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Development Standards

Regulating Building Size through Floor-to-lot-Area (FAR) Ratios

The FAR standard is a planning tool to objectively regulate the maximum building size for a site. FARs are a result of dividing the total floor area of all buildings on a lot by the total lot area.

Currently, the AUD Program regulates density based on the average unit size within a project; the smaller the average unit size, the greater the potential density allowed. Projects are also subject to property line setbacks in some instances and building height limits. Within these parameters, the maximum acceptable size, mass, bulk, and height of the building is currently left to subjective design guidelines and the discretionary actions of the Historic Landmarks Commission, Architectural Board of Review, and Planning Commission.

The highest density tier, Priority Housing Overlay, allows up to 63 units per acre, with an average maximum unit size of 811 square feet. Regulating building size with FARs instead of density will result in housing projects with more units and a more predictable outcome for developers and the public with location-appropriate standards and a faster review process overall.

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To provide comments, questions, or concerns please email staff at AUD@SantaBarbaraCA.gov

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Last Updated: Nov 16, 2020
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