Planning and Building Permit Process for an Accessory Dwelling in Emeryville, CA

At New Avenue we have paid over 30 different types of permits to get residential projects approved.  These are “normal” projects too 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 permitting fees of a new Accessory Dwelling in Emeryville, CA.   Here are his findings as of December, 2015

We guarantee your project will be different!  This is a great starting point if you are researching.  Most people have never heard of all these fees.

Talked to Miroo Desai, Senior Planner, in person, over the phone and via email on numerous occasions.

Q: What is the zoning district?

A: RM (Medium Density Residential)

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

A: No prescribed lot coverage. See below for development restrictions including residential density and FAR.

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

A: At time of submittal, FAR will be 1.0 (with bonus for responsible design which Miroo said we should be able to obtain). At time of submittal, Residential Density will be 35 units per acre (with bonus for responsible design which Miroo said we should be able to obtain).

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

A: Maximum allowed size of third unit is 3017 (with bonus for 1.0 FAR)

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

A: Yes

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

A: Yes, all except for open decks, spaces with ceilings less than 7′ tall, non-habitable basements and garages.

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

A: Attic counts but is already accounted for in existing square footage.

Q: Can the Second Unit have two floors?

A: Yes (third unit)

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

A: Yes (third unit)

Q: Can the loft be habitable space?

A: Yes (third unit)

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

A: Yes (third unit). See above for spaces that do not count toward square footage.

Q: What landscaping requirements and exceptions are there

A: Areas of site disturbed by improvements will require landscaping.

Q: Is this a liquefaction zone?

A: No (3% zone per USGS)

Q: Is this a fire zone?

A: No

Q: Is this a flood zone?

A: No. Emeryville no longer has a flood hazard map. All of Emeryville is designated as Zone C.

Q: Is this an environmental zone?

A: No

Setbacks and Dimensions

Q: What is the front setback?

A: Average of front setbacks of adjacent lots.

Q: What are the side setbacks?

A: 3 feet

Q: What is the rear setback?

A: 15 feet

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

A: Same as above

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

A: N/A

Q: Are there any setback exceptions?

A: Open parking or carports may be in rear setback

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

A: Third unit may be connected to the main home.

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

A: Yes but N/A.

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

A: 30 feet. No max average height. Max height is measured to peak. Yes, we can match height of existing house.


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

A: Off street parking must not be between front lot line and front wall of building

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: Existing house is grandfathered in with two spaces. New third dwelling will require one additional parking space. Renovating attic and adding master suite to existing second unit will not require another parking space.

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 new standard space (8.5′ x 18′). It does not need to be covered. It cannot be tandem but can be adjacent to other two spaces and can be located in rear setback.


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