ADU

Image of Downtown Los Angeles

General Information

Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)

An ADU is an attached or detached residential dwelling unit that provides complete independent living facilities for one or more persons and is located on a lot with a proposed or existing primary residence. It shall include permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation on the same lot as the single family or multifamily dwelling is or will be situated.

 

Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU)

A Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit is a unit that is no more than 500 square feet in size and contained entirely within a single-family residence. A JADU may include separate sanitation facilities, or may share sanitation facilities with the existing structure. The JADU or single-family residence shall be owner occupied.

 

Movable Tiny House (MTH)

A Moveable Tiny House is an enclosed space intended for separate, independent living quarters of one family and meets all of the following:

  • Is licensed and registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles;
  • Meets the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) 119.5 requirements or the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1192 standards, and is certified for ANSI or NFPA compliance. A 3rd  party inspection agency (Design Approval Agency/Quality Assurance Agency) shall certify the MTH meets this requirement (List of approved 3rd party Design Approval Agencies (DAA) and Quality Assurance Agencies (QAA));
  • Cannot move under its own power;
  • Is no larger than allowed by California State Law for movement on public highways; and
  • Is no smaller than 150 and larger than 430 square feet as measured within the exterior faces of the exterior walls.

 

Development Standards and Requirements

ADUs, JADUs, and MTHs are allowed in any zone that allows for residential use by right. Parking for a newly constructed ADU is not required when it is located within one-half mile walking distance of a public transit. Replacement parking is not required when covered parking is removed in conjunction with the construction of the ADU.

ADUs are required to comply with all applicable Zoning, Building, and Residential Codes. Fire sprinklers are not required if they are not required for the primary residence. Solar panels will be required for newly constructed, detached ADUs.

Plan Check Review, Permit Issuance and Inspection Process

Building plan check, permit issuance and inspections are required for the construction of ADUs, JADUs, and MTHs.

 
permitprocess

Zoning, Property Information, and Building Permit Records

Get zoning and property information that is specific to the site.  Zoning information can be obtained through ZIMAS (Zone Information and Map Access System).

Obtain site specific building permit records. Permit records may be obtained online, in-person, or by mail. More information on obtaining building permit records may be found here.

Design and Draw Plans

Create a submittal package, including the existing building permit records, with the following minimum plan requirements, drawn to scale:

  • Plot plan – Show location of the street, street name, lot dimensions, existing buildings, area(s) of work, parking layout, driveway location, yard setbacks from property lines and between buildings.
  • Floor plan – Show proposed work and adjacent room(s), (if applicable), door and window sizes and location.
  • Building Elevations/Cross Sections – Exterior elevations for new construction, detailing all exterior walls, projections and cross sections in each direction.
  • Foundation Plan – Show foundation size (width and depth), along with slab on grade thickness. For raised floor construction, show size and direction of floor joists.
  • Roof Framing – Show roof rafters and ceiling joists’ size and direction.
  • Energy Conservation – Energy calculations and Certificate of Compliance (CF1R). See energy.ca.gov/title24 for more information.
  • Green Code – (if applicable), material specifications, notes and details.

More detailed document submittal requirements can be found from the Department’s Information Bulletins.

 

Plan Submittal and Plan Check Process

Submit the package to the Department of Building and Safety. Plans will accepted through ePlanLA and at any of our Development Service Center locations. Plans will be reviewed for compliance with the Zoning and Building Codes. Instructions on how to obtain compliance will be provided on a correction list. Clearances from other City Departments may be required. They include, but are not limited to:

    Department of Water and Power (DWP):  Work adjacent to or within ten feet of DWP easements

    • Fire Department:  Hydrants and Access
    • Department of City Planning:  Historical Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ), Specific Plan, and/or front yard landscape
    • Department of Public Works:
      • Bureau of Engineering (BOE) – Curb cuts, sewer connection, address approval, and/or site drainage
      • Bureau of Street Services (BSS) – Urban Forestry Division (UFD) – Removal of trees in parkway and/or onsite trees
      • Bureau of Sanitation (SAN) – Low Impact Development and Storm Water Pollution Mitigation

    Once all corrections have been made and all clearances have been obtained, the permit will be issued, plans will be stamped approved, and construction can commence.

     

    Construction and Inspection

    Begin construction. Should the construction vary from the approved plans, please return to plan check for approval.

