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Welcome to the City of Escondido's Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) resource webpage. The information on this page is intended to help Escondido residents understand the requirements for planning and building an ADU within the City of Escondido.


The State maintains laws regarding ADUs, initially enacted in 1982. Between 1982 and now, the State Legislature passed several laws to make it easier for property owners to build or legalize ADUs throughout California. Most notably, a serious of laws passed between 2016 through 2022 by the State Legislature have reduced requirements for building ADUs, such as parking standards--essentially, making ADUs easier to develop. Cities and counties are required to comply with State law. The City has approved a series of amendments to its ADU Ordinance (Article 70 of the Escondido Zoning Code) in an effort to comply with State requirements over recent years.

Accessory Dwelling Units provide an important source of housing within existing neighborhoods. Whether they are rented on the open market, act as a care-taker's unit, or provide housing for a family member, ADUs provide more housing options and are typically more affordable due to their limited size. Under current housing conditions within California, the City encourages the use of ADUs throughout Escondido.

What is an ADU?

An ADU is accessory to a primary residence and has complete independent living facilities for one or more persons and has a few variations:

  1. Attached ADU. The ADU is attached to the primary dwelling as an addition to the building. The ADU may be new construction or conversion of existing space. 
  2. Detached ADU. The ADU is within an accessory building detached from the primary dwelling. The accessory building may be new construction or a conversion of an existing accessory structure. 
  3. Junior ADU (JADU). An ADU that is no more than 500 square feet in size and contained entirely within the existing single-family residence. Additional restrictions apply to JADUs. 

For more information on ADUs, see the City's ADU Handout.

Are you interested in building an ADU?

The first step to building your ADU is to talk with the City's Planning Division, at (760) 839-4671 or via email. Depending on whether you have single-family or multi-family uses, different processes and regulations may apply. For more information regarding development regulations, and submittal, see the Resources section of this webpage.

Once you know whether you can develop an ADU on your property, you will need to either submit for a building permit or a planning ADU permit.

  • If you have a single-family residence, you will need to submit for a building permit through the Building Division. To submit for a building permit, review the required ADU submittal checklist, and review the Building Division's submittal process found here
  • If you have multi-family residences, you will need to submit for a planning ADU permit through the Planning Division prior to submitting for your building permit. The application for a planning ADU permit can be found here.  Once a planning ADU permit is obtained, submit for your building permit through the Building Division. 


The City is working to make ADUs more accessible to property owners within Escondido. The City received State funding to create pre-approved accessory dwelling unit (PAADU) plans, which would offer property owners access to a selection of pre-approved ADU building plans. These future PAADU plans would allow for customization while providing accessible plan sets to help reduce barriers to creating ADUs. The City anticipates the PAADU plan program launching in late 2024. 


When preparing to submit for an ADU:

General Information:


  • Do I need parking spaces for my ADU?
    • No, parking is not required for ADUs as stated in Section 33-1474(c)(1) of the City's ADU Ordinance. 
  • Will I need to install fire sprinklers in my ADU?
    • Only if the primary residence is fire sprinklered. If you do require fire sprinklers for your ADU, a minimum 1-inch water meter, water service, and backflow would also be required. Additionally, a minimum 4-inch sewer lateral is required for single-family dwelling units.
  • Can I rent my ADU short-term (i.e., less than 30-days)?
    • No, the City currently does not permit for short-term rentals within the City. As a result, rental periods of 30-days or more are required for ADUs. 
  • How many ADUs can I have on my property?
    • A property with a single-family residence may allow for up to two accessory dwelling units (one ADU, and one JADU) on site. 
    • A property with multi-family residences may allow for at least one ADU, with the potential for additional ADUs. Please contact the Planning Division for multi-family ADU inquiries.