Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU's)


What is an ADU?

An ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) is an attached or a detached residential dwelling unit which provides complete independent living facilities for one or more persons, including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation, which is located on the same lot as a single-family detached dwelling unit.

New state laws make it easier to build an ADU

  • An ADU must be approved by the jurisdiction in 60 days.
  • City of Salinas does not charge development or traffic impact fees for ADU's (but school districts and water districts may apply impact fees).
  • Home Owners Association's (HOA's) must allow ADU's if space permits, per state law.
  • No replacement parking required if within 1/2 mile of transit.
  • One detached ADU and one Junior ADU (required to be in existing footprint of home or attached garage) allowed on a single-family lot.
  • Two detached ADU's allowed on one multi-family (more than two attached units) lot.
  • At least one or 25% of units in a multi-family lot can be converted from existing non-habitable space, such as a garage or laundry room into an ADU or ADU's.
  • Four-foot setbacks required for rear and side yards (five-foot setbacks do not require fire rated walls).

Pre-Approved Plans for New Detached ADU

The City of Salinas in collaboration with Design Path Studio, is offering property owners a selection of four (4) Pre-approved ADU Plans to promote construction of new detached ADUs within City limits. A detached ADU is a separate stand-alone structure from the existing primary dwelling structure. The collection of plans that were produced include four (4) architectural styles: Craftsman, Mid-Century, Ranch, Spanish and four (4) different unit types:1A - One Bed/One Bath (495 sf), 1B - One Bed/One Bath (553 sf), 2A - Two Bed/Two Bath (749 sf), 2B - Two Bed/One Bath (746 sf).

The plans feature configurable choices regarding external style and materials used but will ultimately abide by the design standard of the main dwelling unit. Pre-approved plans reduce preconstruction fees and expedite the permitting process but also require additional documents and schematics from the property owner at time of submittal. These plans are only to be used for NEW Detached ADUs on properties within City of Salinas limits. Existing or attached dwelling units may NOT use these pre-approved plans.

Pre- Approved Detached ADU Building Permit Submittal Items:

Before submitting your Building Permit, you will need to complete a Consultation with the Current Planning Division, which will give you the green light to move forward with a plans submittal. Please refer to the Guidebook below on how to gather documents and your site plan for Building Permit Submittal.

*All building permit applications are paperless.
  1. Building Permit Application
  2. Construction and Demolition Waste Form
  3. Hold Harmless Statement (signed by property owner)
  4. Grant Deed (include all pages)
  5. Pre-approved Architectural Planset with first page completed
  6. Site Plan - (may need to hire a Building Designer to draft this, or obtain from an online vendor)
  7. Additional documentation related to State of California solar and energy requirements

Pre-approved ADU Building Permit Documents

The following documents have been created to assist you in the preparation of your building permit submittal for your new detached ADU. The Guidebook provides instructions to assist you in preparing your building permit submittal as well as provides an overview of steps the applicant needs to take leading up to the project being finalized. The complete pre-approved detached ADU plan sets for download are listed below. 



Why are ADU's Important?

California's lack of housing production and large population growth have caused a housing shortage. In fact, only half the homes needed to keep up with population growth were constructed in California in the past ten years. That means that cities statewide need to build more housing. It also means that housing is unaffordable, particularly for renters in California. This is especially true in Salinas, where we face a lack of affordable housing for seniors, students, farmworkers and families.

ADU's are also important for homeowners and families. ADU's are the perfect way to expand upon a housing investment, and create passive rental income for you and your family. ADU's are also an affordable way to house seniors or children on the same property as their relatives so families can better assist each other without living in the same unit.

How to build an ADU in Salinas:

Step 1:

Review the California HCD's ADU Handbook to familiarize yourself with the State's ADU regulations and City zoning code requirements. Talk to a Planner by calling the ADU Hotline at 831-758-7208, or by making an appointment with a Planner via Qless.

If you choose to use one of our Pre-approved ADU Plans, see tab above labeled “Pre-approved ADU Plans and follow the process in the Guidebook."

Step 2:

Hire a building designer (drafter), engineer or architect with experience to help your vision come into a reality! Building designers (drafters), engineers or architects can draft the plans for your ADU, and work with the City's Planning, Building and Development Engineering Divisions to ensure the plans are ready to be approved and constructed.

Step 3:

Time to submit your new ADU to the Planning and Building Departments for review! Your building designer or architect can do this for you, or you can apply as a property owner. Typically, revisions may be required prior to obtaining a Building Permit approval and issuance. Prior to Building Permit issuance, a Deed Restriction is required to be signed and notarized by all property owners, and the City Planner. The Deed Restriction will then get recorded at the County of Monterey Recorder's Office. This process may take up to three weeks.

Once your plans are approved and a Building Permit is issued, construction can begin. Periodically during the construction process, your ADU will require a building inspection. Once the ADU is complete and the final inspection takes place, your ADU is ready for a loved one or a tenant to live in.

To apply for ADU Building Permits, please visit the Permit Services Division Webpage, and apply via the Paperless Permit Portal.