Del Mar 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.

Accessory dwelling units take different structural forms. They can be garage conversions, stand-alone units, attic or basement conversions, or be attached to the main house.

Zoning in Del Mar

Under the adopted Ordinance, Accessory Dwelling Units are allowed in all residential zones EXCEPT RM-South (Medium Density Mixed Residential-South). They are also allowed in the Carmel Valley Precise Plan Specific Plan (CVPP).

Junior Accessory Dwelling Units are only allowed in the following zones: R1-40, R1-14, R1-10, R1-10B, R1-5, R1-5B, and the CVPP.

Min/Max Building Sizes

ADUs may not exceed 550 sq. ft., while JrADUs may not exceed 500 sq. ft. Additionally, an ADU may not be more than 14 ft. in height., with the exception that an ADU and a JrADU may be located on the second floor within an existing dwelling unit. A JrADU is always entirely contained within, and accessory to an existing single dwelling unit and involves no exterior development.

Height Restrictions in Del Mar

Del Mar has a relatively low height restriction for accessory dwelling units. The max height for new construction is 14 feet.


Most properties will not be required to dedicate a parking space for an ADU, unless located more than 1/2 mile from a public transit stop.  No parking is required for a Jr ADU.


Attached and detached ADU’s should follow the same yard and setback requirement of the main residence.

Owner Occupancy

The owner of the property must either live in the accessory dwelling unit or in the primary home. Both units may not be rented simultaneously.


The accessory dwelling unit may not be used as a short term rental except for the RC zone. Short term rental is defined as 30 days or less.

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

If you are in a coastal overlay zone, your project must go through the coastal commission. While frustrating it’s not a deal breaker but does add additional time and cost to the project.

Can I have more than one ADU/Jr.ADU on a lot?

  • No, a maximum of one ADU or one Jr.ADU is permitted on a developed lot with a single dwelling unit.

Can I have an ADU or a Jr. ADU on a property with a duplex?

  • No, only lots with a single dwelling unit are eligible.

How to Apply:

State law requires a streamlined application process that exempts ADUs and Jr.ADUs from all discretionary permits, including design review permits.

Applicants will need to fill out a uniform development application and ADU verification form, pay associated fees, and submit development plan sets. Submitted plans that meet the requirements in Del Mar Municipal Code Section 30.91 will be approved within 120 days of a complete application submittal.

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