The City of Santa Rosa is preparing an amendment to the Zoning Code to facilitate the construction of accessory dwelling units on single-family residential parcels in compliance with new state law.
An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is an attached or detached residential dwelling, located on the same parcel as an existing single-family dwelling, that provides complete independent living facilities, including sleeping, cooking, bathing, and sanitation. As of January 1, 2017, Santa Rosa Zoning Code Section 20-42.130 and that portion of 20-36.040 (parking) pertaining to accessory dwelling units are superseded by state law. City staff have prepared guidance for ADU development until City ordinances implementing state law are enacted. Click to view the interim guidance document.
In order to implement the new state laws, staff have prepared draft revisions to the zoning code, available here.
Should you have any questions or comments, contact Eric Gage, the project planner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-543-4351.
FAQs for Proposed Zoning Code Amendment
What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)?.
Can the City Apply Development Standards and Designate Permitted Areas?.
Are ADUs Permitted in an Existing Residence or Accessory Structure?.
What Minimum Standards are Applicable to an ADU?.
Are Setbacks Required When an Existing Garage Is Converted to an ADU?.
What are the parking requirements for an ADU?.
Is Off Street Parking Permitted in Setback Areas or through Tandem Parking?.
Is the Property Owner Required to Live on the Property?.
Are There Limitations on Renting an ADU?.
What Fees Apply to ADUs?.
Are Fire Sprinklers Required for ADUs?.
What is a Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU)?.
What Fees Apply to JADUs?.
What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)?
An ADU is an independent dwelling unit located on a property which contains or allows a single-family residence. An ADU includes complete living facilities including sleeping quarters, bathing facilities, and a kitchen. An ADU may be developed as a detached unit separated from the primary structure, a unit attached to the primary structure, an internal conversion of existing living space (e.g., master bedroom) within the primary residence, or through conversion of an existing garage.
Can the City Apply Development Standards and Designate Permitted Areas?
Yes, cities may apply development standards and may designate where ADUs are permitted. ADUs within existing structures must be allowed in all single-family residential zones. ADUs that propose an addition or a new accessory structure, are subject to development standards such as parking, height, lot coverage, lot size and maximum unit size. The location of ADUs may be limited by other environmental factors, such as health and safety risks in high fire hazard areas.
Are ADUs Permitted in an Existing Residence or Accessory Structure?
An ADU may be established wherever a single-family residence exists or is allowed in any single-family residential zone. An ADU may be established by converting a portion of the interior of a single-family dwelling or within an attached or detached accessory structure such as a garage, a pool house, a rear yard studio and similar enclosed structures. The size of an ADU created through internal conversion is addressed in the following answer. Junior Accessory Dwelling Units are also allowed through internal conversion of a single-family dwelling and are addressed at the end of this FAQ document.
What Minimum Standards are Applicable to an ADU?
A newly constructed attached or detached ADU is generally subject to the same setbacks and lot coverage requirements as the primary residence. An ADU established through an internal conversion shall maintain setbacks sufficient for fire safety. No setback is required for the conversion of an existing garage, and a setback no greater than 5 feet is required for new construction above an existing garage.
A newly constructed ADU may not have more than one bedroom, nor contain habitable space exceeding 700 square feet. Height of an ADU may not exceed two stories or 27 feet. An ADU established by internal conversion may not have more than one bedroom, nor exceed 45% of the existing habitable space (excluding the garage), to a maximum of 1,200 square feet.
Are Setbacks Required When an Existing Garage Is Converted to an ADU?
Setbacks are not required when a garage is converted or when existing space (e.g., game room or office) above a garage is converted. Rear and side yard setbacks of five feet are required when new space is added above a garage for an ADU. In this case, the setbacks only apply to the added space above the garage, not the existing garage, and the ADU can be constructed wholly or partly above the garage, including extending beyond the garage walls.
Also, when a garage, carport or covered parking structure is demolished or where the parking area ceases to exist so an ADU can be created, replacement parking must be provided, but it is allowed in any configuration on the lot including, but not limited to, covered spaces, uncovered spaces, or tandem spaces.
What are the parking requirements for an ADU?
A newly constructed ADU shall provide one off-street parking space unless one of the following conditions exists, in which case it is exempt from parking requirements. If the ADU is within one-half mile of a transit route, or one block from a car share vehicle, or located in a historic preservation district, then no parking is required.
An ADU established by conversion of an existing garage or parking area must provide one additional off-street space subject to the exemptions listed above. Replacement parking is required for the primary single-family dwelling if parking is eliminated due to ADU development. ADUs established by internal conversion of existing habitable space do not require additional off-street parking.
Is Off Street Parking Permitted in Setback Areas or through Tandem Parking?
Required parking is allowed in setback areas and in tandem, and it may be uncovered. However, the City may make specific findings that tandem parking and parking in setbacks are infeasible on a property based on specific site, regional topographical or fire and life safety conditions.
Is the Property Owner Required to Live on the Property?
The proposed ordinance does not require owner-occupancy for parcels with ADUs. However, an owner-occupancy deed restriction to establish a Junior ADU (JADU) is required, described in further detail in sections below.
Are There Limitations on Renting an ADU?
The only limitation on renting an ADU is that it may not be rented for a term shorter than 30 days.
What Fees Apply to ADUs?
Where ADUs are established through internal conversion of an existing structure (primary or accessory), the city does not require new or separate water and sewer connections, or charge any connection fee or capacity charge. Other impact fees still apply including fees for capital facilities, parks, schools, fire permit fees, and other fees determined by geographic location.
For attached or detached ADUs involving new construction, separate utility connections and related water and sewer connection fees are required.
Are Fire Sprinklers Required for ADUs?
ADUs are not required to provide fire sprinklers if they are not or were not required of the primary residence. However, sprinklers can be required for an ADU if required in the primary structure. For example, if the primary residence has sprinklers as a result of an existing ordinance, then sprinklers could be required in the ADU. Applicants should contact the Santa Rosa Fire Department at 543-3500 for more information on the applicability, costs and benefits of fire sprinkler installation for their specific project.
What is a Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU)?
The state has approved an optional bill for jurisdictions to allow Junior ADUs. Santa Rosa has included provisions for JADU is its draft code amendments. JADUs, which are no larger than 500 square feet, are typically bedrooms in a single-family home that have an entrance into the unit from the main home and an entrance to the outside from the JADU. The JADU must have basic cooking facilities, including a sink, but is not required to have a private bathroom. No additional parking is required for a JADU. A JADU does require an owner occupancy restriction in the form of a recorded deed restriction.
What Fees Apply to JADUs?
JADUs are not considered a separate or new dwelling unit for the purposes of utility fees and shall not be charged a fee for providing water, sewer or power, including non-municipal providers. Other impact fees still apply including fees for capital facilities, parks, schools, fire permit fees, and other fees determined by geographic location.