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Zoning & Development Review
Accessory Dwelling Units

The purpose of the Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance (County Code Section 13.10.681) is to allow and regulate the construction and occupancy of needed housing units in unincorporated Santa Cruz County. It will also make it easier for families to purchase and maintain property and homes by using the additional income from the rental of the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU). The County has recently updated regulations for ADUs and is awaiting certification of these amendments by the California Coastal Commission. Until the Commission acts, certain standards for development are different inside and outside the Coastal Zone. Please be sure to reference the correct brochures for your property.


  1. The parcel must be owner-occupied as evidenced by the filing of a home owner's property tax exemption, or other appropriate documentation. *
  2. The parcel must be zoned Residential or have a General Plan designation of Residential. Outside of the Coastal Zone, parcels may also be zoned for Agriculture.
  3. The parcel may have no more than one existing single family dwelling. An ADU can also be constructed concurrently with one single family dwelling.
  4. Only structures that were constructed legally may be converted to a Conversion ADU (See SCCC 13.10.681(E)).

* For the construction of ADUs within subdivisions or elsewhere where the developer will not be the final occupant, owner-occupancy requirements apply to the purchase of a property w/an ADU, but not to the developer, and occupancy of the ADU will be permitted upon the filing of a Homeowner’s Tax Exemption.


Outside the Coastal Zone:

Inside the Coastal Zone: