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Department FAQs

When I click on the Parcel Status Lookup link, the page never opens. What's going on?

The Parcel Status Lookup page, on occasion, gets stuck in an infinite loop. When it is in this state, the page does not respond. In order to minimize the down-time, the program restarts itself every 60 minutes. If you experience this problem, then please wait a little bit and then try again.

Where is the Lower Riviera neighborhood?

The Lower Riviera neighborhood (for our survey purposes) is depicted on the map. Areas highlighted in green will be surveyed.

Why did I receive a survey letter?

The City of Santa Barbara is offering free indoor and outdoor water use surveys. This service could provide savings on your water bill. You were sent the survey letter because you qualify for this opportunity.

My browser crashes when I try to view permit status or parcel information. What is the problem?

The problem often lies in your Temporary Internet files or your web browser's Cache. Sometimes the files become corrupted, but your browser is not aware of that, therefore rendering incomplete or non-functional pages. The solution is to delete your Temporary Internet Files or clear your browser's cache.

For Internet Explorer, the procedure is as follows.

  1. Launch Internet Explorer.
  2. Select Tools then Internet Options.
  3. On the General Tab in the Temporary Internet files section, click on the Delete Files button.
  4. To be sure to get all of the offending files, select Delete all offline content.
  5. Click on the OK button, and then click on the OK button in the Internet Options window to close the window.
  6. Close and re-launch Internet Explorer. When you visit the page again the problem should be resolved.

My property is going to be surveyed. What does that mean?

You should expect to see volunteers walking the streets, taking photographs of each building in the neighborhood and taking notes as to the composition of each building and structure on site. Volunteers are not checking or enforcing zoning and building code requirements, nor are they being trained on what those requirements are. Volunteers all have badges they are required to present to you upon request. Do not hesitate to ask a volunteer for their badge. Citizens who care about their neighborhood question strangers. Volunteers will remain on public land (i.e. the sidewalk and road) while surveying your property unless you invite them onto your land. Please thank our volunteers. They are your fellow citizens donating their time to reduce the cost of this public expenditure.

What is the CII Survey?

The CII survey is a free service provided by the City of Santa Barbara to select commercial, industrial, and institutional water customers to identify ways to reduce water use.

The indoor survey will include

  • Search for hidden water leaks.
  • Identify high water using appliances and fixtures.
  • Install high-efficiency pre-rinse spray valves.
  • Install faucet aerators.

The outdoor survey will include

  • Evaluate your irrigation system efficiency.
  • Review your irrigation controller’s programming.
  • Install or provide a rain sensor.

After the visit, you will receive a report with recommendations for cost-effective conservation measures specific to your site.

When are the due dates for filing a return and paying the tax?

All registered hotel operators in the City will receive Monthly Notices by mail. The return will allow operators to declare total room rents charged and received, and taxes collected from guests. The operator must pay the full amount of TOTs recorded for the month, whether or not it has been collected from the guest, at the same time the return is filed.

Payment is due on or before the tenth day after the close of each month. (If the tenth of the month falls on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday, the next business day becomes the due date. Postmarks are acceptable, but not imprint dates from postage meters.)

Am I eligible?

This particular CII survey program is for commercial, industrial, and institutional water customers only. Nevertheless, all City water customers are eligible for a free residential or commercial water checkup. To find out if you qualify for the WaterWise CII Survey, call the Water Conservation office at (805) 564-5460.

What will the City do with the results of this survey?

The City will use the results of this survey to aid planning. By identifying historically significant buildings, structures, and objects in our neighborhoods, the City can attempt to preserve the heritage and architectural beauty of our neighborhoods.

What if my building is selected as a potential historically significant resource? Can I still make changes to my property?

Yes, you may. Changes to the interior of historically significant buildings remain under the jurisdiction of each owner. When exterior changes are proposed to such properties, however, the changes that require building permits must be reviewed to determine if they would result in a substantial adverse change in the historical significance of the neighborhood.

Does it cost anything?

The survey is free. A city contracted specialist will come to your facility and evaluate it free of charge. Your post-inspection recommendation report will also be provided free of charge.

The recommendation report you receive will contain information about cost-effective conservation measures. These measures will be offered to you at a discounted rate. For example, you may be offered rebates specific to your business that are not available to the general public.

How can I determine my connection speed?

The easiest way to check your effective connection speed is to select a webcast (live or archived) and place your mouse cursor over the small picture, usually of a sun or storm cloud, on the bottom-left hand corner of the viewing screen as the webcast buffers or plays. A small pop-up window will appear displaying the speed at which you are receiving the webcast.