    To schedule an inspection:

    • Call 311, (866) 4LACITY, or (213) 473-3231
    • Go to the mobile app, LADBS Go
    • Go online, ladbs.org 

    Groundwork: Schedule inspection for footing excavation when all reinforcing steel, forms, and groundwork plumbing and electrical have been installed but before concrete is poured.

    Rough: Schedule inspection when all framing work as been completed and plumbing, electrical, wiring, and heating ducts have been installed but before any of the work is covered.

    Final: Schedule inspection when construction has been completed.

     

    Certificate of Occupancy

    Once the final inspection has been approved, a certificate of occupancy will be issued for additions, new buildings, and conversions. Remodels/repair of existing building do not require a new certificate of occupancy.

    LA ADU Accelerator Program

     

    LA ADU Accelerator Program

    The LA ADU Accelerator Program pairs older adults with homeowners willing to provide a stable home by offering their accessory dwelling units (ADUs) as affordable rentals. In exchange, homeowners receive benefits such as qualified tenant referrals,  tenant case management, and stable rental payments. 

     

    Eligible homeowners undergo a screening process to assess  programmatic fit, landlord fit, and ADU quality. Once accepted into  the program, homeowners are matched with a qualified tenant who  pays a predetermined affordable rental rate. Selected homeowners  and tenants agree to participate in the program for three years.

    By participating in the program, homeowners receive benefits such as tenant screening, timely rent, and landlord support. Tenants  receive access to additional resources and assistance from a service  provider and case manager. 

    The LA ADU Accelerator Program was created as part of the solution  to Los Angeles’s affordable housing shortage — to leverage existing  housing stock and help older adults facing housing insecurity.

    More information on this program can be found on their website at adu.lacity.org.

     

     

    Electronic Plan Review Program (ePlanLA)

    ePlanLA, short for Electronic Plan Review Los Angeles, is an online service for submitting plans for plan check, applying for permits, and tracking the progress of these applications. The entire plan check process will be done electronically, including verification and permit issuance, through ePlanLA.

    Currently we are accepting ePlan submittals for all ADU projects including new, addition, and alteration.

    Plans submitted must be scaled PDF drawings and supporting documents may be submitted as multi-pages in portrait page layout, no larger than 8 ½” x 11” per page, in PDF format. 

    For general information, please visit ePlanLA FAQs

    For any questions or assistance, please use the contact form at https://buildla.lacity.org/contact-form.

    FAQs

    If a garage is converted into a Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU), do you need to provide replacement parking?

    Replacement parking is not required for a garage converted into a JADU.

    Can a JADU exceed 50% of the existing single family dwelling floor area, as long as it does not exceed 500 sf?

    Yes

    For an existing Accessory Living Quarters with an attached carport or garage, can you convert the carport or garage into an ADU?

    Yes

    If a portion of a single family dwelling is converted into a JADU, do I need a separate address for the JADU?

    Public Works - Bureau of Engineering will determine if the JADU requires a new address.

    What is a dwelling, primary dwelling, or primary residence?

    For the purpose of implementing LAMC 12.22 A.33, dwelling, primary dwelling, or primary residence mean any single-family or multifamily dwelling

    What is a single-family and multifamily dwelling or use?

    A single-family dwelling or use means a Dwelling, One-Family. A multifamily dwelling or use means any Structure with more than one Dwelling Unit or Guest Room, and used for long-term dwelling. Transient short-term rental uses established or used for less than 30 days are not considered dwellings for the purpose of implementing LAMC 12.22 A.33. Areas zoned for these uses means zones in which these uses are a permitted use in the respective zone classification.

    How are square footage, square-feet and size calculated?

    Square footage, square-feet and size are used in the ADU Ordinance to refer to various direct ADU size regulations (such as the 1,200 square foot limitation). These terms refer to the definition of Floor Area in LAMC 12.03, but does not include the definition of Residential Floor Area (RFA), nor does it include any non-conditioned spaces such as porches, patios or breezeways with solid or lattice roofs. Physically connected spaces that are conditioned but do not have an interior connection to the ADU are also not counted as ADU square footage. This definition does not apply to a Movable Tiny House (MTH), which is subject to distinct size provisions as described in the definition of a MTH.

