STATEWIDE UPDATE: New California ADU Bills SB13, AB68, AB881, AB670 have passed. These laws will create more options for building an ADU in Menlo Park in 2020. To prepare for the upcoming changes use our ADU Services to learn how these laws will effect your property!
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Menlo Park ADUs

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Menlo Park ADU Guidelines Last Updated 08/11/19

codes

The city government of Menlo Park will approve ADUs under California's statewide mandated regulations.
The California Building Code (CBC) 2016 is adopted with the following amendment(s): 1022 and 1033
Relevant state bill updates for SB13, AB68, AB881, AB670 are shown in green below.


hintsights

City Hint: The city has not yet responded to requests for ADU permit volumes for the past year, but they will be provided here once response has been received.


Zoning

Number of ADUs allowed:

No more than 1 ADU unit per lot

AB68 & AB881 Update: Properties which convert existing space to create ADUs may be eligible for one ADU -AND- one JADU.

Types of ADUs allowed:

Attached to the primary dwelling unit or detached

Lot size:

The minimum lot size for an ADU is 6,000 square feet.

AB68 & AB881 Update: Properties will not be subject to minimum lot standards by ordinance or of the applicable zoning district.

ADU size:

Attached Not to exceed fifty percent (50%) of the existing living area, with a Maximum increase in floor area of 640 square feet or 700 square feet if the building Complies with all aspects of disabled access requirements Detached Maximum of 640 square feet; may be increased up to 700 square feet if the bill

AB68 & AB881 Update: Properties will be allowed up to 850 square feet for a one bedroom or up to 1,000 square feet for a two bedroom ADU.

Setbacks:

Comply with minimum yard requirements for the zoning district Detached Comply with minimum yard requirements for the zoning district, except The minimum rear yard requirement is feet and interior side and rear yards may be reduced to five (5) feet, subject to written approval The owner(s) of the contiguous property abutting the portion of the Encroaching structure. If the contiguous interior side or rear The property line is an alley, the minimum setback is five (5) feet. If the The unit is constructed above an existing d

AB68 & AB881 Update: The maximum required setback for a detached new construction ADU shall be no more than 4 feet from the rear or side property lines.

Parking:

Do I need to provide parking for my ADU unit?
A. Yes, in most cases one off-street parking space is required pursuant to the regulations outlined in the
development regulations summary table on the last page of this handout. No additional parking is
required for the ADU unit if one or more of the following criteria are met: 1) the
ADU unit is located within one-half mile of public transit as determined by the
community development director, 2) the ADU unit is located within an architecturally
and historically significant historic district, 3) the ADU unit is existing and was permitted
City of Menlo Park – Community Development Department, Planning Division Page 4 of 5
ADU Units; Updated July 2017 without additional parking, 4) on-street parking permits are required but not offered to the occupant of the ADU unit, or 5) when a car share vehicle is located within one block of the ADU unit as determined by the community development director. Please note, the City does not currently include historic districts and residences in single-family homes may only purchase temporary permits for on-street overnight parking, so exceptions #2 and #4 are not currently applicable. If developing a ADU unit or converting an accessory structure into a ADU unit results in inadequate parking at your property for the additional people occupying the property, you will not be exempt from the overnight parking prohibition nor other parking restrictions and may need to limit the number of vehicles at the property.

1 (covered or uncovered); tandem ok; permitted within required
interior side yard and within the front yard if no more than 500 square feet of
the front yard is paved for motor vehicles and a minimum SIDE setback of 18 inches is maintained
No additional off-street parking required for the ADU
unit if an accessory building is converted into a ADU
unit; other exceptions to the parking requirement may also apply.

AB68 & AB881 Update: Properties which convert an existing garage will not be subject to replacement parking requirements.

Fire Safety:

Accessory dwelling units shall not be required to provide fire sprinklers if they are not required for the primary residence and may employ alternative methods for fire protection. (State requirements)

Shape, materials and style:

The details required for the building permit plan set depend on the type of ADU unit
and are described in Building Division handouts. Please see the relevant links below, based on the
type of ADU unit proposed:
 A new detached ADU unit:
http://www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/5425
 Conversion of an existing accessory structure into a ADU unit with no new
square feet : http://www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/107
 A new ADU unit, less than 500 square feet in size, attached to the main
residence or an existing accessory structure:
http://www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/106
 A new ADU unit, more than 500 square feet in size, attached to the main
residence or an existing accessory structure:
http://www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/5424

Unit shall have the colors, materials and textures and architecture
similar to primary dwelling unit

Height:

Attached ADUs shall comply with the height requirement for the zoning district, and detached ADUs are limited to single story and 17 feet.

