Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) / Secondary Units

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) — also known as Secondary Units — 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. As of January 1, 2020, state and local laws surrounding ADUs have changed to allow for their construction with Single- and Multi-Family dwellings. See below for new applications and how-to guides that reflect the latest requirements.

Public Meetings & Hearings

Jun 02, 2021

June 2, 2021 Planning Commission Meeting

In accordance with the revised Emergency Order No. 3 of the City of Oakland, Residential Update Committee meetings will be held on a virtual platform. Click here for: May 5, 2021 Planning Commission Minutes for Approval at June 2, 2021 PC Meeting

All Meetings »

Guides & Reports

Read our report on ADUs in Oakland & check out our guides on how to build or rent one out.

State & Local Codes

Learn more about relevant state and local code requirements for ADUs.

Fire Hazard Severity Zone

This section is to inform about proposed changes to the existing ADU-related regulations in Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone (VHFHSZ) in Oakland. Please see a link to the June 2nd Planning Commission hearing above for the meeting agenda and the Staff Report with details about the proposal.

Designated by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), “Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones”(VHFHSZs) are areas where public safety is under significant threat of wildfires. CAL FIRE uses data models to analyze wildfire probability and expected wildfire behavior based on parameters such as weather patterns, available vegetation, terrain and other factors. Significant increases in population density within the VHFHSZ in Oakland create a severe threat to public safety because the existing infrastructure does not have enough capacity to handle mass evacuations during wildfires or other emergencies.

Portions of Oakland that are within the VHFHSZ include areas of Oakland Hills that suffered from the devastating Oakland firestorm in 1991. Please see Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone GIS Map and maps below to see areas the zone covers.


Banner photo credit: California Department of Housing and Community Development Accessory Unit Handbook, December 2020:

To help expand housing options for Oakland residents, the City is streamlining the process for property owners to build Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) on their lots. As of January 1, 2020, state and local laws surrounding ADUs have changed.

Here are the new categories of 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.


  • CATEGORY ONE ADU: Conversion of existing non-habitable space located within portions of an existing Two-Family Dwelling or Multi-Family Dwelling, such as storage rooms, boiler rooms, passageways, attics, basements or garages
  • CATEGORY TWO ADU: Construction of new detached structure(s) or conversion of existing detached structure(s) on lots with an existing Two-Family or Multi-Family Dwelling

* Change of Occupancy regulations for the California Existing Building Code (CEBC) may apply when adding ADUs.

Please see the Documents section for new ADU applications that conform to the latest legal requirements.

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