Pasadena ADU Policy

Pasadena ADU Policy

Pasadena ADU policy applies to the incorporated City of Pasadena, home of the Rose Bowl, Rose Parade, and innumerable historic landmarks and architectural gems. Pasadena policymakers are walking a fine line between protecting Pasadena’s heritage and the need/requirement to add more housing units.

In general, Pasadena walks this line by creating different rules for larger lots and larger ADUs. This is unusual, so be sure to read my sections on setbacks and allowable sizes.

The policy document can be read HERE: Community Planning: Pasadena Accessory Dwelling Units. A better source of Pasadena ADU policy is the ADU Handbook, currently in draft form. It is dated September 2022 but does not yet reflect the raft of bills ratified on September 28, 2022. I have indicated those changes in this blog post.

ADU policy changes, sometimes rapidly, so check for updates in your area.

Pasadena ADU Policy
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Pasadena ADU Policy Highlights

ADU Size and Height Limitations in South Pasadena

Pasadena allows a larger maximum size for large lots. Detached ADU can be up to 1000 square feet for lot sizes under 10,000 sf. and up to 1200 square feet for larger lot sizes. ADUs that just a studio shall not exceed 850 SF.

Current documentation on height limits does not reflect the recent state law changes and will certainly be amended in coming weeks. State law height limit is 22 feet, inclusive of the roof pitch, enough for a two-story structure. A one story ADU should be no more than 16 ft. according to this document, but SB 897 passed in September 28, 2022, amends the mandatory height limit to 18 ft if the site is within a half mile of a mass transportation stop or the main structure is two stories.

Pasadena does not expressly prohibit homeowners from building an ADU over the existing garage and the Pasadena ADU Handbook draft illustrates how an ADU could be attached to an existing detached garage. Interestingly, this illustration shows the original garage remains at less than 4ft. from the side property line.

If it is less than 750 SF, it is exempt from impact fees.

Setback Rules for Pasadena ADUs

Setback rules are more restrictive than state law. For units under 800 SF they follow the state required 4 feet from the back and sides.

Larger units have side setbacks equal to 10% of lot width (minimum is 5ft and maximum 10 ft), with a rear set back of 10 ft.

An ADU constructed over a garage must be 5ft from the side and rear lot lines.

Junior ADUs in Pasadena

JADUs follow state mandates. The homeowner must live on the property. A dedicated bathroom is not required.

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Parking Requirements for Pasadena

The rules for ADU parking follows state mandate. No replacement or additional off-street parking is required if a public transportation stop is within 1/2 mile of walking distance or in a historic district.

Two Story ADUs in Pasadena

The new state laws allow for two-story ADUs up to 18 ft. high as long as you are within 1/2 mile from a mass transportation stop.

ADUs for Historic Neighborhoods in Pasadena

Garage conversions must retain original doors and windows (including garage doors) unless this prevents the creation of the ADU.

In my opinion, this means you’ll need to create a solid wall behind the original garage door to maintain the original appearance from the street.

Pasadena ADUs as Short-Term Rentals

The Pasadena City ADU regulations do not specifically mention short-term rentals of ADUs. This means general short-term rental rules apply to ADUs in equal measure. This is the link explaining the short-term rental rules in Pasadena.

In general, short-term rentals are only allowed for the host’s primary residence. There are different rules when the host is present, such as when an ADU is rented while the host is present in the main house.

Multi-Family Residence (MFR) ADU Rules in South Pasadena

Converting existing floor space within the MFR structure: either add 1 ADU unit OR 25% of existing MFR units, whichever is greater.

New Detached ADU: Maximum of 2 detached ADUs.

All sizes, set backs, and height rules follow the same rules as for single family properties.

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