Accessory Unit Zoning Ordinance Update

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About the Accessory Unit Zoning Ordinance Update

On August 22, 2017, the City Council adopted Ordinance 1968 which made changes to the review and approval process for accessory dwelling units.  These changes became effective on September 21, 2017, and are now integrated into applicable chapters of Titles 17 and 18 in the Code of the City of Santa Clara.

What is an Accessory Unit?

The City of Santa Clara defines an accessory unit as one additional dwelling unit that includes a single kitchen, sleeping quarters, not more than one bathroom, and not more than two bedrooms on a lot 6,000 square feet or greater or one bedroom on a lot less than 6,000 square feet, on a lot with an existing single-family dwelling. The accessory unit may be attached to or part of the existing single-family unit or may be a detached structure and shall meet all other requirements of the Zoning Ordinance, including design compatibility with the main residence in accordance with the City’s design guidelines.

Can I Establish an Accessory Unit on My Property?

Accessory units are permitted by right in the R1-6L – Single-Family Zoning District and R1-8L – Single-Family, Larger Lot Area Zoning District on lots that have an existing single-family dwelling.

What is the Permitting and Approval Process?

Building permits are required for the construction of an accessory unit.  The Planning Division will review the application for conformance with the relevant zoning regulations as part of the Building Division permitting process.

Is There a Summary of Accessory Unit Regulations?

Yes, a handout is available under the "Resources" section found below.

Comments or Questions?

Planning Division
(408) 615-2450


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