Accessory Dwelling Units

What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit?

An Accessory Dwelling Unit is a residential dwelling unit that provides complete independent living facilities for one or more persons and is located on a lot with a proposed or existing primary residence. It shall include permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation on the same parcel as the single-family or multi-family dwelling is or will be situated.

The information provided in this page identifies the City of Pasadena’s current regulations for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs).  Begin with identifying the type of ADU proposed and then refer to the pertinent development standards and regulations for that category. Then, refer to the bottom of this page for additional regulations applicable to all ADUs and JADUs.

Contact Information

For questions regarding ADU regulations, please email: zoningquestions@cityofpasadena.net

For questions regarding ADUs in historic districts or in individually designated historic properties, please email: dhpquestions@cityofpasadena.net

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Converted ADU Attached, New ADU Detached, New ADU Junior ADU Junior ADU with Detached (Converted or New) ADU
Zones that allow residential uses (single-family or multi-family housing) with one single-family dwelling Permitted

(See Section titled ‘Single-Family ADU’)

Permitted

(See Section titled ‘Single-Family ADU’)

Permitted

(See Section titled ‘Single-Family ADU’)

Permitted

(See Sections titled ‘Single-Family ADU’ and ‘Junior ADU’)

Permitted

(See Sections titled ‘Single-Family ADU’ and ‘Junior ADU’)

Zones that allow residential uses (single-family or multi-family housing) with existing multifamily dwellings (attached) Permitted

(See Section titled ‘Multi-Family ADU’)

Not permitted Permitted

(See Section titled ‘Multi-Family ADU’)

Not permitted Not permitted
Historic Districts Permitted

(See Sections titled ‘ADU in Historic Districts’ or ‘ADU in Individually Designated Historic Properties’ )

Permitted if not visible from public right-of-way

(See Sections titled ‘ADU in Historic Districts’ or ‘ADU in Individually Designated Historic Properties’ )

Permitted if not visible from public right-of-way

(See Sections titled ‘ADU in Historic Districts’ or ‘ADU in Individually Designated Historic Properties’ )

Permitted in zones with one single-family dwelling

(See Sections titled ‘ADU in Historic Districts’ or ‘ADU in Individually Designated Historic Properties’ )

Permitted in zones with one single-family dwelling; Detached ADU permitted if not visible from public right-of-way

(See Sections titled ‘ADU in Historic Districts’ or ‘ADU in Individually Designated Historic Properties’ )

Single-Family ADU

An accessory dwelling unit or junior accessory dwelling unit can be permitted if located on a lot zoned for residential use where only one residential dwelling unit exists or is proposed to be built on a lot, provided that...

Multi-Family ADU

An accessory dwelling unit can be permitted on lots zoned for residential (including residential mixed-use) and developed with existing attached multi-family dwelling units as follows, provided that...

Junior ADU

Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs) are allowed to be created within the walls of a proposed or existing single-family residence and shall contain no more than 500 square feet...

ADU in Historic Districts

 

In historic districts (e.g., National Register, Landmark, etc.), only converted accessory dwelling units (including junior accessory dwelling units) or newly constructed accessory dwelling unit that is not visible from the public right-of-way are permitted.

ADU in Individually Designated
Historic Properties

 

In individually designated historic properties, only converted accessory dwelling units (including accessory dwelling units) are permitted. Newly constructed accessory dwelling units are prohibited on individually designated historic properties.

Additional requirements that apply to all ADUs

Fire Sprinklers

Fire Sprinklers. Fire sprinklers shall be required for the accessory dwelling unit or junior accessory dwelling unit only if fire sprinklers are required for the residential dwelling

Operational Standards

Owner Occupancy Requirement

  1. For ADUs permitted between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2024, property owners will not be required to reside in either the primary residential dwelling unit or in the accessory dwelling unit.
  2. For proposed junior accessory dwelling units, the property owner must be an owner-occupant and reside in either the residential dwelling or in the junior accessory dwelling unit. Owner-occupancy shall not be required for the junior accessory dwelling unit if the owner is a governmental agency, land trust, or housing organization.

Parking Criteria

 

  1. Parking for Accessory Dwelling Units. Off-street parking for an accessory dwelling unit shall comply with the following standards:
    1. A maximum of one off-street parking space shall be provided per accessory dwelling unit or per bedroom, whichever is less, except as otherwise provided in these requirements.
    2. Parking may be located in any configuration on the same lots as the accessory dwelling unit, including covered spaces, uncovered spaces, or tandem spaces.
    3. An uncovered parking space may be located within setback areas on an existing driveway and shall not encroach on the public right-of-way
    4. A covered or enclosed parking space shall comply with zoning standards.
  2. Replacement Parking. No replacement parking is required if an existing garage or carport serving as the required parking for the primary dwelling unit is demolished in conjunction with the construction of an accessory dwelling unit.
  3. Driveway Access. An accessory dwelling unit shall share the driveway with the existing primary residential dwelling. A separate driveway for the accessory dwelling unit shall not be provided, except where the lot is adjacent to an alley, in which case a driveway to the alley may be added to serve the accessory dwelling unit.
  4. Exceptions to Parking Requirements. No on-site parking is required for accessory dwelling unit when one or more of the following is applicable:
      1. The property is located within one-half mile walking distance of a public transit stop.
      2. The property is listed on the California Register of Historic Places, or any property in a locally designated or eligible historic district.
      3. When the accessory dwelling unit is located within legally constructed existing space of the primary dwelling or accessory structure.
      4. When on-street parking permits are required per the City’s Preferential Parking Permit District requirements but are not offered to the occupant of the accessory dwelling unit.
      5. When there is a commercial car share vehicle pick-up and drop-off location located within one block of the accessory dwelling unit.
      6. When it a junior accessory dwelling unit.
  5. Overnight Parking Permit. No overnight parking permits shall be issued for a property with an accessory dwelling unit approved under these provisions.

