The City Council on Tuesday approved a $56-million renovation project at the airport.
"This is the type of issue that defines the future of Santa Barbara," Councilman Tom Roberts said.
The council voted 6 to 0 to proceed with the renovation, which has been on the drawing board for a decade.
It still needs California Coastal Commission approval.
Work will include consolidating baggage-claim pavilions, shifting the 6,052-foot runway 800 feet west to make room for 1,000-foot-long safety zones, and relocating Tecolotito Creek 2,000 feet west.