ADUs and JADUs

An accessory dwelling unit (ADU), also known as a "mother-in-law" or "granny flat,” are attached or detached residential dwelling units, on the same lot as an existing single-family dwelling unit which is zoned for single-family or multifamily use, that provides complete independent living facilities for one or more persons. This includes permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation, all on the same parcel as the primary, single-family dwelling. An ADU can be an efficiency unit, as defined in Section 17958.1 of Health and Safety Code, or a manufactured home, as defined in Section 18007 of the Health and Safety Code.

A junior accessory dwelling unit (JADU) is a residential dwelling unit that is no more than 500 square feet in area, contained entirely within an existing single-family residence, and can have separate sanitation facilities from, or shared sanitation facilities with, the existing residence.

ADUs and JADUs provide housing opportunities within existing neighborhoods creating housing that is already connected to the local character and infrastructure. The additional units help diversify the market for renters while proving supplemental income for homeowners, and thus increasing affordability throughout Encinitas.

City ADU and JADU Ordinances

Revisions to the City’s ADU Ordinance were approved on March 14, 2018. The revisions provide reliefs from various development standards and make the permitting and construction process easier and more affordable. A second ordinance, also approved on March 14, 2018, allows for the creation of Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADU) within existing dwellings.

The ordinances were submitted to the California Coastal Commission for final certification on April 27, 2018. On September 14, 2018, the CCC approved the JADU Ordinance, and approved the ADU Ordinance, with modifications. The modifications, which standardized the language and reinforced environmental protections, were included in a follow-up ordinance, which was approved by City Council on October 24, 2018. That ordinance was submitted to the CCC and received final concurrence on December 13, 2018.

ADU Ordinance No. 2018-01
JADU Ordinance No. 2018-02
CCC Modifications Ordinance No. 2018-11

Changes in State Law

Updates to the State Law in 2017 initiated the City to draft the new ADU and JADU ordinances. Until the ordinances are certified by the California Coastal Commission, the City is operating under the provisions of the State Law. Visit the California Department of Housing and Community Development webpage for more information on ADUs and the new laws.

On September 30, 2018, SB 1226 was signed into law. This law confirms that a building official has the discretion to apply the building standards that were in effect at the time a residential unit was constructed, so that when a building permit for a residential unit does not exist, the official may make a determination of when the unit was constructed, and issue a retroactive building permit based on the standards of that determination.

This new law could be applied to units that are currently in the City’s Affordable Unit Policy (AUP). The City’s AUP program, which went into effect on January 1, 1996, provides amnesty to property owners of units that were constructed without permits. The units must be brought up to current building and fire codes and, in exchange, the unit is restricted at an affordable rent to very-low and low income households. This program was recently extended by City Council to June 16, 2026.