 

 

Impact Fees

 

Applicability

Any accessory dwelling unit, if 750 square feet or greater, shall be charged a Residential Impact fee in an amount proportionally related to the square footage of the primary dwelling unit. The proportional fee will be calculated by the Public Works Department, according to the currently adopted fee schedule.

Reducing the Residential Impact Fee for ADUs (750 s.f. or larger)

To assist homeowners, the City of Pasadena has prepared the Affordability Covenant and Landlord Agreements for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU). These documents are the mechanisms through which ADU applicants may receive a reduced Residential Impact Fee (RIF) applicable to new affordable units in Pasadena.

The Affordability Covenant and Landlord Agreements are optional contracts and are not required for an ADU to receive a building permit. These documents will be reviewed and administered by the Housing & Career Services Department.

The following outlines the steps to help you complete and submit either the Affordability Covenant or Landlord Agreement:

  1. Print or pick-up a copy of the Affordability Covenant OR Landlord Agreement document (linked below) or the City of Pasadena Permit Center (175 North Garfield Ave.)
  2. Fill-out Affordability Covenant OR Landlord Agreement document and submit to Jim Wong at the Housing & Career Services Department (649 North Fair Oaks Ave., Suite 202) or via email to rmabson@cityofpasadena.net (email is preferred).

In addition to additional documentation described in the Affordability Covenant and Landlord Agreement, a grant deed and legal description for the property will also be required to be submitted.

Subsequent review and final Affordability Covenant and Landlord Agreement documents will be processed by the Housing & Career Services Department. For any questions, please call (626) 744-8321 or email Randy Mabson at rmabson@cityofpasadena.net

  • ADU Affordability Covenant – In this covenant,  the homeowner commits to rent the ADU to a household whose annual income does not exceed 120% of the Area Median Income for a minimum seven-year period. The current income limits are specified within the covenant.
  • ADU Landlord Agreement – In this agreement, the homeowner commits the ADU to be used exclusively, for a minimum seven-year period, by either (1) a family member, as defined in the agreement, OR (2) to the City’s rental assistance clients or a tenant currently participating in the City’s Rental Assistance Program.

Instructions for completing the covenant or the agreement can be found below:

Instructions for ADU Covenant or Agreement

Definitions

  1. Accessory Dwelling Unit. A residential dwelling unit that provides complete independent living facilities for one or more persons and is located on a lot with a proposed or existing primary residence. It shall include permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation on the same parcel as the single-family or multi-family dwelling is or will be situated.
  2. Junior Accessory Dwelling Units. A unit that is no more than 500 square feet in size and contained entirely within a single-family residence. A junior accessory dwelling unit may include separate sanitation facilities, or may share sanitation facilities with the existing structure.
  3. Converted Accessory Dwelling Unit. An accessory dwelling unit constructed through conversion of part of the existing floor area of a primary single-family residence or an existing structure accessory to a primary single-family residence, such as a garage, a carriage house, a pool house, a rear yard studio, or similar enclosed structure.
  4. Newly Constructed Accessory Dwelling Unit. An accessory dwelling unit constructed as a new structure, or by addition to an existing structure, either attached to or detached from a primary single-family residence and located on the same lot.
  5. Accessory Structure. A structure that is accessory and incidental to a dwelling located on the same lot.
  6. Living Area. Interior habitable area of a dwelling unit, including basements and attics, but does not include a garage or any accessory structure.
  7. Public Transit. A location, including, but not limited to, a bus stop or train station, where the public may access buses, trains, subways, and other forms of transportation that charge set fares, run on fixed routes, and are available to the public.

Pasadena Second Unit ADU Program

 
The Pasadena Second Unit ADU Program is a new affordable housing initiative that incentivizes homeowners to create an affordable rental unit on their property. The program offers homeowners “Comprehensive Assistance” for financing, designing, permitting, and constructing a new Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in the City of Pasadena. Specifically the program provides homeowners financial assistance to build an ADU through new construction or garage conversion. Assistance is also available to rehabilitate and bring up to code an existing unpermitted “granny flat” or illegal garage conversion. You can read more about Pasadena Second Unit ADU Program here.