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Pre-Lease Building Assessment and Expedited Planning and Permitting for Downtown State Street

The City of Santa Barbara now has a program to foster economic development for State Street businesses located between Cabrillo Boulevard and Sola Street. With a goal to make it easier and faster to occupy commercial space in the downtown, City staff liaisons are available to provide consultation for property owners and prospective tenants.

Skip the line: All applications in ACCELERATE’s target area will receive priority placement on Historic Landmarks Commission, Sign Committee and Architectural Board of Review Agendas. There is no additional cost for this beyond the standard fees. Ask your staff planner for details.

Move Faster: All ACCELERATE projects will receive priority building plan review for tenant improvements. There is no additional cost for this beyond the standard fees. Ask your staff plans examiner for details.

Customized Service: Meet, speak, and/or e-mail with the staff who will help guide your project through the design review and/or permitting process. See phone number and email address at top right of page.


Know Early:  City staff can provide early advisory services on ADA/accessibility, restroom facilities, and trash and recycling space needs that should be evaluated prior to purchase or lease of a commercial space:

  • ADA/Accessibility – Certified Access Specialist (CASp) Assistance. A CASp is trained and certified by the State to assess a project’s compliance with federal- and state-mandated accessibility requirements. Staff considers the advance review of accessibility improvements to be a significant factor in reducing the overall plan review time by providing the property owner and prospective tenants with a list of necessary accessibility improvements that can be addressed prior to the execution of the lease agreement or the initial tenant improvement plan submittal. This increases the certainty of the scope of the plan review, thus minimizing corrections and saving time in the review process A written report will be supplied. Call (805) 564-5542 or email
  • Restroom Facilities – In many instances there are insufficient plumbing fixtures for existing business within the Accelerate areas, and when these tenant spaces turn over and floor plans are revised, incoming tenants are required to add more plumbing fixtures and create larger, accessible restrooms. The required, larger restroom area diminishes the available business area needed to generate sales. Such dynamics make the early determination of the required plumbing fixtures an essential component of lease agreements and business planning. A written report will be supplied. Call (805) 564-5542 or email
  • Storm Water Tier Evaluation – The City’s Storm Water Permit issued by the State Water Quality Control Board requires development projects to remove pollutants from storm water before discharge from private property into the Municipal storm drain system. Determining storm water compliance level (i.e., Tier) early on in the project planning process, prevents storm water improvements from being an afterthought. This often results in cost savings and greater water quality benefit. If the amount of new/replaced impervious area proposed is provided, staff can provide feedback on what storm water Tier your project will require. Call (805) 897-1910 or email 
  • Trash/Recycling/Food Scraps Space Needs – State of California legislation mandates recycling of both inorganics and organics at commercial and multi-family properties. Accommodating the amount of waste generation onsite can often catch new businesses unprepared. 

    - All waste receptacles must be screened with an enclosure or landscaping. 
    - Waste receptacles that are shared require sufficient capacity for all users. If located off-site, a formal agreement between property owners is also required. 

    If the occupancy type and square footage of the tenant space is provided, City staff can calculate the expected waste generation and determine the number, type and size of containers needed for project approval. Call (805) 564-5677 or email to schedule a pre-lease assessment or site visit.
  • Planner Consultation – One of several categories of pre-application review offered by the Planning Division is the planner consultation. This service includes three hours of staff time to research and provide applicants with a written assessment of potential zoning, land use, design review, and other site-specific issues that might warrant further consideration and analysis by the applicant before an initial submittal. A one-time, per-project waiver of the fee associated with a standard consultation is available. Fee waivers would not be applicable to other pre-applications such as modification or design review consultations. Depending on the complexity of the request, staff estimates three to ten working days to provide this service. Call (805) 564-5542 or email
  • Fire Review – The Fire Prevention Bureau offers free pre-application consultation for fire related development issues. The consultation may be for general project overview or for site specific issues that the applicant may see as an obstacle to project viability. Access, hydrant data, sprinkler concerns, fire alarms, code-alternate possibilities and project phasing may all be topics of consultation, either on site or at the Fire Prevention office. Call (805) 564-5702.

Contact Us!

Call or Email:
(805) 564-5542

Visit a Public Counter:
Community Development Department
630 Garden Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93102

Click here for directions.

Additional Resources

Our Goal is to help downtown businesses start and thrive and ACCELERATE is one of many resources that property owners and prospective tenants can take advantage of when making the choice to occupy commercial space in beautiful Downtown Santa Barbara. For additional information and resources to help you get started, please feel free to also visit the City's Business Resources page.


Last Updated: Jan 10, 2022
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