The City Council will be considering a proposed amendment to the Rules and Regulations for the Protection of Solar Access in the City of Santa Barbara. These “Rules” help to implement the City’s Solar Access Ordinance (Municipal Code Chapter 28.11), which limits the maximum height of residential buildings in residential zones in order to maintain solar access for adjacent (northerly) properties. Essentially, the Ordinance contains a formula that allows the maximum building height to increase as the distance between a northerly lot line and a proposed new building or addition increases. As currently written, the solar height limitation measurement is taken from the base elevation, which is defined as “the highest point of contact of a structure with the adjacent ground.” The Rules clarify that natural grade is used to determine the base elevation. It has been noted that this measurement point penalizes properties that are at a lower grade than their northerly neighbor(s).
In order to resolve this disparity, staff is proposing to allow the grade at the northerly lot line to be used as an alternative measurement location in the calculation of the Solar Access building height limitation (refer to diagram below). This amendment would change how the building height limitation is calculated, in some cases making it more advantageous to the southerly lot and, therefore, having more of an impact on the northerly lot. However, it would be the same measurement point and building height limitation as if the two lots were at the same grade.
Council review of the proposed amendments is tentatively scheduled for November 15, 2016. If you have any questions, wish to review the proposed amendment, or wish to see additional visual representations of the proposed amendment, please contact Allison De Busk, Project Planner at (805) 564-5470, extension 4552, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and every other Friday, or by email at ADebusk@SantaBarbaraCA.gov. Please check our website under City Calendar to verify closure dates. Written comments on the proposed changes are welcome and will be entered into the public record. Written information should be submitted at the Planning Division Office, 630 Garden St; by mail attention Allison De Busk, Planning Division, P.O. Box 1990, Santa Barbara, CA 93102-1990; or by email at ADebusk@SantaBarbaraCA.gov.