Accessory Dwelling Unit

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) offer benefits that address common development barriers such as affordability and environmental quality. They are a critical form of infill-development that can offer market-rate and affordable housing choices within existing neighborhoods. ADUs are a powerful type of housing unit because they allow for different uses, and serve different populations ranging from students and young professionals to young families, people with disabilities and senior citizens. By design, ADUs are more affordable and can provide additional income to homeowners. At the City of Pismo Beach, we encourage the development of ADUs to make more efficient use of existing infrastructure, contribute to the community's housing stock, and provide for greater occupational, household type, and income-level diversity within neighborhoods, while also protecting coastal resources.

Types of ADUs


What is a Detached ADU?

ADU Detached Diagram 

A "detached ADU" is an accessory dwelling unit that does not share a common wall with the primary unit and is not a junior accessory dwelling unit (PBMC17.38.155,17.117.030).  

  1. Permitting Process
  2. 1983 ZONING CODE
  3. 1998 ZONING CODE

Which Zoning Code is my property subject to?

If your property is below the Coastal Zone Boundary line (shown below in red), you are subject to the 1983 Zoning Code Standards for Accessory Dwelling Units. If above the Coastal Zone Boundary line, you are subject to the 1998 Zoning Code Standards for Accessory Dwelling Units.


Development Standards

Does your ADU meet the development standards of the Pismo Beach Municipal Code?

  1. FAQS

What is an ADU?

  • An "accessory dwelling unit" or "ADU" means an attached or detached residential dwelling unit that provides complete independent living facilities for one (1) or more persons, and provides permanent provisions for living sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation on the same parcel as the primary unit (PBMC 17.38.155, 17.117.030).

What is a JADU?

  • A "junior accessory dwelling unit" or "JADU" means an accessory dwelling unit no more than five hundred (500) square feet in size and contained entirely within a single-family residence. JADUs shall include independent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, and cooking (area meeting the definition of an efficiency kitchen but not a standard kitchen), and separate sanitation facilities, or shared sanitation facilities within the primary unit (PBMC 17.38.155, 17.117.030).

What's the difference between a Conversion ADU and a JADU?

  • A "conversion ADU" is a conversion of any portion of a legal accessory structure, or any portion of a single-family dwelling, or any garage for the purpose of creating an ADU (attached or detached) with complete independent living facilities which can include additions of no more than one hundred fifty (150) square feet. A "JADU" is no more than five hundred (500) square feet and contained entirely within a single-family residence (PBMC 17.38.155, 17.117.030). 

What is a New Construction ADU?

  • A "new construction ADU" means any ADU that does not meet the definition of a conversion ADU (PBMC 17.38.155, 17.117.030). 

Am I required to provide parking for an ADU? A JADU?

  • If the ADU is located west (oceanside) of Highway 101, parking is required. A JADU does not require additional parking.

Can I rent an ADU or JADU?

  • An ADU or JADU may be rented separate from the primary residence (PBMC 17.38.155, 17.117.040). 

Are short-term rentals allowed at an ADU or JADU? 

  • In no case shall a short-term rental use of less than thirty (30) days be permitted in JADUs or ADUs. The units shall be occupied for terms longer than thirty (30) days (PBMC 17.38.155, 17.117.080). 

Can I sell an ADU or JADU?

  • The dwelling unit may not be sold or otherwise conveyed separate from the primary unit (17.117.040 & 17.117.080). 
  • Exception. An ADU can be sold or conveyed separately from the primary residence to a qualified buyer if the property was built or developed by a qualified nonprofit corporation and all provisions of California Government Code Section 65852.26 are met (PBMC 17.38.155, 17.117.080). 

Do I need to live on the property to build an ADU or JADU? 

  • Owner Residency. Unless owned by a government agency, land trust, or public or nonprofit housing organization, the property owner shall permanently reside, as evidenced by a homeowner's property tax exemption, on the parcel in either the primary unit, ADU, or JADU (PBMC 17.38.155, 17.117.080). 

Do I need a Building Permit?

What fees are required?

  • Fees are dependent on the type of project being permitted. Fees tend to be job specific. If you wish to get an estimate specific to your project, please call the office at (805) 773-7040.   

Is solar required?

  • Solar is only required for newly constructed detached units. 

Are sprinklers required?

  • Yes, only if the primary residence has or is required to have sprinklers.

Do I need a separate water / gas / electrical meter?

  • No separate meters are required. 

Is fire separation required between the main residence and the ADU?

  • Yes. Fire separation is required between the ADU and the primary residence. Fire separation is not required between a JADU and the primary residence. 

What is an efficiency kitchen?

  • An efficiency kitchen is a limited kitchen facilities including a sink, a refrigerator, small electric kitchen appliances that do not require electrical service greater than one hundred twenty (120) volts, an appropriately sized food preparation counter, and storage cabinets. Full-sized electric, gas, or propane cooking appliances are not allowed in an efficiency kitchen (PBMC 17.38.155, 17.117.030).