When thinking of an ADU, many picture a small, free-standing building in the backyard. This kind of thinking may deter those with smaller lots from exploring the option of adding an ADU to their existing structure. This is a shame, given the additional rental income and living space that ADU’s often afford. The truth is, ADU’s come in all shapes and sizes, and under the right circumstances, even small lots can support them.  


Since early 2017, there has been a state-wide push to increase housing by loosening the laws around additional-dwelling-unit (ADU) construction. In part, this is because ADU’s provide flexible dwelling options in a central city neighborhoods, utilize existing governmental infrastructure (eg. roads, sewers, schools), and reduce the demand for expanding infrastructure.


The Santa Cruz County planning department has not only made local ADU permitting laws more permissible, but has now created a webpage devoted to informing and supporting homeowners interested in the possibility of adding an ADU.


This webpage includes:

  • An overview of ADU regulations
  • A tool that you can use to determine if your parcel is eligible for an ADU
  • A fee and construction cost estimator
  • An ADU finance-planner
  • A description of common types of ADU’s
  • FAQ’s


You can access it here.


If you are considering the addition of an ADU in the City of Santa Cruz, you can find more information about the City’s Accessory Dwelling Unit Development Program here.


The City also provides an ADU prototypes page, which can be used as a starting point when considering the kind of ADU that will work for your parcel. The name and contact information of the architect behind each drawing is listed on the site also.


If you would like to explore this option further, we suggest looking through these materials, and then speaking to a planner in your jurisdiction.


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