    Indirect limits on ADU size through other zoning provisions such as Floor Area Ratio (including RFA in the R1, RE, RS and RA zones) or lot coverage may apply separately which may further limit allowable ADU square footage. Refer to LAMC 12.22 A.33(b) for more information on applicable development standards.

    What is living area as referenced in LAMC Section 12.22 A.33(c)(8)?

    Living area is defined in state ADU law as “the interior habitable area of a dwelling unit, including basements and attics, but does not include a garage or any accessory structure.”

    How is height measured for an ADU?

    Height of an ADU is generally measured as any other structure would be measured under the LAMC, given the governing height limit standards in the applicable zone, Height District, Hillside Area, Specific Plan area, or other Overlay. For the purposes of applying the 16 feet maximum height standard as required by state law (referenced in LAMC Section 12.22 A.33(c)(1)(iii), (g)(1), and GC Section 65852.2(e)(1)(D)), height shall be measured according to the standard Zoning Code definition of Height of Building or Structure in LAMC Section 12.03.

    For the purpose of assessing a per-unit impact fee to an ADU that is 750 square feet or larger on a Lot with an existing single-family dwelling, how is the square footage of the single-family dwelling determined?

    Los Angeles County Tax Assessor’s records may be used to establish the square footage of the single-family dwelling for the purpose of calculating the required impact fee for the ADU.

    For the purposes of assessing a per-unit impact fee to an ADU that is 750 square feet or larger on a Lot with a multifamily dwelling structure, how is the square footage of the primary residence determined?

    The fee must be proportional to the average size of all dwelling units on the Lot. Floor plans showing the sizes of all units may be required to make this determination. An applicant may  choose to pay the full fee in lieu of providing these plans.

    Does the presence of a JADU change the designation of a One-Family Dwelling Unit? How is a JADU reported?

    A JADU shall be identified as a JADU on Building Permits, Certificate of Occupancy and other pertinent City records. The addition of a JADU changes the designation of the One-Family  Dwelling to a One-Family Dwelling and JADU. For purposes of any fire or life protection ordinance or regulation, a JADU shall not be considered a separate or new dwelling unit per GC 65852.22(d).  However, JADUs may be counted as housing units in reports to the Department of Finance as well as for the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) and other housing unit reporting.

    What is the minimum size of an efficiency unit as referenced in LAMC Section 12.22 A.33(c)(1)(ii), and what is the applicability of this provision?

    The minimum size of an efficiency unit is 220 square feet, plus a code compliant closet and bathroom; however, the Ordinance does not specify any minimum square footage requirements  for an ADU or JADU, except for Movable Tiny Houses (MTHs). This provision refers to any other current or future zoning ordinances that would prohibit an efficiency unit ADU

    What is car share as referenced in LAMC Section 12.22 A.33(c)(12)(i)(b)?

    Car share means a vehicle rental program designed for people to rent vehicles for short periods of time, such as a few hours, pay only for their usage, and access the car at any hour, not just  during business hours. The vehicles may be commercially or personally owned. Commercial car share companies generally offer a fleet of vehicles which may be picked up and returned to a designated parking spot, or are picked up and returned to non-designated parking spots. Personal vehicle sharing (peer-to-peer car sharing) allows private car owners to make their vehicles available for rental.

    Some car share companies operating in Los Angeles include, but are not limited to: BlueLA, Zipcar, Ryde, Waive, Getaround, Transfr, PiTcarz, Maeve, Turo, Envoy, and  Animo. For the purposes of determining the applicability of this parking exemption, pick-up and drop-off locations are provided by the ADU applicant and verified online. If LADBS staff has  questions on information an applicant supplies to demonstrate a car share program or location, they should consult with the Department of Transportation.

    What is a mixed-use zone per Paragraph (g) of LAMC Section 12.22 A.33?

    Mixed-use zone refers to any zone classification that allows for both residential and nonresidential uses on the same Lot.

    How is walking distance calculated per LAMC Section 12.22.A 33(c)(12)(i)(a)?

    Walking distance is measured by the shortest distance that can be traveled by walking on public streets and sidewalks from a transit stop to the closest point on the subject Lot, as determined by  generally available mapping systems, such as Google Maps.

    Determination of when a garage, carport, or covered parking structure is demolished in conjunction with the construction of an ADU or JADU for the purposes of determining when no parking is required for an ADU (LAMC Section 12.22 A.33(c)(12)(iii)).

    For the purpose of this provision, in conjunction means when a building permit application to remove covered parking and a building permit application for the construction of an ADU on the  same Lot are submitted at the same time, or where one building permit application is submitted while the other building permit application or building permit is still open and valid.

    Determination of when requirements for a passageway or space between buildings are considered in conjunction with the construction of an ADU (LAMC Section 12.22 A.33(c)(7)).

    The defined passageway and space between buildings regulation does not apply to the ADU or  any residential building on the same Lot during the approval or construction of an ADU, whether through a zoning review, building permit plan check or inspection.  In the event that new (non-ADU) structures or additions to structures are constructed on the site subsequent to the creation of the ADU, any applicable regulations pertaining to passageways or  space between buildings would apply to the new structure or addition, consistent with the Zoning Code standards in place at the time that the plan check fee for the structure or addition is paid in  accordance with LAMC 12.26 A.3.

    When is automobile parking required for an ADU which is part of the proposed or existing primary residency or an accessory structure (LAMC Section 12.22 A.33(c)(12)(i)d)?

    Automobile parking is not required for ADUs created within an existing or proposed main home or an existing accessory structure. ADU parking may be required if the ADU exceeds the existing square footage of an existing main home (primary residence) or accessory structure, as well as for a newly constructed detached ADU. Other parking waivers in LAMC Section 12.22 A.33(c)(12)(i) may also apply.

    May an ADU be created on a Lot that is a substandard Lot (for instance, due to an illegal Lot split in the past)?

    State law allows a local ADU ordinance to establish certain ADU development standards. However, these standards shall not include minimum lot size (see GC Section  65852.2(a)(1)(B)(i)). Therefore, a minimum Lot size requirement for a given zone classification shall not be the basis of a denial of a new ADU.

    What general development standards from LAMC Section 12.22 A.33(c) apply to Movable Tiny Houses (MTHs)?

    LAMC 12.22 A.33(b)(3) states that a MTH shall be approved if in compliance with all of the provisions in Paragraph (c), except for those provisions that apply solely to buildings and  structures (as well as all of the provisions in Paragraph (f)). This is because MTHs are not considered “structures” under the Zoning Code or Building Code. The following standards in  LAMC 12.22 A.33(c) do not apply to MTHs, as they apply solely to buildings and structures (LADBS may determine that other standards do not apply to MTHs):
    • Building Code regulations (LAMC Section 12.22 A.33(c)(9))
    • Fire sprinkler requirements (LAMC Section 12.22 A.33(c)(10))

    Does the density calculation described in LAMC Section 12.22 A.33(h)(2) only apply to dwelling unit calculations?

    No, this provision applies if either additional dwelling units or guest rooms are added to a lot after the creation of the ADU or JADU.

    What regulations apply when an existing ADU or JADU is later proposed to be converted to another use?

    The proposed conversion will be subject to all zoning code and fire sprinkler regulations in place at the time of the proposed change of use. If the ADU or JADU was constructed within an existing  building, non-conforming rights from the building and use that existed prior to the ADU or JADU may be considered at the discretion of LADBS.

    Can there be other residential uses on the Lot besides the proposed or existing dwelling mentioned in LAMC 12.22 A.33(c)(6)?

    Yes, the Lot may contain any other residential use(s), in addition to the non-residential uses and accessory residential uses mentioned in 12.22 A.33(c)(6)

    Can an ADU request a Zone Variance from the provisions in 12.22 A.33?

    No, the LAMC does not permit deviations from development standards provided in LAMC 12.22 A.33 (Exceptions) because these provisions are already exceptions from the Code; however, an ADU may request the appropriate entitlement(s) to deviate from development standards provided in other sections of the Code that are not specifically defined in LAMC 12.22 A.33.

    How does vesting apply to projects that submitted prior to the ADU Ordinance?

    Projects that have paid a plan check fee and had their plans accepted by LADBS prior to the effective date of the ADU Ordinance (December 19, 2019) are provided a vested right to proceed with its development in compliance with the development rules and regulations in force on the date that the plan check fee was paid. Applicants that wish for their projects to take advantage of new provisions in the ADU Ordinance (and state law) will need to file a supplemental permit application, which will void the vesting rights under the prior development rules and subject the project to the new ADU Ordinance and any other new regulations.