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Secondary Dwellings

Secondary Dwelling Image



Santa Clara County provides for secondary dwellings in zoning districts that allow residential uses.  There are provisions specific to rural zoning districts and urban unincorporated districts, and they vary based on lot size.  The provisions are intended to allow for a specific, low-impact, form of housing within existing residential neighborhoods, consistent with State law and the directive of California Government Code Section 65852.2. 

For general inquiries on Accessory Dwelling Units, please contact the Planning Division at (408)299-5770 and ask to speak to a Planner on duty.

Current Regulations and Forms:

2017 Accessory Dwelling Unit Regulations

On May 23, 2017, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors adopted Zoning Ordinance amendments relating to secondary dwellings to update County regulations pursuant to the State’s Accessory Dwelling Units law.

2016 Secondary Dwellings Regulations Update

The County of Santa Clara has completed a review and update of its regulations governing Secondary Dwellings. The Board of Supervisors adopted the proposed Zoning Ordinance revisions of Ordinance No. NS-1200.356 at its May 10, 2016 meeting. The Planning Commission received an overview presentation at its January 28, 2016 meeting, and finalized its recommendations to the Board at its March 24, 2016 meeting. The new regulations will streamline and facilitate the development of secondary dwellings, in partial fulfillment of Housing Element implementation requirements.

These proposals do not substantially change the existing regulations, but would make certain changes to facilitate development of new secondary dwellings, including:

  • Allowing detached secondary dwellings in rural zones on lots 1 – 2.5 acres, where currently only attached secondary dwellings are allowed;
  • Increasing the maximum allowable floor area of dwellings in rural zones from 640 to 800 s.f., for lots 1- 2.5 acres;
  • Other minor changes involving access requirements, proximity to primary dwelling standards, and parking-related provisions.

Last updated: 9/27/2019 11:07 AM