Accessory dwelling units

Update as of February 26, 2020: The City Council approved an Urgency Ordinance (no. 1066) modifying the City's Zoning Ordinance and related requirements to comply with the new State bills regarding Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). The Urgency Ordinance became effective immediately, however it will take some time for the online municipal code to reflect the changes. Staff will be working to develop outreach materials clarifying the new requirements. In the interim, please contact Planning Division staff with questions or refer to the table and ordinance language attached to the February 25, 2020, City Council staff report. The following revisions to the Ordinance language were made by the Council in the adoption of the Urgency Ordinance:
  1. ADUs of any size are permitted to provide up to two bedrooms
  2. Delayed enforcement allowances will sunset on January 1, 2025
As noted above, a number of State bills regarding Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) became effective on 1/1/2020. The following State Government Code sections may be referenced for the moment:
A accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is a dwelling unit on a residential lot which provides complete independent living facilities for one or more persons, and includes permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation independent of the main dwelling. Accessory dwelling units are sometimes called a “in-law unit”. ADUs have been the focus of recent State legislation, as they can provide needed housing without materially changing the visual character of a neighborhood. The Planning and Building Divisions are committed to making the ADU review process as predictable and streamlined as possible for our customers.

Requirements and guidelines

Detailed guidance on ADU regulations is being developed. As noted above, the February 25, 2020 City Council staff report provides the most up-to-date information.

Review process

ADU applications that meet all Zoning Ordinance requirements may be reviewed and approved by staff. Prior to starting such an application, staff recommends coming in to the counter (see hours at top right of this page) to discuss the ADU regulations. Project plans (including a site plan, floor plans, floor area and building coverage diagrams, and elevations) are required with ADU applications.

Following the Planning Division's preliminary review, applicants who are proposing fully-compliant ADUs will coordinate with the Building Division to confirm the items required for submittal of a building permit application. In general, the following guidelines are applicable to ADU building permits, depending on the specific proposal:
Please note that new ADUs require a number of standard fees, including (for ADUs 750 square feet and greater) proportional TIF (Transportation Impact Fee) and school fees charged by the local school district. The Building Division can provide detailed fee quotes prior to an application.

ADU applications that do not meet all Zoning Ordinance requirements may be reviewed and acted on with a Use Permit by the Planning Commission (with the exception of the density and subdivision requirements, which may not be modified). Please contact the Planning Division if you are considering any such application for discretionary review. 

Staff reports

The following represent recent Commission/Council staff reports on the topic of ADUs: