Schedule ADU Consultation (760) 571-2387 ext: 821

Carlsbad ADUs

Everything about developing Accessory Dwelling Units in Carlsbad, CA

Research local zoning codes for ADU design
Calculate returns and costs to get financing
Estimate your project costs and timeline

Check your property's zoning, browse designs & get contractor estimates for your ADU project:

I'm interested in

Last Updated 09/19/21

The city government of Carlsbad has updated it’s local zoning codes to comply with the State ADU mandate.

Planning And Development Fees / Permit Fees






Single‐Family House (1 Unit)

Building Permit

Building Official

2 – 3 weeks

Single‐Family Standard Subdivision (1‐4 Units)

Tentative Parcel Map

City Planner 1

3 – 6 months

Single‐Family Small‐lot Subdivision (1‐4 Units)

Tent. Parcel Map PUD Permit

City Planner 1

4 – 8 months

Single‐Family or Multi‐family Condominiums (1‐4 Units)

Tent. Parcel Map PUD Permit

City Planner 1

4 – 8 months

Single‐Family or Multi‐family Apartments (1‐4 Units)

Building Permit

Building Official 1

3 – 5 weeks

Single‐Family Standard Subdivision (5+ Units)

Tent. Tract Map

Planning Commission

6 – 9 months

Single‐Family Small‐lot Subdivision (5+ Units)

Tent. Tract Map PUD Permit

Planning Commission

6 – 11 months

Single‐Family or Multi‐family Condominiums (5+ Units)

Tent. Tract Map PUD Permit

Planning Commission

6 – 11 months

Single‐Family or Multi‐family Apartments (5+ Units)

Site Development Plan

Planning Commission

6 – 11 months

These findings, and the development standards that are applicable to multi‐family development, are specific to the design of the project and its site, and the project’s compatibility with its surroundings and serving infrastructure. Furthermore, they are readily available to a project applicant. Sites for high density development in the city are located according to General Plan standards to help ensure they are in locations compatible with their surroundings and appropriately located near adequate services and transportation networks. Carlsbad offers a preliminary review process to potential applicants. For a reduced application fee and minimal submittal requirements, applicants will receive detailed information on the standards and processing applicable for their anticipated projects, including comments from the city’s Community and Economic Development Department (Building, Land Development Engineering, and Planning Divisions), and Fire Prevention. The timeframe for processing required permits can vary, depending on the size and type of development, permits required, and approving entity (Table 10‐38). Typical processing time for a single‐family home is two to three weeks, while larger subdivisions can take eight to 12 months (from the application date to approval date).




Affordable Housing





Agricultural Conversion Mitigation Fee


Coastal Development Permit (outside the Village)

Single Family Lot


2-4 units or lots


5+ Units or Lot Subdivision


Coastal Development Permit (Village only)


Environmental Impact Assessment


Environmental Impact Report


General Plan Amendment

0-5 Acres


Over 5 Acres


Habitat Management Permit





Hillside Development Permit

Single Family


Other (Multiple Lots)


Local Coastal Program Amendment


Local Facilities Management Zone Plan/Amendment

$10,000.00/Fee+ Min. Increments of $5,000.00

Master Plan


Master Plan Pre-Filing Submittal


Planned Development

Minor (4 or fewer units)


Major (5-50 units)


Major (51+ units)


Preliminary Review

Minor (single family dwelling)


Major (other)


Review Permit, Major (Village only)


Site Development Plan

Minor (<4 units)




