Imperial Beach ADU Regulations & Zoning

Imperial Beach, California

Zip Codes: 91932, 91933, 92154
Neighborhoods: Palm Plaza, Imperial Palms, Dolphin Bay, The Tapestry

Our quick take on Imperial Beach: Moderately ADU-Friendly


Imperial Beach allows up to a 1200 sqft ADU. Much of Imperial Beach is within the coastal zone, which will require additional steps to permit an ADU.

Imperial Beach Regulation & Permitting Requirements:

  • ADU SIZE & BUILDING CONSTRAINTS

    What size detached ADU can you build in Imperial Beach?

    Imperial Beach allows at least 850 square feet for units with one or fewer bedrooms and 1,000 square feet for units with two or more bedrooms. Additionally, you may build up to 1,200 square feet if no existing off-street parking is removed as part of the construction of the Accessory Dwelling Unit and one off-street parking space is provided in addition to the minimum off-street parking spaces required.

    What is the height requirement for an ADU in Imperial Beach?

    The maximum height for detached or attached ADUs is 16 feet, unless one or more parking spaces are provided on the ground floor of the ADU, in which case the maximum height shall be the same as the primary dwelling in the underlying zone.

    Can you build a 2-story ADU in Imperial Beach?

    Yes, you may build a 2-story ADU if you provide parking on the ground floor of the ADU, in which case the maximum height shall be the same as the primary dwelling in the underlying zone. This basically means you can build an ADU over a garage.

    How big can an attached ADU be in Imperial Beach?

    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?

    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 Imperial Beach?

    ADUs must comply with the front yard setbacks, with a 0′ side yard and rear setback for ADUs of up to 16′ in height. In other words, you can technically build all the way up to the property line.

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

    The minimum required distance between structures is not applicable, though fire codes will require special materials when closer than 10′.

  • ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS

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

    No, Imperial Beach allows digital submission of applications for an ADU.

    Does Imperial Beach require a soils report for an ADU?

    Imperial Beach does not explicitly state if a soils report is required.

    Does Imperial Beach require coastal development permits?

    Yes, accessory dwelling units developed within the coastal zone of Imperial Beach are subject to the approval of an Administrative Coastal Development Permit by the community development department. No public hearing shall be required for permit approval.

  • MULTIFAMILY

    How many ADUs does Imperial Beach allow for multifamily properties?

    Two detached ADUs on multifamily lots, plus a potential bonus of additional units if restricted to low income housing.

    Can you stack detached ADUs on top of each other?

    Yes, you can stack ADUs on top of each other in San Diego. (Per City of San Diego Planning department consult Oct 2021)

    Can you attach two ADUs to each other in Imperial Beach?

    Yes. Per a city planner in September 2022, if the lot has an existing multi-family residential structure you can propose to construct up to two detached ADUs in an attached configuration as long as it meets all underlying zoning, life safety, State, and building code requirements.

    Can you convert existing space to an ADU?

    Yes, existing non-livable space may be converted to ADUs (e.g. storage areas and garages). There is no limit on the number of ADUs that can be created in this manner. These conversions are in addition to the allowed number of detached ADUs.

  • PARKING

    What is the parking requirement for an ADU in Imperial Beach?

    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.

Imperial Beach Regulation & Permitting Requirements:

  • ADU SIZE & BUILDING CONSTRAINTS

    What size detached ADU can you build in Imperial Beach?

    Imperial Beach allows at least 850 square feet for units with one or fewer bedrooms and 1,000 square feet for units with two or more bedrooms. Additionally, you may build up to 1,200 square feet if no existing off-street parking is removed as part of the construction of the Accessory Dwelling Unit and one off-street parking space is provided in addition to the minimum off-street parking spaces required.

    What is the height requirement for an ADU in Imperial Beach?

    The maximum height for detached or attached ADUs is 16 feet, unless one or more parking spaces are provided on the ground floor of the ADU, in which case the maximum height shall be the same as the primary dwelling in the underlying zone.

    Can you build a 2-story ADU in Imperial Beach?

    Yes, you may build a 2-story ADU if you provide parking on the ground floor of the ADU, in which case the maximum height shall be the same as the primary dwelling in the underlying zone. This basically means you can build an ADU over a garage.

    How big can an attached ADU be in Imperial Beach?

    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?

    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 Imperial Beach?

    ADUs must comply with the front yard setbacks, with a 0′ side yard and rear setback for ADUs of up to 16′ in height. In other words, you can technically build all the way up to the property line.

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

    The minimum required distance between structures is not applicable, though fire codes will require special materials when closer than 10′.

  • ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS

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

    No, Imperial Beach allows digital submission of applications for an ADU.

    Does Imperial Beach require a soils report for an ADU?

    Imperial Beach does not explicitly state if a soils report is required.

    Does Imperial Beach require coastal development permits?

    Yes, accessory dwelling units developed within the coastal zone of Imperial Beach are subject to the approval of an Administrative Coastal Development Permit by the community development department. No public hearing shall be required for permit approval.

  • MULTIFAMILY

    How many ADUs does Imperial Beach allow for multifamily properties?

    Two detached ADUs on multifamily lots, plus a potential bonus of additional units if restricted to low income housing.

    Can you stack detached ADUs on top of each other?

    Yes, you can stack ADUs on top of each other in San Diego. (Per City of San Diego Planning department consult Oct 2021)

    Can you attach two ADUs to each other in Imperial Beach?

    Yes. Per a city planner in September 2022, if the lot has an existing multi-family residential structure you can propose to construct up to two detached ADUs in an attached configuration as long as it meets all underlying zoning, life safety, State, and building code requirements.

    Can you convert existing space to an ADU?

    Yes, existing non-livable space may be converted to ADUs (e.g. storage areas and garages). There is no limit on the number of ADUs that can be created in this manner. These conversions are in addition to the allowed number of detached ADUs.

  • PARKING

    What is the parking requirement for an ADU in Imperial Beach?

    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.