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(650) 730-2387 ext: 586
Schedule ADU Consultation (650) 730-2387 ext: 586

Palo Alto ADUs

Everything about building Accessory Dwelling Units in Palo Alto, CA

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Palo Alto ADU Guidelines Last Updated 01/26/21

The city government of Palo Alto has updated its local zoning codes to comply with the State ADU mandate.
The California Building Code (CBC) 2019 is adopted.



hintsights

City Hint: The city permitted a total of 62 ADU projects in the past year of 2019, which makes it above average for ADU production compared to other cities statewide.


Number of ADUs allowed:

According to state law, all single-family homes are allowed at least one ADU. Additionally, single-family parcels which are owner-occupied may create one ADU and one Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU). Also, multi-family parcels may now add one ADU per every four existing residential units, so long as they were legally established.

Types of ADUs allowed:

Detached ADU, Attached ADU, Junior ADU are approved. Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)s may be new construction or converted from existing space. JADUs must be converted from existing space.

Lot size:

Single family and multi-family residential parcels will not be subject to the minimum lot size of the underlying zoning district or by ordinance for Accessory Dwelling Unit projects. ~ AB68

ADU size:

Residential parcels will be approved to construct up to 850 sq.ft. for a one bedroom ADU or up to 1,000 sq.ft. for a two bedroom ADU, regardless of the underlying zoning standards of the property. A Junior Accessort Dwelling Unit (JADU) is approved up to 500 sq.ft.. According to California Residential Code, the minimum size of any living unit is 150 sq.ft. (including Accessory Dwelling Units and Junior Accessort Dwelling Unit (JADU)s). ~ AB68 & AB881 Update

Setbacks:

Setbacks for a detached new construction Accessory Dwelling Unit shall be no more than 4 ft from the rear and side lot lines. No setbacks shall be required for Accessory Dwelling Units and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units converted from legally eastablished existing space. Attached new construction Accessory Dwelling Units and conversions from existing space to be expanded must comply with the setbacks of the underlying zone. ~ AB68 & AB881 Update

Parking:

Replacement parking shall not apply to parcels which convert an existing garage to an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) or Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit. ~ Updated: State Law AB-68

Fire Safety:

Fire sprinklers are only required when it is also required for the main residence.

Shape, materials and style:

Basement used in the guide is a defined term and subject to specific standards.

Height:

Attached: 1 story and 17 feet, 2 stories and 30 feet in the RE District, 2-Stories / 25 feet in the OS District Detached: 1-Story / 17 feet Converting of floor area Existing and Permitted as of January 1, 2017: None, must be located within an existing residence or structure. Junior ADU No height restriction other than that it must be located within an existing residence.

Design review:

Ministerial review per state requirements.

Number of Bedrooms:

Not specified by State Standards.

Ownership & Rental

Owner-occupancy will not be required for new Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)s (conversion and new construction) built between 2020 and 2025. ~ SB-13

Utility connections:

ADU/JADUs are not considered a new residential use, when calculating utility connection fees.

Entry:

Attached ADU Detached ADU Conversion of Floor Area Existing and
Permitted as of January 1, 2017 Junior ADU*
Independent exterior access Except for corner lots, must face different property line than main residence or located on rear half of lot Independent exterior access Independent exterior access Independent exterior access Interior entry to the main living area.

Allowed Zones:

*** Beginning in 2020, according to state law, all residential zoning districts, including single-family and multi-family, are allowed to build Accessory Dwelling Units. ***

Attached:
R1 | R2 | RE | RMD | OS
RM 15/30/40 when property is used for a single-family dwelling.

Detached:
R1 | R2 | RE | RMD | OS
RM 15/30/40 when property is used for a single-family dwelling.

