1. Clear Zone

Clear zones are unobstructed, relatively flat areas beyond the edge of the road. They provide clear, traversable recover areas, walking paths, and sight distance for the traveling public. To maintain clear zones, required setback for fixed objects such as fences, walls, trees, and other obstructions are as follows:



In urban areas, setbacks may be reduced where there is curb and gutter or berm. If you have questions about setbacks, or what items are not allowed in the road right of way clear zone, contact the Road Encroachment Permits at 805-681-4990.


2. Encroachment permit policies 

A. General

Encroachments must conform with applicable community plans.
Encroachments must conform with current American Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.
Public Works may take into account aesthetics in reviewing all encroachment permits.
Above grade facilities must be set back as far as possible and provide landscape or other approved screening to minimize visual impacts.

B. Clear Zone and pedestrian access

Agreement to maintain clear zones is a requirement of road encroachment permits.

Common items requiring an encroachment permit and required to meet clear zone criteria include walls, fences, trees, plants, utilities, structures, signs, and any other feature meeting fixed object criteria – contact encroachment permits office if you are unsure.

C. Other notes on encroachments

In the Montecito Community Plan area landscaping is not allowed in the clear zone unless pedestrian facilities are specifically provided for.
In the Summerland Community Plan area County Codes does not allow any encroachments. Only minimal walls necessary for access to off street parking areas (garage, driveway, due to elevation changes) will be permitted. Landscaping ground will be allowed.
Street trees and landscaping in the right of way:
select trees from the current Board approved list
select an appropriate tree for the location. The County's Urban Forest supervisor may decide what is appropriate.
install root barriers within the drip line.
Install drip irrigation with emitters, not spray emitters.
Mailboxes must be constructed and/or located to meet County of Santa Barbara Engineering Standards' and U.S. Postal Service Standards' criteria for Fixed Objects. Shoulder construction must provide room for a mail truck to pull out of the travel lane everywhere possible.
Above Ground Utility devices and meters (gas, electric, water, etc.) must not be installed within the Right-of-Way unless previously approved by the County Engineer.
Fixed objects must be designed to provide the proper sight distance clearance for pedestrian(s), bicyclist(s), and equestrian(s) access when applicable (existing, new, or future).

FAQ: I see other properties around me don't conform to these, why do I have to?

Answer: Just as with building codes, previous encroachments standards may have differed or not applied. Transportation responds to individual complaints as priorities allow, with an emphasis on safety concerns over other requests.