ADU Jurisdiction Guide: City of Santa Cruz
Fees and Regulations (August 2022)

ADU-allowed Zones

Having ADU on your property is allowed as long as your lot is zoned for residential use (exceptions may vary) and as long as you have an existing single-family home or a multi-family building. 

Use the Eligibility tool on the ADU website to determine your eligibility and the size of ADU you could build on your property.

Single-unit dwelling:
One (1) ADU – within the existing space of the property 
– One (1) JADU per lot

Multiple-unit dwelling:
25% of existing units or one (1) unit, whichever is greater
– Two (2) detached ADUs

ADU Size Limitations

A local government may, by ordinance, establish minimum and maximum unit size requirements for both attached and detached ADUs. 

However, maximum unit size requirements with one bedroom must be at least 850 square feet and 1,000 square feet for ADUs with more than one bedroom. 

If ADU exceeds the thresholds above, ADUs shall not exceed 50% of the total floor area of the primary dwelling or 1,200 square feet whichever is less.

ADU Maximum Height

  • Attached ADUs: standard for the zone district (usually 28 feet)
  • Detached ADUs outside the Urban Services Line: standard for the zone district (usually 28 feet)
  • Detached ADUs inside the Urban Services Line: 16 feet (21 feet allowed with Zoning Administrator approval)
  • ADUs above Detached Garages inside the Urban Services Line: 24 feet at the roof peak, 20 feet at top of exterior wall

Minimum Lot Size

No minimum. ADUs greater than 800 square feet are required to provide the minimum open space requirements of the underlying zoning district of the project site.

Maximum Lot Size

The ADU shall not exceed the maximum lot coverage of the underlying zoning district of the project site; however, lot coverage shall not be imposed for attached or detached ADUs less than 800 square-feet.

ADU Setbacks

– Minimum front setbacks: standard for the zone district
Minimum side setbacks: 4 feet
– Minimum rear setbacks: 4 feet for building height up to 16 feet, 8 feet for building height over 16 feet
– Minimum separation between ADU and other structures: 3 feet (or more if needed for fire separation per the California Residential Code). Learn more here.

Coastal Special Communities

Pleasure Point: Maximum height for ADUs above Detached Garages: Maximum 22 feet at the roof peak, 18 feet at top of exterior wall, and meet standards of the PP combining zone district

Seascape Beach Estates: ADUs follow setbacks, height, FAR, and lot coverage standards for the SBE combining zone district

Parking Space Requirements

Parking is not required for Conversion ADUs or JADUs. Property owners converting garages to ADUs do not need to replace lost parking spaces except in certain coastal areas.

New Construction ADUs require one new parking space, except in the following locations when outside certain coastal areas:

  • Historic districts
  • Within one block of designated car share parking
  • Within ½ mile walking distance of any transit stop (except in designated coastal areas )

Coastal Parking Regulations:

  • Within the Live Oak Designated Area (LODA), Seacliff/Aptos/La Selva Designated Area (SALSDA), Davenport/Swanton Designated Area (DASDA), and Opal Cliff Drive between 41st Ave and the City of Capitola, one parking space is required for new construction ADUs, with no exceptions, and replacement parking is required when existing parking is demolished or converted for construction of an ADU.

Owner Occupancy Requirements

On properties with ADUs and JADUs that were permitted before January 1, 2020, the owner (or a relative of the owner) is required to live on site. On properties with ADUs permitted during the five-year period from January 1, 2020 through January 1, 2025, owner occupancy is required only if there is also a JADU on the property.

The County requires proof of owner occupancy via a Homeowner’s Tax Exemption filed with the County Assessor or some other official documentation. Property owners have an option to apply for a temporary exception to this owner occupancy requirement at the discretion of the Planning Director.

Other Regulations

  • Fire sprinklers are generally required in an ADU only if they are present or being installed in the primary home on the parcel. However, you will still need approval from the appropriate fire district and will need to comply with the fire code.
  • You can build an ADU even if your property is on Septic only if your system can handle the additional flow from the ADU or can be upgraded to do so. Anytime you add bedrooms or convert existing bedrooms to ADUs or JADUs, the septic requirements increase. Applicants should consult with Environmental Health Services (831-454-3234) early in their process regarding the capacity of the existing system and the feasibility of improving it if necessary.
  • JADUs and Conversion ADUs do not require a new sewer or water connection and no additional capacity charges can be applied, except if they are built concurrently with primary dwellings. New Construction ADUs may require a separate sewer or water connection. 
  • All detached New Construction ADUs are subject to the same solar PV requirements as new homes.
  • ADUs shall not be utilized as commercial short-term rentals (i.e. rentals less than 30 days).  
  • Section 8 of the ADU Financing Guide contains a list of resources for a successful renting experience including guidance about creating a lease, tips on selecting tenants, information to help you understand your legal responsibilities, and guidance on maintaining a rental unit. Helpful links are also available in the Landlord section of Santa Cruz County’s Resources page.

ADU Permit Fees

– Maverick 392: $4,400.55
Maverick 504: $5,186.75
– Maverick 748: $12,992.69

*ADUs under 640sqft have greatly reduced fees. They are waived from various processing fees such as a building plan, permits, solid report waiver, and environmental plan.

Sewer Connection Fee: $3,000
Water District: $570


We hope this quick reference guide helps you out in your ADU project. Part of our service if you build with us is the full service of our in-house permit technician who handle the processing of your permit on your behalf with no mark-ups. 

If you’re interested in building with ADU.Works, please don’t hesitate to book a consultation with us or give us a quick call through our number +1 (650) 227 4810. We’ll gladly discuss the specifications of your permit processing and accommodate any questions you may have. Our team looks forward to hearing from you.

Join Our List

Subscribe now for ADU news updates!