Pacifica Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Standards

        New laws were recently passed, and updates will be coming soon


Christian Murdock, Senior Planner
650. 738.7341 – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ADU Ordinance

Zones allowed

All residential zones
Lot restrictions

Site must contain existing single-family dwelling. Attached and detached ADUs prohibited where street fronting site is unpaved or 26 feet or less in width.

Minimum lot size


Min / Max ADU size

Min: 150 sf
Max attached: 1,200 sf or 50% of the primary dwelling, whichever is less; primary dwelling must be at least 850 sf
Max detached: 1,200 sf

ADU building height
Front of primary dwelling: 15 feet

Everywhere else: 35 feet (attached); 25 feet or primary dwelling height, whichever is less, (detached)


Varies by ADU type. Generally 15 feet (front), 5 feet (sides)/10 feet (corner side), 20 feet (rear). Windows and doors are prohibited where ADU located less than 20 feet from rear property line. Minimum 10 feet required between structures.

Parking requirements
For 0-2 bedroom units, one space is required and for 3+ bedroom units, two spaces are required, unless state exemptions are met (ADU is within 1⁄2 mile of transit, in existing structures, in historic districts, within one block of car share locations, or in an area with residential parking permit rules that do not allow second units to get a permit). Tandem parking and parking within front yard setbacks is allowed. Parking exceptions can be granted by the Planning Commission.
Owner occupancy
Owner must live in the primary dwelling at time of application and whenever ADU is rented.
Sample fees from recently built projects*

ADU (513 sf, attached): $11,276

Other requirements
  • Fire sprinklers are required in some cases. Setback of 5 feet required for fire safety in all ADUs.

  • Separate utility meters are not required, but sometimes a meter upgrade might be required.

  • Consult with the city if work requires tree removal or work within the drip line.

  • Garage spaces converted to ADU must be replaced in some cases.

  • Rentals less than 30 consecutive days are prohibited.

  • Only one ADU per property is allowed.

  • ADUs must comply with all requirements of the underlying zoning district.

Ministerial building permit process applying state standards and compliance with City ordinance. In the Coastal Zone, a Coastal Development Permit is required, which is a discretionary permit subject to public notice but not public hearing. Making an appointment to meet with a planner in the initial stages of the project can help avoid challenges and is highly recommended.

Applicants may pursue variances and parking exceptions through Planning Commission for certain standards, as stated in the ordinance.

Disclaimer: standards and process may vary. Consultation with the contact is recommended before starting any project.

*Fees are specific to each project and will vary. Fees change regularly. These are provided as examples only.

Download ADU Standards PDF

Updated: 12/11/2017