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Development Services

Accessory and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU/JADU)

  ADU/JADU Updates |Feb. 2024

  • The San Diego Housing Commission’s (SDHC) Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Finance Program helps homeowners with low income in the City of San Diego build ADUs on their property. The program provides financial assistance through construction loans and technical assistance that helps homeowners understand and complete the process of building an ADU. Learn more
  • Have questions about building an ADU on your property? Schedule a free virtual Planning and Zoning appointment.
  • Want to legalize your unpermitted ADU? Learn how
  • View the regulations outside the Coastal Overlay Zone effective April 10, 2022, including new setback and landscape requirements.
  • ADUs in the non-appealable areas of the Coastal Overlay Zone are now eligible for Process 1 review and approval. Learn more.

ADUs are detached or attached accessory structures on a residential lot that provide independent living areas. ADUs are intended as permanent housing solutions and shall not be used for rental terms of less than 31 consecutive days.

ADUs can be integrated into existing single-family or multi-family properties. They can be designed in various ways, including converting a portion of an existing house, adding to the existing house, converting an existing garage or constructing a new detached structure. Learn more about ADUs and JADUs

 

Highlights

ADUs and JADUs are integral to the City's Housing SD initiatives to increase housing affordability and supply citywide. The City has amended regulations that make it easier and less expensive to build ADUs and JADUs, providing affordable and below-market housing throughout the City.

Some of these changes include:

  • Digital plan review, expedited processing and construction inspection times.
  • A property with a Single Dwelling Unit may have both an ADU and a JADU.
  • A property with Multiple Dwelling Units may have two detached ADUs and may convert habitable and non-habitable spaces to ADUs.
  • The maximum size is 1,200 square feet, attached or detached.
  • Encroachments into the side and rear yards.
  • No parking required: Replacement parking is not required for conversions of garages.
  • Bonus ADU Program for Affordable ADUs.
  • Rental terms are for a minimum of 31 days.
  • Waiving Development Impact Fees, Facility Benefit Assessment Fees and General Plan Maintenance Fees.

 

Municipal Code

Fee Schedule

Inspections

Publications and Resources

*Contact each jurisdiction for the latest version of their plans. Once customized for your application, they must be submitted in PDF format. View PDF requirements.

FAQ - Affordable ADU Bonus Program

What is the ADU Bonus Program?

The City’s “Affordable ADU Bonus” program was created in response to AB 671, which mandates local jurisdictions to incentivize the construction of affordable ADUs. The Affordable ADU bonus program allows for constructing one unrestricted ADU for every affordable ADU deed-restricted for 10 years or 15 years, depending on the affordable income level. 

How many bonus ADUs are permitted inside of a Sustainable Development Area?

The number of additional ADUs within SDAs does not have a specific limit. In all instances, the number of bonus ADUs would be physically limited by zoning regulations such as:

  • maximum allowable floor area ratio.
  • lot coverage.
  • structure height requirements.

This means that aside from setbacks, the ultimate building mass allowed would be no different than what a single dwelling unit or multi-family structure could build on the lot, depending on whether the ADU is located in a single-family or multi-family zone. The primary difference is the number of housing units provided.

What are the ‘pipeline provisions’ for properties within a Transit Priority Area but outside of a Sustainable Development Area?

  • As part of O-21618, a pipeline provision was adopted, allowing projects that have submitted applications one year from the effective date of the Ordinance (May 6, 2023) to be subject to the rules in effect prior to the effective date of the Ordinance.
  • Project applications submitted on or before May 5, 2024, may utilize the bonus ADU provisions on properties that are within a Transit Priority Area but outside of a  Sustainable Development Area.

What is the process to restrict the ADUs as affordable?

A written agreement and a deed of trust is required between the applicant and the San Diego Housing Commission, which is established as part of the ADU permit review and approval process.

How long must the ADUs be income-restricted?

  • For ADUs restricted to very low-income and low-income households, the restriction shall apply for a period of not less than 10 years.
  • For ADUs restricted to moderate-income households, the restriction shall apply for a period of not less than 15 years.

What is the current (2023) area median income (AMI) for San Diego?

Is there a bonus program for JADUs? 

No. Only one JADU is permitted on a premises in the Single-Dwelling Unit Zone. JADUs are not permitted in Multiple Dwelling Unit Zones. 

FAQ - Single Dwelling Unit Zones Outside of the Coastal Overlay Zone

Can I build a new detached JADU?

No, a JADU must be within the envelope of an existing Single Primary Dwelling Unit, within a proposed Single Primary Dwelling Unit or within an attached garage. 

Can I have an access door between my JADU and my primary dwelling unit?

Yes, but the JADU must also have a separate exterior entry.

Am I required to provide a kitchen in my ADU or JADU?

Yes. ADUs must have a permanent facility for cooking. This includes the installation of a sink, refrigeration facilities, as well as a stove, a range top or an oven.  JADUs must have an efficiency kitchen, which shall include a cooking facility with appliances, a food preparation counter and storage cabinets that are of reasonable size in relation to the size of the JADU.

Do I have to replace any parking spaces if I convert or demolish a garage or carport to a JADU or ADU?

No. However, if the construction of an ADU or JADU involves the conversion or demolition of an existing covered parking structure and the existing driveway curb does not conform with current city standards, the driveway shall be closed to the satisfaction of the City Engineer. 

I am at the maximum allowed floor area ratio of my zone. Can I still construct an ADU? If so, what is the maximum size I can construct?

Yes. However, if you exceed the maximum FAR of the zone, you are limited to one (1) ADU with a maximum gross floor area of 800 square feet.

Can I use my existing driveway as a parking space? 

Yes. The parking spaces must meet minimum dimension standards. 9’ x 18’ for parking spaces with a wall or column on one side. 9’-6” x 18’ for parking spaces with a wall or column on two sides.  8’ x 18’ for all others.

If I convert my existing garage to a JADU or ADU and my existing driveway length is less than the minimum driveway's dimension, do I have to close the curb-cut and install a new curb, gutter, and sidewalk?

Yes. As addressed in §141.0302(b)(3)(E), if the construction of an ADU or JADU causes an existing driveway curb cut to no longer comply with the dimensions required in Table 142-05K of §142.0560 for an off-street parking space, the driveway shall be closed to the satisfaction of the City Engineer.

I have previously permitted floor area encroaching into my front and/or street-side setbacks. Can I convert this area to an ADU?

Yes. However, no additional floor area can encroach into the front and/or street-side setbacks.

If I want to construct an ADU or JADU with a balcony, rooftop deck, or exterior stairs, are there any regulations I should be mindful of?

Yes. These proposed encroachments should be in conformance with §131.0461 of the San Diego Municipal Code.

I am in a Single Dwelling Unit Zone, but I have previously permitted multiple dwelling units. How many ADUs can I build?

The regulations allow for the following:

  • •    Two detached ADUs.
  • •    The conversion of 25% of the existing previously permitted multiple dwelling units.
  • •    Unlimited ADUs when converting non-habitable areas of an existing multiple dwelling unit building.