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Los Gatos ADU Zoning and Building Standards

Los Gatos has established specific zoning and building standards for ADUs to ensure harmonious integration with existing neighborhoods. These regulations cover various aspects such as size limitations, setbacks, and design guidelines. Familiarizing yourself with these standards is crucial for a smooth approval process and successful ADU construction.At DevArt8 Construction, we stay up-to-date with the latest Los Gatos ADU regulations. Our team can help you interpret and apply these standards to your specific property, ensuring your ADU design meets all requirements.

Los Gatos ADU Zoning and Building Standards

Property Requirements

In Los Gatos, property requirements for ADU construction vary depending on the zoning of your lot. Factors such as lot size, existing structures, and setbacks play a crucial role in determining ADU eligibility. It’s essential to assess your property’s characteristics and zoning designation before proceeding with ADU plans.

Building Size

ADU building size in Los Gatos is regulated based on the zoning of your property and the size of the primary dwelling. These regulations ensure that ADUs remain secondary to the main residence while still providing functional living space. Understanding size limitations is crucial for effective ADU planning and design.

  • Single-Family Zoned Lots:

For single-family zoned lots in Los Gatos, ADU regulations are designed to maintain the residential character of neighborhoods while allowing for additional housing options. These lots typically have more flexibility in terms of ADU size and placement compared to other zoning types.

  • Duplex Family Zoned Lots:

Duplex family zoned lots in Los Gatos present unique opportunities and challenges for ADU development. These properties, which already contain two primary dwelling units, may have different regulations regarding ADU size, placement, and number of units allowed.

  • Multi-Family Zoned Lots :

Multi-family zoned lots in Los Gatos offer diverse possibilities for ADU development. These properties, typically containing apartments or condominiums, have distinct regulations governing ADU construction. The rules often aim to balance the need for additional housing with considerations for density, parking, and community impact.

  • Attached ADUs:

Attached ADUs on multi-family lots in Los Gatos must be integrated with existing structures. Size limitations often depend on the primary building’s square footage. These units provide an efficient way to add living space while maintaining the property’s overall layout.

  • Detached ADUs:

Detached ADUs on multi-family lots offer more design flexibility but may face stricter size and placement regulations. These standalone units must comply with setback requirements and height restrictions while complementing the existing multi-family development.


Los Gatos has specific owner-occupancy requirements for properties with ADUs. These rules aim to maintain community stability and prevent the over-commercialization of residential areas. Typically, either the primary dwelling or the ADU must be owner-occupied, with some exceptions for certain property types or situations.

Number Of Units Allowed

The number of ADUs allowed on a property in Los Gatos depends on various factors, including lot size, zoning, and existing structures. Generally, single-family lots may be permitted one ADU and one Junior ADU (JADU), while multi-family properties might allow multiple ADUs. Understanding these limitations is essential for maximizing your property’s potential while staying within legal boundaries.

Los Gatos Building Height

Building height regulations for ADUs in Los Gatos are designed to maintain neighborhood aesthetics and prevent overshadowing of adjacent properties. These height limits vary depending on the zoning of your property and the type of ADU you’re planning to build.

  • Single-family: For single-family properties in Los Gatos, ADU height restrictions are typically aligned with those of the primary dwelling. This ensures visual consistency and prevents the ADU from dominating the property.
  • Duplex family: ADU height regulations for duplex family properties in Los Gatos may differ slightly from those of single-family homes. These rules aim to balance the need for additional living space with the preservation of neighborhood character.
  • Multi-family: In multi-family zones, Los Gatos ADU height regulations often allow for taller structures compared to single-family areas. This accommodation recognizes the higher density nature of these zones.

Los Gatos Building Size

Building size regulations for ADUs in Los Gatos are designed to ensure these units remain secondary to the primary dwelling while still providing comfortable living spaces. The maximum allowed size often depends on factors such as lot size, zoning, and the size of the existing primary structure. Understanding these size limitations is crucial for effective ADU planning and design, allowing you to maximize usable space within the permitted boundaries.

