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San Leandro ADUs

Everything about building Accessory Dwelling Units in San Leandro, CA

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The city government of San Leandro will approve ADUs under California's statewide mandated regulations.
The California Building Code (CBC) 2019 is adopted.

Last Updated 01/26/21


City Hint: The city permitted a total of 27 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 Accessory Dwelling Unit. Additionally, single-family lots which are owner-occupied may create one Accessory Dwelling Unit and one JADU. Also, multi-family lots 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 allowed. Accessory Dwelling Units may be new construction or converted from existing space. Junior ADUs must be converted from existing space.

Lot size:

Single family and multi-family residential properties will not be subject to the minimum lot size of the underlying zoning district or by ordinance for Accessory Dwelling Unit projects. ~ Updated: State Law AB-68

ADU size:

Residential lots will be approved 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 Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit is approved up to 500 sqft. According to California Residential Code, the minimum size of any living unit is 150 sqft (including Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)s and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units). ~ According To AB68


Setbacks for a detached new construction Accessory Dwelling Unit shall be no more than 4 feet 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. ~ Updated: State Law AB-68


Parcels which convert an existing garage to an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) or JADU will not be subject to replacement parking requirements. ~ AB68 & AB881 Update

Fire Safety:

A smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector shall be installed in all ADUs.
shall not be held to a higher standard than the principal residence for fire sprinklers. Fire sprinklers shall only be required if they would be required for an equivalent addition or modification of space on a residential property that was not associated with an ADU.

Shape, materials and style:

The ADU maintains the scale of, and is visually compatible with, adjoining residences and the residences in the immediate vicinity; and its building materials, forms (e.g., roof pitch), colors, and exterior finishes are compatible with those on the existing dwelling;

Subordinate to existing dwelling. The ADU shall be visually subordinate to the existing dwelling, with an exterior entry that is clearly made to appear secondary to the entry to the existing dwelling. If the ADU is on a second story, it shall not be accessed by an exterior stairway that is visible from the public right-of-way.


Height and Building Coverage. The basic requirements of Article 5 (Residential Districts) shall apply, except as follows: a.) that are created through the construction of new habitable space above the first floor shall be prohibited. However, an ADU created through the conversion of existing habitable space above the first floor shall be ministerial permitted if it meets the other design and development standards of this section. b.) Article 5 requirements may be modified by an overlay district.

Design review:

An ADU that meets the applicable locational and development standards of this Code shall be subject to ministerial review and approval. All permits shall be issued within one hundred twenty (120) days of submission of a complete application for ADUs conforming to the provisions of the code.

detached ADUs shall be ministerially permitted on lots larger than seven thousand five hundred (7,500) square feet . On lots that are seven thousand five hundred (7,500) square feet or less, a detached ADU may be considered through a Site Plan Review process through the Zoning Enforcement Official.

Residential Site Plan Review. For ADUs located in an RO, RS, or RS-40 District that meet the standards for Residential Site Plan Review as defined in this Code, the ADU shall comply with Section 2-580(H)—Residential Site Plan Review Standards.

10. View Preservation/Site Plan Review. For ADUs located in a RS-VP District that meet the standards for View Preservation/Site Plan Review defined in this Code, the ADU shall comply with Section 2-582(D)(6)—View Preservation/Site Plan Review Standards.

Number of Bedrooms:

Not specified by State Standards.


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

Utility connections:

Public and utility services including emergency access are adequate to serve both dwellings.


“Accessory dwelling unit” (ADU) means an attached or detached residential dwelling unit which provides complete independent living facilities for one or more persons. An ADU shall include permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation on the same parcel as the single-family dwelling is situated.

Historic Requirements:

The ADU is not located on, or adjacent to, real property that is listed in the California Register of Historic Places.


Entryway shall be clearly subordinate to the primary entry of the home.

Connection to Street. No passageway shall be required in conjunction with the construction of an ADU, unless such a connection is mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act or other State or Federal safety code or standard. A passageway is a pathway that is unobstructed and clear to the sky, that extends from the street to the door of the ADU.

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. ***

There is no specific zoning required for an ADU. That’s the case in all of California. Any website that claims otherwise would be erroneous. The requirement is that the property has to have a single-family house. You can visit the state law website on ADUs for that information.

Lot Coverage:

Detached ADUs are required to comply with the fifty percent (50%) maximum building coverage requirements for Accessory Structures in the RS, RD and RM-3000 Districts. Detached ADUs in the RO District shall comply with applicable zoning requirements for the RO District.

Existing Garage Conversions

Garage Modifications. An existing garage may be converted to an ADU only if the ADU meets the design and development standards of this section, including all off-street parking requirements for the ADU and the principal residence. The following additional provisions shall apply, as required by California Government Code Section 65852.2(a)(l)(D).

a. No setback shall be required for an existing garage that is converted to an ADU, provided that the construction complies with all applicable building and fire codes.

b. If a garage or carport is demolished in conjunction with construction of an ADU, the replacement parking spaces for the principal residence and ADU may be met in any configuration on the same lot as the ADU, including, but not limited to, covered spaces, uncovered spaces, and tandem spaces. However, as required by the off-street parking and loading sections of this Code, paving for parking, walkways, and vehicular access shall not occupy more than fifty percent (50%) of the front setback in any residential district.

Building Code:

Building Safety.

1. A smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector shall be installed in all ADUs.

2. ADUs shall not be held to a higher standard than the principal residence for fire sprinklers. Fire sprinklers shall only be required if they would be required for an equivalent addition or modification of space on a residential property that was not associated with an ADU.

3. A permanent foundation shall be required for all detached ADUs.

4. Approval by the local health officer may be required where a private sewage system is being used.


Parking Waivers. As mandated by California Government Code Section 65852.2, no off-street parking shall be required for an ADU in any of the following instances, provided that the ADU has one bedroom or less and meets all other standards in this section:

a. The ADU is located within one-half mile of public transit. This shall include properties within one-half mile of the BART stations and one-half mile of local AC Transit bus stops. Trans-bay commuter buses and Links Shuttle bus stops shall not be included. The half-mile standard shall be based on the actual walking route between the ADU and the transit stop rather than a straight line between the two (2) points. The applicant must provide verification of the walking distance (in feet) between the residence and public transit stop at the time of application.

b. The ADU is located within a formally recognized historic district, or on a property that is listed on the local, State, or national historic registers.

c. The ADU is located entirely within the existing principal residence or an existing habitable accessory structure and results in no net addition of habitable floor space on the property.

d. The ADU is located in an area where on-street parking permits are required but are not offered to the occupants of the ADU.

e. The ADU is located within one block of a designated parking area for one or more car-share vehicles available to the general public by subscription.

Residential Building Code:

The California Building Code (CBC) 2019 is adopted.

San Leandro City Planning Offices

City of San Leandro Planning

835 East 14th Street San Leandro, CA 94577

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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: $3.28) * (ADU's Living Space: sqft)

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