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Palo Alto ADUs

Everything about building Accessory Dwelling Units in Palo Alto, CA

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Palo Alto ADU Guidelines Last Updated 04/05/20

PLANNING OFFICE The city planning office is not open to the public at this time, but is accepting ADU permit questions and applications.

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.
Relevant state bill updates for SB13, AB68, AB881, AB670 are shown in green below.


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City Hint: The city has not yet responded to requests for ADU permit volumes for the past year, but they will be provided here once response has been received.


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 Accessort 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.

As of January 1st, 2020

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

As of January 1st, 2020

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 Califronia 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

As of January 1st, 2020

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

As of January 1st, 2020

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

As of January 1st, 2020

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

As of January 1st, 2020

Utility connections:

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

Permit Fees

SB13 Update: As of January 1st, 2020, local impact fees for ADUs will be reduced substantially statewide.

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

As of January 1st, 2020

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

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