31 of the appropriate year.
The Commission meets every other Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in the David Gebhard Public Meeting Room, 630 Garden Street. The Consent Agenda is reviewed at 11:00 a.m. on the same day that the full board meeting occurs.
Approximately 8 – 10 hours per month for meetings and related activities.
Financial Disclosure Requirement
Members must file a Statement of Economic Interests upon appointment, annually and when leaving the advisory group.
$50 per full commission meeting attended and an additional $25 for each Consent Calendar meeting completed.
Note: To further meet ongoing economic changes impacting the Fiscal Year 2009-2010 budget, effective January 1, 2010, compensation for all Boards and Commissions will be suspended for six months. (November 10, 2009, Council meeting, Item No. 15 – Fiscal Year Balancing and Adjustment.) Suspension of compensation was extended through June 30, 2011, with adoption of the Fiscal Year 2011 Budget (June 29, 2010, Council meeting, Item No. 23) and will remain in effect until further City Council action.
Planning Division, Community Development Department, (805) 564-5470.
City Charter Sections 800 - 805, 814, and 817; Municipal Code Chapter 22.22; July 3, 2007, Council meeting, Item No. 19, Page 3, Budget/Financial Information; Resolution Nos. 06-084, 98-042, 95-066, 91-028 and 79-093.