Community Development

Accessory Dwelling Unit & SB 9 Ordinances

On January 1, 2020, new state law took effect to create opportunities for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and junior accessory dwelling units (JADUs) at single-family dwellings (Cal. Gov’t Code section 65852.2). Additional changes to state law now allow ADUs (but not JADUs) at multi-family dwellings as well in certain situations. Beyond traditional market rate construction and affordable housing developments, ADUs provide an alternative, flexible housing model that can help address home supply and affordability in California.

ADUs and JADUs are separate from the recently adopted State law known as SB 9 (Cal. Gov’t Code section 65852.21), effective January 1, 2022. In some situations, but not all, it may be possible to have two principal units through SB 9, as well as an ADU/JADU.

The City is preparing ADU and SB 9 Ordinances to promote pro-housing policies while maintaining community design standards and compliance with state laws. Both will be standalone ordinances, but their design and development standards will be complementary to ensure internal consistency and reduce ambiguity for the community, project applicants and City staff. These efforts will be coordinated with the City’s ongoing effort to update its Subdivision Ordinance (Title 20) and Pre-Approved Accessory Dwelling Unit Program.

The revised ADU Ordinance will provide a new set of ADU regulations tailored to the specific needs of Long Beach, with the goal of creating excellent housing stock and opportunities while ensuring quality design. To learn more in-depth about the details of the ordinances, please see ADU and SB9 Backgrounds below.

Accessory Dwelling Units and Lot Splits (SB 9)

ADUs and SB 9 units are two ways of adding units to your property. Which is right for you?

  • An ADU may be appropriate if…
    …you do not live on the property.
    …your property is not zoned single-family residential.

  • An SB 9 unit may be appropriate if…
    …you would like to have the option of selling your additional unit.
    …you may want to build another unit on your property at a later time.

Learn More About ADUs

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) have become a major contributor to the growth of Long Beach’s housing stock. ADUs represent a unique opportunity for adding housing throughout the City’s existing neighborhoods and can be designed to be more affordable than large-scale multifamily developments. ADU construction in Long Beach has gone from zero 10 years ago to a current rate of more than 400 per year. The City’s goal is to facilitate 400–500 ADUs per year throughout the coming decade.

The revised ADU Ordinance will provide a new set of ADU regulations tailored to the specific needs of Long Beach, with the goals of creating excellent housing stock and opportunities while ensuring quality design. The revised Ordinance will:

  • Incorporate all changes to state ADU laws which have taken place since the City’s previous ADU ordinance, including the latest changes that became effective as of January 1, 2023 (including AB 2221 and SB 897);
  • Formalize the City’s approach to legalizing unpermitted units as ADUs, and administering ADUs within the Coastal Zone;
  • Explore integrating pre-approved ADU designs and streamlined garage conversions; and
  • Incentivize enhanced ADU designs overall to benefit future ADU residents and neighbors alike.

State law requires by-right approval of the following in any zone that allows residential uses:

  • For properties with single-family dwellings: one ADU and one JADU. A JADU requires the property owner to live on the property permanently.
  • For properties with multi-family dwellings (two or more units attached or in a single building):
    • Two detached ADUs, Or
    • Conversion of existing attached non-habitable space into ADU at the rate of one ADU or 25% of the permitted number of dwelling units, whichever is more.
    • Must choose from one of the above options, not both.

  • ADU Height: Max. 18 feet if near transit; 25 feet if attached ADU; 16 feet otherwise.
  • Parking: Max. one space, none if near transit. Replacement parking is not required for conversions of existing residential or garage space.
  • Setbacks: Max. four feet side and rear for new construction.
  • No owner-occupancy requirement for ADUs, but JADUs do have owner-occupancy for a unit on the property (not necessarily the JADU).
  • Objective-design standards could be incorporated, for example, ADUs in historic districts.


