In October of 2023, the City Council of Ventura passed a new ADU regulations ordinance, modifying restrictions to make these backyard homes more accessible for homeowners.

The City of Ventura is known for its laid back vibes and surf culture, a stark difference from the hustle and bustle of its neighbor, Los Angeles. In turn, Ventura has continued to grow as a tourist destination. With that growth, comes the challenge of keeping up with housing demands.

Policymakers hope that this new ordinance will spark motivation for homeowners to build ADUs, increasing housing supply in the city. Let’s dive into everything you need to know about building an ADU in the City of Ventura.

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What is required in an ADU?

An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) in the City of Ventura is defined as a permanent residential unit, separate from the primary residence, that contains all facilities required for independent living. This includes everything required for sleeping, cooking, eating, and sanitation.


A kitchen in an ADU is required to have countertops, appliances, sink, storage cabinets, and electrical outlets.


The ADU must have at least one bathroom that includes a sink, toilet, and bath tub or shower.

Exterior Access

The ADU cannot share an entrance with the primary residence, meaning that the tenant of the unit should not have to enter the main house to access the ADU.


ADUs must have all utilities required for independent living including water, sewage, and electricity.

ADU Regulations in the City of Ventura

For the most part, the City of Ventura follows California state ADU regulations, which are already fairly lenient to begin with. With the new ordinance in place, the city is taking it a step further to loosen the strings even more.

Zones that Allow ADUs

ADUs are allowed on single-family and multi-family properties. However, certain zones within the City of Ventura have additional regulations to consider.

ADUs are not permitted in Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones. Junior accessory dwelling units (JADUs) are allowed in these areas.

Regions marked red are Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones where ADUs are not permitted.

Regions marked red are Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones where ADUs are not permitted.

Properties in Coastal Overlay zones must also adhere to coastal requirements. They require either a coastal exemption, coastal exclusion, or Coastal Development Permit. ADUs must also be designed to avoid adverse impacts to coastal resources, including by conforming with all applicable Local Coastal Program policies and standards.

Coastal Overlay Zone is outlined in blue.

Allowed ADUs

Following state regulations, almost any homeowner in California is entitled to at least one 800 sq ft ADU on their property, regardless of floor area ratio, front setbacks, or property size.

This ADU can be any of the following:

Detached ADU: The ADU is a stand-alone unit and does not share a wall with any part of the primary residence or any other accessory structure on the property.

Attached ADU: The ADU is attached or located within the primary home.

Conversion ADU: The ADU is converted from an accessory structure already on the property such as a garage or other spaces within the primary home like a basement or attic.

Above Garage ADU: The ADU is built above the garage and includes its own stairway to access the unit.

Single-family properties are allowed up to one conversion ADU, one detached ADU, and one JADU if there is adequate space.

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ADU Sizes

The minimum size for an ADU in the City of Ventura is set to 150 sq ft established by the Health and Safety Code.

The max sizes allowed for your ADU will depend on the type, however, remember that you are always allowed to build at least an 800 sq ft ADU.

Detached ADUs: Cannot exceed 1,200 sq ft

Attached ADUs: Up to 50% of the primary residence’s living area, unless this figure is less than 800 sq ft. For example, if 50% of your main residence’s living area is only about 700 sq ft, you are still allowed to build an 800 sq ft ADU.

Conversion ADUs: Depending on the size of the structure being converted, there is no max size. For example, if you have a barn on your property that is 1,400 sq ft, the city must allow you to convert the entire structure into an ADU. You are also allowed an additional 150 sq ft, but ONLY to allow for ingress and egress.

ADU Heights

Just like with sizes, the max heights allowed in the City of Ventura will depend on the type of ADU you intend to build, but you are always allowed at least 16 ft.

Detached ADUs: A detached ADU can only be up to 16 ft, except for the following circumstances:

  • Up to 18 ft is allowed if the property is located within half a mile walking distance from a public transit stop
  • An additional 2 ft is allowed (up to 20 ft) to accommodate the roof pitch if it is needed to match the pitch of the primary dwelling

Attached ADUs: An attached ADU can be up to 25 ft or comply with the height restrictions applicable to the zone in which the property is located. Whichever is lower.

Conversions ADUs: Heights for conversions will depend on whether the structure is attached or detached. See above.

ADU Setbacks

Setbacks for side and rear may be a minimum of four feet. Front setbacks will depend on your zone’s underlying building standards, however, if these setbacks interfere with your ability to build an 800 sq ft ADU, they cannot be enforced.

If you are building a detached ADU, the unit must have a six foot distance from the primary residence and any other structures on the property.


Off-street parking is not required for ADUs in the City of Ventura unless your property is within the Coastal Zone.

If your property is within the Coastal Zone and located within the ADU Mandatory Parking Area, you must add one parking space per ADU or JADU, in addition to the off-street parking for the primary residence. If you are building a conversion ADU that results in losing a parking space, such as a garage conversion, that parking space must be replaced, in addition to the new parking space for the ADU.

ADU Design Considerations

The City of Ventura requires the design and materials of the ADU to match the primary residence.

Rental Terms

ADUs and JADUs can only be rented for terms longer than 30-days.

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

ADUs are exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The CEQA is a set of guidelines implemented to prevent or minimize damage to the environment through development of projects. As ADUs are small structures with relatively minimal environmental impact and recognized as affordable housing, they are exempt from following these guidelines.

Building an ADU in the City of Ventura

Knowing the regulations is only part of the process of building an ADU.

Step 1: Get Financing Pre-Approved

ADUs are big ticket items, starting at approximately $180,000 in the City of Ventura. You’ll first want to ensure you have the financial means to complete this project. Talk to a lender to get pre-approved so that you can rest assured that you won’t have to abandon your ADU project halfway through if finances become as issue.

Step 2: Hire an ADU Designer

Your ADU designer or architect will draft your permit set for your ADU. A permit set contains a lot more than just a floor plan. This set of documents contains the complete construction specifications, materials, utility connections, Title 24, elevations, and more. The city planning department needs this detailed permit set to ensure your proposed ADU meets all building and safety codes while adhering to Ventura’s ADU regulations.

Step 3: Permitting

The City of Ventura requires homeowners to obtain a building permit before you can start construction of your ADU. The permitting process begins with your designer submitting the prepared permit set to the Planning Department. The city then has 60 days to either approve your application or return with revision requests. This is a good time to begin vetting ADU general contractors.

Step 4: Hire an ADU General Contractor

Finding a reliable ADU general contractor is easier said than done. Contractors are in incredibly high demand right now, and when you have such a large personal project taking place, you definitely don’t want to settle. Maxable has built a network of vetted general contractors in Ventura ready to take on your project. Tell us a bit about your project and we’ll get started finding your perfect match.