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Everything about developing Accessory Dwelling Units in Oakland, CA

Oakland ADUs
Everything about developing Accessory Dwelling Units in Oakland, CA

Learn what type of ADU your property’s zoning allows
Calculate returns and costs to get financing
Learn the process and estimate your project timeline

Zoning Guidelines
The city government of Oakland has updated its local zoning codes to comply with the State ADU mandate.
Number of ADUs allowed:

A total of one primary dwelling Unit and one ADU Unit are allowed per lot.

Types of ADUs allowed:

Detached ADU, attached ADU, junior ADU allowed.

Category One: Located entirely within the building envelope of a One-Family Dwelling Facility or detached accessory structure legally in existence prior to January 1, 2017; involve no expansion of the existing structure; have independent exterior access; and side and REAR setbacks are sufficient for fire safety

Category Two: Involve construction of a new structure, or an exterior addition to an existing structure.

Lot size:

No minimum lot size, so long as the property is a legal lot of record.

ADU size:

Category One: No size restriction

Category Two: May not exceed 800 square feet or 75% of the floor area of the existing One-Family Dwelling, whichever is less.


Category One: No setback restrictions, other than those sufficient for fire safety

Category Two: A detached ADU may extend into a required side and the REAR setback up to feet from the lot line. No more than 50% of the horizontal area of the required rear yard may be covered by the facilities over feet high.

An ADU located above a garage and conforming to maximum height and other applicable regulations is not required to have a side or a REAR setback of more than feet.
All other ADUs must meet the setbacks adopted for that zone.


If a covered parking structure is demolished to construct a ADU, the replacement parking may be located in any configuration (including covered, uncovered, tandem or mechanical lift).

Category One: No additional parking required

Category Two: No additional parking required for ADUs located:

Within ½ mile of a bus stop, train station or, if appropriate, paratransit stop;
In a historic district;
Where on-street parking permits are required but not offered to the ADU occupant;
Within one block of a fixed car-share pick-up/drop-off spot.
For all other Category Two ADUs:

One parking space per unit required in zones other than S-11 and S-12.
In S-11, one space per bedroom, up to maximum of 2 per unit.
In S-12, one space per bedroom.

Fire Safety:

An ADU is only required to provide fire sprinklers if sprinklers are required for the Primary Unit. The fire flow and water pressure on the adjoining streets must meet minimum Fire Marshal requirements.

Shape, materials and style:

Category One: No architectural compatibility requirements

Category Two: Must be clearly subordinate to the primary dwelling in size and location; exterior materials must match or be visually compatible.


Category One: No height restriction

Category Two: For attached or detached ADUs outside required setbacks, height limits are consistent with standards for that zone.

For detached ADUs within a required side or rear yard, maximum wall height is feet and roof height is feet.

Design review:

Design review Exemption, to be processed within 120 days of application receipt. The application will be considered , without discretionary review or a hearing. No public notice is required, and public input cannot be considered per State law.

Number of Bedrooms:

Not specified by State Standards.


The ADU may be rented, but only be for Permanent Residential Activities on a 30-day or longer basis and may not be sold separately from the primary dwelling.

The property owner is not required to live in either the Primary or ADU.

Utility Connections

Category One: No new or separate utility connection shall be required

Category Two: A new or separate utility connection may be required, but the connection fee or capacity charge shall be proportionate to the burden of ADU on the water or sewer system.

Permit Fees


A “Secondary unit” (also known as “accessory dwelling unit,” “in-law unit”, or “granny flat”) is an attached or detached accessory dwelling unit that is located on the same lot as an existing One-Family Dwelling facility; provides complete independent living facilities for one or more persons, including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation; and meets the standards and criteria of Section 17.103.080.

Emergency Access

Category One: No restriction

Category Two: Not permitted within the S-9 Fire Safety Protection Combining Zone. Outside of the S-9 Zone, not permitted if accessed by a street with pavement less than 20 feet wide or by a dead-end street longer than 600 feet.

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