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Objective Design Standards for Streamlined Housing Projects

In 2017, the Governor signed multiple housing bills, including Senate Bill (SB) 35 Streamline Approval Process, which added Section 65913.4 to the Government Code providing for a streamlined, ministerial approval process for certain types of multi-unit housing projects (two or more residential units), subject to certain conditions and consistent with objective zoning and design review standards. In response to this new legislation, the City is creating objective aesthetic design standards for applicable multi-unit housing projects (Objective Design Standards) and preparing related amendments to the Santa Barbara Municipal Code.

The streamlined approval process is an opt-in program for developers who must request streamlined ministerial approval pursuant to SB 35 at the time a permit application is submitted to the City. There are a number of eligibility criteria to consider when determining if the SB 35 process is available to a particular project including:

  • Project site cannot be located in the Coastal Zone (this area is exempt per state law);
  • Project cannot require demolition of housing that has been occupied by tenants within the past ten years;
  • Projects must include at least 50% of the units affordable to households making at or below 80% of area median income;
  • Project must conform to objective zoning and design standards in effect at the time the development proposal is submitted to the City; and
  • During construction, the developer must pay prevailing wages and use a skilled and trained workforce.

This is a partial list of eligibility criteria. More information is available in the Department of Housing and Community Development’s Streamlined Ministerial Approval Process Guidelines.

Project Timeline

Milestone Timeline
Initiate Project and Conduct Research Winter 2018
Informational Presentations at ABR and HLC Meetings February 2019
Draft Municipal Code and Design Guidelines Amendments Spring/Winter 2020
ABR and HLC Review and Comment Spring 2020
Planning Commission, Ordinance Committee and City Council Review and Adoption Winter 2020/2021


Draft Documents

Staff accepted public comments on the May 6, 2020 Administrative Draft Objective Design Standards through June 7, 2020. Updated drafts will be posted when available and public comments are welcome to be considered for future amendments.

To review the December 3, 2020 Planning Commission Draft Objective Design Standards, click here.

State Legislation

Please refer to Government Code Section 65913.4 for more information about the streamlined, ministerial approval process for multi-unit residential development.


Meetings will be held electronically. For the times of these meetings, or to download the staff report and exhibits, click here.

Project Contact

Rosie Dyste, Project Planner
(805) 564-5470 ext 4599


The draft Objective Design Standards for Processing of Streamlined Housing Projects and related Zoning Ordinance amendments are being considered for adoption by the City Council Ordinance Committee and City Council. Draft documents will be available for public review a week prior to the hearing. For more information, click here.

Last Updated: Dec 15, 2020
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