Conversion of Floor Area Existing and Permitted as of January 1, 2017:
R1 | RE
(conversions in other districts subject to attached or detached ADUs standards)

Junior ADU*
R1 | RE | RMD | R2 | OS
RM 15/30/40 when property is used for a single-family dwelling

Lot Coverage:

Lot Coverage: An attached or detached ADU does not count toward lot coverage in the R1, RE, RMD, or OS Zoning Districts under the following conditions:
• The site is already developed with an existing single family residence
• The property is substandard by no more than 10% of the minimum lot size requirement, or larger
• The site would exceed the permitted lot coverage with the addition of the proposed ADU

Floor Area Ratio:

Floor Area: An attached or detached ADU may exceed site floor area requirements up to 175 square feet subject to the following conditions:
• The site is already developed with an existing single family residence
• The site would exceed the maximum floor area with the addition of the proposed ADU
• The proposed ADU is one story

Kitchen / Bath:

Junior ADUs may include separate bathroom, or may share a bathroom with the existing structure, and must have an efficiency kitchen with the following:
• Sink w/maximum 1.5-inch waste line diameter
• Cooking facility with appliances that do not require more than 120 volts, natural, or propane gas
• Food preparation counter and storage cabinets

School Zone

For property located in the DHS district - refer to the SOFA Coordinated Area Plan Phase I

Daylight Plane

Daylight Plane (height limitation that defines a building envelope)
Same as residence (underlying base district)

Begins at a height of 8 feet at the property line and extends upward at a 45-degree angle
None, must be located within existing residence or structure
None, must be located within existing residence

Privacy

Attached ADU, Detached ADU
2-Story ADUs in RE / OS, use techniques to lessen views on neighbors, such as, landscaping, obscure glazing, and windows above eye level None

Conversion of Floor Area Existing and Permitted as of January 1, 2017 Junior ADU*
2-Story ADUs in all permitted districts, use techniques to lessen views on neighbors, such as, landscaping, obscure glazing, and windows above eye level None

Residential Building Code:

The California Building Code (CBC) 2019 is adopted.

Palo Alto City Planning Offices
Permitting

Development Services

250 hamilton ave palo alto ca 94301 1st Floor - Across City Hall Palo Alto, CA 94301

Call/Text ADU Operator (650) 730-2387
Dial Ext: 586
Detached ADU in Hayward, CA $9,025 saved


ADU Design Library

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

ADU Model 600 sqft

W 30 ft L 20 ft

ADU Model 425 sqft

W 25 ft L 17 ft

ADU Model 216 sqft

W 18 ft L 12 ft


Customer Reviews


"Housable has been a great resource regarding my ADU project. I purchased both the Property and Design Reports. In both cases, they delivered as promised and on time."

Ed in Corona, CA

"My experience with Housable was exceptional. The team was extremely helpful and responsive. I am very satisfied and happy to have used these services. As a home owner I do not know the construction lingo or process but the Housable team very kind and helpful and patient with me. My expectations were exceeded. Thank you for everything."

Monica H. in Oakland, CA

"The property report was great! Made me feel like my project is feasible."

Alexandria in Santa Ana, CA



Complete 5-Step Process

Design
Browse hundreds of permit-ready ADU designs and order one to customize to your needs.
Marketplace
Connect with local contractors to get site visits and cost estimates for your project.
Customization
Mark up changes to your plans and provide critical info needed to permit your project.
Permits
Finalize your project blueprints to submit for building permits.
Construction
Select your contractor and build your project.


What our customers say:



Customer Reviews


"My permits were APPROVED, thank you for all your hard work. I am in the process of meeting with contractors. "

Mary S. in San Jose, CA

"I just wanted to let you know that the permit process has been completed and we are currently in the construction phase. The work you guys did was great and I will definitely be using this service again in the future. I will keep you guys updated on anything important. Thanks!"

Patrick L. in Orange County, CA

Detached ADU - Completed in 2020
1,003 sq. ft., 3 bed, 2 bath

Estimate Your ADU Potential
Financing
Costs / ROI

SELECT ADU SIZE & TYPE

APPRECIATION ESTIMATE

* upon completion of ADU

CONSTRUCTION COST ESTIMATE

* based on local average price per sqft

RENTAL ESTIMATE

* estimated by location

MORTGAGE ESTIMATE

* 30 years / 5% interest rate / 20% down payment

SELECT ADU SIZE & TYPE

Size: 500 sqft

BASED ON LOCAL AVERAGE PROPERTY DATA & VALUE

Appreciation Estimate = (Base Value: $) / (Home's Living Space: sqft) * (ADU's Living Space: sqft)

Rental Estimate = (Rent Per Sqft: $7.51) * (ADU's Living Space: sqft)

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

Everything you need to get accurate estimates from contractors for your ADU project. Get help with ADU feasibility, design, permitting and sourcing contractors for your project in one place.

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