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Universal Design

Universal Design 500

Universal design is an environment designed and built to be accessed and used by all persons, regardless of ability or mobility. Universally designed housing is designed and built to be fully functional for all persons in all stages of life, regardless of ability or mobility. To be considered a Universally Designed Housing Unit, a home must at a minimum these basic tenets of residential universal design:

  • At least one stepless entry on an accessible path of travel
  • A complete livable entry floor, including 32 inches clear width doorways & hallways
  • A ¾ or full bathroom with either a 60 inches turning radius or a 36 inches t-turn configuration
  • A bedroom or flexroom on the entry level
  • The provision of all environmental controls at accessible heights

Universal Design Objectives

  • Insure accessibility to the residence for any person including those with different physical abilities.
  • Improve overall circulation and allow people, furniture and appliances to move with ease in and out of the home.
  • Reduce bending, straining and twisting when turning on lights, faucets, or when reaching for items on shelves.
  • Create easy recognition of the junction of floor surfaces and walls to reduce the likelihood of injury.
  • Allow residents and visitors complete access to home despite changing needs or physical abilities.

Universal Design is Strongly Encouraged

The inclusion of optional universal design components, as outlined in our Universal Design Checklist, is strongly encouraged. Housing units that are constructed as accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act already meet the minimum criteria for universal design.

While universal design is not currently part of the adopted California Building Code, the County supports and approves permit applications with Universal features. The County has a density bonus incentive for multi-unit residential projects that include at least 3 Universal Design features.

Find out other reasons for incorporating universal design in your residential construction project.