ADU Regulations

La Jolla

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11 min read

If an ADU project is in your plans, becoming well-acquainted with La Jolla’s ADU regulations is a must.


Knowing the specifics of La Jolla’s ADU regulations is a must for homeowners aiming to boost their property’s value by adding an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU). These rules ensure your project meets all legal requirements, makes the best use of your property, and fully leverages the advantages of having an ADU. We’re here to shed light on the intricacies of La Jolla’s local ordinances and zoning laws, helping you navigate through them with ease and ensuring your ADU addition is as beneficial and stress-free as possible.

Essential ADU Rules for La Jolla

What you can build

  • Maximum Sizes

    Detached ADUs are limited to 1,200 sq ft. Attached ADUs cannot surpass 50% of the primary residence's floor space, with a maximum of 1,200 sq ft.
  • Setbacks

    Zero feet for ADUs up to 16 feet tall; 4 feet required for ADUs over 16 feet or with two stories.
  • Two-Story

    Permitted. Maximum heights are 24 feet for flat roofs and 30 feet for sloped roofs.
  • Building Separation

    At least 6 feet separation is mandatory between an ADU and the primary residence.

Permitting timeline

  • Permitting Timeframe

    4-6 months.
  • Coastal

    Required for ADUs in coastal zones.

La Jolla ADU Regulatory Overview

La Jolla’s ADU regulations, as part of the City of San Diego, encompass a range of zoning laws, design criteria, and building standards. These regulations are designed to accommodate the growing demand for housing while maintaining the character and livability of neighborhoods. Unique aspects include allowances for both detached and attached ADUs, the integration of Junior ADUs (JADUs), and specific conditions under which additional ADUs may be permitted on a single-family lot, especially under affordable housing schemes.

La Jolla ADU Permitting Process

The ADU permitting process in La Jolla involves the following:

  • Preparation

Gathering all necessary documents, including site plans, architectural designs, and utility plans.

  • Submission

Digital submission of applications and supporting documents through the City of San Diego’s online portal.

  • Review

The city reviews the application against zoning, building codes, and other local regulations.

  • Approval

The project can proceed to construction upon approval, following city inspections and compliance checks.

Our role at Better Place Remodeling is to ensure compliance with La Jolla’s laws and handle the city talks, guaranteeing your ADU project is realized smoothly from the planning phase to the final touches.

ADU Building Codes in La Jolla

ADUs up to 16 feet in height have a zero-foot setback requirement from side and rear property lines. For ADUs exceeding 16 feet in height or comprising two stories, a minimum 4-foot setback from side and rear lines is mandated.

Detached ADUs need to maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet from other existing structures to ensure safety and privacy.

The City of San Diego accepts digital submissions for ADU applications, streamlining the permitting process.

A Building Verification Survey may be required based on the ADU’s proximity to property boundaries or as determined by the inspecting official, especially in situations where site conditions are complex.

Properties located within the Coastal Overlay Zone may need a Coastal Development Permit, depending on the ADU’s impact on coastal resources and compliance with the California Coastal Act.

Soil reports might be mandated for properties with specific geological concerns, such as those on steep slopes or in areas known for soil instability, to ensure the structure’s safety and stability.

ADU Zoning in La Jolla

Single-family lots in La Jolla can accommodate up to two ADUs, which includes one standard ADU and one Junior ADU (JADU). Additional units may be possible under specific conditions, such as affordability criteria or location within transit priority areas.

Multifamily properties are permitted to build two detached ADUs and convert existing non-habitable spaces into additional ADUs. The City of San Diego’s regulations provide significant flexibility for increasing housing through these conversions.

Detached ADUs can be as large as 1,200 square feet, regardless of the primary dwelling’s size.

Attached ADUs must not exceed 50% of the primary dwelling’s living area, with a maximum allowed size of 1,200 square feet.

ADUs must match the primary residence in terms of architectural style, materials, and access. They are required to have an exterior entrance separate from the main house and comply with local design guidelines.

The placement of ADUs must follow local setback regulations. They can be attached, detached, or converted from existing spaces within the property, with the specific location depending on the layout of the property and compliance with zoning rules.

Finalizing Your ADU in La Jolla

The submission and verification process for ADU development in La Jolla requires careful consideration of parking arrangements, usage parameters, and utilities connection. Parking requirements include one space per ADU, with exemptions under specific conditions. ADUs can be rented out, providing a valuable source of income, but must adhere to local rental regulations. Utilities for ADUs can typically be connected to the existing services of the primary residence, streamlining the development process.

Calculate Your ADU Cost

Using the tool below, you will be able to calculate your investment based on the type and size of the ADU you are interested in building on your property.

Attached ADU


Estimated Cost


*The costs we are calculating here are an average for time and materials. This calculator is meant to provide an estimate to educate you on the ADU building process, please note that this is not a final quote.

Detached ADU


Estimated Cost


*The costs we are calculating here are an average for time and materials. This calculator is meant to provide an estimate to educate you on the ADU building process, please note that this is not a final quote.

Garage ADU


Estimated Cost


*The costs we are calculating here are an average for time and materials. This calculator is meant to provide an estimate to educate you on the ADU building process, please note that this is not a final quote.
Take the first step


At Better Place Remodeling, we take the hassle out of navigating ADU regulations in La Jolla for you. With our expertise in local zoning laws, building codes, and specific ordinances, you don’t have to worry about the complex details. Our one-stop-shop approach ensures that permits and inspections are handled effortlessly on your behalf. If you’re searching for the best ADU builders in La Jolla, you’re in the right place. We’re here to guide you through the process, ensuring your ADU boosts your property’s value and utility and seamlessly meets all legal requirements. With Better Place Remodeling, your ADU project is set to become a valuable asset for years to come without any of the stress.


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