Carlsbad ADU Regulations & Zoning

Carlsbad, California

Zip Codes: 92008, 92009, 92010, 92011
Neighborhoods: Carlsbad Village, La Costa Valley, The Ranch, Tamarack Point, Calavera Hills, Robertson Ranch, Hedionda Point, Rancho Carlsbad, Sunny Creek, Kelly Ranch, Carlsbad Ranch, Poinsettia, North Beach, South Beach, Aviara, La Costa Greens, Bressi Ranch, Rancho Carrillo, Rancho La Costa, Batiquitos Lagoon, La Costa Ridge, La Costa Oaks

Our quick take on Carlsbad: Moderately ADU-Friendly


Several SnapADU team members live in Carlsbad, and we know the city's regulations and processes very well. Turnaround times at the city are moderate. Carlsbad requires in-person submissions as well as soils reports (>500 sqft), both of which do add some processing time and expense. Also, some of Carlsbad is in the coastal zone and minor use permits are required in those areas.

Carlsbad Regulation & Permitting Requirements:

  • ADU SIZE & BUILDING CONSTRAINTS

    What size detached ADU can you build in Carlsbad?

    Carlsbad allows for ADUs of up to 1200 sqft. ADUs up to 800 square feet are exempt from lot coverage requirements. (Meaning: You can build an ADU of this size even if you’re maxed out on lot coverages).

    Can you build a 2-story ADU in Carlsbad?

    No, detached ADUs are limited to one story and 16′ in height, unless located above a garage, in which case shall conform to underlying zoning requirements. (Meaning: You can build an ADU over a garage, but you will need to stick with regular setbacks, not the reduced 4′ setbacks).

    Does Carlsbad allow roof decks on ADUs?

    No, roof decks are not permitted on detached ADUs in Carlsbad.

    How big can an attached ADU be in Carlsbad?

    The square footage of any attached ADU may not to exceed 50% of the primary dwelling square footage, or 1,200 sqft, whichever is less, but not less than 800 square feet.

    What are the requirements of the exterior of the ADU?

    In Carlsbad, the exterior roofing, trim, walls, windows and the color palette of the ADU shall incorporate the same features as the primary dwelling unit.

  • SETBACKS

    What is the setback requirement for an ADU in Carlsbad?

    ADUs must have 4′ minimum setbacks from rear and side- yard property lines, with front yard setback per zoning standards. An ADU taking advantage of the four-foot setback provision shall not be allowed to exceed a height of 16 feet. An attached or detached ADU exceeding 16 feet must comply with the setbacks of the zoning district in which it is located.

    What is the minimum distance the ADU must be from existing structures?

    The minimum required distance between structures is 10′ (Meaning: the ADU must be this far from the primary home or any other existing structures).

  • ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS

    Does Carlsbad require in-person submission of plans for an ADU?

    Yes, Carlsbad requires in-person submission of plans and does not accept digital applications at this time.

    Does Carlsbad require a soils report for an ADU?

    Yes, Carlsbad requires a soils report for ADUs of 500sqft or more.

    Does Carlsbad require coastal development permits?

    Yes, accessory dwelling units developed within the coastal zone are subject to the permit requirements of Chapter 21.201 (Coastal Development Permit).

  • MULTIFAMILY

    How many ADUs does Carlsbad allow for multifamily properties?

    Carlsbad allows up to 2 detached ADUs for multifamily lots with an existing multi-family building. (Meaning: In order to build 2 ADUs, the property must already have at least a duplex on it, not just a single family dwelling)

    Can you stack detached ADUs on top of each other?

    No, you cannot stack ADUs on top of each other in Carlsbad, as the maximum height allowed is 16′.

    Can you attach two ADUs to each other?

    No, you cannot attach two ADUs. Per the city of Carlsbad as of Nov 2021, the city has interpreted that multi-family lots are permitted two freestanding, detached accessory dwelling units which are detached from the multi-family residence as well as from one another.

    Can you convert existing space to an ADU?

    Yes, existing non-livable space may be converted to ADUs (e.g. storage areas and garages). The minimum number of ADU conversions allowed is one, up to a maximum equal to 25% of the number of existing multifamily units. This is in addition to the allowed number of detached ADUs.

  • PARKING

    What is the parking requirement for an ADU in Carlsbad?

    A parking space is not required for an ADU in any of the following instances:
    o Within a one-half mile walking distance from public transit, which includes bus stops.
    o Within an established historic district.
    o Converted from the existing space of a primary residence or accessory structure, or are attached to an existing or proposed primary residence.

    Where can a parking space be located?

    If a parking space is required, it may be located within the setbacks and in an existing driveway as tandem parking. Parking spaces don’t need to be replaced when a garage, carport, or covered parking structure is demolished in conjunction with the construction of an ADU or converted to an ADU.

  • RENT RATES

    How much will an ADU rent for in Carlsbad?

    Below are median rental prices by zip code and bedroom count. Be sure to run comps for your specific area or check with a realtor.

