Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)


What is an ADU?

Commonly known as a second unit, granny flat, or in-law unit, an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is defined as "an attached or a detached residential dwelling unit which provides complete independent living facilities for one or more persons." By definition, an ADU includes permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation.

2017 Regulations

On October 8, 2017, Governor Brown signed two separate bills, SB 229 and AB 494, amending yet again the state statutes pertaining to ADUs. These two bills aim to clarify and improve various provisions of the ADU Statute to further promote the development of ADUs. Unfortunately, the amendments also introduce new ambiguities, and further amendments are expected. Notable changes to the 2018 ADU Statute include:

  1. Expanding areas where ADUs can be built to include all zoning districts that allow single-family uses;
  2. Applying streamlined approval to an ADU proposed to be built concurrently with a single-family dwelling unit;
  3. Allowing zero setback (subject to fire safety) for ADUs that are converts of legally-constructed garages; and
  4. Reducing parking requirements to a maximum of one (1) parking space per ADU.

2018 Regulations

Similar to the 2017 state regulations, the 2018 changes in state laws contain specific requirements for the City’s review of ADUs. These requirements differ depending on whether a unit creates new square footage. In addition to the state’s ADU classification and to better facilitate review, Ordinance 18-02 categorizes the review of ADUs based on the following:

  1. Category 1: No New Square Footage. 
  2. Category 2: New Square Footage.

For more on the 2018 ADU regulations, please see the February 20, 2018 City Council Staff Report and accompanying attachments here: 2018 ADU Amendments

Urgency Ordinance 19-11

On December 19, 2019, the City Council adopted Urgency Ordinance 19-11 temporarily updating the City's regulations regarding Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) to conform with new state law that became effective January 1, 2020.