Santa Cruz County


August 25, 2022

Santa Cruz, California


Santa Cruz's ADU code has been amended to comply with recent state regulations. The most recent specifications for approving an ADU in this community are listed below.


To find out if you qualify and how big an ADU you can put up on your land, use the Eligibility Tool on the ADU website. To determine whether a lot complies with the Santa Cruz County Code's (section 13.10.681) standards for ADU accommodation, the tool extracts the pertinent information from the County's GIS database.

The County Planning Department can confirm the results of the eligibility tool by contacting them at or (831)-454-2130.


Single Unit Dwelling

  • One (1) ADU – within the existing space of the property
  • One (1) JADU per lot

Multiple Unit Lot

  • 25% of existing units or one (1) unit, whichever is greater
  • Two (2) detached ADUs


  • JADU: Minimum 150 sq ft, maximum 500 sf
  • Conversion ADU: Minimum 150 sq ft, no maximum size
  • New Construction ADU: Minimum 150 sq ft, maximum based on parcel size


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 roof peak, 20 feet at top of exterior wall


Minimum Lot Size

  • No minimum. ADUs greater than 800 sq. ft. 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 sq. ft.


New Construction ADUs have special setbacks and height standards that define the building envelope for these structures.

Minimum Setbacks from Property Line

  • 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).

Maximum Floor Area Ratio and Lot Coverage

ADUs are subject to standard FAR and lot coverage, except that an ADU up to 800 sf is allowed, regardless of FAR and lot coverage.

Coastal Special Communities

  • Pleasure Point: Maximum height for ADUs above Detached Garages: Maximum 22 feet at 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 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.


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.


Permit Fees

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

ADUs under 640 sq. ft. 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: $3,000.00

Water District Fee: $570.00

The majority of ADUs just need a building permit, which is reviewed online using the County's ePlan system. Applications for ADU building permits are examined 60 days after submission.

Before a building permit can be issued, additional evaluation could be necessary for certain modifications to non-conforming homes or for ADUs situated in a coastal zone.


  • 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.
  • 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).

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



Public Counter (by appointment only)

Building, Zoning, Geologic Hazards, Environmental Planning, Environmental Health, and Public Works staff are available for in-person or telephone appointments Monday through Thursday from 8:00 to 11:30 AM.

An appointment is required; please use the Appointment Scheduler to self-schedule your time. The Planning Division is located at 701 Ocean Street, 4th Floor, Santa Cruz, CA.

Visit for other Planning Division contact.

This quick reference manual should be useful to you while you work on your ADU project. Our in-house permit technician will process your permit on your behalf without adding any markups as part of our service if you choose to construct with us.

Please don't hesitate to schedule a meeting with us if you're interested in building with ADU.Works or to give us a call at (650)-227-4810. We are happy to answer any questions you may have and go over the details of how your permission will be processed. Our staff is eager to hear from you.