Planning and Building Permit Rules for an Accessory Dwelling in Berkeley, 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 permits required to get a new Accessory Dwelling in Berkeley, CA.   Here are his findings on 9/21/2016.

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.

Met with Jim Frank, Assistant Planner (510-981-7548) in person on Tuesday morning, September 20th.

Q: What is the zoning district?

A: R-1

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

A: 40% lot coverage. With an Administrative Use Permit (AUP), we may be able to exceed the 40% lot coverage typically prescribed for your property if we can show that the design isn’t detrimental to neighbors’ light, air and privacy.

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

A: No

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

A: 750 SF

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 (covered porches and stairs and decks over paved ground surface)

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

A: Basements yes, attic no.

Q: Can the Second Unit have two floors?

A: By right, no (maximum height is 14′). With an AUP, yes.

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

A: Yes

Q: Can the loft be habitable space?

A: By right, no since maximum building height is 14′ and loft would not have required head clearance. A loft can be designated as storage space.

 

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

A: Yes. Yes.

Q: What landscaping requirements and exceptions are there

A: A 2′ landscape strip needs to exist between parking and property line. 400 SF of usable open space must be provided per dwelling unit. Planting must be low to very-low water use.

Q: Is this a liquefaction zone?

A: No

Q: Is this a fire zone?

A: No

Q: Is this a flood zone?

A: No

Q: Is this an environmental zone?

A: No

Setbacks and Dimensions

Q: What is the front setback?

A: 20 feet

Q: What are the side setbacks?

A: 4 feet for ADU (unless using 50% or more of existing garage structure). Projections may not extend into setback.

Q: What is the rear setback?

A: 4 feet for ADU (unless using 50% or more of existing garage structure). Projections may not extend into setback.

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

A: 20 foot front, 20 foot rear, 4 foot side.

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: Yes, see above.

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

A: Yes

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

A: Yes if using 50% or more of existing garage structure. Accessory building maximum wall length of 24′ running generally parallel with a side lot line.

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

A: ADU: 14′ at peak, 10′ at eave for shed or flat roofs. We cannot match the height of the existing house.

Parking

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

A: Property line

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: 1 for main house. Likely none for ADU though we will need to confirm with proximity map showing distance to transit stops. If an additional parking space were required, it could be tandem. Parking does not need to be covered. It does need to be 8′ wide and have a 2′ landscape strip between it and the property line. As such, parking in the driveway may not qualify (we will need to confirm with survey). If not, we can create a paver patio area in the back that meets the parking requirement but is used as a patio.

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: See above

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

A: No, car can back up down driveway.

Enter any additional notes.

Provided we do not trigger an AUP, we can submit directly to the Building Department and they will route a copy of the drawings through Planning for confirmation. We will need to include a map showing proximity of transit stops along with the timetables of those lines.

 

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