Applications must be acted upon within 60 days.
New ADU Garage Conversion Standards have been designed to make it easier for applicants who intend to convert a single-story detached garage to an ADU in a single-family zone in the City. This prescriptive set of standards addresses the main requirements that permit applicants (homeowners or contractors) must present to City staff in order to pull an over-the-counter permit for a garage conversion to an ADU. This prescriptive set of standards has two (2) components:

  1. ADU-Garage Conversion Submittal Package: Consists of a permit application, instructions to complete the site and floor plan, space to attach interior and exterior photos illustrating the existing conditions of your garage, construction details to be referenced on the plans, and the ADU covenant to be recorded.
  2. ADU-Garage Conversion Reference Documents: Consists of relevant information to further assist applicants with preparation of the submittal package.

Learn More About Lot Splits (SB 9)

SB 9 allows no more than a total of four units (two principal, two ADU/JADU) on an existing developed single-family zoned lot. This can be achieved two ways: (1) By building a second principal unit, plus one ADU and one JADU, or (2) if an existing lot is subdivided into two lots using the urban lot split provisions of SB 9, then no more than two units of any type are allowed on each resultant lot (two principal units each, or one principal unit each and one ADU or JADU each).
Senate Bill 9 (SB 9) is a California housing law became effective on January 1, 2022, which complements state ADU law by enabling urban lot splits and two-unit development in existing residential neighborhoods. Specifically, SB 9 requires by-right approval of residential developments with no more than two primary units in a single-family zone, and allows the subdivision of a parcel in a single-family zone into two parcels in certain cases.

The City does not have a local ordinance to implement the provisions of SB 9, although a separate local effort is already in process to update the Subdivision Ordinance (Title 20) to enable SB 9 urban lot splits. While the request for SB 9 projects has been limited thus far, it may increase in the future, especially for two-unit development projects. Much like the revised ADU Ordinance, a new SB 9 Ordinance will ensure compliance with State law while customizing specific regulations to suit the needs of Long Beach. It will provide clarity to the community, project applicants, City staff, and City Council on what is and is not permitted on various lots throughout the City.

SB 9 requires by-right approval in single-family (R-1) zones of:

  • Up to two primary units on a single parcel and up to one ADU and one JADU.
  • The subdivision of a parcel into two (60/40 difference at most) and no more than four units possible total, from starting parcel.


  • Parking: Max one space, and no requirement if within Transit Priority Area.
  • Setbacks: At least 800 sq. ft. must be permitted regardless of zoning development standards, but setbacks specified for SB 9 units (4' side and rear, plus zoning front setback) still apply.
  • Use: Property must contain only residential uses (non-commercial or mixed-use buildings).
  • Owner occupancy: Min. three years in certain circumstances.
  • Objective design standards only.

Situations that don't qualify for SB 9:

  • May not involve demolition of affordable or rent-controlled units.
  • May not displace tenants.
  • Does not apply in designated historic districts, wetlands, coastal areas or earthquake fault zones (Alquist-Priolo).
  • Refer to City’s SB 9 Project Eligibility Checklist

Permitting Requirements

Permit applicants must complete the submittal package to the best of their abilities and present it at the time of plan check submittal to the City. Applicants must make an appointment for an over-the-counter plan review by staff from the City's Planning and Building & Safety Bureaus, and pay permitting and other agency (e.g., school district) fees prior to obtaining an ADU building permit.

Save time and money on ADU projects with the City’s Pre-Approved Accessory Dwelling Unit Program!

For more information on building permits, visit our Development Permit Center.

Get Involved!

Join us at Planning Commission for a study session where you will learn more about the process to date, initial findings and next steps for developing the ordinances.

Thursday, November 16, 2023, 5 p.m.
Planning Commission Study Session
Long Beach Civic Chambers, 411 W. Ocean Blvd. 

Join online
Join by phone: 213.338.8477
Meeting ID: 927 4212 9521

Staff held an Open House on July 19, 2023, the information boards and maps presented at that meeting are linked below. 

 Sign up to receive project updates.

Frequently Asked Questions

The FAQ below is a summary of the most frequently asked questions that staff has received about ADUs and SB 9. Staff will periodically update the FAQs contained in this handout when new legislations or policies are enacted.

The general information provided herein may not be applicable to every development project and would require a case-by-case evaluation by City staff for projects with specific, unique, or special circumstances. Please visit our Permit Center to obtain additional information about your development projects.


For zoning questions on ADUs, call the Planning Bureau at 562.570.6194. For building code questions on ADUs, call the Building & Safety Bureau at 562.570.7648.