1 Afford able housing projects of any size require approval of a SDP by the Planning Commission. Source: City of Carlsbad, 2016. California Coastal Commission The city has obtained Coastal Development Permit jurisdiction for five of the six Local Coastal Plan (LCP) segments (excluding the Agua Hedionda LCP segment) within its boundaries. Development within these five LCP segments of the coastal zone consistent with the Local Coastal Program is not required to be reviewed by the Coastal Commission. As part of its current effort to update its LCP, the city is pursuing jurisdiction to issue Coastal Development Permits in the Agua Hedionda LCP segment. Proposed changes to the LCP or ordinances that implement the LCP, such as the Carlsbad Zoning Ordinance, require the filing of a LCP amendment with the Coastal Commission after all city approvals have occurred. The Coastal Commission must review and approve these changes before they become effective in the Coastal Zone. This additional review may add several months. Since the requirement to file a LCP amendment is applicable to all jurisdictions with Coastal Zones, it is not unique to the City of Carlsbad and does not constitute an actual constraint to housing development. San Diego Regional Airport Authority Carlsbad is home to the McClellan‐Palomar Airport, a public aviation facility, owned by the County of San Diego. Pursuant to state law, all GPAs, Zoning Ordinance amendments, and Master and Specific Plan amendments that affect land within the airport’s influence area in Carlsbad must be reviewed by the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (SDCRAA). The SDCRAA has 60 days for the review. However, the City Council has the authority to override the SDCRAA review with a four‐fifths vote. Since this requirement is applicable to all jurisdictions located near airports/airfields, this requirement is not unique to the City of Carlsbad and does not constitute an actual constraint to housing development. Other potential constraints associated more specifically with the airport are discussed in this section. Mitigating Opportunities The city complies with state requirements for streamlining the permit processing procedures. In addition, the city offers priority processing for affordable housing projects, reducing the review time for discretionary permits. Building Codes On January 1, 2014, the 2013 California Building Code and appendices became effective in the city, along with local amendments related to administrative procedures (e.g., permit expiration and exemptions). This includes applicable green building, electrical, mechanical, plumbing and fire regulations. Applicants’ plans are reviewed for compliance with the building code before permits are issued. Fees and Exactions The City of Carlsbad collects planning and development fees to cover the costs of processing permits. The city also charges impact fees to recover the cost of providing the necessary public services, infrastructure, and facilities required to serve new residential development. Typical permit fees are presented in Table 10‐39. On average, permit and development impact fees total to $54,400 for a typical single‐family home and $20,600 for a multi‐family unit. (These fee averages, collected in 2013, are maintained to provide a reasonable comparison with the fee information collected from other cities below.) It is difficult to compare fees across different communities, since they tend to have different types of fees. For example, Carlsbad may have some fees that are higher, but the city does not have a design review fee as in most adjacent communities. Still, a comparative assessment has been undertaken. According to the respective cities’ adopted (2013) housing elements, the neighboring City of Oceanside describes $32,829 ‐ $36,109 for single‐family homes and $22,832 ‐ $23,488 per unit for a multi‐family project; in the City of San Marcos, fees are estimated at approximately $55,717 per unit in single‐family subdivisions and $33,632 per unit for a typical multi‐family project; and the City of Escondido estimates that a developer can expect to pay $39,860 for a typical single‐family dwelling unit and $24,247 per unit for a multi‐family project. For single‐family and multi‐family construction, the 2013 permit and development impact fees stated above for Carlsbad and adjusted for inflation to 2016, represent about 10 percent and 8 percent, respectively, of total development costs (“TDC,” or the costs to construct a home, less the developer’s profit). TDC for a single‐family home were based on a developer’s estimate to build a 40‐plus unit subdivision in the city with single‐family detached homes averaging 2,000 square . TDC for a multi‐family dwelling were based on estimates to develop market‐rate, garden apartments with one to three bedroom units averaging 860 square in Carlsbad. These multi‐family estimates are contained in Appendix II of the Affordable Housing Impact Fee Nexus Study prepared for the proposed rental housing impact fee, available at




Special Use Permit

Flood Plain


Scenic Corridor


Specific Plan


Tentative Parcel Map


Tentative Tract Map (Major Subdivision)

5-49 Units/Lots


50+ Units/Lots







Zone Change

<5 acres


5+ acres




Bridge & Thoroughfare Districts

District 1

$318-$530/unit (varies based on unit type)

District 2

$348-$1,459/Average Daily Trip (varies based on location)

District 3

$200/Average Daily Trip

Community Facilities District

Single Family Detached, Condominium



$0.71/square foot

Habitat Management Plan Mitigation Fee

Coastal Sage Scrub


Non-native grassland


Agricultural/Distributed/Eucalyptus woodland


Local Facilities Management Zone

$310/unit (applies to Zone 6 only)

Master Drainage (“PLDA”) 1


Park In Lieu

$3,696-$7,649/unit (varies based on location, unit type)

Public Facilities

1.82% (in a CFD) or 3.5% (out of a CFD) of permit valuation

School Fees (residential) 2

$3.48-$4.68/square foot

Sewer Benefit Area

$0-$3,347/unit (varies based on location)

Sewer Connection (all areas)

$881/equivalent dwelling unit




Traffic Impact 3

Single Family Detached






Water Connection 4

Single Family Detached




ADU Design Library

Browse hundreds of models to find the right fit for your property.

ADU Model 750 sqft

30 ft x 25 ft

ADU Model 288 sqft

18 ft x 16 ft

ADU Model 480 sqft

30 ft x 16 ft

Check your property's zoning, browse designs & get contractor estimates for your ADU project:

I'm interested in