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City of Santa Barbara
Land Development Team Bulletin
Volume #158, 8/9/17




The LDT Bulletin is one way we are increasing communication between the City and our customers. These bulletins will also be located in our lobby area at 630 Garden Street.

We hope you'll find the contents of this issue useful. However, if you prefer not to receive this publication in the future, simply send us an email to:

City Council to Consider Limiting Average Unit-Size Density Incentive Program Projects 

On Tuesday, August 15, 2017, the City Council will consider options to limit development projects approved under the Average Unit-Size Density (AUD) Incentive Program, and provide direction to staff. The AUD Incentive Program was adopted by City Council in July 2013 (Santa Barbara Municipal Code Chapter 28.20), and carries out a key implementation action of the City’s 2011 General Plan. The AUD Incentive Program is intended to encourage smaller, more affordable housing units through the allowance of increased densities and development incentives in selected areas of the City.

The AUD Incentive Program has a limited duration of either 8 years or until 250 units have been constructed in the High Density Residential and Priority Housing Overlay areas. As of August 1st, 151 units are under construction in those two areas (89 of those units have a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy), and 223 units have been approved. Another 477 units in those two areas are currently being reviewed by staff and decision-makers.

On February 28, 2017, staff sought direction from the City Council on a potential temporary restriction on projects proposed under the AUD Incentive Program. As part of that discussion, the Council directed staff to return with options for a program that would limit the number of building permits issued for projects proposed under the AUD Incentive Program.

As stakeholders in this program, the City encourages you to participate in this discussion. You are invited to attend this hearing and address your verbal comments to the City Council.  Written comments are also welcome up to the time of the hearing, and should be addressed to the City Council via the City Clerk’s Office, P.O. Box 1990, Santa Barbara, CA 93102-1990. 

On Thursday, August 10, 2017, an Agenda with all items to be heard on Tuesday, August 15, 2017, will be available at 735 Anacapa Street and at the Central Library.  Agendas and Staff Reports are also accessible online at; under Most Popular, click on Council Agenda Packet.  Regular meetings of the Council are broadcast live and rebroadcast on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:00 p.m. and on Saturday at 9:00 a.m. on City TV Channel 18.  These meetings can also be viewed over the Internet at  Point to GOVERNMENT, point to City Hall and click on Mayor & City Council; click on City Council Meetings, City Council Meetings Online, and then click on the Video link associated with the meeting date.

City Council to Consider Updating the City’s Floodplain Management Ordinance

A city’s Floodplain Management Ordinance (FMO) is a key regulatory tool used to mitigate and/or avoid flood hazard losses in a community. An FMO applies to all parcels that are within a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) special flood hazard area, also known as flood zone. FEMA requires communities to officially adopt an FMO as a condition of offering subsidized flood insurance through its National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Federal lending institutions require owners of properties within flood zones to purchase FEMA NFIP insurance as a condition of offering and purchasing loans. This has influenced communities throughout the nation to participate in the FEMA NFIP and adopt an FMO. Like many U.S. cities, the City of Santa Barbara made that choice in 1978 and today, more than 1,500 properties within the City are insured through the FEMA NFIP program.

During a 2016 floodplain management audit by FEMA and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), it was discovered that the City’s current FMO was outdated and did not contain all of the current and mandated federal and state text. City staff committed to updating the City’s FMO and delivering that updated Ordinance to FEMA by September 2017 in order to better protect the more than 3,000 parcels within flood zones and to avoid sanctions from FEMA.


The FMO that is attached to the August 1, 2017 City Ordinance Committee hearing item includes changes that FEMA and DWR mandate and that cannot be avoided. The underlined changes in that FMO show the voluntary changes that staff recommended to the Ordinance Committee in order to increase the flood resiliency of our community. These voluntary changes included:

  • Requiring flood resistant construction to be used in new construction that is below the base flood elevation;
  • Requiring one foot of freeboard for one- and two-family buildings in accordance with the national standard ASCE 24; and
  • Specifying the most effective locations on a structure for locating flood vents

It is important to note that one to two feet of freeboard was mandated in the state’s adoption of the 2016 California Building Code, Section 1612.4 by referencing the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) publication 24 (Attachment 4). This action by the state makes freeboard mandatory for all buildings other than one- and two-family buildings. Attachment 5 to the August 1, 2017 City Ordinance Committee report lists the regional communities that have a freeboard requirement for new and substantially improved one- and two-family buildings. 

The City’s Ordinance Committee directed staff to remove all voluntary text from the proposed FMO and include the voluntary options in the September 12, 2017 City Council Report instead of the proposed ordinance.

During the development of the proposed Ordinance, staff engaged stakeholders and affected property owners for their review and input. The following meetings were facilitated by staff prior to the City’s Ordinance Committee review of the proposed ordinance:

  • Internal City stakeholder meetings (2)
  • External private civil engineer meetings (2)
  • Review and comment by FEMA & State DWR        
  • Public meeting with parcel owners that are in a flood zone

Staff will be returning to City Council on September 12, 2017 for a public hearing on the adoption of the City Ordinance Committee approved Floodplain Management Ordinance.  Please contact Chief Building Official, Andrew Stuffler ( or Senior Plans Examiner, Curtis Harrison ( or call (805) 564-5485 for more information.

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City of Santa Barbara/Community Development
630 Garden Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
T. (805) 564-5485, ext. 2653