  • Single-Family Freedom: For single-family properties in Los Gatos, ADU size regulations offer a balance between flexibility and maintaining neighborhood character. Typically, detached ADUs have a maximum size limit, while attached ADUs may be limited to a percentage of the primary dwelling’s size.
  • Duplex house: ADU size regulations for duplex properties in Los Gatos consider the unique nature of these dual-unit structures. Size limits may be influenced by the existing duplex layout and lot configuration. The goal is to allow for meaningful additional living space without compromising the property’s overall balance.
  • Multi-Family Mix: In multi-family zones, Los Gatos ADU size regulations often provide more flexibility to accommodate the higher density nature of these areas. Size limits may vary based on factors such as lot size, existing building footprints, and the number of primary units.

Fire Safety Regulations

Fire safety is a critical consideration for ADU construction in Los Gatos. Regulations typically cover aspects such as smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, fire-resistant construction materials, and emergency exits. For detached ADUs, additional requirements may include fire-rated walls if placed close to property lines. Sprinkler systems might be necessary depending on the ADU’s size and location.


Parking regulations for ADUs in Los Gatos aim to balance the need for additional housing with maintaining adequate parking in residential areas. Generally, one parking space may be required for an ADU, unless certain exemptions apply.

Utility Connections

Proper utility connections are crucial for a functional ADU in Los Gatos. Regulations typically allow ADUs to connect to the primary dwelling’s utility systems, but separate meters may be required in some cases. Water, sewer, electrical, and gas connections must comply with local codes.


Setback requirements in Los Gatos determine how close an ADU can be placed to property lines and other structures. These regulations ensure adequate space between buildings for safety, privacy, and aesthetic reasons. Setbacks may vary depending on the ADU type (attached or detached) and the property’s zoning.

Zoning Regulations

Zoning regulations in Los Gatos play a crucial role in determining where and how ADUs can be built. These rules are designed to maintain the character of different neighborhoods while allowing for increased housing density. Zoning regulations cover aspects such as permitted uses, density limits, and development standards.

Los Gatos ADU Zoning Regulations

Single Family

In single-family zones, Los Gatos ADU regulations typically aim to preserve the residential character while allowing for additional housing options. These zones often have more stringent requirements regarding ADU size, height, and placement to ensure compatibility with surrounding homes.

Duplex Family

Duplex family zones in Los Gatos present unique opportunities and challenges for ADU development. These areas, which already feature higher density than single-family zones, may have more flexible regulations regarding ADU construction.


Multi-family zones in Los Gatos often have the most flexible regulations for ADU development, recognizing the higher density nature of these areas. These zones may allow for multiple ADUs on a single property or the conversion of non-living spaces into ADUs.

RF Zone Minimum Lot Area in Los Gatos

In Los Gatos RF Zone, minimum lot sizes range from spacious single-family homes (RF-20) to sprawling estate properties (RF-40), ensuring ample space for your ADU and lifestyle.

  • RF-20: RF-20 zones in Los Gatos require a minimum lot area of 20,000 square feet. This spacious requirement allows for generous ADU possibilities while maintaining the area’s semi-rural character. Careful planning can maximize ADU potential within these larger lot constraints.
  • RF-30: RF-30 zones mandate a minimum lot area of 30,000 square feet. These expansive properties offer even more flexibility for ADU placement and design. The increased space allows for creative ADU solutions that complement the estate-like atmosphere of these zones.
  • RF-40: RF-40 zones represent the largest minimum lot size at 40,000 square feet. These estate-sized properties provide maximum flexibility for ADU development, allowing for spacious designs and optimal placement options while preserving the zone’s luxurious, open character.

Room Specifications

When designing your ADU in Los Gatos, it’s crucial to adhere to specific room specifications to ensure comfort, functionality, and compliance with local building codes. These specifications cover essential living spaces such as bathrooms, kitchens, sleeping areas, and storage. By following these guidelines, you can create a well-designed ADU that meets all legal requirements while providing a comfortable living environment for occupants.

