Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

What is an ADU? What is a JrADU?

As set forth in California Government Code section 65852.2, an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is a smaller (detached or attached) secondary dwelling unit with complete, independent living facilities (kitchen and bathroom) that is located on the same parcel as a primary dwelling unit (existing or proposed). The ADU can be located within or attached to a single dwelling unit, within a multiple dwelling unit building, or in a separate detached structure.

As set forth in California Government Code section 65852.22, a Junior ADU (JrADU) is a small dwelling unit (500 square feet maximum in size) that is developed within the walls of a single dwelling unit (existing or proposed). The JrADU must have a separate entrance, efficiency kitchen, and access to a bathroom either within the JrADU or via shared access with the primary dwelling unit.  A JrADU is allowed only within the single dwelling unit and is not permitted within an accessory structure or multiple dwelling unit development.

New State Law Changes in Effect

On January 1, 2020, a new package of California laws related to ADUs took effect.  Visit the staff report (Item 9: California Housing Legislation Update and Confirmation of the Process for Update to the Local Accessory Dwelling Unit Regulations) for the January 13, 2020 City Council meeting to understand how the change in State law relates to the City of Del Mar.  The most significant changes amended Government Code sections 65852.2 and 65852.22.

New Ordinance Adopted – Local Coastal Program Amendment is currently in Process with California Coastal Commission

On June 1, 2020, adopted an Ordinance amending the Del Mar Municipal Code (DMMC) to update the City’s Accessory Dwelling Unit Regulations in DMMC Chapter 30.91 and amend the Local Coastal Program in compliance with State law. View the Adopted Ordinance (PDF).

Zones Where ADUs and JrADUs Are Permitted 

ADUs are allowed in zones that allow single dwelling unit or multiple dwelling unit development.   In Del Mar, this includes all of the City’s residential zones and the Carmel Valley Precise Plan Specific Plan (CVPP). 

  • A lot with a single dwelling unit is permitted to have a maximum of one ADU and one JrADU. The JrADU must be located within the walls of the primary dwelling unit. In addition to the JrADU, one detached ADU is permitted within either a new detached structure or within an existing detached accessory structure that is converted to an ADU. Alternatively, a single dwelling unit lot is permitted to have either one ADU within the walls of the primary single dwelling unit or create one attached ADU within an addition to the primary single dwelling unit; however, in these two examples a JrADU would not be allowed. JrADUs are not allowed within a detached ADU and a maximum total of one ADU is allowed under all scenarios. The primary dwelling unit in all scenarios can be an existing or proposed structure.
  • An existing duplex (two units on one lot) is permitted to have a maximum of two ADUs per lot. The primary dwelling units must be existing. Each primary dwelling unit can have one ADU that is located either within the primary dwelling unit or attached to the primary dwelling unit or that is detached from the primary dwelling unit per the development standards that are applicable to ADUs on lots with a single dwelling unit.
  • A lot with existing multiple dwelling unit development that includes three or more dwelling units (i.e. RM-South) is permitted to incorporate ADUs into spaces that are not located within the dwelling units themselves in accordance with the adopted Ordinance. This type of ADU may be constructed within existing multiple dwelling unit building spaces that are not associated with an individual dwelling unit (i.e. common area storage rooms, boiler rooms, attics, basements, or parking garages). The maximum number of ADUs in converted space of multi-dwelling unit buildings is 25 percent of the total number of existing dwelling units on the lot. In addition, up to two additional ADUs may be located on multiple dwelling unit lots as detached structures (maximum of two detached ADUs per lot).

 JrADUs are allowed only in single dwelling unit zones, which within the City of Del Mar include the CVPP, R1-10, R1-10B, R1-14, R1-40, R1-5, and R1-5B zones. Only one JrADU is permitted per lot.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

View the FAQ Sheet Here

How to Apply

State law requires a streamlined, ministerial review process for proposed ADUs and JrADUs that exempts all such applications that meet each of the specified objective review standards from discretionary permit review, including design review.

Applicants will need to fill out an ADU Application Packet (Fillable PDF), pay associated fees (PDF), and submit development plan sets. Submitted plans that meet the requirements of Ordinance 966 (PDF) adopted on June 1, 2020 will be approved within 60 days of a complete application submittal. If the ADU or JrADU permit application is processed at the same time as a permit application for a new primary dwelling unit on the lot, the City may delay acting on the ADU or JrADU application until the City acts on the permit application for the primary dwelling unit.

Benefits of ADUs/JrADUs

  • Can provide a greater balance of housing options and affordability to meet the City’s housing goals
  • Can provide more affordable housing options for seniors and lower-income individuals to remain in the community
  • Can provide independent accommodations for extended family or caregivers to live on the same premises
  • Can provide the opportunity for supplemental rental income to homeowners
  • Can help to reduce local vehicle miles of travel (VMT) and meet Climate Action Plan goals by accommodating a greater variety of housing options in close proximity to services and employers within the community