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Zoning Information ReportsPlanning Central

General Information

Pursuant to Santa Barbara Municipal Code (SMBC) §28.87.220, a Zoning Information Report (ZIR) is required for every transfer of residential property with limited exceptions.

The requirement for a ZIR is mandatory and cannot be waived by the property owner, potential buyer, real estate agent, or Title Company. If a property is transferred without a ZIR being obtained, the property owner of record must obtain an “after the fact” ZIR and may be subject to twice the current ZIR application fee.  

The purpose of the ZIR is to provide information to the potential buyer regarding the zoning and permitted use of the property based on a physical site inspection and records research. 

The ZIR inspector is neither a building inspector nor a licensed surveyor and the ZIR will not include a review of compliance with the Building Code or confirm the exact location of property lines.

A ZIR is valid for 12 months from the date of the issuance of the ZIR or until the next transfer of title occurs, whichever is sooner. You can apply for a one-year time extension prior to the expiration of the current ZIR. An additional physical inspection and application fee is required.

Please see the ZONING INFORMATION REPORTS (ZIRS) - COMMON QUESTIONS handout for frequently asked questions regarding the City of Santa Barbara ZIR program.

ZIR Application and Transmittal to Buyer

Although the SBMC requires a property owner to submit an application for a ZIR within five days of entering into an agreement of sale of a residential property, the City encourages property owners to submit an application as soon as they are preparing to sell or list their property. A property does not have to be in escrow for an owner to request a ZIR. 

Under normal circumstances the ZIR will be available within 15 working days after the application is received by the City. However, every attempt is made to complete a ZIR within 10 working days after the application is received by the City.

The property owner or authorized agent is required to provide a copy of the ZIR to the potential buyer at least three days prior to the transfer of the property. Proof of receipt of the ZIR must be submitted to the City prior to the transfer of the property.

A ZIR application can be obtained on the City’s website at www.SantaBarbaraCA.gov/PlanningHandouts and click on the Zoning Information Report (ZIR) Applicationor by visiting the City’s Planning Counter at 630 Garden Street. The ZIR application can be submitted in person at the City’s Planning Counter, by mail (City of Santa Barbara – Planning Division; P.O. Box 1990, Santa Barbara, CA 93102-1990), or by FAX at (805)564-5374. The application fee must be submitted with the ZIR application. 

How much is the application fee for a ZIR?

The fees are set by the City Council in a Fee Resolution and updated on July 1st of each year. For the current fees, please consult the Fee Resolution or contact Planning and Zoning Counter staff at (805) 564-5578, or in person at 630 Garden Street.

Site Inspection

As part of the ZIR preparation, a physical inspection of the property is performed. 

The site inspection is performed by a Zoning Inspector to identify the buildings, structures, and improvements on the property, as well as their associated uses. The findings of the site inspection are compared with the City’s official records for a determination of the property’s conformance with the SBMC and whether the improvements were constructed with the proper City permits and approvals.

An adult must be present for the site inspection. This can be the seller, buyer, or agent for either party; tenant; or any other person over the age of 18. Failure of a representative to be present for the site inspection will result in the need to schedule a new inspection and assessment of a re-inspection fee.

Most inspections take approximately 15-20 minutes; however, multi-unit properties and large estates can exceed one hour, depending on the number of units and the size of the property.

The site inspection includes the interior of all residential units and accessory structures (garages, sheds, studios, etc.), and the entire grounds of the property. Access must be available to all buildings/structures at the time of the scheduled ZIR inspection. If all interior areas are not accessible, the ZIR inspector may need to return to the site when access is available and a re-inspection fee will be charged.

If your property also contains permitted non-residential uses/structures, those areas will not be inspected.

Please see the ZIR SITE INSPECTIONS - COMMON QUESTIONS handout for frequently asked questions regarding ZIR site inspections.

What happens if a violation(s) is found?

For the purposes of a ZIR, the City classifies violations as either “major” or “minor.” If any of the following “major” violations are identified in the ZIR, they will be referred to enforcement staff for immediate follow-up and abatement:

  • Illegal dwelling units
  • Unpermitted floor area (habitable or non-habitable) or conditioned space
  • Elimination of required parking
  • Unpermitted improvements within 50 feet of coastal bluff
  • Violations that pose an immediate health or safety risk

All other violations are considered “minor.” Minor violations are kept on file and may be required to be abated prior to, or simultaneously with, the first building permit that is obtained by the property owner. If “major” violations are also identified on the property then both “major” and “minor” violations must be abated together. If a “minor” violation is not abated prior to the next transfer of the residential property, it is carried forward on the subsequent ZIR.

Please see the ABATEMENT OF VIOLATIONS IDENTIFIED IN ZIRS - COMMON QUESTIONS handout for frequently asked questions regarding the abatement of violations identified in ZIRs.

What if I have general questions regarding the ZIR process, a specific ZIR, or site specific questions?

If you have general questions regarding the ZIR process or information contained within a ZIR, you may contact the City’s Planning Counter at (805) 564-5578.

If you have general questions regarding permitted uses, the types of alterations/additions that could occur on your property, or what zoning regulations pertain to your property, please contact the City’s Planning Counter at (805) 564-5578. You can also obtain information regarding the City’s planning process by visiting the “Planning Central” web page.

Last Updated: Jun 7, 2016