ADU Initiative

United Way Monterey County is focusing on Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) as a way to expand affordable housing within Monterey County.

Learn More About United Way's Work on ADUs.


What are ADUs?

ADUs are second units that are built on the same lot as a single-family home. ADUs can be built as an attachment to an existing home or garage, a conversion of a garage or existing structure, a detached unit, or can exist entirely within the primary home. ADUs can be a source of additional income for homeowners as well as provide an affordable and convenient place to live for residents.

The state of California recognizes ADUs as one of the strategies needed to tackle the housing crisis. However, even with state legislation removing policy barriers to ADU development, there are still many challenges homeowners face in the planning, permitting, and building stages of an ADU.

What are Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs)?

A JADU is a second unit that is within an existing single-family residence and is limited to 500 sq. ft. A JADU does not need to have a full kitchen, but must have an "efficiency kitchen" and may include either separate sanitation facilities or share sanitation facilities with the existing residence. A JADU must be constructed from an existing bedroom and include a separate entrance from the main entrance to the JADU.

ADU Events

2021 ADU Conference

Homeowners, builders, finance partners, and affordable housing advocates convened for a virtual ADU Conference to promote infill housing in Monterey County and to equip homeowners with the tools they need to pursue a financially feasible and affordable ADU project.

The conference covered the following topics:

  •  ADU Policy: CA HCD, MBEP and UWMC will present on ADU policy, including presentation of a guide to assist homeowners and city staff in navigating ADU State law
  • Prefabricated ADUs: What are the benefits? Local prefab vendors will provide locally available products, how-to instruction and tips, and present a cost comparison and sample budget to show how you can save on your ADU project
  • ADU Financing: Presentation from regional experts on ADU financing about available products and best practices



Seaside ADU Workshop
Join the City of Seaside and United Way Monterey County for a workshop designed for Seaside homeowners interested in starting an ADU project. In this workshop, participants will learn how to navigate their ADU project along with the City of Seaside - including permitting, using pre-approved plans, hiring design and building professionals, financing, and what resources are available to Seaside homeowners. This workshop will feature a presentation and a Q&A after the presentation for homeowners to ask more specific questions to our presenters about their projects.

Monterey County ADU Conference
UWMC’s ADU Advisory Group and AIA Architects gathered for a virtual ADU Conference between September 16th and September 18th. The goal of the conference was to promote infill housing in Monterey County and equip stakeholders with the tools they need to execute ADU projects. The virtual conference featured Kol Peterson, an ADU expert and author of Backdoor Revolution: The Definitive Guide to ADU Development.

Can I Build an ADU?

Whether you are within city limits or in unincorporated County, technically YES! State law allows you to build an ADU or a JADU (or potentially both!) if you have a single-family residential lot. There are some requirements based on your city or county ADU ordinance, that may limit the size or type of ADU that you can build. Click here to learn more about local resources available to you.

Are you a homeowner with an interest to build an ADU on your property or do you currently own a property with an ADU on the lot? We want to hear from you. Please take a few minutes to fill out one of our surveys:

Pre-Approved ADU Plans

The City of Seaside has developed pre-approved plans for Seaside homeowners to use. Other homeowners in the county are welcome to use the plans to save cost on designing a detached ADU. Keep in mind that they are not plan check pre-approved except within the boundaries of the City of Seaside.

ADU Advisory Group

In order to address these remaining barriers, UWMC formed an ADU Advisory Group to develop cross-functional coordination, synergy, and collaborative action in support of the development of new ADUs in Monterey County. Members of the Group include UWMC, Monterey Bay Economic Partnership (MBEP), Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay, County of Monterey, City of Salinas, Community Housing Improvements Systems and Planning Association Inc (CHISPA), Monterey County Housing Authority Development Corporation (HDC), Rehabilitation Restoration Respite (R3), City of Seaside, and community volunteers.

The ADU Advisory Group’s goal is to spark aligned actions to increase the number of ADUs in the County.

The Advisory Group’s roles are to:

  1. Analyze problems and understand systems affecting the construction of ADUs in the county, including inequities, baseline, trends, and changes over time.
  2. Identify effective solutions (strategies) and support their implementation – either directly or by advocating for program, practice, or policy changes.
  3. Support mutual accountability for results by monitoring implementation and addressing new challenges as they arise.

If you or your organization is interested in reducing policy barriers to ADU development, advocating for supportive ADU policies, participating in the ADU Advisory Workgroup and/or increasing ADU development in Monterey County, please contact Kelly deWolfe, Community Impact Associate at United Way Monterey County and Staff Liaison for the ADU Advisory Workgroup at (831) 372-8026 x115 or by email.


ADU Literature Review: Highlights the ADU policies within Monterey County and includes policy recommendations and case studies.

City and County Policy:
State Law Updates

Effective January 1, 2020:

  • Senate Bill 13: Reduces and/or eliminates development impact fees for ADUs, prohibits owner occupancy requirement, further reduces parking requirements, and lowers jurisdiction’s ADU application approval time to 60 days.
  • Assembly Bill 881: Prohibits minimum lot size requirements, limits local discretion on min. and max sizes for units, and allows for an 800 sq. ft. ADU to be developed on single-family lot, regardless of lot coverage, floor area ratio, or setback requirements.
  • Senate Bill 68: Allows both an ADU and a JADU on the same single-family lot.
  • Assembly Bill 670: Homeowner associations (HOAs) and common interest developments (CIDs) must now allow ADUs within their developments.

Effective January 1, 2019:

  • Senate Bill 1226: Applies to unpermitted/illegal ADUs (California Legislative Information, 2018)
  • Assembly Bill 494: Further reduces parking requirements (California Legislative Information, 2017)

Effective January 1, 2017:

  • Senate Bill 1069: Reduces parking requirements, utility fee reductions, and streamlines the approval process. (California Legislative Information, 2016)
  • Assembly Bill 2299: Streamlines approval process for local governments (California Legislative Information, 2016)
  • Assembly Bill 2406: Applies to junior accessory dwelling units (JADU) ordinances (California Legislative Information, 2016)(California Department of Housing and Community Development, n.d.)
Additional Resources:
  1. California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) Accessory Dwelling Units
  2. LA MÁS
  3. Santa Cruz City and County (Santa Cruz Sentinel. Nicholas Ibarra. Santa Cruz County Offers Amnesty to Unpermitted Homes.)
  4. Santa Cruz County ADUs
  5. Housing Trust Silicon Valley: Small Homes BIG IMPACT Pilot program that offers free educational workshops and financial assistance to homeowners seeking to build an ADU.
  6. Lessons Learned from Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver. Report discusses the remaining barriers facing homeowners even when removing policy barriers. Interesting ideas to spur the market for ADUs.