The Single Family Design Board was established by ordinance on June 8, 2007 as a result of the Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance (NPO)/SFDB update process begun in 2004. These guidelines were last revised by Council 12/2011. The SFDB is composed of seven members, two of whom must be licensed architects, one a landscape architect, three other professionals in related fields such as design, engineering or landscape contracting, and one member must be from the public at large. A quorum consists of four members, two of whom shall be either a licensed architect or licensed landscape architect.
According to the City of Santa Barbara General Plan, "Santa Barbara has, as its primary goal, the provision of a particularly desirable living environment." Single-family homes have long contributed to the character of many neighborhoods in the city. The SFDB is charged with the responsibility to ensure homes are completed with high-quality designs that are compatible with the surrounding neighborhood, preserve the City’s visual resources and promote long-term sustainability contribute to a desirable living environment. For further details about the goals of the SFDB in relationship to infill within neighborhoods, hillside neighborhoods, neighborhood compatibility, and sustainability, see the "Introduction" section of the SFDB General Design Guidelines & Meeting Procedures.