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San Jose ADUs

Everything about building Accessory Dwelling Units in San Jose, CA

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San Jose 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 San Jose 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.


City Hint: In The City of San Jose, permitting fees for ADUs have been reduced recently due to a new waiver program to incentivize housing development in the city.

City Hint: The city permitted a total of 190 ADU project(s) in the past year of 2018, which is below the average compared to other cities in California.

Number of ADUs allowed:

Under state law, each single-family home may now add at least one Accessory Dwelling Unit. Owner occupied single-family lots may add one Accessory Dwelling Unit and one JADU. Multi-family lots, per every four existing residential units, may add one Accessory Dwelling Unit, so long as the existing units were legally established.

As of January 1st, 2020

Types of ADUs allowed:

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

Lot size:

Accessory Dwelling Unit projects on single family or multi-family residential lots will not be subject to the minimum lot size of the underlying local zoning code or by special ordinance. ~ AB68

As of January 1st, 2020

ADU size:

Residential lots will be allowed to create up to 850 sqft for a one bed ADU or up to 1,000 sqft for a two bed ADU, regardless of the underlying zoning standards of the property. A JADU is allowed up to 500 sqft. According to Califronia Residential Code, the minimum size of any living unit is 150 sqft (including ADUs and JADUs). ~ AB68 & AB881 Update

As of January 1st, 2020


The maximum required setback for a detached new construction Accessory Dwelling Unit shall be no more than 4 ft from the rear and side property lines. Setbacks will not be required for Accessory Dwelling Units and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units converted from existing space that was legally eastablished. Attached Accessory Dwelling Units and conversions from existing space to be expanded will be required to comply with the setbacks of the underlying zone. ~ According To AB68

As of January 1st, 2020


Parcels which convert an existing garage to an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) or Junior ADU will not be subject to replacement parking requirements. ~ AB-68

As of January 1st, 2020

Fire Safety:

Fire sprinklers are required if required in the primary home.

Shape, materials and style:

Detached units do not need to meet any specific design standards. Attached ADUs and detached ADUs on properties listed on the Historic Resources Inventory must incorporate architectural style and elements of the primary dwelling.


Attached – Same requirement as the zoning district Detached - One story, 18 feet maximum and 14 feet average (20.30.150.J.5)

Design review:

Ministerial review process. Allowed by right in accordance with zoning and building code.

Number of Bedrooms

A studio or only one bedroom, maximum 400 square feet permitted.


Owner-occupancy will not be required for new ADUs (conversion and new construction) built between 2020 and 2025. ~ SB13 Update

As of January 1st, 2020

Utility connections:

Local health officer approval where a private sewage disposal system is being used, if required. (State requirements)

Permit Fees

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


Front Door for Attached Unit cannot be on same street-facing façade as that of primary residence, unless all other locations for placing front door would require a pathway that is unobstructed, clear to the sky and extending from a street to the front door. (20.30.150.K.3)

Rear Yard Coverage:

Note that the current rule of a maximum 40% coverage of the rear yard will continue to be required.

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. ***

Please refer to the following Zoning Code Section for information related to ADU's: -- You could also review this webpage:

As of January 1st, 2020

Storage / Closet

Maximum of 60 square feet of closet space allowed per entire ADU.

Lot Coverage

Rear Yard Coverage

The cumulative total of the rear yard covered by detached unit, accessory buildings, and accessory structures cannot exceed 40%. (20.30.150.J.7)

Kitchen / Bath

(a) Kitchen required (sink, food storage, permanent cooking facilities)
(b) Maximum one bathroom


Attached – (1) Share a wall or (2) have integral roof structure with primary residence, and separated by no more than 10 feet. (20.30.150.J.2)

Detached - (1) Must be located in the rear yard, with a 6-foot separation from the main residence. (20.30.150.J.3 & 4) (2) May be attached to detached garage, if it meets Building and Fire Code; but may not be attached to other accessory buildings.(20.30.150.J.6)


PARKING EXEMPTION (20.30.150.I): No additional parking shall be required for a Secondary Dwelling that meets any of the following criteria:
The Secondary Dwelling is located within one-half (1/2) mile of, and has a path of travel that is always publicly accessible to a Site containing an existing public rail-transit station or at least one (1) public bus route with a frequency-of-service interval of fifteen (15) minutes or less during the morning and afternoon peak commute periods.
The Secondary Dwelling is located within a Historic District identified in the City’s Historic Resources Inventory as defined in Chapter 13.48 of Title 13 this Municipal Code.
The Secondary Dwelling is part of the existing primary residence or part of an existing Accessory Structure.
When on-Street parking permits are required but not offered to the occupant of the Secondary Dwelling.
When there is a motor vehicle that is operated as part of a regional fleet by a public agency or publicly leased motor-vehicle-sharing organization and provides hourly and daily service located within one (1) block of the Secondary Dwelling.

Residential Building Code:

The California Building Code (CBC) 2019 is adopted.

San Jose City Planning Offices

City of San Jose, Development Services Permit Center

200 E Santa Clara St., San Jose, CA San Jose, CA 95113

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Costs / ROI



* upon completion of ADU


* based on local average price per sqft


* estimated by location


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


Size: 500 sqft


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

Rental Estimate = (Rent Per Sqft: $4.18) * (ADU's Living Space: sqft)

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