Solvang offers amnesty program for unpermitted construction

Jan 9, 2020

The Santa Barbara County city of Solvang is now offering an amnesty program for residents with unpermitted additions. 

For the next six months, the city will waive all penalties for bringing unpermitted building projects into compliance with Solvang’s building laws. It applies to both residential and commercial buildings.

“This really isn't a program to charge city fees or build a code enforcement database and chase after people,” said Solvang mayor Ryan Toussaint. “This is a program to provide customer service and to build trust back in local government, and get the people's properties into compliance in the most cost-expeditious manner.”

Toussaint blamed an ongoing reorganization of the city’s planning and building department for creating a backlog of issues.

“A common trend [here] by the businesses, local residents or even contractors is to not get permits in Solvang,” Toussaint said.

Several California cities and counties have offered similar amnesty programs in recent years for any building, electrical, plumbing or mechanical work done without permits.

The amnesty program comes on the heels of a 2019 state law making it a lot easier to build—or if already built, to bring into compliance—accessory dwelling units, known as ADUs or granny flats, across the state. Local cities like Grover Beach, San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles all passed local laws to further encourage construction of ADUs.