Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance

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The City recently amended its regulations to permit the development of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in single-family residential zoning districts to conform with changes in the State Law. The adopted regulations became effective on September 7, 2017, and can be accessed by clicking the following link:
City Council Ordinance No. 2017-11: Adopted ADU Regulations

What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit?

An ADU is a secondary dwelling unit with complete independent living facilities for one or more persons, which is located on the same parcel as a single-family dwelling and generally takes three forms:

  • Detached: The unit is separated from the primary structure.
  • Attached: The unit is attached to the primary structure.
  • Repurposed Existing Space (Conversion): Space (e.g., master bedroom) within the primary residence is converted into an independent living unit.

Why did the City revise its regulations?

The State of California adopted legislation (Senate Bill 1069 and Assembly Bill 2299, Statues 2016) related to the development of ADUs, which went into effect January 1, 2017. The law requires jurisdictions to amend their local zoning ordinances to conform to Government Code Section 65852.2. The intent of the legislation is to reduce barriers to the development of ADUs, which have been found to be an affordable-by-design type of housing that can meet the needs of couples, small families, young people, students and seniors by offering new below market rentals in existing neighborhoods. Significant provisions of the new law include:

  • Prohibiting local governments from precluding or unreasonably restricting ADUs
  • Reducing parking standards for ADUs
  • Requiring ministerial approval (no public hearings) for ADUs

A memorandum prepared by the State of California Housing and Community Development Department explaining the new State law can be found here.

How does this affect my community?

The amendments may allow a homeowner to obtain a building permit to develop an ADU within your community. However, State law does not prohibit Homeowner’s Associations abilities to regulate ADUs and does not override Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs). If you are interested in constructing an ADU, please consult with your HOA prior to engaging and architect and initiating the process with the City. 

How are the regulations different for properties in the Coastal Zone? 

Properties located in the Coastal Zone are subject to regulation of the Local Coastal Program (LCP), in addition to the Zoning Code. The City is in the process of amending the LCP to incorporate the ADU regulations (Draft Local Coastal Program Amendment).

However, until the City’s proposed LCP Amendment is approved by the Coastal Commission and adopted by the City Council, a Costal Development Permit (CDP) for an ADU may not be permitted unless the project is eligible for an exemption or waiver from the requirements of a CDP.

1. Exempt projects would include:

  • ADU Conversion- An ADU repurposed from existing area within a single-family residence or accessory structure where there is no increase in floor area.
  • New Construction ADU (Attached)
    • Additions to existing single-family residences, unless located within 300 feet of sea or beach, in which case addition shall be limited to 10 percent of existing floor area and an increase in height of no more than 10 percent.
    • Exemption does not apply if improvement is located on a beach, in a wetland, seaward of mean high tide line, in an environmentally sensitive habitat area, in an area designated as scenic in the LCP, or within 50 feet of the edge of a coastal bluff.

2. Determine if Waiver appropriate. A Waiver may be appropriate for a new detached ADU that is detached and has no potential for any adverse effect on coastal resources. However, if a property is located within an Appealable Area, a CDP will be required.

Were there public meetings discussing these changes?

Yes, City staff presented the amendments to both the Planning Commission and City Council at regularly scheduled public hearings. See public meeting materials below:

May 4, 2017 – Planning Commission – Agenda item continued to June 8, 2017
June 8, 2017 – Planning Commission – Recommended Approval
July 25, 2017 - City Council  - First Reading
August 8, 2017 - City Council Adopted

Where can I obtain more information?

You may contact Jaime Muriilo, Senior Planner at (949) 644-3209 or e-mail at