Multi-Family Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are attached or detached accessory dwellings that are accessory to primary Residential Facilities located on the same lot and provide complete independent facilities for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation. ADUs require both Planning/Zoning and Building Bureau review.

Date Posted: November 17th, 2020 @ 4:38 PM
Last Updated: February 15th, 2022 @ 5:31 PM

When Are Permits Required?

Multi-Family ADU icon

All Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) require a Design Review Exemption (DRX) Permit from the Planning/Zoning Bureau, along with Building Permits.

Here are the categories of Multi-Family ADUs* under California state law:

  • CATEGORY ONE ADU: Conversion of existing non-habitable space located within portions of an existing Two-Family or Multi-Family Residential Facilities, such as storage rooms, boiler rooms, passageways, attics, basements or garages.
  • CATEGORY TWO ADU: Construction of new detached structure(s) or conversion or rebuilt of existing detached structure(s) on lots with an existing Two-Family or Multi-Family Residential Facility. Conversion or rebuilt of existing detached accessory structure(s) involve no expansion of the existing building envelope(s).
  • CATEGORY THREE ADU: Construction of a new or conversion of existing accessory structure attached to a primary Multifamily Residential Facility for the purpose of creating only one ADU on the lot. This type of ADU precludes creation of any other ADU types on the lot.

* Change of Occupancy regulations for the California Existing Building Code (CEBC) may apply when adding ADUs.

IMPORTANT METERING UPDATE! Please note that separate utility meters may be required for your ADU as per California Public Utility Code (P.U.Code) Section 780.5. Please read our joint ADU bulletin with PG&E for details.

See below for step-by-step requirements to apply for your ADU permits.

Who Can Be Issued a Permit?

  1. Contractors who are licensed by the State of California with a classification appropriate for the work that will be performed and have a current Business Tax Certificate.
  2. Owners of a building or their legal representative.

How to Apply


Ready to get started? First, make sure you are registered and activated at our Online Permit Center. For instructions, please visit our Planning & Building Video Tutorials webpage.

Download the Multifamily ADU Application and follow these steps:

STEP ONE: Planning/Zoning Review
  • Complete all required information, checklist, documents, and plans as outlined in the "Zoning Requirements, Step 1" section on page 2 of the ADU Application
  • Submit a Zoning Worksheet through our Online Permit Center
  • In the Worksheet, upload your completed ADU Application and all required plans and documents
  • A planner will review your submission
  • Once approved, you will receive a decision letter from the Bureau of Planning
  • Proceed to STEP TWO

STEP TWO: Building Permit

  • Ensure that all required information, checklist, documents, and plans are accurate and complete as outlined in the "Building Requirements, Step 2" section on page 2 of the ADU Application
  • Once advised by the Zoning Division, submit a Building Worksheet through our Online Permit Center
  • In the Worksheet, upload any required Building Permit Application form(s) and associated plans and documents


Once we receive your application and have created it in our system, we will review your plans. If your plans require corrections or if we need further information, we will contact you. Once you've gone through Steps 1 and 2, we will contact you to issue your permit. Depending on our workload and the complexity of the project, the process may take between 6-8 weeks from the date the City receives a completed application to the date when we issue your permit (subject to time limits set forth in California Government Code 65852.2).


Call (510) 238-3911 or find quick answers through our Permit Questions Portal.

Additional Resources