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Los Angeles ADU Regulations & Zoning

Discover what you can build in the City of Los Angeles. This city guide covers essential ADU regulations and zoning laws to help you navigate the process and make informed decisions for your property.
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Key Rules At A Glance

Size and Separation
Additional Requirements

Number of ADUs Allowed in the City of Los Angeles

You may build at least one attached or detached ADU on Los Angeles single-family residential lots. If your home is owner-occupied, you may build one detached ADU and one Junior ADU created from existing space in the primary residence.

Multifamily properties in the City of Los Angeles must abide by state requirements for the number of ADUs on multifamily property. Specifically, you may build:

  1. Up to two detached ADUs on the property, or
  2. Up to one ADU conversion (conversion of an existing space) per four units on the property.

ADU Los Angeles – Size & Building Constraints

In the City of Los Angeles the maximum size your detached ADU can be is 1,200 square feet.  
In the City of Los Angeles the maximum size your attached ADU can be is 1,200 square feet, or 50% of the size of the main dwelling unit, whichever number is smaller.
An ADU can be up to 1,200 sq ft, which is the maximum footprint of a one-story ADU. Two-story ADUs are still limited to 1,200 sq ft, so for a two-story ADU, the building footprint will necessarily be smaller. The State of California limits ADU footprints to 800 sq ft, but cities, such as Los Angeles, reserve the right to allow larger footprints.
In the City of Los Angeles, converting existing structures into ADUs carries no height restriction. The height of new-construction ADUs must be less than 16 feet, although, in certain locations, new-construction or partially new-construction designs may include an ADU as tall as 25 feet. For multifamily properties where the existing structure is at least two stories high or if the property is located within a ½ mile walk of a public transit stop or station, an ADU can be up to 18 feet high.
Yes, two-story ADUs are allowed in the City of Los Angeles. However, height restrictions still apply. If your property is restricted to a 16-foot ADU, creating a comfortable design will be a challenge. Building a two-story ADU makes much more sense for properties with 25-foot height restrictions on ADUs.
The City of Los Angeles only allows one detached ADU per single-family residence. As such, you cannot create a “stacked” detached ADU – that is, a two-story structure with a separate ADU on each floor. Height requirements make this difficult on many properties as well. Stacked ADUs may be approved on multifamily lots that allow two detached ADU units, but again, height limits apply and may be prohibitive.
The City of Los Angeles only allows one detached ADU per single-family residence. As such, you cannot create two ADUs attached to each other on a single-family lot. However, you can build an ADU and a JADU on the same lot as long as they are not attached to each other. Multifamily property can have up to two detached ADUs, and plans for two attached ADU units within one structure may be approved if it meets other criteria.
No, a JADU is defined as an ADU converted from existing space within the main structure of the primary dwelling unit. As such, it cannot be attached to an ADU. However, you can build an ADU and a JADU on the same lot, as long as they are not attached to each other.
Generally, roof decks would be permitted, but they must meet the height restrictions for the zone and cannot encroach into the required setbacks. Generally, railings and access staircases above 42″ need to be included in height calculations.
Los Angeles does not mention specific requirements for the exterior of the ADU. However, general guidance is that the exterior roofing, trim, walls, windows, and color palette of the ADU shall incorporate the same features as the primary dwelling unit.
ADU Setbacks in the City of Los Angeles

ADU Setbacks in the City of Los Angeles

In the City of Los Angeles, side and rear setback requirements for an ADU are at least 4 feet. All other setbacks must comply with ordinary zoning setback requirements. No additional setback requirements apply to existing structures that are converted into ADUs.
Los Angeles County rules stipulate a minimum separation of 6 feet between structures within a lot, so your detached ADU must be a minimum of 6 feet from the main house and any other structures.
No, an ADU must be built in the back or side yard of residential property in the city of Los Angeles.

