Poway 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 Poway, CA

Only one ADU is allowed per single family lot.

ADUs are allowed on lots zoned RR-A through C, RS-1, RS-2, RS-3, RS-4, RS-7.

ADUs are allowed in lots zoned for residential use. A single-family dwelling must already exist on the property or be built simultaneously with the ADU.

Lot size

There is no minimum or maximum lot size requirement to build an accessory dwelling unit. Lots with an ADU cannot be further subdivided.

Height Restrictions

ADUs are limited to one story and should not exceed the height of the primary residence.


ADUs are required to have one off-street parking spot, which may be provided as tandem parking or within setbacks (given there are no safety concerns).

Off-street parking is not required if:

  • The ADU is within ½ mile of a public transit stop
  • The ADU is within an architecturally or historically significant historic district
  • The ADU is attached to the primary residence or an existing accessory structure
  • The ADU is within an area where on-street parking permits are required but not available to occupants of the ADU
  • The ADU is within one block of a car-share vehicle’s pick-up location (established by the city)


Detached ADUs must be at least 10 feet from the primary dwelling or any other detached accessory building.

ADUs constructed above a garage should have a setback of 5 feet from the side and rear lot lines.

Owner Occupancy

ADU’s cannot be sold separately from the primary residence. The owner is not required to live in the ADU.

Rentals in Poway

California passed Senate Bill 1069 in an effort to increase the supply of housing to the state. For this reason, any accessory dwelling unit may be used for a long-term rental. No short-term rentals (less than 30 days).

How to Evaluate ROI

Building an accessory dwelling unit in Poway, 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

  • ADU should be a similar architectural style and material to the primary dwelling.
  • Fire sprinklers are not required in ADUs if they are not required in the main residence.

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