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 firstname.lastname@example.org or (831)-454-2130.
Single Unit Dwelling
Multiple Unit Lot
Minimum Lot Size
Maximum Lot Size
New Construction ADUs have special setbacks and height standards that define the building envelope for these structures.
Minimum Setbacks from Property Line
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
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:
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.
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.
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 https://www.sccoplanning.com/PlanningHome/ContactInformation.aspx 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.