Chula Vista Accessory Dwelling Unit Regulations

Introduction to Accessory Dwelling Units

An accessory dwelling unit commonly called a granny flat or in-law suite must exist on a lot that’s zoned single-family. It has its own entrance, separate from the primary house, as well as a kitchen, bathroom and living space. These units can be rented, year-round, and add a lot of value to a property.

Zoning in Chula Vista

Accessory dwelling units (ADU’s) and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADU’s) are permitted on lots zoned for proposed or existing single-family residences

Lot size

New ADU structures on the lot are limited to the maximum lot coverage already permitted in the zoning. With the exception of conversions, new ADU’s and all other detached accessory structures cannot occupy more than 30% of the required rear yard setback. Simplified, this means that if the rear of your yard was 30 feet, the structure could not be longer than 9 feet (30 ft x 0.3).

Min/Max Building Sizes

The total floor space of an attached or detached ADU cannot exceed 50% of the living area of the primary residence, or 1,200 sq. feet, whichever is less.

For example, if your existing house in 2,500 sq. ft., the attached ADU cannot exceed 1,200 sq. ft. in size.

JADU’s cannot exceed 500 sq. feet.

Height Restrictions

Measured from the ground, ADU’s cannot exceed the height limit for the primary residence. That is, whatever the height limits are for you home are the same for the ADU.

If you’re not sure what the height restrictions for your zoning are, our granny flat experts can help!


Parking not required if the ADU is:

  • Located within ½ mile of public transit
  • Located within an architecturally and historically significant historic district
  • Part of an existing primary residence or an existing accessory structure
  • In an area where on-street parking permits are required, but not offered to the occupant of the ADU
  • Is located within one block of a car share area

If the unit does not meet those requirements, it is subject to the following regulations:

  • Parking shall not exceed one parking space per unit, or per bedroom, whichever is less. So if there was one unit with 2 bedrooms, there would only need to be 1 spot.
  • Parking may be provided in tandem on an existing driveway, as long as access to the garage isn’t blocked for the residents of the primary dwelling.
  • Off-street parking is permitted in setback areas, and may be tandem, as long as there are not any topographical or safety concerns (like a very steep slope).
  • The parking spaces should be on the same lot as the ADU
  • Any parking space lost during construction of ADU (either by garage conversion, or destruction in the process of ADU construction) must be replaced.
  • Access to parking should be from a public street, alley, or a recorded access easement.
  • When the parking space(s) abuts a fence or wall on either side, the space must be a minimum of 10 feet wide.
  • If the parking area also serves as pedestrian access from the ADU to the street, the paving should be at least 12 feet wide.

This parking is in addition to the parking requirements of the primary dwelling.


A setback is a minimum distance a structure must be away from the street, buildings, or other features.

New, detached, single-story ADU’s are allowed a setback of no less than 5 feet from the side and rear lot lines. They should also be located a minimum of 6 feet from the primary residence.

No setback is required for an existing garage that is converted into an ADU. When an ADU is constructed above a garage, the setback is no less than 5 feet from the side and rear lot lines.

There are some exceptions if your lot is located on a slope. Contact Maxable if you think this applies to you.

Owner Occupancy in Chula Vista

Property owners must reside on the property when renting out the unit. The unit cannot be sold separately from the primary dwelling.

Rentals in Chula Vista

Senate Bill 1069 was passed in an effort to increase the supply of housing in the state. That being said, the ADU may be rented.

How to Evaluate ROI

Building an accessory dwelling unit, especially if you intend to keep the property for a few years, represents an enormously beneficial opportunity to maximize your property.

By constructing an accessory dwelling unit you are adding additional square footage to the property. So if you can build a unit for $275 a square foot, but the average value of homes in your neighborhood are worth $400 a square foot you are gaining instant equity through the project. Plus, you also now have the added benefit of a flexible space that can be rented or used for family.

Additional notes

A Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU) is defined as a unit no more than 500 sq. feet and contained entirely within an existing single-family structure

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Updated 3/27/19



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