Single-Family Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

ADUs are attached or detached accessory dwellings that provide independent living for one or more people, including permanent facilities for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation. ADUs require both Planning/Zoning and Building Bureau review.

Date Posted: November 17th, 2020 @ 4:38 PM
Last Updated: September 27th, 2021 @ 10:44 AM

When Are Permits Required?

Single Family ADU icon

All Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) require a Design Review Exemption (DRX) Permit from the Planning/Zoning Bureau, along with Building Permits.

Here are the categories of Single-Family ADUs under California state law:

  • JUNIOR ADU (JADU): Involves conversion of space within the building envelope of an existing or proposed Single-Family dwelling, resulting in a living unit of not more than 500 sq. ft., requiring owner-occupancy in the JADU or primary dwelling unit.
  • CATEGORY ONE ADU: Involves either conversion of space within an existing Single-Family Dwelling, or conversion or rebuild of an existing accessory structure; includes no expansion of the existing building envelope other than up to 150 sq. ft. for purposes of accommodating ADU access and egress only.
  • CATEGORY TWO ADU: Involves construction of a new detached or attached structure, including an exterior addition to an existing structure to accommodate the ADU, in conjunction with a proposed or existing Single-Family dwelling.

Please note that a Category 1 OR a Category 2 ADU may be combined on the lot with one JADU. However, a lot may NOT contain both a Category 1 ADU and a Category 2 ADU. If a lot contains two ADUs, one must be a JADU.

IMPORTANT METERING UPDATE! Please note that separate utility meters may be required for your ADU as per California Public Utility Code (P.U.Code) Section 780.5. Please read our joint ADU bulletin with PG&E for details.

See below for step-by-step requirements to apply for your ADU permits or review our Guidebook to Single-Family ADUs.

Who Can Be Issued a Permit?

  1. Contractors who are licensed by the State of California with a classification appropriate for the work that will be performed and have a current Business Tax Certificate.
  2. Owners of a building or their legal representative.

How to Apply

Download the Single-Family ADU Application and follow these steps:

Step One: Planning/Zoning Review
  • Complete all required information, checklist, documents, and plans as outlined in the "Zoning Requirements, Step 1" section on page 2 of the application
  • E-mail ALL completed application form(s) and all associated plans and documents to or via our Digital Inbox for applications over 20MB
  • A planner will review your submission
  • Once approved, you will receive a decision letter from the Bureau of Planning
  • Proceed to Step Two
Step Two: Building Permit Application
  • Ensure that all required information, checklist, documents, and plans are complete as outlined in the "Building Requirements, Step 2" section on page 2 of the application
  • Once advised by Zoning, re-submit via e-mail any required Building application form(s) and associated plans and documents to or via our Digital Inbox for applications over 20MB


Once we receive your application and have created it in our system, we will review your plans. If your plans require corrections or if we need further information, we will contact you. Once you've gone through Steps 1 and 2, we will contact you to issue your permit. Depending on our workload and the complexity of the project, the process may take between 6-8 weeks from the date the City receives a completed application to the date when we issue your permit (subject to time limits set forth in California Government Code 65852.2).


Call (510) 238-3911 or find quick answers through our Permit Questions Portal.

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