Accessory Dwelling Unit Program

Description: To address the challenge of providing affordable and workforce housing, Santa Cruz created an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Development Program. The city’s program aims to create more housing opportunities by making it easier for homeowners to build accessory units. For example, the city revised its zoning ordinance to eliminate a covered parking requirement for single-family homes, which freed up space for accessory units. In addition, the revision included design elements that ensure the accessory units complement the surrounding homes.

Seven architects designed compact building prototypes (500 square feet) that address a variety of site needs. These plans have been pre-reviewed by city departments, which helps homeowners by reducing processing time, planning fees, and design costs. The city also released an ADU “How To” manual to help residents navigate the development process. The manual packages all the information homeowners need to develop an accessory unit, including guidance on making an accessory unit “neighbor-friendly,” managing a construction project, and being a good landlord. Over 175 manuals and prototype plan sets have been sold. To encourage affordable housing, homeowners get financial assistance through accessory unit loan and fee waiver programs if the unit will be rented at an affordable level.

The website includes information about the city program including links to the manual and the ADU provisions of the zoning ordinance. The ADU program was recognized with a 2004 EPA Smart Growth Award.

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Source: City of Santa Cruz, California
Date: 2003
Format: Website

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