Frequently Asked Questions


What is the Zoning Ordinance and why is it important?

The Zoning Ordinance is one of the most influential regulatory documents to shape the future of Goleta. It is intended to implement the land use and design goals in Goleta’s General Plan and other City policies, be consistent with State and federal law, and provide a basis for reviewing applications for new construction as well as alterations and additions to existing buildings.


Why does Goleta need a new Zoning Ordinance?

Goleta’s current Zoning Ordinance was inherited from Santa Barbara County upon incorporation and does not reflect best zoning and planning practices that are appropriate for an independent city. It is not effective in implementing the land use and design goals in the General Plan and other City policies. The purpose of the new Zoning Ordinance is to create an effective set of land use and development regulations that ensures future growth to be consistent with the General Plan, is clear and easy to use, and provides objective standards and criteria for use in the development review and permitting process that will result in high quality development.


What regulations are changing?

The proposed changes to the zoning regulations can be organized into three broad categories:

  1. Changes to make the Zoning Ordinance easier to use and understand. The current Zoning Ordinance does not have an orderly organization, making it difficult to navigate. It also contains references to areas and decision-making bodies that do not exist within the City. The new Zoning Ordinance reorganizes the current zoning regulations so  they flow more logically, corrects references, and provides tables, cross-references, and illustrations to more clearly communicate development regulations.
  2. Changes for consistency with State and federal law. The new Zoning Ordinance includes provisions that comply with requirements of State and federal law, including those that address water efficient landscaping, religious uses, housing for disabled persons, second units, and affordable housing.
  3. Changes for consistency with the General Plan. The primary purpose of the new Zoning Ordinance is to implement the General Plan. The General Plan contains numerous prescriptive provisions related to the use and development of land within the City of Goleta. These provisions are often in conflict with the existing zoning regulations. When a conflict occurs, the provisions of the General Plan control. The new Zoning Ordinance incorporates these provisions into the Zoning regulations so the conflict will no longer exist.


While zoning regulations are changing, the majority of the changes are to make the zoning easier to use and understand or to make the regulations consistent with provisions that already apply. Therefore, the effective changes to the use and development of property is limited.

Additionally, City staff is available to meet with any interested party to discuss the project and its applicability and implications. Please call

(805) 961-7548 to schedule a meeting.


City staff has also prepared a Numerical Standards Comparison Table: Existing to Proposed comparing existing regulations of both the Inland Zoning Ordinance and Coastal Zoning Ordinance to those included in the Public Review Draft Zoning Ordinance as a tool to aide in review of the proposed changes.

Will the General Plan be changed as a result of this project?

There are no changes to the General Plan being considered as part of the new Zoning Ordinance.


What has been the process for development of the new Zoning Ordinance?

The new Zoning Ordinance project kicked off in December 2013, with a series of stakeholder interviews and a kickoff meeting with the Planning Commission.  

Throughout 2014, preliminary draft regulations, presented in ‘Modules’, were prepared for public review and consideration at Planning Commission meetings. The Planning Commission provided policy direction and feedback to the project team, and heard public comments on the Modules.

In 2015, staff reviewed the Modules and comments received and prepared a draft Zoning Ordinance and Map. Additionally, a draft environmental review document and a comparison table of existing and proposed standards were developed. Outreach activities, including Planning Commission and public workshops, Open Houses, Planning Commission page-turn review, and stakeholder meetings, began in January 2016 and were completed in May 2016. Project documents can be found on the Documents page of this website and information on past and upcoming meetings is available on the Meetings page of this website.


Where are we in the Zoning Ordinance update process?

The Planning Commission has conducted a series of workshops during which they completed a "page-turn" review of the entire Public Review Draft Zoning Ordinance and Map. City staff is now considering all comments received on the Public Review Draft Zoning Ordinance and Map and will prepare a Public Hearing Draft, which will be considered at future public meetings. All documents are available on the Documents page of this website.


Who can participate in the process?

All residents, business owners and stakeholders within Goleta are encouraged to participate in the development of the New Zoning Ordinance. City staff are available to meet with anyone who has any questions or wants more information on the new Zoning Ordinance. Please call (805) 961-7548 to schedule a meeting. Information on past and upcoming meetings can be found on the Meetings page of this website.


What efforts have been made to involve the public in the Zoning Ordinance Update?

Outreach activities completed as of May 2016 include eight public workshops with the Planning Commission and three Open Houses. Additionally, multiple meetings have been held with interested parties and the Design Review Board has discussed specific sections of the proposed Zoning Ordinance at four meetings. Information on past and upcoming meetings is on the Meetings page of this website.

The City has and continues to utilize a variety of methods to encourage public participation in the new Zoning Ordinance project. Notice of public workshops and Open Houses were posted in the Santa-Barbara News Press, on Goleta TV, through email notifications to people who signed up for notifications, and at City Hall, the Goleta Valley Community Center, and the Goleta Library.  Additionally, open house postcards were mailed to interested parties.  When new material or information becomes available, the City sends out email notifications to individuals who have signed up for notifications and updates at GoletaZoning.com.

Additionally, City staff is available to meet with any interested party to discuss the project and its applicability and implications. Please call (805) 961-7548 to schedule a meeting.


Can anyone request a meeting to discuss the new Zoning Ordinance?

Yes! City staff are available to meet with anyone who has any questions or wants more information on the new Zoning Ordinance.


What is the process for requesting a meeting?

Please call (805) 961-7548 and leave your contact information. City staff will contact you to schedule a meeting.


How do I comment on the draft Zoning Ordinance?

The easiest way to provide the City comments is through the Public Comments page on this website. Comments can also be provided by participating in workshops and Open Houses, the dates and times of these events can be found on the Meetings page; emailing Anne Wells at awells@cityofgoleta.org; or submitting comments in writing at City of Goleta; 130 Cremona, Suite B; Goleta, CA 93117.


Will the City consider all comments received?

Yes. Staff is currently considering all comments received on the Public Review Draft Zoning Ordinance and preparing a Public Hearing Draft Zoning Ordinance, which will be considered at future public meetings.


What are the next steps in the Zoning Ordinance update process?

Staff is collectively considering all comments received on the Public Review Draft Zoning Ordinance and is preparing a Public Hearing Draft. The Public Hearing Draft Zoning Ordinance will be released for public review and consideration by the Planning Commission and City Council.