How do I "Fast-Forward" and "Rewind"?

You can use the "Jump To" links in the drop down window under the video to skip from agenda item to agenda item. You can drag the tab on the scrollbar, directly under the video to move backward or forward in the video. It is tough to get to an exact time this way on long videos. To get to a precise point you can use the fast-forward or rewind buttons, the double arrow buttons on either side of the timeline directly below the video. Simply click once on the fast-forward or rewind button to begin, and click once again on the same button to return to the "Play" mode.

I am trying to watch a stream, but I keep getting a message that the system can’t find a server, and that it may be behind a firewall. What does this mean?

The streaming network keeps video files on a network of several servers. When a change is made to a video file then the new copy of that video file must be copied to all of the servers in the streaming network. Occasionally this takes a few minutes, and during this time you may receive this message. Some files on the video network are only available from certain locations, like your Public Library or City Hall. If you receive this message for more than a few hours, please contact the webmaster and tell them about it. Be sure to write down which file you are trying to view, and the exact wording of the error message.

I can hear the audio but I can't see anything. What's wrong?

The problem is one of three things.

  1. You don't have a fast enough connection to receive the video portion of the webcast,
  2. you have selected an audio-only webcast, or
  3. you do not have the proper codecs installed.

To insure that your Windows Media Player has the proper codecs bring up the Player in it's own window and click on Tools/Options on the menu at the top of the window. Within the options window be sure that "Enable automatic codec download" is checked, and click on "OK".

I have all the recommended software installed but I am still unable to view the video, what can I do?

First, double-check that you have version 9 or newer of Windows Media Player. You can download the latest version. Older versions of Windows Media Player do not support the latest file formats and may not work properly. If you are using Netscape, you may need to re-install Windows Media Player for it to function properly.

Second, check that your Media Player is configured to use the TCP, UDP, and HTTP protocols. To check this open Windows Media Player, then click on Tools, then Options. Go to the Network tab and make sure that all of the protocols are allowed.

I have all the recommended software installed, but I'm still not able to view the webcasts. Any suggestions?

  • Double-check your connection speed
    To ensure maximum quality for a wide-range of connection speeds; we frequently include separate audio-only versions of our webcast. If you have a slow connection speed (less than 100kbps like a dial-up connection) you will receive better quality if you select the audio-only version.
  • Are you firewalled?
    Occasionally a firewall will reduce the speed with which you can receive webcast information on an otherwise high-speed connection. We have gone to great lengths to make our data as "firewall friendly" as possible but bottlenecks can still occur at a firewall (especially when connecting from a corporate LAN). Most users experiencing this problem can still enjoy the audio-only version of the webcast.
  • Is your volume turned on?
    This happens more than you think. Double-check to make sure that the volume is turned on loud enough and, if you have them, external speakers are turned on. This is especially important when using a low-speed connection where there might not be enough bandwidth to display video.
  • Is your plug-in installed properly?
    Sometimes Netscape browsers will not pick up the Windows Media Player plug-in properly, to fix this problem re-install Microsoft Windows Media Player and try again.

Is there any way I can make the viewing area larger?

You can make the video viewing area for live web streaming by right-clicking on the video box and selecting the full-screen option or touch ‹alt›-‹enter›. To return to the normal viewing size right-click and deselect full-screen or simply touch the ‹esc› key. You cannot alter the size of the screen while watching web archiving.

What are the advantages to owning a historically significant property?

Owners of historically significant properties designated as City of Santa Barbara Landmarks or Structures of Merit can utilize the California State Historic Building Code (SHBC). The SHBC is more flexible than the Uniform Building Code (UBC) in many ways and helps owners preserve the historic nature of their building without forcing them to adhere to modern building codes. Historically significant properties help maintain the size, bulk, and scale of neighborhoods when new development is planned. Historically significant buildings alone or as part of a historic district often raise property values not only of their own site but the sites around them

What are the minimum system requirements for watching the live and on-demand video?

System Information
To view and hear live webcasts or archived video, your computer must have a sound card, a minimum 56 Kbs Internet connection, and an HTML5 Video enabled modern browser, Adobe Flash Player, or Windows Media Player 9.0 (available free of charge at Microsoft).

Player Information
Videos are provided in MP4 format. In most cases, if you do not have the software already installed, you will be automatically directed to the download page.

Browser Information
Please be sure that you are using one of the following modern web browsers.

