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Contact Information

Community Development ABR Secretary

Phone Number
(805) 564-5470 x 4472
Mailing Address
Community Development ABR Secretary
PO Box 1990,
Santa Barbara, CA 93102-1990.



Architectural Board of Review

As Santa Barbara grew from a presidio to a city, little thought was given to architectural continuity. During the rapid growth of the 1880's, most of the new buildings were brick or wood "main street" type structures. In 1922, the Community Arts Association formed a group called the Plans and Planting Committee, which campaigned to increase public awareness of and appreciation for architectural quality and integrity.

In 1925, a major earthquake badly damaged a majority of Santa Barbara's original brick and wooden commercial buildings. This catastrophe provided the Plans and Planting Committee with an opportunity to guide the necessary rebuilding according to its own uniform architectural and stylistic program.

The original Architectural Board of Review (ABR), formed in 1925, operated for only nine months. Discontinued for over two decades, the ABR was re-established in 1947 by ordinance, and in 1967 as a Charter Board.

Learn more about serving on this advisory group.

General Functions

  • Insures that high standards of design are maintained in development and construction in the City of Santa Barbara.
  • Protects and preserves, as nearly as practicable, the natural charm and beauty of Santa Barbara, including the historical style, qualities, characteristics of the buildings, structures and architectural features associated with and established by its long, illustrious and distinguished past.
  • Reviews, approves, conditionally approves or disapproves all applications for commercial, industrial, multi-family except in El Pueblo Viejo Landmark District or other landmark districts or a designated Landmark for:
    • Building permits for the erection or exterior alteration of any building (except single family or one-story duplexes);
    • Grading permits and any structures requiring permits;
    • Changes of the exterior color of any building;
    • The use of existing buildings for office use in the R-O and C-O zones;
    • Appeals of decisions of the Sign Committee; and
    • All buildings or structures erected upon any public land or allowed to extend over or on any street or other public property.

Committee Functions


7 Members


Three members need not be qualified electors of the City at the time of their appointment so long as they are qualified electors of Santa Barbara County and remain so qualified during their terms on the Board:

  • At least 2 members shall be licensed architects.
  • At least 3 other members shall possess professional experience in related fields, including but not limited to, landscape architecture, building design, structural engineering or industrial design.

Length of Term

Four years and until successors are appointed. Staggered terms expire on December 31 of the appropriate year.

Meeting Schedule

The Board generally meets every other Monday at 3:00 p.m. (the Single Family Design Board meets on alternate Mondays) in the David Gebhard Public Meeting Room (DGPMR), 630 Garden Street. The Consent Calendar is generally held every Monday at 1:00 p.m. in the DGPMR.

Time Involved

Approximately 10 - 14 hours per month for meetings and related activities.

Financial Disclosure Requirement

Members are required to file a Statement of Economic Interests upon appointment, annually and when leaving the advisory group.

AB 1234 - Ethics Requirement

Assembly Bill (AB) 1234 requires this board to complete AB 1234 Ethics Training no later than one year after the first day of service and then the training course must be completed once every two years thereafter.


$50 for each full board meeting attended and $25 for each Consent Calendar meeting completed.


Planning Division, Community Development Department, (805) 564-5470


Measure E, November 3, 2009, General Municipal Election; City Charter Sections 800-805, 814 and 817; Municipal Code Section 2.08.020.B and Chapter 22.68; Ordinance Nos. 5050, 4701, 3792, and 3646; Resolution Nos. 07-063 and 06-084