County of Santa Clara and Secondary Dwellings

Mary's accessory dwelling guest house San Jose

Santa Clara County provides for secondary dwellings in zoning districts that allow residential uses.  The provisions are intended to allow for a specific, low-impact, form 853177MLDcGY_display_image2of housing within existing residential neighborhoods.  Secondary dwellings within R1, R1E, RHS, R1S and R3S districts, and A1 districts within urban service areas, are subject to all of the following:

  • Lots smaller than 10,000 square feet: Secondary dwellings may have a maximum floor area of 640 square feet. Such dwellings must be attached to the primary dwelling by a common wall no less than eight (8) horizontal feet in length that is Uniform Building Code compliant for fire separation.
  • At least one (1) of the two dwellings (primary or secondary, or both) must be owner-occupied, except for those in R1s or R3s districts
  • A minimum total of three (3) off-street parking spaces must be provided to accommodate the primary and secondary dwellings on the lot, and at least one (1) space must be covered.

Verify with the Planning Division and zoning ordinance to confirm your requirements in your zoning district. Learn more about accessory dwellings by learning about our process, read our client stories or contact us today if you are interested in building your own backyard cottage.

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