New Regulations for Accessory Dwelling Units in Santa Monica

Rules are anticipated to become effective July 12, 2018

May 30, 2018

New Regulations for Accessory Dwelling Units in Santa Monica

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – At its meeting on Tuesday, May 22, the Santa Monica City Council approved an ordinance to amend the City’s Zoning Ordinance regarding standards for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). An ADU is a dwelling unit providing complete independent living facilities that is located on a parcel with another, primary single-unit dwelling. ADUs have also been referred to as second dwelling units, in-law units, or granny flats. Independent ADU standards in SMMC Section 9.31.300 have been created separate from the Accessory Building and Structures standards in SMMC Section 9.21.020 to avoid any confusion and conflicts between the standards. Here are the key components of the changes:

  • Maximum Allowable Size: The maximum allowable size for ADUs is now 650 square feet (SF) for parcels up to and including 6,000 SF in area or 800 SF for parcels greater than 6,000 SF in area. The Zoning Ordinance previously allowed a maximum size of 650 SF for all ADUs. 
    • ADUs must still be clearly subordinate to the main dwelling unit on the parcel in terms of size, location, and appearance.
  • Second Story Size: There is no limit to the size of a second story of an ADU. However, the second story cannot exceed the area of the first story.
  • Conversions of Existing Accessory Buildings: Conversions of existing non-garage accessory buildings to ADUs are allowed. The Zoning Ordinance previously did not address this.

ADUs continue to be excluded from R1 parcel coverage calculations per the R1 Interim Zoning Ordinance that Council adopted on April 10, 2018. The ADU development standards will be revisited as part of the forthcoming effort to review and update the R1 Single-Unit Residential development standards over the next 12-18 months.

A second reading of the ordinance will be heard on Tuesday, June 12. If adopted at that meeting, the ordinance will become effective on July 12, 2018. More information will soon be available on the Planning and Community Development website at https://www.smgov.net/Departments/PCD/. If you are a homeowner and have questions, please email planning@smgov.net.

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