Seismic Safety and Safety Element                                


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Dan Klemann, Deputy Director, Long Range Planning


April 28, 2020 - The Safety Element update team has retained Placeworks to develop a countywide multi-issue Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment. The Vulnerability Assessment will inform the development of climate adaptation and resilience strategies that will be used to update the Safety Element. The project and consultant team held a kick off meeting April 22nd and will begin data collection and preparation of a Community Engagement Plan that will guide the project's outreach strategy.


The Seismic Safety & Safety Element (Safety Element) establishes policies to protect the community from natural and human-made hazards. It is intended to guide land use planning by providing pertinent data regarding geologic, soil, seismic, fire and flood hazards. The element also includes the Safety Element supplement which describes land use planning measures to reduce the risk of public exposure to acutely hazardous materials associated with oil and gas pipelines and fixed facilities.

There are two primary drivers to the Safety Element update; those include compliance with SB 379 (Government Code 65302(g)(4)) and the comments and recommendations received from the State Board of Forestry addressing wildfire in the Safety Element.

In order to comply with GC 65302(g)(4), a climate change vulnerability assessment, adaptation plan to address these vulnerabilities, and a comprehensive hazard mitigation and emergency response strategy are needed. The County has applied for a FEMA planning grant to help fund components of the vulnerability assessment and hopes to learn whether it will be granted in early/mid 2019. The vulnerability assessment will incorporate the latest climate model projections and determine the exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity of the County's various communities with respect to its services, resources, and economic sectors. Existing hazards such as wildfire, fluvial flooding, and landslides will be addressed in addition to new hazards, or those exacerbated by climate change such as sea level rise, seasonal changes, and extreme precipitation events. The County's vulnerability assessment will account for, and in some cases, build on the plans and processes already in place, or those currently being developed to address climate change or ensure our communities are prepared for disasters. These include but are not limited to, Santa Barbara County's Coastal Resiliency Project, the Santa Barbara County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan, SBCAG's Multi-Modal Transportation Network Vulnerability Assessment, and the Santa Barbara Area Coastal Ecosystem Vulnerability Assessment.  

The County received comments from the Board of Forestry on Safety Element updates made in 2015 to address the requirements of Senate Bill 1241 and updates to the Housing Element. The County provided responses to comments, and was able to address many of them during the 2015 update. Comments identified at the time by the County as being priorities for a future update will be addressed during the current update to the Safety Element. This effort will involve updating and strengthening the ten fire prevention policies and twelve fire prevention implementation measures within the Safety Element. This will likely include identifying and addressing housing structures that do not conform to contemporary fire and building code standards, developing fire protection plans for uniquely occupied structures (e.g. multi-family or seasonal housing), and ensuring residential areas in the Wildland Urban Interface have appropriate fire resistant landscapes and discontinuous vegetation consistent with County standards.

Planning Documents

Seismic Safety and Safety Element (PDF)

Safety Element Supplement (PDF)

Santa Barbara County Multi-jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan (PDF)

Santa Barbara County Coastal Resiliency Project (link)

Seismic Safety and Safety Element Maps (folder)

Safety Element Text Amendments (folder)

Additional Resources

Safety Element Update Project Page

California Office of Planning and Research - Safety Element Guidance