Preapproved ADU Program for City of Santa Barbara

Sample rendering of Pre-approved ADU designs (courtesy)


The City of Santa Barbara is pleased to announce it is now accepting submissions for designer-owned preapproved plans for detached Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). These plans will be considered for preapproval by the City, with the goals of speeding up the review and approval process, guiding homeowners who may not know where to start, and ensuring that those homeowners work with qualified, experienced professionals. For more information on how to apply, please read the “For Designers” section below.


Preapproved plans are ADU designs submitted by designers, architects, builders, and other qualified professionals and vetted in advance by Planning and Building & Safety. Once preapproved, they can be selected for use by homeowners for their own ADU projects with an expedited review timeline and lower permitting costs.

Having your ADU plans preapproved by the City is a great way to help your future clients move through the permitting process quickly and smoothly. All preapproved ADU plans will be featured on the City’s website to help connect you with homeowners who are interested in adding an ADU to their property. You will still retain your copyright to the preapproved design, so any homeowner who wishes to use the design must contract with you to do so.

Available in January 2025 – the City will launch the Preapproved ADU Program for homeowners to use. Homeowners can then reach out to the designer of the plan they select and work with them throughout the process. Browse the City’s list below – New plans coming soon!

How to Apply for a Building Permit
Preapproval does not mean that the designs already have their building permits, but rather that elements of the permitting process for your ADU will already be addressed upon application submittal. Pre-approved plans are around 70-80% complete but you will still be required to provide site-specific information. To use a preapproved ADU plan, you must:

  1. Contract with the designer responsible for the plan set.
  2. Submit additional site-specific plans, studies, and engineering, as applicable.
  3. Obtain a building permit from the Building & Safety Division for the construction of a preapproved ADU. The full list of submittal requirements for a building permit are included below.

New plans coming soon!

Learn more at

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