ADU Regulations

La Mesa

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Familiarity with La Mesa’s ADU regulations is crucial for homeowners considering an addition.


Understanding the accessory dwelling unit (ADU) regulations in La Mesa is crucial for homeowners looking to optimize their property’s use and align their ADU projects with legal standards. This guide offers a comprehensive overview of the key regulations affecting ADU construction in La Mesa, ensuring your project proceeds smoothly and in compliance with local laws.

Essential ADU Rules for La Mesa

What you can build

  • Maximum Sizes

    Detached ADUs can go up to 1,200 square feet. However, property traits may restrict this to 800 square feet. Junior ADUs (JADUs) are capped at 500 square feet.
  • Setbacks

    Minimum 4-foot setback from side and rear property lines.
  • Two-Story

    Allowed with conditions, including a 4-foot setback. Height limits are 20 feet in zones R1E to R2 and 30 feet in zones R3 and RB.
  • Building Separation

    Minimum 6-foot separation is required.

Permitting timeline

  • Permitting Timeframe

    4-6 months.
  • Coastal

    Not required.

La Mesa ADU Regulatory Overview

La Mesa’s ADU regulations are designed to encourage the development of these units across all residential zones without discretionary review. The regulations encompass a broad range of criteria, including zoning laws that permit ADUs in conjunction with both single-family and multifamily dwellings, and design criteria that ensure ADUs are aesthetically and structurally compatible with existing neighborhoods. Building standards focus on safety, sustainability, and accessibility, emphasizing the importance of quality construction and adherence to local codes.

La Mesa ADU Permitting Process

The ADU permitting process in La Mesa involves several key steps:

  • Initial Research

Understand zoning restrictions and property eligibility.

  • Design and Planning

Draft ADU plans that comply with local regulations.

  • Submission

Submit plans and required documents through La Mesa’s online or in-person portal.

  • Review and Approval

The city reviews submissions within a general 60-day timeline for properties with existing dwellings. Expect initial and possible re-reviews before approval.

  • Construction and Inspection

Begin construction upon approval, with city inspections ensuring compliance.

At Better Place Remodeling, we take La Mesa’s ADU regulations seriously and communicate openly and transparently with the city, ensuring your ADU project unfolds smoothly from start to finish.

ADU Zoning in La Mesa

La Mesa permits up to two detached ADUs on multifamily lots that already have a multi-family building, such as a duplex or larger. Additionally, non-livable spaces within these structures, like storage rooms or garages, can be converted into ADUs. The total number of ADUs allowed within a multi-family structure is capped at 25% of the existing units, with a minimum allowance of one conversion ADU.

La Mesa’s ADU regulations primarily focus on single-story detached ADUs, given the height restrictions in place. While not explicitly mentioned, these regulations suggest a preference for non-stacked, single-story units.

It remains unclear whether two detached ADUs can be attached; this is subject to interpretation by the city.

Yes, La Mesa allows for the conversion of existing space within both single-family and multifamily dwellings, as well as accessory structures, into ADUs. This flexibility supports the creation of additional housing options within the city’s existing footprint.

A parking space is not required for an ADU if it is located within a half-mile of public transit, including bus stops, situated within a historic district, or converted from or attached to the existing space of a primary residence or accessory structure. Should parking be necessary, it can be placed within setbacks or on an existing driveway as tandem parking. Additionally, when a garage, carport, or covered parking structure is demolished or converted to accommodate an ADU, replacement of the parking spaces is not required.

While specific procedures for assigning separate mailing addresses to ADUs in La Mesa are not provided, typically, this process involves coordination between the city’s planning or engineering department and the USPS.

ADU Building Codes in La Mesa

In La Mesa, both detached and attached ADUs can be as large as 1,200 square feet. For attached ADUs, those up to 800 square feet are exempt from lot coverage limitations, meaning they can be added even if the property is already at its maximum lot coverage capacity.

ADUs in La Mesa must match the architectural style and materials of the primary residence, adhering to specific setback and height guidelines to ensure aesthetic and structural harmony with the surrounding neighborhood.

ADUs are permitted across all residentially zoned areas, with their placement subject to compliance with local setback and zoning regulations, facilitating a wide range of housing solutions.

La Mesa does not enforce a minimum lot size for ADU construction, aiming to make ADU development more accessible and flexible for property owners.

ADUs must maintain a minimum 4-foot setback from the property’s side and rear lines, ensuring adequate space and privacy from neighboring properties.

To ensure safety and maintain accessibility, ADUs must be situated at least 6 feet away from any existing buildings on the property.

Finalizing Your ADU in La Mesa

The submission and verification steps for ADU development in La Mesa are streamlined through an online portal, enhancing convenience for homeowners. Parking considerations include exemptions for properties close to public transit and flexibility in parking space location. ADUs offer various usage options, from family housing to rental income, with utility connections and services often shared with the main residence. Understanding these logistics is essential for integrating an ADU seamlessly into your property.

Calculate Your ADU Cost in La Mesa

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.
Get started


At Better Place Remodeling, navigating ADU regulations in La Mesa is our specialty, so you can relax and focus on the exciting aspects of your project. Our all-inclusive, one-stop-shop service means that permits and inspections are handled for you, making the process as smooth as possible. You’ve come to the right place if you’re searching for the best ADU builders in La Mesa. We ensure your project complies with local zoning laws, building codes, and the permitting process so your ADU meets legal requirements and enhances your property’s value and utility. You receive personalized advice and the most current updates with us, guaranteeing a successful and valuable addition to your La Mesa home.


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