Vista ADU Regulations & Zoning

Vista, California

Zip Codes: 92081, 92083, 92084
Neighborhoods: Ocean Hills, Richland, Shadowridge

Our quick take on Vista: 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. Turnaround times at the city are extremely fast; however, clients should anticipate higher permit fees, as plan check, building permit, and impact fees are not waived for ADUs >750 sqft (Impact fees will be proportional to the size of the primary dwelling). Also, soils reports are generally required for ADUs, as well as storm water mitigation. To balance this, Vista does offer a fee waiver program for qualified ADUs (either for caregivers or low income). Vista requires in-person submissions which does add some processing expense.

Vista Regulation & Permitting Requirements:

  • ADU SIZE & BUILDING CONSTRAINTS

    What size detached ADU can you build in Vista?

    Vista allows for a detached ADU 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).

    What zones in Vista allow ADUs?

    ADUs are permitted in zones R-1, R-1-B, E-1, A-1, and O-R, as well as any zone that allows single-family residences by right (Vista Development Code, Section 18.31.020 Zones)

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

    The height of a detached ADU can be up to 16′ and may not exceed 1 story, unless above a garage (subject to 5′ setbacks). Additionally, a 2nd story may be approved, provided it is determined the structure is not out of character with the neighborhood and existing primary structure.

    Does Vista allow roof decks on ADUs?

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

    How big can an attached ADU be in Vista?

    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 Vista?

    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, unless above a garage, which would have 5′ side and rear setbacks.

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

    The minimum required distance between structures is 10′ for single story, 15′ for 2-story.

  • ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS

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

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

    Does Vista require a soils report for an ADU?

    Yes, Vista typically requires a soils report for all new construction, including ADUs. However, we are seeing inconsistent application of this regulation, as it is at the discretion of the inspector.

    Does Vista require storm water mitigation?

    Yes, Vista requires site drainage and storm water mitigation for ADUs. Finish grading work to create a bio-swale, drainage basin or other contouring work to handle on-site storm water will cost around $5-10K in most cases.

    Does Vista require coastal development permits?

    No areas are subject to Coastal requirements.

  • MULTIFAMILY

    How many ADUs does Vista allow for multifamily properties?

    Up to two detached accessory dwelling units shall be permitted on a lot with 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 Vista.

    Can you attach two ADUs to each other in Vista?

    Per the planning department of Vista in February 2022, you cannot attached detached ADUs. The separate structures must be a minimum of 10′ apart pursuant to the Townsite specific plan.

    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 Vista?

    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 Vista?

    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 VISTA
    Zip Neighborhood 1BR 2BR 3BR
    92081 Ocean Hills $1955 $2175 $2740
    92083 Richland $1725 $1995 $2995

    Source: Rentometer Nov 2021

Vista ADU Projects:

$255,000

Completed
Lemon Avenue
Vista, California 92084
3 Bed • 2 Bath • 998 ft2

$170,000

Completed
Hawley Drive
Vista, California 92084
2 Bed • 1 Bath • 600 ft2

$170,000

Completed
Royal Road
Vista, California 92084
0 Bed • 1 Bath • 600 ft2

$362,500

Construction
Amelia Court
Vista, California 92084
4 Bed • 3 Bath • 1,200 ft2

$170,000

Construction
Hilo Drive
Vista, California 92081
1 Bed • 1 Bath • 696 ft2

$215

Construction
Elm Drive
Vista, California 92084
2 Bed • 1 Bath • 750 ft2

$295,000

Design
Yacon Street
Vista, California 92083
3 Bed • 2 Bath • 999 ft2

Vista Regulation & Permitting Requirements:

  • ADU SIZE & BUILDING CONSTRAINTS

    What size detached ADU can you build in Vista?

    Vista allows for a detached ADU 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).

    What zones in Vista allow ADUs?

    ADUs are permitted in zones R-1, R-1-B, E-1, A-1, and O-R, as well as any zone that allows single-family residences by right (Vista Development Code, Section 18.31.020 Zones)

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

    The height of a detached ADU can be up to 16′ and may not exceed 1 story, unless above a garage (subject to 5′ setbacks). Additionally, a 2nd story may be approved, provided it is determined the structure is not out of character with the neighborhood and existing primary structure.

    Does Vista allow roof decks on ADUs?

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

    How big can an attached ADU be in Vista?

    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 Vista?

    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, unless above a garage, which would have 5′ side and rear setbacks.

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

    The minimum required distance between structures is 10′ for single story, 15′ for 2-story.

  • ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS

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

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

    Does Vista require a soils report for an ADU?

    Yes, Vista typically requires a soils report for all new construction, including ADUs. However, we are seeing inconsistent application of this regulation, as it is at the discretion of the inspector.

    Does Vista require storm water mitigation?

    Yes, Vista requires site drainage and storm water mitigation for ADUs. Finish grading work to create a bio-swale, drainage basin or other contouring work to handle on-site storm water will cost around $5-10K in most cases.

    Does Vista require coastal development permits?

    No areas are subject to Coastal requirements.

  • MULTIFAMILY

    How many ADUs does Vista allow for multifamily properties?

    Up to two detached accessory dwelling units shall be permitted on a lot with 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 Vista.

    Can you attach two ADUs to each other in Vista?

    Per the planning department of Vista in February 2022, you cannot attached detached ADUs. The separate structures must be a minimum of 10′ apart pursuant to the Townsite specific plan.

    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 Vista?

    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 Vista?

    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 VISTA
    Zip Neighborhood 1BR 2BR 3BR
    92081 Ocean Hills $1955 $2175 $2740
    92083 Richland $1725 $1995 $2995

    Source: Rentometer Nov 2021

Vista ADU Projects:

$255,000

Completed
Lemon Avenue
Vista, California 92084
3 Bed • 2 Bath • 998 ft2

$170,000

Completed
Hawley Drive
Vista, California 92084
2 Bed • 1 Bath • 600 ft2

$170,000

Completed
Royal Road
Vista, California 92084
0 Bed • 1 Bath • 600 ft2

$362,500

Construction
Amelia Court
Vista, California 92084
4 Bed • 3 Bath • 1,200 ft2

$170,000

Construction
Hilo Drive
Vista, California 92081
1 Bed • 1 Bath • 696 ft2

$215

Construction
Elm Drive
Vista, California 92084
2 Bed • 1 Bath • 750 ft2

$295,000

Design
Yacon Street
Vista, California 92083
3 Bed • 2 Bath • 999 ft2