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Accessory Dwelling Units


Housing affordability and supply is an urgent issue in California where a majority of renters pay more than 30 percent of their income towards rent and homeownership is at its lowest point since the 1940s. In an effort to accelerate housing construction throughout California, the State legislature passed a series of laws to encourage Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in single and multi-unit neighborhoods. The City has responded to the state’s direction by updating the zoning ordinance to incorporate development standards for ADUs consistent with state law and preparing applicant handouts.

What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit?

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) have gone by many names, including granny flats, in-law units, and secondary units. By definition, an ADU is a self-contained, additional housing unit that contains a kitchen, bathroom, and a place to sleep. ADUs range in size from 150 square feet for a studio to 1,200 square feet for a unit with multiple bedrooms.

What is a Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit?

Like an ADU, a Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU) is an additional housing unit on a residential property but JADUs are limited to up to 500 square feet in size and must be contained within the walls of an existing or proposed home. JADUs also require a separate exterior entry and efficiency kitchen, and may share a bathroom with the main house or include their own bathroom.

Typical ADU Configurations

There are many different types of ADUs but they generally fall into one of the following configurations:

ADUs/JADUs in Santa Barbara

ADU/JADU Permitting

ADUs/JADUs are subject to a unique permitting process. The ADU Permit Guide and Supplemental Application form is available here.

State Law and ADU Ordinance Update

In November 2020, the City updated its ADU Ordinance to comply with changes in State law. For more information, click here.

Owner Occupancy Requirements for ADUs

The requirement that the property owner reside in either the primary residential unit or the ADU in the Residential Single Unit zone changed in 2020. This requirement is contained in the recorded agreement (covenant). The covenant is still required for sale and rental terms but starting December 10, 2020, property owners can apply to remove the owner occupancy provision in existing (prior to 2020) covenants by completing the following steps:

Removal of ADU Covenants

If an ADU Covenant was recorded before January 1, 2020, you may request the existing owner-occupancy provision to be removed. Due to limited staff resources, it could take several months to complete the process. To change your covenant:

  1. Complete “ADU-JADU Covenant Request Form” on page 3 of the Accessory Dwelling Units Supplemental Application.
  2. Submit it as a PDF to a new pre-application (PRE) via our Accela Citizen Access Portal (ACA).
  3. Pay the processing fee ($410) plus recording costs ($47).
  4. Execute the covenant with a notarized signature and return it to the City to record.

New ADU Covenants

Owner-occupancy is not required on any new ADU covenants for a period of 5 years (from January 2020 to January 2025). However, if you are proposing a Junior ADU, the property owner must still reside in either the primary residential unit or the JADU.

Latest News

The City has launched an interactive map of all ADU projects in the City. To view the map, click here.

The City hosted an ADU workshop on January 13, 2021. To view the recording, click here.

City Council adopted the ADU Ordinance amendments on November 10, 2020. The Title 30 (Inland) ordinance will be in effect for projects submitted on or after December 10, 2020. To view the adopted ordinance amendments, click here.

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For information on public meetings, click here.

For information on ADU permitting, including the ADU Permit Guide and Supplemental Application form, click here.

Last Updated: Jan 12, 2021
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