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.


An attached or detached second unit is permitted in the following zones: R-1, E-1, A-1 and 0-R zone. A second unit located within repurposed existing space is permitted on any lot in a zone that allows single-family residences by right.

For Vista’s official ordinance see here:

Lot size in Vista, CA

Lot must be at least a quarter of an acre to build an ADU.

Height Restrictions

A height of two stories or 35 feet, whichever is less.


A parking space is defined by the City as 9 by 19 feet in size. Open parking spaces shall be marked using two 5 inch strips separated by 8 inches, for a total width of 18 inches.

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)

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