Welcome!   Save Our Solvang formed when we learned of Solvang City Council’s consideration of adding 17 land parcels to Solvang’s Sphere of Influence.  We opposed such annexation, and successfully organized citizens to convince City Council to drop the study and annexation plans.

Knowing we needed a way to give citizens a vote on development outside the city, Save Our Solvang determined that an Urban Growth Boundary, which requires that residents vote on any expansion beyond a city’s border, was needed.  It benefits not just Solvang but the rest of the Valley while encouraging citizen involvement.

Save Our Solvang has hired the Environmental Defense Center to assist it with the legal aspects of an Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) initiative drive and election campaign.  Gathering registered voters’ signatures to put this initiative on the ballot will begin in January 2020 and the project will conclude with the November 3 election.  Save Our Solvang’s goal is to educate and involve our diverse residents in the UGB initiative drive and the election.

Solvang’s Wind Harp at Atterdag

Sphere of Influence History

Concerned about the need to diversify Solvang’s tax base, an Economic Development Committee, with business interests as the only stakeholders, asked City Council to annex land to expand sources of taxes. City staff’s implementation of this goal resulted in a Sphere of Influence study so City could annex the existing industrial Sphere of Influence and the agricultural “sunny fields” surrounding the City – the definition of Solvang. This would have increased the City’s size by 30% and destroyed the rural setting of our Danish village.

Save Our Solvang (SOS) is a citizens’ action group that was originally formed to oppose the City of Solvang’s Sphere of Influence Study which:

• Proceeded without adequate justification or meaningful public discussion and input, and
• Could have expanded Solvang’s geographic area by about one third and encouraged major new housing developments.

At the Solvang City Council meeting of February 26, 2018, the final vote was 5-0 against continuing the Sphere of Influence Study! Mayor Richardson said those of us who opposed the study changed his mind from being 100% in support of it.

Save Our Solvang, after considerable research, determined that the best way to protect the agricultural land surrounding Solvang, was to work for an Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). This tool provides Solvang residents with a vote on any developments proposed outside the UGB for twenty years.

Final Annexation and Sphere of Influence Study

Urban Growth Boundary

Why an Urban Growth Boundary?

An Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) is a border that defines the extent of potential growth for a city.  It can be established by a direct voter initiative.  Through their vote, citizens decide whether or not a city will expand its boundaries, annex and develop land.  Sixty three cities and counties have adopted UGBs, including nearby Buellton, Goleta and cities in Ventura County.

Solvang residents need a vote at the ballot box on any future annexation and development proposals. We believe the current annexation process allows too few people to make decisions for the rest of us. Without a UGB, any City Council can start the annexation process and only LAFCo, the annexed land owners and the Council get to vote.

An Urban Growth Boundary enables us to learn what the content of any proposed development or possible annexation is. Then we can vote for or against it at an election if it involves boundary expansion.

Q: Does a UGB allow for any exceptions?
A: Yes. Certain types of development, such as public schools, some municipal facilities and affordable housing do not require a citizens’ vote to adjust the UGB.

Q: Are Urban Growth Boundaries permanent?
A: No. The proposed UGB for Solvang would expire in 20 years. Voters could also change the UGB at any time at the ballot box.

Q: Would a UGB prevent Solvang from expanding its Sphere of Influence?
A: The city could still expand its sphere of influence, but Solvang could not annex lands from its Sphere of Influence into the City without a majority vote of its citizens.

Q: Why would a UGB be good for Solvang?
A: By promoting development within the UGB and discouraging unplanned growth in surrounding areas, the UGB:

  •  Encourages compact development and infill rather than sprawl
  •  Enhances Solvang’s small-town character and supports downtown businesses
  • Gives citizens a voice in major growth and development decisions surrounding Solvang
  • Makes sure voters know the specifics of a project
  • Enables a more collaborative process between the citizens and city leaders

An Urban Growth Boundary has significance for the rest of the Santa Ynez Valley?
What happens in Solvang, the crossroads of the Valley, has far-reaching effects on traffic, business, and quality of the life throughout the Valley. We are one inter-connected community.

Why an initiative?

The initiative process gives people the ability to affect public policy and to enact laws directly.

Save Our Solvang (SOS) is now a Campaign Committee and has hired the Environmental Defense Center to prepare the Urban Growth Boundary Initiative and related legal documents for the upcoming campaign.  It will collect initiative petition signatures in January and February to place the initiative on the ballot for the Nov. 3 election.

Volunteer, Donate, Contact Us


Until we have an Urban Growth Boundary, the possibility of unbridled growth still exists.  Many Solvang residents working together can:

  1. Obtain the signatures needed to place the Urban Growth Boundary Initiative on the November 3, 2020 ballot.
  2. Educate potential voters about why a “Yes” vote on this initiative is important (Summer, Fall 2020)

Sign up NOW to help collect signatures from Solvang’s registered voters on the UGB Initiative petitions during January and February.  Please use the “Contact” form below.


Legal expenses for writing the initiative and the related documents needed for the initiative drive and the election will be $15,000 of our $20,000 budget.  Donated services by volunteers mean we can keep other expenses to $5,000.

The Urban Growth Boundary Initiative must be legally correct to prevent it being invalidated later.  Most of the legal expenses will be incurred early in the campaign so your donation is needed NOW to assure we can cover these costs.

Please donate by sending your check to Save Our Solvang with the form below which contains information required by California election law.  Thanks so much for your help.

Contribution Form

Contact Us

Save Our Solvang

c/o Susan Bott
PO Box 2
Solvang  CA  93464

Please use our contact form below.

More Information

Sphere of Influence and Annexation Process

When a city embarks on an annexation process, it begins working with LAFCo (Local Agency Formation Commission) a county level agency.  The following is the process they use.

1. Property owners submit request for annexation.

2. City council refers request to Planning Commission for a preliminary report.

3. Planning Commission holds public hearing and develops recommendation to City Council.

4. Request and report to city Council for adoption or denial of resolution of intent to annex. Pre-Zoning and General Plan Amendment are initiated.

5. Initiate Tax Exchange negotiations with County of Santa Barbara.

6. Prepare a CEQA Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND), or distribute Notice of Preparation (NOP) and request proposals for preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) if necessary.

7. Request proposals for preparation of an economic impact analysis if required by City Council Review proposals for economic impact analysis and select consultant.

8. Planning Commission holds public hearing for approval of MND or certification of EIR, and recommendation on Pre-Zoning, General Plan Amendment, Sphere of Influence Amendment request, and annexation matters.

9. City council holds public hearing for approval of Pre-Zoning, General Plan Amendment, Sphere of Influence Amendment request, and annexation matters.

10. Submit complete application to LAFCO including certification of MND or final EIR. City applies to LAFCO on behalf of property owners.

11. LAFCO holds public hearing to act on Sphere of Influence request, annexation request, and to adopt Resolution of Approval.

12. City Council reviews LAFCO Resolution of Approval and adopts Resolution of Annexation.

13. LAFCO issues Certificate of Completion.

Click the links below to download and/or view PDF files.

Hayfield west of Solvang

Urban Growth Boundary

Map West of Solvang

Map Northeast of Solvang

Twelve Big Myths of Growth