Design review:

ADU units that are designed in compliance with the development regulations established in Chapter 16.79 of the Zoning Ordinance are not subject to discretionary review, with the exception of certain projects that alter/expand existing nonconforming structures. Please see the nonconforming structures handout (http://www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/248) for more detail, and check with the Planning Division for specifics. A modification to the development regulations, except the density and subdivision standards, may be granted through the use permit process by the Planning Commission. An interior side and/or rear yard may also be reduced to feet subject to written approval of the owner(s) of the contiguous property abutting the portion of the encroaching structure. (Please see page 3 of this handout.) Note that a survey may be required to determine whether an existing structure is conforming or not, and also that all use permit applications require a full site survey. In all cases, building permits are required prior to any construction.
The following are the steps in the review and approval process: 1) The applicant submits a complete
building permit application and fees for the ADU unit, including plans showing the
details of the proposed ADU unit (please see next question), and the ADU unit checklist (https://www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/14977), 2) The
City of Menlo Park – Community Development Department, Planning Division Page 2 of 5
ADU Units
Updated July 2017 community development director or his or her designee makes a determination of compliance, 3)
The application is either approved within 120 days after receipt of a substantially complete application, or the application is denied if the proposed ADU unit does not comply with all applicable requirements. Alternatively, the application may be approved subject to conditions that will bring the proposed ADU unit into compliance with the development standards.

Number of Bedrooms:

1 bedroom (maximum)
1 bathroom (maximum)

Ownership:

Can I Rent out My ADU Unit?
A. Yes, so long as the primary dwelling unit is occupied by the property owner. Either the primary dwelling or
the ADU unit shall be occupied by the property owner when both units are occupied
as dwelling units. Both the primary dwelling unit and the ADU unit cannot be rented or
used as a dwelling by persons other than the property owner unless the property owner has
completed the non-tenancy status registration process or received a use permit. For more
information about tenancy status related to properties with ADU units, please see
Section 16.79.040(14) of the Zoning Ordinance. As part of the building permit application for either a
new ADU unit or conversion into a ADU unit, the property owner
acknowledgement form (http://www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/5223) regarding
tenancy must be completed.

Lot may not be subdivided in a manner that would allow the primary dwelling and the ADU to be located on separate lots
that do not meet the minimum lot area, width and/or depth for the
zoning district

Property owner shall occupy either the main or ADU
unit, unless a non-tenancy registration or use permit is approved

SB13 Update: Owner-occupancy requirements for ADUs will be voided statewide for 5 years.

Utility connections:

Local health officer approval where a private sewage disposal system is being used, if required. (State requirements)

Definition:

16.04.295 Dwelling unit, secondary. A "secondary dwelling unit" (which is referred to as an “accessory dwelling unit” in State law) means a dwelling unit on a residential lot which provides complete independent living facilities for one or more persons, and shall include permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation independent of the main dwelling existing on the residential lot. For purposes of a secondary dwelling unit, permanent provisions for eating and cooking include the following: (1) permanent range, (2) counters, (3) refrigerator, and (4) sink. There are two (2) types of secondary dwelling units: (1) units attached to the existing dwelling, including units located within the living area of an existing dwelling unit (“Attached Secondary Dwelling Units”); and (2) units detached from the existing dwelling unit and located on the same lot as the existing dwelling unit (“Detached Secondary Dwelling Units”).

