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Cottage Housing Development

Housing - Cottage Housing

Cottage housing developments provide for a type of housing referred to as the “missing middle”—housing types that offer smaller units in buildings of a similar scale as a single family-home. The County’s new code encourages the development of these smaller units with shared parking and common open areas within existing low- and medium-density urban residential neighborhoods. The County allows two types of cottage housing developments—detached and attached.


Cottage housing developments are allowed in the Low Density Residential (R1) and Medium-Density Residential (R2) zones on parcels located in Urban Service Areas. Tiny homes may be utilized as cottage housing developments when building codes are met and the homes are placed on foundations. Within the areas affected by the 2017 Sonoma Complex Fires, cottage housing developments are limited as follows:

  • Glen Ellen: One cottage housing development allowed per 400 foot radius
  • Larkfield-Wikiup/Mark West area: Prohibited within the burn area at this time

Permit Requirements

All cottage housing developments are subject to design review unless there are no external changes (conversion of an existing residence). A use permit is required for any cottage housing development with more than three cottages or units, or that does not meet the adopted development standards.

Parcel Requirements

The minimum parcel size for cottage housing developments (attached and detached) is 8,000 square feet. Sites utilized for cottage housing developments shall be located within designated Urban Service Areas and shall be served by public sewer.

Development Standards


One reserved space shall be provided per unit and one guest parking space shall be provided for every three cottages or portion thereof. Parking must be provided within a common parking area.


Once the minimum parcel size has been met, the allowed density shall be one cottage per 2,500 square feet of lot area for attached and detached cottage housing developments.

Cottage Size

The total building square footage for a cluster of three cottages is 2,700 square feet unless a use permit has been granted and a larger size allowed after an analysis of neighborhood compatibility and design review.

Open Space

Open space of at least 200 square feet per unit required; 60 square feet may be private, and the remainder must be provided as common open space.


Front porches facing the open space are strongly encouraged.


No transient occupancy (stays of less than 31 days, time shares, vacation rentals) allowed.

Permit Requirements

Design Review

Use Permit