Los Gatos ADU Room Specifications

Room TypeSpecifications
Bathroom• Minimum floor area: 30 sq. ft.
• Toilet clearance: 30″ wide, 24″ front
• Shower size: at least 30″x30″
• Ventilation: 50 CFM exhaust fan
• Ceiling height: minimum 7 ft.
Kitchen• Minimum floor area: 50 sq. ft.
• Counter space: at least 30″ x 24″
• Refrigerator space: minimum 30″ wide
• Sink: at least 18″ wide
• Ventilation: 100 CFM range hood
Sleeping Areas• Minimum floor area: 70 sq. ft.
• Minimum dimension: 7 ft. in any direction
• Ceiling height: 7 ft. over 50% of floor area
• Egress window: minimum 5.7 sq. ft.
• Closet: at least 2 ft. deep x 3 ft. wide
Storage• Minimum volume: 200 cubic feet
• At least one 24″ wide storage area
• Minimum storage height: 7 ft
• Easily accessible location
• Weatherproof if exterior storage

Los Gatos Requirements

Los Gatos has specific requirements for ADU construction that must be followed to ensure compliance and successful project completion. These requirements cover various aspects of ADU development, including size limitations, design standards, and permitting processes.

Detached ADU Los Gatos: Detached ADUs in Los Gatos offer homeowners flexibility in design and placement. These standalone units must comply with specific regulations regarding size, height, and setbacks. Typically, detached ADUs are limited to a maximum size of 1,200 square feet or 50% of the primary dwelling’s size, whichever is less. Height restrictions often align with those of accessory structures, usually capped at 16 feet.

Attached ADU Los Gatos: Attached ADUs in Los Gatos must be integrated with the primary dwelling while maintaining a separate entrance. Size limitations for attached ADUs are often more flexible, allowing up to 50% of the existing primary dwelling’s living area, with a maximum of 1,200 square feet. These units must comply with the same setback requirements as the main house.

JADU Los Gatos: Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs) in Los Gatos offer a compact living solution within the existing footprint of a single-family home. Limited to a maximum of 500 square feet, JADUs must be contained entirely within the primary dwelling. They require an efficiency kitchen and separate entrance, but may share a bathroom with the main house.

Rental Requirements

Understanding rental requirements is crucial for Los Gatos homeowners planning to lease their ADUs. These requirements ensure fair housing practices and protect both landlords and tenants. Key considerations include tenant screening processes, lease agreements, and compliance with local and state rental laws. It’s important to familiarize yourself with these regulations to ensure a smooth and legal rental process for your ADU.

  • Proof of income: Landlords typically require proof of income to ensure tenants can afford rent. This may include recent pay stubs, bank statements, or tax returns. A common guideline is that the tenant’s monthly income should be 2-3 times the rent amount.
  • Credit score: A good credit score is often required for ADU rentals in Los Gatos. Most landlords look for a minimum score of 620, with some preferring 680 or higher. The credit check helps assess the tenant’s financial responsibility.
  • Rental history: Landlords usually request rental history for the past 2-3 years. This includes previous addresses, landlord contact information, and reason for leaving. A positive rental history without evictions or late payments is preferred.
  • Application fee: In Los Gatos, landlords can charge a reasonable application fee to cover the costs of background and credit checks. As of 2024, this fee is typically around $30-$50 per applicant. This fee is non-refundable and should be disclosed upfront to potential tenants.
  • Security deposit: Los Gatos landlords can require a security deposit for ADU rentals. For unfurnished units, the maximum deposit is typically two months’ rent. For furnished units, it can be up to three months’ rent.
  • Proof of renter’s insurance: Many Los Gatos landlords require tenants to obtain renter’s insurance. This policy typically covers the tenant’s personal belongings and provides liability protection. The required coverage amount varies but is often around $100,000 in liability coverage.
  • Pet policy: Pet policies for ADU rentals in Los Gatos vary by landlord. Some may allow pets with restrictions on size, breed, or number. Additional pet deposits or monthly pet rent may be required. Service animals are exempt from pet restrictions under fair housing laws.
  • Smoking policy: Many Los Gatos landlords implement no-smoking policies for ADU rentals. This often includes prohibiting smoking inside the unit and in common areas. Some may extend the policy to include e-cigarettes and vaping.