Exceptions:

My neighbor has approved a reduced side yard and/or rear yard setback for my secondary
dwelling unit. What documentation do I need?
A. Per Chapter 16.79.040(5)(B) of the Zoning Ordinance, an interior side or rear yard for a detached
secondary dwelling unit may be reduced to 5 feet subject to written approval of the owner(s) of the
contiguous property abutting the portion of the encroaching structure. Written documentation shall
consist of the following items and must be submitted as part of the building permit application.
1) Completed statement letter (http://www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/5222)
from the contiguous property owner(s) acknowledging the approval of a reduced setback from
the required zoning district standard for the main dwelling unit (indicate the setback
requirement) to the agreed upon setback (indicate the setback in feet, but cannot be less than
five feet). The statement shall be notarized by the property owner(s) listed on the title of the
property.
2) If neighbor approval of a reduced setback is contingent upon a specific site plan and/or other
design feature, please include a specific reference to the plan in the statement letter. In
addition, please attach the plan as an exhibit. The plan must be signed and dated by both the
property owner(s) and the contiguous property owner(s).
Alternatively, the Planning Commission has the authority to approve a use permit to reduce the
required setback requirements for a secondary dwelling unit. Please contact the Planning Division to
learn more about the use permit process.

Existing Structures

Potentially. An accessory building that received building permits and commenced construction prior to January 1, 2017 may be converted into a secondary dwelling unit so long as the following criteria are met: 1) a building permit or other supporting documentation is provided to show the structure was legally built, 2) the building can be upgraded to meet the Building Code requirements for a dwelling unit, and 3) the accessory building complies with the development regulations of a secondary dwelling unit, with the exception of minimum yards, height, daylight plane, and parking. City of Menlo Park – Community Development Department, Planning Division Page 3 of Secondary Dwelling Units: Updated July 2017 All or any portion of an accessory building that meets the above eligibility criteria may be demolished and reconstructed to meet building code requirements based on the change of occupancy at the time of conversion. The secondary dwelling unit that replaces the accessory building may retain the setbacks and the footprint of the legally constructed accessory building. If the lot is smaller than the required 6,000 square feet, or the proposed secondary dwelling unit exceeds the permitted unit size as described in the development regulations summary table on the last page of this handout, a use permit may be requested to deviate from one or both of these standards. A use permit is a discretionary process, which requires Planning Commission review and approval.

SB13 Update: Amnesty program to permit unpermitted units will be administered statewide, allowing non-health and safety code violations to be deferred.

Building Code:

Comply with all applicable development regulations for the singlefamily
zoning district and building code requirements

Daylight Plane

Is there a daylight plane requirement for secondary dwelling units?
A. Yes, a detached secondary dwelling unit has a separate daylight plane requirement that must be met, unless a use permit is approved to deviate from this secondary dwelling unit standard. The daylight plane for a detached secondary dwelling unit is established at a line three (3) feet from the side property lines. The daylight plane begins at a horizontal line 9 feet, 6 inches above the average grade with a slope inwards at a 45 degree angle. There are no permitted intrusions into this daylight plane. The daylight plan requirement for an attached secondary dwelling unit is the same as the daylight plane required for the primary residence.
Detached
Daylight plane shall begin at a horizontal line 9 feet, 6 inches
above the average natural grade at a line 3 feet from the side
property lines, and slope inwards at a 45 degree angle.

Property Taxes

Property taxes are assessed by the County of San Mateo Assessor’s Office, not by the City of Menlo Park. Like other development projects in the City, the County collects information from the City when building permits are issued to a property. Please contact the County Assessor’s Office for more information about how the information is used.

Legalizing Existing Units

Contact the City of Menlo Park Planning or Building Divisions for research on the property. The County of San Mateo Assessor’s Office can also be a good resource for historical property information.

Residential Building Code:

The California Building Code (CBC) 2016 is adopted with the following amendment(s): 1022 and 1033

Menlo Park City Planning Offices
Permitting

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT PLANNING DIVISION

701 Laurel St. Menlo Park, CA 94025 Menlo Park, CA 94025

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Nikki James

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Read Menlo Park Housing Market Update

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Estimate ADU Potential
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Costs / ROI

APPRECIATION ESTIMATE

* upon completion of ADU

CONSTRUCTION COST ESTIMATE

* based on local average price per sqft

RENTAL ESTIMATE

* estimated by location

MORTGAGE ESTIMATE

* 30 years / 5% interest rate / 20% down payment

BASED ON LOCAL AVERAGE PROPERTY DATA & VALUE

Appreciation Estimate = (Base Value: $) / (Home's Living Space: sqft) * (ADU's Living Space: sqft)

Rental Estimate = (Rent Per Sqft: $6.82) * (ADU's Living Space: sqft)




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