SLO County to Adopt New Secondary Dwelling Regs

SLO County to Adopt New Secondary Dwelling Regs
Ever dreamed of building a secondary residence on your property? If you answered “yes”, the flexibility in use and ease of getting a permit may soon be improved. Commonly referred to as a “accessory dwelling unit (ADU)”, “secondary dwelling” or “granny unit”, these structures can provide convenient living for extended families and/or generate rental income. These new regulations will be for homeowners who live within the County’s jurisdiction, not in the seven incorporated cities within SLO County. As a result of state law being passed down at the beginning of 2017, the County already relaxed some standards to construction, like eliminating the requirement that one of the homes be owner occupied. Now, Phase II is centered around removing the regulatory barriers that make building an ADU difficult. So what are the proposed changes?

  • Elimination of most ADU exclusion areas. One well known example is South Atascadero. Some exclusion areas reflect environmental or resource constraints and others are based on land use planning concerns. Elimination of the County’s 34 exclusion areas would free up ~17,000 parcels for ADUs.
  • Removal of requirement excluding ADUs on parcels with non-conforming development. For instance, when the existing primary dwelling is non-conforming to a setback but the proposed ADU would comply with setbacks and all other Title 22 requirements.
  • Elimination of the minimum lot size for parcels on sewer and community water. Currently Title 22 requires a minimum lot size of 6,000 square feet for an ADU with water and sewer and 1-acre for sites served by a septic system.
  • Allowance of larger ADUs on parcels less than 2 acres. The proposed amendments tie the size of the ADU to a percentage of the size of the primary dwelling (maximum of 60 percent of the size of the primary dwelling).
  • Elimination of parking requirements for ADUs, but require replacement of required parking spaces that would be removed through conversion of an existing garage to an ADU.
  • Elimination of maximum separation distance between the primary dwelling and the ADU. Currently Title 22 requires an ADU to be within 50 feet of the primary dwelling for 2-acre or smaller parcels and within 250 feet of the primary dwelling on larger parcels.
  • Prohibition of ADUs as short-term rentals to ensure they are used for the purpose of housing affordable to the county’s workforce and aging family members.
  • Expansion of land use categories where ADUs are allowed to include RMF, CR, and O/P. Currently ADUs are allowed on parcels in the RSF, RS, RR, or REC land use categories.
  • More information about the proposed changes can be found here. Comments on the Public Review Draft should be sent to Brian Pedrotti, Senior Planner at, by Friday, March 8, 2019.

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