Development Standards for Los Gatos ADU

Los Gatos has established specific development standards for ADUs to ensure they integrate well with existing neighborhoods while providing additional housing options. These standards vary depending on the type of ADU and the zoning of the property. The following table outlines key development standards for different ADU types in Los Gatos:

ADU TypesDevelopment Standards Specifications
Single-family• Max size: 1,200 sq ft or 50% of primary dwelling
• Max height: 16 ft for detached ADUs
• Setbacks: 4 ft from side and rear property lines
• One parking space required (with exceptions)
• Must match primary dwelling’s architectural style
Duplex• Max size: 800 sq ft or 50% of primary dwelling
• Max height: 16 ft for detached ADUs
• Setbacks: 4 ft from side and rear property lines
• Parking requirements may be waived
• Separate entrance required
Multi-family• Up to 25% of existing units or 2 detached ADUs
• Max size: 800 sq ft for detached ADUs
• Max height: 16 ft for detached ADUs
• Setbacks: 4 ft from side and rear property lines
• No additional parking required
Junior ADUs (JADUs)• Max size: 500 sq ft
• Must be within existing single-family structure
• Efficiency kitchen required
• Separate entrance required
• No additional parking required

Los Gatos Property Designations for ADU

Understanding property designations is crucial when planning an ADU in Los Gatos, as they can significantly impact your project’s feasibility and requirements. These designations are based on various environmental and legal factors that affect land use and development potential. Being aware of your property’s designations will help you navigate the ADU planning process more effectively.

  • Flood zones: Los Gatos has designated flood zones that may affect ADU construction. Properties in these zones face stricter building requirements to mitigate flood risks. ADUs in flood zones may need elevated foundations, flood-resistant materials, and special insurance.
  • Geohazard zones: Some areas in Los Gatos are designated as geohazard zones due to seismic activity or landslide risks. ADUs in these zones may require additional geological studies and specialized foundation designs. Building in geohazard zones often involves stricter structural requirements and may increase construction costs.
  • Easements: Easements are legal rights allowing others to use part of your property for specific purposes. Common easements include utility access and shared driveways. These can limit where you can build your ADU. Check your property deed and survey for existing easements.

ADU Permit Requirements and Fees

Navigating the permit process is a crucial step in building an ADU in Los Gatos. Understanding the required permits and associated fees will help you plan your project more effectively and avoid unexpected costs or delays. Here’s an overview of the main permit types and considerations:

Los Gatos ADU Permit Requirements and Fees

  • Building Permit: A building permit is mandatory for ADU construction in Los Gatos. It ensures your project meets local building codes and safety standards. The fee is typically based on the project’s valuation, ranging from $500 to $5,000 or more. Submit detailed plans, including site layout, floor plans, and elevations.
  • Electrical Permit: An electrical permit is required for all new electrical work in your ADU. This ensures safe installation and compliance with electrical codes. Fees range from $100 to $500, depending on the scope of work. You’ll need to provide an electrical plan showing fixture locations, circuit details, and load calculations.
  • Plumbing Permit: A plumbing permit is necessary for installing new plumbing fixtures and lines in your ADU. This covers water supply, drainage, and gas lines if applicable. Fees typically range from $100 to $400. Submit a plumbing plan showing fixture locations, pipe sizing, and connections to existing systems.
  • Other Permits: Depending on your ADU project, you may need additional permits:
    • Mechanical permit for HVAC systems ($100-$300)
    • Grading permit for significant earth movement ($200-$1,000)
    • Encroachment permit for work in public right-of-way ($150-$500)
    • Tree removal permit if large trees are affected ($50-$200 per tree)

Design Your Dream ADU Today!

Embarking on an ADU project in Los Gatos is an exciting opportunity to expand your living space and potentially generate additional income. With the comprehensive information provided in this checklist, you’re well-equipped to navigate the planning, design, and construction process. Remember that each property is unique, and regulations can change over time, so it’s always best to consult with local authorities and experienced professionals.

DevArt8 Construction is here to turn your ADU vision into reality. Our team of experts understands the intricacies of Los Gatos ADU regulations and can guide you through every step of the process. From initial design concepts to final construction, we ensure your ADU project meets all local requirements while maximizing its potential. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and start designing your dream ADU in Los Gatos!


Yes, but specific setbacks and design considerations apply. Contact the Los Gatos Planning Department for detailed guidance on navigating unique lot shapes.

Some lenders offer ADU loans, but traditional home loans can also be used for ADU construction, especially if they add value to your property.

Yes! The State of California offers various ADU incentive programs, including grants for low-income homeowners and developers. Research state and local programs to see if you qualify for financial assistance.