ADU Incentive Programs

It is the City of Del Mar’s goal to inspire a more diverse, sustainable, and balanced community through implementation of strategies and programs that will result in economically and socially diversified housing choices that preserve and enhance the special character of Del Mar.

The City has multiple programs available to encourage development of affordable units, including ADUs and JrADUs. In exchange for participation, property owners are granted various incentives as specific to the respective programs: 

  • ADU Amnesty Program - Seeks owners willing to legalize unpermitted dwelling units in exchange for incentives.   
  • ADU Incentive Program - Seeks owners willing to dedicate affordable dwelling units and made available for rent to low income households for at least 30 years in exchange for incentives. 

What are ADUs and JrADUs? 

View the City's ADU Web Page for more information. 

ADU Amnesty Program 

On December 4, the City Council adopted a Resolution establishing a new ADU Amnesty Program City Council Policy intended to create moderate-income units and at least 15 low-income affordable dwelling units as identified in Housing Element Program 2B. The ADU Amnesty Program is in effect through December 4, 2025. 

The program provides incentives to property owners to obtain permits to legalize any accessory dwelling units that were built without obtaining permits. In the State of California, owners must disclose if property has unpermitted development prior to the sale of the property. 

How does the ADU Amnesty Program work?

Owners should contact City staff to obtain information on how to legalize unpermitted units on their property. 

The permit process for legalization of a dwelling unit involves obtaining an Administrative Coastal Development Permit, Building Permit, and recording a deed restriction with the County Recorder requiring the unit to be used as a dwelling unit. 

Options are available for partial or full reimbursement of permit fees, plan preparation costs, and/or code enforcement fines for owners who participate in the program and bring an illegal unit in compliance. 

Refer to the adopted City Council Resolution and City Council Policy for additional details: 

ADU Incentive Program 

On December 18, 2023, the City Council adopted an Ordinance to update the City's ADU Incentive Program. 

How does the ADU Incentive Program work?

  • Review the December 18, 2023 Report to City Council - program details are available here (PDF)
  • Contract Required for Participation - a template contract is available here (PDF)
  • If your property does not have an existing permit for the ADU or JrADU, a Permit Application is required for approval to create an ADU or JrADU – see details below on how to apply

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.

Unless the ADU or JrADU to be dedicated as an affordable unit already has an ADU permit, Applicants for the ADU Incentive Program 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 in Del Mar Municipal Code Section 30.91 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.

Del Mar is Actively Developing Strategies to Create New Affordable Housing

The ADU Incentive Programs relate to the City's Housing Element Program 2A commitment to update the ADU Incentive Program by December 31, 2023, and commitment to create an ADU Amnesty Program by December 31, 2023. On January 23, 2023, City staff presented feasibility studies prepared by Stephen Dalton Architects and Keyser Marston Associates, Inc. which identified potential strategies for incentives to increase program participation. The ADU Amnesty Program and amended ADU Incentive Program adopted in December 2023 reflect the consultant recommendations. The incentives offered are intended to help the property owner offset the investment needed to create rent restricted units. 

Contact the Del Mar Planning & Community Development Department to learn more:

City of Del Mar City Hall
1050 Camino del Mar
Del Mar, CA 92014
858-755-9313
planning@delmar.ca.us