CHANGES To ADU Development Standards & Requirements!
On January 1, 2020, new state regulations for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs) went into effect with the intended purpose of easing local zoning controls, reducing associated development fees, and streamlining the permit process. The new legislation expressly limits a local agency’s ability to regulate ADUs and JADUs and puts most local ADU/JADU ordinances in conflict with the State’s new laws.
Planning Division staff will be updating the County’s existing ADU ordinances to be compliant with the State’s regulations. Until that time, all ADU/JADU permit applications will be reviewed using both the County’s existing development standards and, where applicable, the State’s revised development standards to verify consistency with State law. Draft amendments to both the Non-Coastal and Coastal Zoning Ordinances are being prepared to comply with the new State regulations. Development standards associated with parking, JADUs, owner occupancy requirements, and others will be amended to reflect changes made at the state level.
Current State law regarding Accessory Dwelling Units can be found on the State of California’s Legislative Information website. If you would like to be added to an Interested Parties List to receive notification when the ADU ordinances go to public hearing, please visit the Planning Division Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance Update webpage and register here: https://www.vcrma.org/accessory-dwelling-unit-ordinance-update.
An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is an accessory structure that is intended for human habitation. An ADU can be created by adding on to an existing principal dwelling or by converting existing permitted space within a principal dwelling. Additionally, a new detached ADU can be constructed or created by converting an existing detached accessory structure (garage, artist studio, pool house, etc.). Only one ADU is allowed on a legal lot.
ADUs are generally permitted on most lots that allow for residential development, including Open Space and Agricultural Exclusive zoned lots. Some areas of the County are within designated impact areas, where eligibility requirements for ADUs are more restrictive. Please review the Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinance Section 8107-1.7, or the “Summary of ADU Regulations” page below, to see eligibility requirements for ADUs.
If your lot is located in the coastal area, the proposed ADU must comply with the Coastal Zoning Ordinance Section 8175-5.1.1. The ordinance is available here.
To determine the type of permit required for your ADU, see the flow chart below.
Important Documents for ADU Permits:
- Zoning Clearance Application Form: This is the official application form to obtain a permit for an attached, detached or Interior ADU located in OS/AE zones, as shown in the flow chart above. Submittal of supplemental information will most likely be required.
- ADU Owner-Occupant and Rental Term Affidavit: This is a required form for all ADUs that require a Zoning Clearance. It is an affidavit from the property owner agreeing that the lot in which the ADU is being proposed will be owner-occupied and that the ADU, if rented out, will be rented out for terms of no less than 30 consecutive days.
- Parking Location Waiver Form for ADUs in Fire Hazard Severity Zones: This waiver form is for applicants whose property is located within a Fire Hazard Severity Zone. This waiver is needed if the applicant intends to utilize their driveway and setbacks to meet parking requirements. A waiver can only be granted if there are no known barriers to emergency vehicle access as determined by Fire Department staff. The County View mapping tool can assist in identifying if the property is in a Fire Hazard Severity Zone. Once you click on the County View link, input your address on the home page, then turn on the “Fire Severity Zones” layer under the “hazards” category. You should be able to determine if your house is within a Fire Hazard Severity Zone utilizing this feature.
- Standardized Plans: The Building and Safety Division has standardized plans for ADU construction available for public use. There are three ADU sizes available: 700 sq. ft., 900 sq. ft., and 1,200 sq. ft.