San Jose ADU permits and regulations 2021

Determined to increase the city’s affordable housing stock, planners have put a lot of effort into making San Jose, California, ADU-friendly. The goal: to add 10,000 affordable housing units by 2022.


In 2019, Mayor Sam Liccardo unveiled a detailed plan to make the ADU building process streamlined and more affordable. In 2020, the city handled permits for about 600 accessory dwelling units, and it’s on track to handle 1,000 or more in 2021. Check out the resources below for more info.

Thinking of building an ADU in San Jose?

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

San Jose ADU resources

San Jose code of ordinances

ADUs are discussed in part 4.5, starting at Chapter 20.30.460. The link above will take you right there.

San Jose Planning Department’s ADU page

Has sections for many commonly asked questions as well as a menu with ADU permiting fees.

Rental rate trends in San Jose

The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Jose is $2,194 as of May 2021. For a two-bedroom unit, it’s $2,700.

Statewide ADU handbook

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

FAQs about building an ADU in San Jose

This page on the city’s website provides info about cost, the permitting process, and much more.

ADU financing options

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

ADU regulations: Fast facts

Maximum ADU size

For lot sizes up to 1,000 square feet, the max ADU size is 1,000 square feet. For lots bigger than that, the max ADU size is 1,200 square feet.

Front setback

Varies by jurisdiction, but “front yard setbacks cannot preclude a statewide exemption ADU and must not unduly constrain the creation of all types of ADUs."

Minimum lot size


Side and rear setbacks

A minimum of 4 feet for both.

There may be additional setback requirements in the coastal zone if required by a local coastal program. Setbacks may also account for utility easements or recorded setbacks.

San Jose ADU news 2021

Learn about local ADU initiatives and more.

ABC News story: “San Jose aims to become California’s friendliest ADU city”

San Jose Inside story: “San Jose Unveils Plan to Make ‘Granny Flat’ Construction Simpler, More Affordable”

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