The City of Los Angeles has updated its ADU ordinance to comply with new state laws. Below are the up-to-date requirements for permitting an ADU in the City of Angels.
Updated Sep 21, 2023
East LA — Silver Lake, Echo Park, Atwater Village, Frogtown, Highland Park, Elysian Park, El Sereno, and others
Whether your home is towards Dodger Stadium, CSULA, Boyle Heights, or another part of East LA, there's a good chance one of your neighbors is in the process of building an Accessory Dwelling Unit.
With property values booming and the new USC Health Sciences campus helping contribute to the local boom, there is no better time to build an Accessory Dwelling Unit. Whether that's a garage conversion or full detached ADU rebuild or attached ADU, the added value from a newly permitted ADU is an immediate win for you and your property.
General ADU requirements
All standard ADU types – detached, attached, and conversion – as well as JADUs are permitted in East LA. Both one- and two-story ADUs are allowed. The specific requirements for your project will depend on the ADU type.
Standard ADUs must be equipped for independent living and have permanent facilities for:
Exterior access that is separate from the primary dwelling
ADU kitchens must also have:
A sink with running water
Countertops and cabinetry of a reasonable size
A permanent range/cooktop that doesn’t need more than 120V or natural/propane gas
JADUs must be converted from an existing living space and can share bathroom/sanitation facilities with the primary dwelling, but they must have a separate entrance. Conversion ADUs must also have their own entrance.
All properties zoned for single family and multifamily use may be eligible to build ADUs.
To build an ADU in East LA, you must pay the following fees:
Building permit fee: This fee is charged by the East LA Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) to cover the cost of reviewing and approving your plans.
Impact fees: These fees are charged by the city to help pay for the costs of infrastructure, such as roads, schools, and parks. The amount of impact fees you will pay will depend on the size and location of your ADU. ADUs under 750 sq. ft. exempt from impact fees if they are 750 sq. ft. or less.
Utility connection fees: These fees are charged by the utility companies to connect your ADU to water, sewer, gas, and electricity. The amount of utility connection fees you will pay will depend on the size and location of your ADU.
From our experience in East LA, fees can range from $5,000 - $15,000.
Number of units
You can build up to two ADUs on a property zoned for single family use. This includes one detached ADU and one junior ADU.
If you own a multi-family home, you can build up to two detached ADUs on the property.
Size requirements depend on your ADU type:
ADUs and JADUs must be at least 150 sq. ft.
JADUs can not exceed 500 sq. ft. A JADU can exceed 50% of the existing single family dwelling floor area, as long as it does not exceed 500 sq. ft.
Detached ADUs cannot exceed 1,200 sq. ft. for a detached ADU (unless limited by local zoning rules)
Attached ADUs cannot exceed 50% of the existing dwelling, with the exception that a 2+ bedroom attached ADU with a Floor Area of <1000 square feet is always allowed.
Detached ADUs have a limit of 2 stories, but there may be zoning height limits (often 25 ft.) if the ADU is a new building or addition.
Attached ADUs follow the local zoning height limit if the ADU is a new building or addition.
Conversion of an 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.
Detached ADUs cannot be located between a proposed or existing dwelling unit and the street adjoining the front yard, except when the ADU is on a Through Lot or when the ADU is being added to a lawfully existing garage or accessory structure.
Following California state law, there are no requirements for parking for your ADU if any of the following true:
The ADU is located within one-half mile walking distance of public transit.
The ADU is located within an architecturally and historically significant historic district.
The ADU is part of the proposed or existing primary residence or an accessory structure.
When on-street parking permits are required but not offered to the occupant of the ADU.
When there is a car share vehicle located within one block of the ADU.
According to state law, if fire sprinklers aren’t required for your primary residence, then they are not required for your ADU either. You may set up alternative facilities for fire protection.
For power lines, utility companies each have their own rules. LADWP requires the ADU to be 10 ft. from lines and 15 ft. from poles. SoCal Edison requires the ADU to be 12 ft. from lines.
Owner occupancy is not a requirement for detached and attached ADUs permitted between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2024. This is a great opportunity for rental property owners to increase their yields in a cost-effective way.
However, owner occupancy is required for properties with a JADU, regardless of the permitting date.
While long-term rentals are permitted for ADUs, short-term rentals (e.g. Airbnb for less than 30 days) are not permitted in East LA.
Do you have a utility easement over your property? Are you in a FEMA flood zone? Reach out to us and we’ll help you build a custom ADU to fit your unique property characteristics and local regulations!
How close to my house can I build an ADU in East LA?
When building a detached ADU, it should be at least 6 ft away from your primary residence. You cannot build a detached ADU in front of a single-family primary residence or within the front setback area of a multi-family home, unless the ADU is on a Through Lot or when the ADU is being added to a lawfully existing garage or accessory structure. It is a good idea to check such requirements with local authorities before starting your project.
Can I convert my garage into an ADU?
Yes, if you own a single-family home in a residential-zoned area, you may convert your garage into an ADU. Depending on the condition that your garage is in, the project may take under 9 months to complete and cost less than building a detached ADU.
What is the smallest ADU I can build in East LA?
Across California, the smallest ADU you may build is 150 sq. ft., regardless of type.
Does an ADU need a kitchen in East LA?
Yes! ADUs must accommodate permanent and independent living, and be equipped with a fully functional kitchen.
Can I build 2 ADUs on my property in East LA?
If your property is zoned for single-family use, you can build up to two ADUs: one detached ADU and one junior ADU. If your property is zoned for multi-family use, you can build up to two detached ADUs on the property.
What is the difference between an ADU and a JADU?
ADUs (or Standard ADUs) may either be attached to or detached from the primary dwelling, while JADUs are contained entirely within the primary dwelling. ADUs must be equipped with permanent facilities for independent living, but JADUs need only have an “efficiency” kitchen and may share some facilities with the primary dwelling. The maximum size allowed for a JADU is 500 sq. ft., while two-bedroom ADUs may be up to 1,200 sq. ft.
How much does an ADU increase property taxes in East LA?
You can expect the value of your property to increase after you build your ADU. Since property taxes are often based on property values, this can increase your property taxes. However, any increases will only be based on the value of the ADU itself. Building an ADU will not trigger a reassessment of the value of your main home.
How many bedrooms can an ADU have in East LA?
There’s no explicit limit to the number of bedrooms for an ADU in East LA, however at the maximum allowable size of 1,200 sq. ft., you’d generally be able to fit 2 nicely sized bedrooms or 3 smaller ones if you get creative.
How long does it take to build an ADU in East LA?
The entire process, from start to finish, would depend on the type of ADU you’re building, the scope of your project, and the area you’re building in. From our experience in East LA, the permitting timeline ranges from 3-6 months. Our fastest yet was 42 days!
Can I rent my ADU in East LA?
Yes, a number of homeowners we’ve worked with in East LA rent out their ADUs, given the high demand for housing and high rents. Short-term rentals of less than 30 days are not allowed in LA, but you can rent out your ADU on platforms like Airbnb for 30+ days.
How many square feet can an ADU be in East LA?
While it depends on zoning conditions, setbacks and the number of bedrooms you are hoping to include, you are allowed to build an ADU that has a maximum area of 1,200 sq. ft.
Can you build a 2 story ADU in East LA?
Yes, you may build a 2 story ADU in East LA, though some zoning height requirements may apply (typically 25 ft.).
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!