The City is currently considering amendments to the Accessory Dwelling Unit regulations with a goal of making development of ADUs easier and more flexible in order to increase production of this type of housing. The proposal stems from three places: State Law, the Housing Blueprint report, and Planning Staff Recommendations.  We have prepared a summary of the proposed amendments for the information of the public.

In the document, the proposals are organized based on which of these three sources generated each policy, and then also identified as being either a Development Standard, (a regulation in the zoning code that governs where on a property, and in what manner a building can be built) or a Land Use Policy, (broader issues related to how land is used throughout the City, and what types of uses the City might allow in various locations).

For a more detailed analysis of these policies, the staff report and attachments for the 12/11 City Council hearing are available online. (Click on the  link, then click on the title of Item 29, and the materials will appear in a list on the right side of the screen). ***This item has been continued to the January 22, 2019 City Council Agenda***

Comments on the proposal and can be sent either to the project manager or directly to the City Council. Please put “ADU Ordinance” in the subject line.

The project manager for this item is Sarah Neuse. She can be reached at  or (831) 420-5092.


How to Legalize Your ADU  

Step 1:Contact Us
Step 2:Site Visit - Optional
Step 3: Plan Submittal and Fees
Step 4: Inspections


  1. Contact Us

    Have questions about legalizing your unit? Email Nancy Concepcion or call Nancy at (831)420-5112 to review your property, the legalization process, general fees and typical timeframe. A meeting can be scheduled to review any documentation you have. It is recommended that you obtain a copy of the Residential Building Records at the County Assessor’s office at 701 Ocean Street prior to the meeting.

  2. Site Visit - Optional

    This is optional. A Special Inspection conducted by a City Building Inspector and Planner will meet with you and your design professional to examine your unpermitted dwelling unit. A fee (less than $300) will need to be paid at the building counter prior to the inspection. Your design professional should be prepared to take notes and ask questions. This step is intended to allow you to make an informed decision as to the feasibility of the project.

  3. Plan Submittal and Fees

    At this point in the process seven (7) sets of plans and other required documents will then be submitted at the building counter. If the unit is to be removed, three (3) sets of demolition plans are required. These plans are due within 90 days (60 days if demolition) of the decision.

  4. Inspections

    Once your building permit has been issued, at the initial inspection (generally within 14 days) your design professional /licensed contractor and the City Building Inspector will determine the inspection process. Features of your unpermitted ADU may be required to be exposed for verification of installation and design per minimum code standards “destructive analysis” (– see handout Inspection Procedures – Exposing Concealed Construction).




How Recent Changes in the ADU Ordinance Make Legalization Possible

Recent changes in our ADU Ordinance (24.16.100), addressed items that prevented people from legalizing their ADUs. Reduced costs, and changes to things like parking requirements, setbacks, building heights, lot size, and whether the ADU was owner-occupied or not made legalization impossible for some. The Understanding 2014, 2015, and 2017 Changes to ADU Ordinance  document summarizes these changes that turn keeping an ADU a reality.


Obtaining Copies of Your Records

In preparation for meeting with us about your ADU, there are two places you can obtain records about your property.

  • County of Santa Cruz Assessor: Residential Building records that describes the buildings on your property. You can submit your request to the County using the Authorization to Access Confidential Files form
  • City of Santa Cruz Planning & Community Development: Permit history information. Submit your request for information online using our Public Information Request form. 


General questions and information about ADUs: 

Have questions about legalizing your ADU or if your ADU is legal?


Free viewers are required for some of the attached documents.
They can be downloaded by clicking on the icons below.

Acrobat Reader Flash Player Windows Media Player Microsoft Silverlight Word Viewer Excel Viewer PowerPoint Viewer