San Marcos ADU Regulations & Zoning

San Marcos, California

Zip Codes: 92069, 92078
Neighborhoods: Richmar, College Area, University Commons, Twin Oaks Valley, San Elijo Hills, Village O

Our quick take on San Marcos: Moderately ADU-Friendly


SnapADU has permitted or is in the process of permitting numerous projects within the city, and we know the city's regulations and processes very well. One unusual requirement in San Marcos is that ADUs generally cannot be in the front yard. They also require a soils report for ADUs >500 sqft. San Marcos allows for digital submissions. Turnaround times at the city are moderate.

San Marcos Regulation & Permitting Requirements:

  • ADU SIZE & BUILDING CONSTRAINTS

    What size detached ADU can you build in San Marcos?

    San Marcos allows for a detached ADU up to 850 sqft for units with 1 bedroom, and up to 1000 sqft for 2+ bedrooms. 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).

    What is the height requirement for an ADU in San Marcos? Can you build a 2-story ADU in San Marcos?

    The height of a detached ADU can be up to 16′, not to exceed one story unless ADUs is to be located above a garage. Overall height shall remain consistent with the requirements of the applicable Zone in which the ADU is located.

    Does San Marcos allow roof decks on ADUs?

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

    How big can an attached ADU be in San Marcos?

    The attached ADU can be no bigger than the lesser of the following:

    • 50% of the primary dwelling square footage or
    • 850 sqft (1BR) or 1000 sqft (2BR+)

    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 San Marcos?

    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 4′ setbacks cannot exceed a height of 16 feet. An ADU exceeding 16′ must comply with the setbacks of the underlying zoning.

    Also, the ADU shall not be located within the required front property line setback and shall not be closer to the right of way than the primary dwelling (meaning: you typically cannot build an ADU in the front yard). The only exception to this rule is that, if no other feasible location on the parcel is available, an ADU of up to 800 sqft can be built without a front setback.

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

    The minimum required distance between structures is 10′ (eave to eave).

  • ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS

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

    No, San Marcos allows digital submission of applications for an ADU.

    Does San Marcos require a soils report for an ADU?

    Yes, San Marcos requires a soils report for all new ADUs that exceed 500 sqft.

    Does San Marcos require solar to be installed on the ADU?

    Yes, even if the primary residence already has solar power, the ADU will also be required to have a solar array. This adds $10-15K.

    Does San Marcos require coastal development permits?

    No areas are subject to Coastal requirements.

  • MULTIFAMILY

    How many ADUs does San Marcos allow for multifamily properties?

    Up to 2 detached ADUs on a multifamily lot that has an existing multifamily dwelling.

    Can you stack detached ADUs on top of each other?

    No, you cannot stack ADUs on top of each other in San Marcos.

    Can you attach two ADUs to each other in San Marcos?

    No, you cannot attach two ADUs. San Marcos 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 San Marcos?

    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 San Marcos?

    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 SAN MARCOS
    Zip Neighborhood 1BR 2BR 3BR
    92069 Santa Fe Hills $1800 $2100 $3000
    92078 San Elijo Hills $1970 $2400 $3110

San Marcos ADU Projects:

$300,000

Featured
Via Cancion
San Marcos, California 92078
2 Bed • 2 Bath • 1,200 ft2

$220,000

Completed
Lamplighter Road
San Marcos, California 92069
2 Bed • 2 Bath • 870 ft2

$269,200

Permitting
Palo Alto Court
San Marcos, California 92069
2 Bed • 2 Bath • 807 ft2

$195,000

Design
North Alda Drive
San Marcos, California 92069
2 Bed • 1 Bath • 615 ft2

$251,000

Design
Descanso Avenue
San Marcos, California
2 Bed • 4 Bath • 743 ft2

San Marcos Regulation & Permitting Requirements:

  • ADU SIZE & BUILDING CONSTRAINTS

    What size detached ADU can you build in San Marcos?

    San Marcos allows for a detached ADU up to 850 sqft for units with 1 bedroom, and up to 1000 sqft for 2+ bedrooms. 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).

    What is the height requirement for an ADU in San Marcos? Can you build a 2-story ADU in San Marcos?

    The height of a detached ADU can be up to 16′, not to exceed one story unless ADUs is to be located above a garage. Overall height shall remain consistent with the requirements of the applicable Zone in which the ADU is located.

    Does San Marcos allow roof decks on ADUs?

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

    How big can an attached ADU be in San Marcos?

    The attached ADU can be no bigger than the lesser of the following:

    • 50% of the primary dwelling square footage or
    • 850 sqft (1BR) or 1000 sqft (2BR+)

    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 San Marcos?

    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 4′ setbacks cannot exceed a height of 16 feet. An ADU exceeding 16′ must comply with the setbacks of the underlying zoning.

    Also, the ADU shall not be located within the required front property line setback and shall not be closer to the right of way than the primary dwelling (meaning: you typically cannot build an ADU in the front yard). The only exception to this rule is that, if no other feasible location on the parcel is available, an ADU of up to 800 sqft can be built without a front setback.

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

    The minimum required distance between structures is 10′ (eave to eave).

  • ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS

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

    No, San Marcos allows digital submission of applications for an ADU.

    Does San Marcos require a soils report for an ADU?

    Yes, San Marcos requires a soils report for all new ADUs that exceed 500 sqft.

    Does San Marcos require solar to be installed on the ADU?

    Yes, even if the primary residence already has solar power, the ADU will also be required to have a solar array. This adds $10-15K.

    Does San Marcos require coastal development permits?

    No areas are subject to Coastal requirements.

  • MULTIFAMILY

    How many ADUs does San Marcos allow for multifamily properties?

    Up to 2 detached ADUs on a multifamily lot that has an existing multifamily dwelling.

    Can you stack detached ADUs on top of each other?

    No, you cannot stack ADUs on top of each other in San Marcos.

    Can you attach two ADUs to each other in San Marcos?

    No, you cannot attach two ADUs. San Marcos 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 San Marcos?

    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 San Marcos?

    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 SAN MARCOS
    Zip Neighborhood 1BR 2BR 3BR
    92069 Santa Fe Hills $1800 $2100 $3000
    92078 San Elijo Hills $1970 $2400 $3110

San Marcos ADU Projects:

$300,000

Featured
Via Cancion
San Marcos, California 92078
2 Bed • 2 Bath • 1,200 ft2

$220,000

Completed
Lamplighter Road
San Marcos, California 92069
2 Bed • 2 Bath • 870 ft2

$269,200

Permitting
Palo Alto Court
San Marcos, California 92069
2 Bed • 2 Bath • 807 ft2

$195,000

Design
North Alda Drive
San Marcos, California 92069
2 Bed • 1 Bath • 615 ft2

$251,000

Design
Descanso Avenue
San Marcos, California
2 Bed • 4 Bath • 743 ft2