San Francisco ADU permits and regulations 2021

While San Francisco follows statewide ADU laws, getting permits for a detached ADU is still not easy. San Francisco’s Planning Department has certain special requirements around things like landscape permeability and street trees. For more info, check out the resources below, compiled in 2021.

Considering an ADU in San Francisco?

Check out the video recording of our live webinar below to learn about the ins and outs of building.


San Francisco ordinance allowing ADUs

You might not want to read the full 116-page document, but it could come in handy.

San Francisco Accessory Dwelling Unit Program page

It has links to the ordinance and lays out the basic requirements and restrictions

Rental rate trends in San Francisco

The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is $2,650 as of June 2021. For a two-bedroom unit, it’s $3,650.

Statewide ADU handbook

Super helpful! Created in September 2020 by the California Department of Housing and Urban Development (HCD), it covers all the basics and more.

San Francisco ADU permitting page

Walks you through the government's process step by step and contains links to application forms and checklists.

ADU financing options

This short article lists eights ways to pay for your unit, using both traditional and alternative methods.

Fast facts

Maximum ADU size

850 square feet for a one-bedroom unit; 1,000 square feet for a two-bedroom unit

Maximum ADU height

16 feet

Minimum lot size


Side and rear setbacks

A minimum of 4 feet for both.

There may be additional requirements related to landscaping, seismic retrofitting, curb cuts, and more.

San Francisco ADU news 2021

Learn about local ADU initiatives and more.

CBS story: “SF Lawmakers Vote To Waive Fees For Property Owners Building In-Law Units”

San Francisco Examiner story: “ADUs for me and you”

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