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All ADU Regulations

Santa Clara, California

The City of Santa Clara has updated its ADU ordinance to comply with new state laws. Below are the up-to-date requirements for permitting an ADU in Santa Clara.
Updated Sep 13, 2020


All properties zoned for single family and multifamily use may be eligible to build ADUs.

Number of units

The number of ADUs you’re able to build depends on how your lot is zoned:
  • Lots zoned for single family use may add 1 ADU and 1 Jr. ADU (JADU).
  • Lots zoned for multi-family may add 2 new detached ADUs and 1 interior conversion ADU and 25% of the original number of units.

Building size

For detached ADUs, the maximum size is 1,200 sq. ft. Decks and porches, covered or uncovered, that are attached to the ADU are limited to 400 sq. ft. beyond the max size.
A JADU of up to 500 sq. ft. may also be incorporated into a detached ADU, bringing the maximum sq. footage of the combined ADU-JADU to 1,700 sq. ft.
Attached ADUs cannot be greater than 1,200 sq. ft. or 50% of the existing home’s floor area, whichever is less; however, a minimum of 800 sq. ft. is allowed even if the property has reached the maximum floor area ratio for the lot.

Building height

ADUs can reach a maximum height of 16 feet if the dwelling unit does not comply with the setback limitations for a single-family residence, as prescribed by the applicable zoning district.
If the ADU complies with the setback limitations for a single family residence, it is subject to the same height limitations as the single-family residence in the applicable zoning district, as measured from the lowest finished grade to the highest point of the structure.
Detached ADUs exceeding 16 ft. must incorporate a hip, gable, or other similar-styled roof design.


Conversion of existing unfinished basement space can be used for an attached ADU.


Minimum setbacks of 4 feet from the side and rear lot lines, as well as 6 feet from any existing structures are required for detached ADUs.


No additional parking is required for ADUs if they are within 0.5 miles of public transportation (a bus stop, train station, etc.). When converting a garage or carport, replacement parking is not required.


Owner occupancy is not a requirement for permitting an ADU from January 1, 2020 until January 1, 2025. This is a great opportunity for rental property owners to increase their yields in a cost-effective way.


While long-term rentals are permitted for ADUs, short-term rentals (e.g. Airbnb for less than 30 days) are not permitted in Santa Clara.


Do you have a utility easement over your property? Do you have special setbacks? Reach out to us and we’ll help you build a custom ADU to fit your unique property characteristics and local regulations!

Want to learn more about ADU regulations in your area?

Book a free consultation and estimate with a Cottage ADU Expert to find out what’s possible on your property!