    RENT RATES IN CARLSBAD
    Zip Neighborhood 1BR 2BR 3BR
    92008 Carlsbad Village $1,975 $2,750 $3,450
    92009 La Costa Oaks $2,000 $2,550 $3,595
    92010 Calavera Hills $1,985 $2,650 $3,500
    92011 Aviara $2,600 $3,000 $4,200

    Source: Rentometer Nov 2021

Carlsbad ADU Projects:

$165,000

Completed
Sheridan Place
Carlsbad, California 92008
1 Bed • 1 Bath • 550 ft2

$190,000

Permitting
Jefferson Street
Carlsbad, California
2 Bed • 1 Bath • 750 ft2

$237,000

Permitting
Camino Arena
Carlsbad, California 92009
1 Bed • 1 Bath • 750 ft2

$340,000

Design
Jefferson Street
Carlsbad, California 92008
4 Bed • 3 Bath • 1,200 ft2

Carlsbad Regulation & Permitting Requirements:

  • ADU SIZE & BUILDING CONSTRAINTS

    What size detached ADU can you build in Carlsbad?

    Carlsbad allows for ADUs of up to 1200 sqft. ADUs up to 800 square feet are exempt from lot coverage requirements. (Meaning: You can build an ADU of this size even if you’re maxed out on lot coverages).

    Can you build a 2-story ADU in Carlsbad?

    No, detached ADUs are limited to one story and 16′ in height, unless located above a garage, in which case shall conform to underlying zoning requirements. (Meaning: You can build an ADU over a garage, but you will need to stick with regular setbacks, not the reduced 4′ setbacks).

    Does Carlsbad allow roof decks on ADUs?

    No, roof decks are not permitted on detached ADUs in Carlsbad.

    How big can an attached ADU be in Carlsbad?

    The square footage of any attached ADU may not to exceed 50% of the primary dwelling square footage, or 1,200 sqft, whichever is less, but not less than 800 square feet.

    What are the requirements of the exterior of the ADU?

    In Carlsbad, the exterior roofing, trim, walls, windows and the color palette of the ADU shall incorporate the same features as the primary dwelling unit.

  • SETBACKS

    What is the setback requirement for an ADU in Carlsbad?

    ADUs must have 4′ minimum setbacks from rear and side- yard property lines, with front yard setback per zoning standards. An ADU taking advantage of the four-foot setback provision shall not be allowed to exceed a height of 16 feet. An attached or detached ADU exceeding 16 feet must comply with the setbacks of the zoning district in which it is located.

    What is the minimum distance the ADU must be from existing structures?

    The minimum required distance between structures is 10′ (Meaning: the ADU must be this far from the primary home or any other existing structures).

  • ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS

    Does Carlsbad require in-person submission of plans for an ADU?

    Yes, Carlsbad requires in-person submission of plans and does not accept digital applications at this time.

    Does Carlsbad require a soils report for an ADU?

    Yes, Carlsbad requires a soils report for ADUs of 500sqft or more.

    Does Carlsbad require coastal development permits?

    Yes, accessory dwelling units developed within the coastal zone are subject to the permit requirements of Chapter 21.201 (Coastal Development Permit).

  • MULTIFAMILY

    How many ADUs does Carlsbad allow for multifamily properties?

    Carlsbad allows up to 2 detached ADUs for multifamily lots with an existing multi-family building. (Meaning: In order to build 2 ADUs, the property must already have at least a duplex on it, not just a single family dwelling)

    Can you stack detached ADUs on top of each other?

    No, you cannot stack ADUs on top of each other in Carlsbad, as the maximum height allowed is 16′.

    Can you attach two ADUs to each other?

    No, you cannot attach two ADUs. Per the city of Carlsbad as of Nov 2021, the city has interpreted that multi-family lots are permitted two freestanding, detached accessory dwelling units which are detached from the multi-family residence as well as from one another.

    Can you convert existing space to an ADU?

    Yes, existing non-livable space may be converted to ADUs (e.g. storage areas and garages). The minimum number of ADU conversions allowed is one, up to a maximum equal to 25% of the number of existing multifamily units. This is in addition to the allowed number of detached ADUs.

  • PARKING

    What is the parking requirement for an ADU in Carlsbad?

    A parking space is not required for an ADU in any of the following instances:
    o Within a one-half mile walking distance from public transit, which includes bus stops.
    o Within an established historic district.
    o Converted from the existing space of a primary residence or accessory structure, or are attached to an existing or proposed primary residence.

    Where can a parking space be located?

    If a parking space is required, it may be located within the setbacks and in an existing driveway as tandem parking. Parking spaces don’t need to be replaced when a garage, carport, or covered parking structure is demolished in conjunction with the construction of an ADU or converted to an ADU.

  • RENT RATES

    How much will an ADU rent for in Carlsbad?

    Below are median rental prices by zip code and bedroom count. Be sure to run comps for your specific area or check with a realtor.

    RENT RATES IN CARLSBAD
    Zip Neighborhood 1BR 2BR 3BR
    92008 Carlsbad Village $1,975 $2,750 $3,450
    92009 La Costa Oaks $2,000 $2,550 $3,595
    92010 Calavera Hills $1,985 $2,650 $3,500
    92011 Aviara $2,600 $3,000 $4,200

    Source: Rentometer Nov 2021

Carlsbad ADU Projects:

$165,000

Completed
Sheridan Place
Carlsbad, California 92008
1 Bed • 1 Bath • 550 ft2

$190,000

Permitting
Jefferson Street
Carlsbad, California
2 Bed • 1 Bath • 750 ft2

$237,000

Permitting
Camino Arena
Carlsbad, California 92009
1 Bed • 1 Bath • 750 ft2

$340,000

Design
Jefferson Street
Carlsbad, California 92008
4 Bed • 3 Bath • 1,200 ft2