This web page is designed to provide you information and resources that help answer many of the questions that are presently answered by City staff.

Planning Division Introduction
General Plan
Planning Permits
Maps & Publications (with some plans available online)
Status of Projects

The Planning Division serves the community by providing information and assistance to the public about past, present and future development in the City of Santa Maria. Planning staff supports the City Planning Commission and City Council for land use and zoning related applications. Planning, Building, Engineering, Parks, Fire Marshal, and Police Beat Coordinators review and comment on proposed projects to ensure that the public health, safety, and general welfare are protected. The Planning Division maintains public records about project applications, prepares CEQA documentation, and assists with economic development, revitalization, and code compliance activities of other City departments.

The Governor's Office of Planning and Research connects you with several State publications, including the Planners Book of Lists and General Plan Guidelines, which are OPR publications, and Planning, Zoning and Development Laws. These resources provide the operational context of planning in California. Many publications may be obtained by using an Adobe Acrobat Reader, which may be downloaded for free.

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According to California State Law, the General Plan consists of seven mandatory elements. A general plan has two main purposes.

  1. It provides information about the community.
  2. It provides the decision-making bodies with a framework of community goals and objectives by which specific development proposals are gauged.
State law requires findings of consistency between the General Plan and its implementation tools-typically, zoning and subdivision regulations-to ensure that all development proposals implement goals and objectives of the General Plan. State Law allows the City to adopt any optional elements into the General Plan as needed.

The following "links" take you to a brief summary of each document of the General Plan.

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Zoning specifies the details of development (building height, setbacks, parking requirements, etc.,) allowed in the City of Santa Maria. Zoning also specifies what uses are "allowed," "conditionally allowed," or "prohibited." If you would like to review copies of the following summaries, you may do so by choosing one from the list below.

The Santa Maria City Council adopted ordinance 2005-16 approving the color version of the zoning map as the official zoning map of the City of Santa Maria and setting the over the counter purchase price for the zoning map at $25. Title 12 of the Santa Maria Municipal Code contains the complete zoning code text as summarized in the tables.

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While the General Plan looks at where the community wants to be in the future, current-planning activities, like zoning and subdivision codes, implement the General Plan. Planned Development (PD) and Conditional Use (U) Permits take a look at proposed building(s) or proposed uses in existing building(s) to determine how that building/use "fits" in with the community and the surrounding neighborhood.

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SUBDIVISIONS (Title 11 of the SMMC):

Subdivision regulations identify the processes for the legal division of land. This may involve a lot-line adjustment (not creating any new lots), parcel map (creating fewer than five (5) lots), and subdivision map (creating five (5) or more lots). Recorded maps are public records and permit the legal transfer of real estate to others. Subdivisions of land (and "air spaces") also allow the further development of individual lots (or air space condominiums), consistent with the zoning ordinance and General plan.

California Laws provides you with a link to all State codes. Check the box for the Government Code and search 66410. The Subdivision Map Act sections are 66410 through 66499.

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CEQA - The California Environmental Quality Act

Adopted in 1970, CEQA is California's version of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). CEQA requires all projects to undergo environmental review before being approved by a decision-making body. Almost all planning projects relating to the future use or development of property in the state are subject to CEQA.

Environmental Review consists of an Initial Study and a determination about the significance of impacts on the environment that result from the development of the project. Additional study may be required as a part of the environmental review process. These expanded studies are often called Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs), Negative Declarations (NDs), or Mitigated NDs.

CEQA requires that decision-makers have enough information about the project impacts to make a reasonable decision on the project. CEQA also requires that significant impacts on the environment be reduced to the maximum extent reasonably feasible. Often, the environmental document recommends mitigation measures, which are imposed on the development as conditions of a project approval.

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The Community Development Department maintains several maps and documents.


The City zoning map is available online. For more information, e-mail: and the City staff will reply to your questions.


The Community Development Department maintains development lists, annual reports, and other tracking/status lists on the archived list page


Larger documents (general plan elements, specific plans, and some EIRs) may be kept on file at Poor Richards Press in Santa Maria. The people at Poor Richards Press are able to photocopy their "file copy" and deliver the product to you much quicker (and cheaper) than we could at the City. You may inquire about the documents directly with Poor Richards Press in Santa Maria. You may also call Poor Richards Press in Santa Maria at 805.928.7334 and discuss placing an order. The available documents are listed below.

  • Draft-Downtown Specific Plan
  • Santa Maria Sphere of Influence and Concurrent Annexation FEIR
         Volume I-City Council Actions
         Volume II-DEIR and Amendment to the DEIR
         Volume III-Economic Analysis and Traffic Study
  • Approved Specific Plans adopted under the above FEIR:
         Hidden Pines Specific Plan
         North Preisker Ranch Specific Plan
         West Main Specific Plan
         Blosser Southeast Specific Plan
         Blosser Southwest Specific Plan
         Mahoney Ranch Specific Plan
         West Stowell Specific Plan
         Entrada Este Specific Plan
  • Rivergate-Roemer Specific Plan
  • Santa Maria Research Park Specific Plan
  • Enos Ranchos (Area A-2) Specific Plan ("new" - May 12, 2008)
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The Community Development Department maintains two development-tracking lists. The lists generally describe Major Residential Projects and the Commercial/Industrial Projects. The development list updates occur twice each year and are typically completed in February and August. Paper copies of each list cost $5.00 each and may be ordered from the Community Development Department. Note that the color maps will not be in color on the paper lists obtained from the department.

For your convenience, the City has archived previous Project Lists back to 1999, which chronologically follow the most current report. Additionally, the Non-Residential construction history is available back to 1986.

You may direct inquiries about the status list to: Bill Shipsey, Planner III.