  • Chrome 4.0 (or newer)
  • Firefox 3.0 (or newer)
  • Internet Explorer 9.0 (or newer)
  • Opera 10.0 (or newer)
  • Safari 4.0 (or newer)

Connection Information
As with all Internet-based video, the more bandwidth available to you the better. The video on our site is configured to stream at various speeds from 20kbps (audio-only) up to 350kbps. Our servers will automatically detect your connection speed and send the highest quality stream possible. If you are trying to view the webcast with a dial-up connection, you will find the best performance is achieved by manually selecting an audio-only version of the webcast.

The webcast stopped while I was viewing it. Was it something I did and how can I fix it?

Occasionally enough packets will get lost in cyberspace on the way to your computer to cause a noticeable interruption. In most cases the system will recover automatically and resume the webcast after a few seconds without any special action on your part. However, if you get no response after the first minute, refreshing the page is the best way to resume the webcast.

The web cast buffers a lot even though I have a high speed connection. Any suggestions?

The number one cause of buffering is poor network connectivity. This may not be a problem with your network but may be caused by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) getting overloaded. This is especially likely during peak usage hour.

If you experience excessive buffering after 15 seconds to 1 minute, no matter what you try, you may be experiencing a firewall problem. The problem has to do with the way some firewalls handle streaming traffic. To fix the problem, you must update your firewall’s firmware. For instructions on how to update your firewall’s firmware, contact your firewall vendor. They will be able to provide you with firmware updates and easy to follow instructions on how to install them.

My video player just says "Ready" and does not play any video or audio, what should I do?

The video player will say "Ready" when you have reached the end of the video clip, or when there has been a serious error with the video file. First, check that you have version 9 or newer of the Windows Media Player installed. If you have installed Windows Media Player version 9 and still get this message, please right-click on the black area of the video player, and click on “Error Details” on the pop-up menu. Write down the exact wording of the error message, along with the name of the video that you were trying to watch, and report the problem to the webmaster.

My video player just shows a blue screen, what is going on?

The streaming system shows a blue screen when it is not receiving a signal from the cable network or video feed. If you are watching an on-demand clip, try selecting one of the Jump-To points from the jump-to drop-down menu. If you are watching a live stream, please make sure that there is a broadcast in progress. If a broadcast is in progress and you are still getting a blue screen, we may be having technical difficulties. Rest assured if that is the case, we are working as hard as we can to fix the problem. Try again in a few minutes and it will probably work.

How do I jump ahead to a specific agenda item of the meeting that I am watching?

Once you click on the "View" link of the specific archived meeting that would like to watch, a new window opens and the meeting starts from the beginning. You can either click the pull down menu under the screen and "Jump to.." any of the listed items. Or, once the minutes of the meeting have been published they will appear in the window on the right and you may click on that item and the video will "jump to" that segment of the video.

I am having a problem with the Search feature finding the Council Agenda Items I want. Is there anything I can do?

The City Council Meetings search is not integrated with the main City search engine. The Meetings search is rudimentary in nature and does not support many of the features of modern search engines, like Boolean logic (and, or, not), nor the use or quotes to denote phrases. The City is aware of these shortcomings and has confirmed that the vendor has plans to increase the search functionality with system upgrades in the future.

When I click on the "Previous" and "Next" buttons, the screen turns black and freezes up. What is wrong?

The "Previous" and "Next" buttons are part of the Windows Media Player and are not meant to be used with our web archiving. We are working on hiding these buttons on our player. If your system freezes up, unfortunately you'll need to shut the player window and reopen it.

Is there a way I can receive email support for City Meetings Online?

Yes. Click on the Email Webmaster link at the bottom of this page, or any other City web site page, complete and submit the form. Though the response may take several business days, every effort will be made to get you a clear and correct answer.

The Windows Media Player slider control, which should allow me to skip forward in the video, does not work. What's wrong?

This is an issue that has been reported by Mac OS X users. It appears to be an issue caused by the buffering algorithm, but this has not yet been substantiated. This is an emerging issue that will be explored, but has no fix at this time.

What is the retention policy for City Meetings Online meeting videos?

All meeting videos will be retained and be available for public viewing on the City's Internet web site for a period of not less than two (2) years. The posting of City Council meetings commenced in July of 2006. You should expect these videos to be available through July of 2008. This retention policy only applies to recorded and archived meetings. It does not apply to public service announcements, general information or videos of any other type.

Despite all efforts, I cannot view City Meetings Online. What now?

If despite all of your efforts you still cannot view City Meetings online, please request a DVD of the meetings.

Last Updated: Apr 2, 2014