Project Title: Utility-Scale Solar Comprehensive Plan and Ordinance Amendments
Case Number:  [Not yet assigned]
Project Location: Countywide
Assigned Staff and Division:

Selena Evilsizor Whitney, Senior Planner, Long Range Planning Division

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Status

On July 13, 2021, the County of Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors (Board) clarified the scope of work for the Utility-Scale Solar Comprehensive Plan and Ordinance Amendments. The scope of work includes the following items:

  • Allow utility-scale solar within the following zones of the County Land Use and Development Code (LUDC):
    • Agriculture I (AG-I)
    • Agriculture II (AG-II)
    • Public Utilities (PU)
    • Industrial:
      • Light Industry (M-1)
      • General Industry (M-2)
      • Industrial Research Park (M-RP)
    • Professional and Institutional (PI).
  • Amend the Santa Barbara County Uniform Rules for Agricultural Preserves and Farmland Security Zones (Uniform Rules) to consider allowing utility-scale solar within agricultural preserve contracted lands, on prime and non-prime farmlands.
  • Amend "solar energy system" and "utility-scale solar" definitions, permit requirements, and permit thresholds as needed to streamline permitting of solar photovoltaic systems within the County and Montecito LUDCs and the Coastal Zoning Ordinance.
  • Amend the Comprehensive Plan as needed for consistency with the ordinance amendments.

You may view the staff report and video recording of the Board of Supervisors' meeting on July 13, 2021, here.

Description

The Utility-Scale Solar Comprehensive Plan and Ordinance Amendments Project initiates amendments to the Comprehensive Plan, zoning ordinances, and Uniform Rules to allow utility-scale solar in the County outside of the current Utility-Scale Solar Photovoltaic Overlay. Staff will conduct initial public outreach and initiate the utility-scale solar amendments during the fall of 2021.

In 2014, the Board adopted LUDC Chapter 35-59 (Utility-Scale Photovoltaic Facilities) and various amendments to the Land Use Element of the County Comprehensive Plan, specifying that utility-scale solar facilities would be allowed on lands zoned AG-II within a 600-acre Overlay in the Cuyama Valley Rural Region. On September 10, 2019, the Board directed the preparation of a Strategic Energy Plan (SEP) to stimulate local renewable energy generation and to meet local climate change mitigation goals. In addition to recommending an ordinance to encourage utility-scale solar beyond the Cuyama Valley Rural Region, the SEP also recommended amending the Uniform Rules to (1) incorporate solar-use easement provisions on marginally-productive land under agricultural preserve contracts and (2) explore dual-use projects on prime farmland. 

Documents:

Strategic Energy Plan: https://www.countyofsb.org/csd/asset.c/327

Additional Information:

We welcome any ideas, comments, suggestions or questions you may have throughout all stages of this project. Please contact the Long Range Planning Division via email. 

Join our mailing list to receive information about upcoming activities regarding the Utility-Scale Comprehensive Plan and Ordinance Amendments.