All ADU Regulations

Santa Monica, California

The City of Santa Monica has updated its ADU ordinance to comply with new state laws. Below are the up-to-date requirements for permitting an ADU in the municipality.

September 23, 2021
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Santa Monica: Small City, Many ADUs

Well known for its tourist attractions and beaches, the city of Santa Monica presents a prime Accessory Dwelling Unit opportunity for property owners in the city.

Whether to take advantage of the higher rental income potential of the high demand area or to raise the value of the home while creating more space, the time is now to consider whether an ADU is the right option for you and your family's needs.


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

Number of units

Lots zoned for single family use that have an existing dwelling are permitted to add 1 ADU and 1 Junior ADU (JADU).

Building size

The maximum size of a detached or attached ADU with more than one bedroom is the following:

  • 1,000 square feet of floor area for parcels of less than 10,000 square feet
  • 1,200 square feet for parcels of 10,000 square feet or greater

Building height

Detached ADUs and Attached ADUs are limited to 24' in total height and can be 2 stories if desired.


Minimum setbacks of 4 feet from the side and rear lot lines.


One parking spot required unless any of the following true:

  • The accessory dwelling unit is located within one-half mile walking distance of public transit
  • The accessory dwelling unit is located within an architecturally and historically significant historic district.
  • The accessory dwelling unit 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 accessory dwelling unit.
  • When there is a car share vehicle located within one block of the accessory dwelling unit.


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 the city.


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!

Design and build with confidence.