Planning and Building Permits Required to Create an Accessory Dwelling (Garage Conversion) In Santa Cruz, CA

At New Avenue we have paid for over 30 different types of permits to get residential projects approved.  These are “normal” projects such as additions, remodels, restorations, accessory dwellings accessory structures and custom homes.

One of the architects who is a partner at New Avenue’s recently completed in depth research for the permits required for a new Accessory Dwelling in Santa Cruz, CA.

We guarantee your project will be different so view this as a starting point in your research.  Here are his findings:

Q: What is the zoning district?

A: R1-5

Q: What is the allowable coverage? How is it measured

A: 40%: ratio building footprint to lot size

Q: Is there a floor-area ratio (FAR) between the Main Home and the Second Unit? What is it?

A: 50%

Q: What is the maximum allowed size for the Second Unit?

A: 640sf

Q: Do chimneys, window boxes, and/or bay windows count toward the square footage of the Second Unit?

A: Chim: yes. Other: no

Q: Do other structures count toward the existing footprint? What are they?

A: yes. Sheds.

Q: Does the basement and/or attic count toward the floor area of the Main Home?

A: attic < 7.5′ does not count

Q: Can the Second Unit have two floors?

A: no

Q: Can the Second Unit have a loft, mezzanine, open storage, closed storage, and/or attic?

A: yes if non-habitable

Q: Can the loft be habitable space?

A: no

Q: Can the Second Unit have a basement, workspace, or other area? Do they count toward square footage?

A: Yes. Counts toward SF

Q: What landscaping requirements and exceptions are there

A: no special requirements known

Q: Is this a liquefaction zone?

A: County GIS soil type = 133. Addition or new construction >500 will trigger soils report; conversion of garage from habitable to habitable MAY trigger soils report.

Q: Is this a fire zone?

A: no

Q: Is this a flood zone?

A: n/a

Q: Is this an environmental zone?

A: no

Setbacks and Dimensions

Q: What is the front setback?

A: 20′

Q: What are the side setbacks?

A: 5′

Q: What is the rear setback?

A: 15′

Q: What are the required setbacks to the Main Home?

A: 10′

Q: What are any other required setbacks? Special setbacks may be needed for creeks, power lines, key or corner lots, etc.

A: no

Q: Are there any setback exceptions?

A: 10′ between reduced if breezeway

Q: Can the Second Unit be connected to the Main Home? If not, how far apart do they have to be?

A: see above

Q: Can we continue a wall of an existing structure within a setback? Is there a maximum length for walls

A: No. Analysis required for limit on conversion of non-conforming walls

Q: What is the maximum height limit? Is there a max average height limit? Can we match the height of the existing house?

A: 17′


Q: Do we measure from the sidewalk, the property line, or from somewhere else?

A: n/a

Q: How many parking spaces are required for the Main Home? Sizes? Do they need to be covered? What configuration or access must they have?

A: 3 required for 2-3 BR main house. Not covered. Up to two-deep tandem configuration

Q: How many more new spaces are required for the property? Sizes? Do they need to be covered? What configuration or access must they have? Do they require a border around them?

A: 1 space 8.5×18 not covered. 3′ border is generally applied.

Q: Is there a turning radius or other parking rule to test?

A: Yes. Seems to be applied in a discretionary (variable way, however.


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