Additional Requirements in the City of Los Angeles

As of this writing, the LA Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) requires in-person plan checks by appointment. You can use this link to schedule an appointment. The City of Los Angeles has historically not required in-person submission of plans for an ADU. LADBS has historically provided a web portal for online submission of plans and an ePlan review system that allows the upload of digital plans for preliminary review.  Check this link for updated availability of virtual plan checks.
Not always. The City of Los Angeles typically only requires a soil report for ADU plans on properties situated on a slope or a hillside.
If you are building an ADU in a coastal zone or within a designated landslide or geo-hazard zone, the City of Los Angeles may require you to pull coastal development permits (CDP) for your ADU project.
ADU landscaping is generally required to blend into existing landscaping and enhance the overall aesthetic appeal. Rules for limiting non-permeable surfaces apply, as do requirements for planting drought-resistant vegetation and preserving existing trees.

The City of Los Angeles has recently streamlined its plan-check process. Instead of the plans having to be sent one at a time to each department for clearance, LADBS reviews each plan report and consolidates all the needed changes early in the process. The process consists of:

  • Submitting initial plans and fees
  • Initial review of plans for correctness and obvious issues
  • Detailed departmental reviews (structural, zoning, fire safety, utility, environmental, etc.)
  • Corrections and re-submission
  • Final approval

The average turnaround time from submission to approval is 4-6 months, though it can be as little as two months if there are no complications. For complicated plans (coastal development zones, historical zones, etc.), it can take as long as a year or more.
LADBS may periodically send inspectors to check the project’s progress and verify that it is being constructed according to plan.

Parking for Los Angeles ADU

The parking requirements for a residential property with an ADU is one additional space per ADU. No additional parking is required for a JADU, nor is it required when the ADU is part of an existing or proposed primary dwelling unit or other structure within the property.

Properties located within ½ mile of walking distance from a public transit stop or station may be exempt from parking requirements. So, too, are properties in historic districts and properties within one block of a designated car-share pickup location. 

If a garage or carport is replaced with an ADU, property owners are not required to replace those off-street parking spaces.

If a parking space is required, it may be located within the setbacks and in an existing driveway as tandem parking. Parking spaces don’t need to be replaced when a garage, carport, or covered parking structure is demolished in conjunction with the construction of an ADU or converted to an ADU.
Parking for Los Angeles ADU

Additional City of Los Angeles ADU Regulation Resources

In the City of Los Angeles, most newly constructed, non-manufactured, and detached ADUs are required to have solar panels. ADUs smaller than 620 square feet may be exempt, as may ADUs in certain climate zones. However, newly constructed detached ADUs over 1,125 square feet must have solar panels installed regardless of the climate zone.
No, a separate electric and water meter is not required for an ADU. However, you may request one from the city.
Not necessarily. An ADU can be permitted under the existing address. If you want your ADU to have its own address, you can apply to the Mapping and Property Management Division (MPM) for a “½” address designation. In other words, if your address is 1234 Elm Street, your ADU could have a separate address of “1234½ Elm Street.”
Low-impact development (LID) is an approach to land development or redevelopment that seeks to preserve and conserve onsite water quality and natural features with minimal detrimental effects on local waterways and ecosystems. The City of Los Angeles requires LID for ADUs of 750 square feet or more.
You are allowed to Airbnb your ADU or rent it out as a short-term rental if the primary residence is owner-occupied. However, if you rent your ADU for shorter than 30 days at a time, you may be required to register for a home-sharing permit from the City of Los Angeles and pay a fee.
If the main dwelling unit was built prior to October 1, 1978, or if the main dwelling unit was constructed after July 15, 2007 to replace a demolished housing unit built prior to October 1, 1978, the City of Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO) may apply to the ADU, imposing rent control and eviction standards on the landlord. If the ADU is fully detached, the RSO may not apply unless the new ADU is built as a replacement for a demolished RSO housing unit, in which case the RSO rules do apply. If an ADU or JADU is established fully within an RSO unit’s existing structure, all RSO provisions apply. If a new-construction ADU is built attached to an RSO main dwelling unit, some of the provisions of the RSO may apply. The Costa Hawkins Act allows landlords to set initial and subsequent rental rates for residential property issued its Certificate of Occupancy after February 1, 1995. As such, the rent-control provisions of the RSO may not apply, but all other provisions will.
The ban on gas appliances in new builds requires that new-construction ADUs use electricity as their fuel; gas appliances are not permitted. ADUs fully adapted from existing living spaces with gas utilities may be permitted for gas appliances.
You are not required to put fire sprinklers in your ADU if the main dwelling unit is not required by law to have fire sprinklers.

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