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Design Guidelines and StandardsPlanning Central

Guidelines for the specific types of development and for specific areas of the City have been prepared with input from the Architectural Board of Review, Historic Landmarks Commission, Single Family Design Board, Planning Commission, and others.  These supplemental guidelines are contained in separate documents.  The current guidelines are available for your review and are listed in the navigation bar to the left side of this page, or scroll below to:

    1) Boards & Commissions
    2) Residential Guidelines
    3) Citywide Design Standards
    4) Specific Areas
    5) Art, Outdoor & Building Features
    6) Analysis Tools

Boards & Commissions

  • Architectural Board of Review - The ABR reviews projects that involve multi-residential, commercial or mixed-use development. The ABR Guidelines are intended to assist in public understanding of the ABR’s goals and policies with respect to architectural design and landscape installation standards. Infill Design Guidelines were adopted as additions to these guidelines in April 2017.
  • Historic Landmarks Commission -The HLC reviews all exterior alterations for properties located within El Pueblo Viejo Landmark District and those which involve historically significant properties.  The HLC Guidelines are intended to assist in public understanding of HLC goals and policies and their implementation. Infill Design Guidelines were adopted as additions to these guidelines in April 2017.
  • Sign Review - The Sign Committee is currently reconstituted as subset reviews of the ABR & HLC.  The Sign Review guidelines itemize acceptable standards for the placement of signs throughout the City and describe specific points of Sign Committee review.
  • Single Family Design Board - The SFDB reviews projects that pertain to single family residential development outside of the HLC’s jurisdiction.  The SFDB Guidelines are intended to assist in public understanding of SFDB goals and policies and their implementation.

Residential Guidelines

  • Single Family Residence Design Guidelines -These guidelines were developed to assist the public on designing compatible single family residential development in accordance with the intent of the Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance.

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Citywide Design Standards

Specific Areas

  • Airport These guidelines provide design direction for development proposals located on City Airport property.
  • Chapala Street - These guidelines provide design direction for public right-of-way improvements in the area of Chapala Street south of Carrillo Street and north of Highway 101.
  • El Pueblo Viejo District - These guidelines are intended to assist the public in the HLC’s review process by clarifying the design criteria and procedures for El Pueblo Viejo District.  These guidelines will be the basis for decisions of the Historic Landmarks Commission.  They are intended for use to help comply with Municipal Code Chapter 22.22, the Historic Structures Ordinance.
  • Haley-Milpas Area - These guidelines provide design direction for properties located in the Haley-Milpas area.
  • Harbor Master Plan AreaThe Harbor Master Plan Design Guidelines implement policies and design themes for the Harbor Master Plan Area.
  • Highway 101 Coastal Parkway - These design guidelines apply to the segment of Highway 101 corridor which is located within the City’s Coastal Zone.
  • Lower Riviera Special Design District These design guidelines are intended to guide development within the Lower Riviera Special Design District in order to ensure its continuing compatibility to the proposed Bungalow Haven Historic District, which lies within its core.
  • State Street Landscaping - The design guidelines encompass a range of issues related to both the aesthetic nature of the street and the practical needs along the downtown State Street area as applied to the 300-1200 Blocks of State St.
  • Upper State Street - These guidelines provide additional direction for development in the Upper State Street Area.
  • Urban Design Guidelines - These design guidelines address the historic character, pedestrian-friendly qualities, and exemplary architecture of the urban grid area of Santa Barbara.

  • Waterfront Area Aesthetic Criteria for Development - These criteria are based on the Locating New Development Section of the Local Coastal Plan (LCP) and required per Policy 12.2.

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Citywide Art, Outdoor & Building Features

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Analysis Tools

  • A Comparative Analysis of Three Story Buildings - The study analyzes eight local buildings constructed in downtown Santa Barbara for the purpose of comparing height, length, elevation, perspective floor-to-floor heights, and relative scale of architectural elements.
  • Santa Barbara Colors - This guide provides an acceptable range of colors for non-residential buildings.  It provides a variety of sample colors for body, trim and ironwork.  They are not the only colors allowed or approved in the City of Santa Barbara.  PLEASE NOTE:  This document is provided for general concept information only.  The color samples in this file are distorted due to the inherent effects of electronic scanning of colors.  Please visit 630 Garden Street to see the colors as they appear in the original hardcopy version of this book.

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Last Updated: Jun 3, 2021
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