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Pacifica launches online portal for equitable access to ADU resources and affordable housing needs

Pacifica, CA

To streamline ADU development to address their affordable housing challenges, the City of Pacifica is launching an interactive web-based portal to (1) assist homeowners in understanding ADU laws as they apply to a specific property, (2) save the City’s Planners time and effort, and (3) encourage ADU construction.

Topics Covered

Open Data
Civic Technology
Housing & Affordable Housing
Process Improvement


Initial: 20 Thousand USD


General Fund/Existing Public Funds

Public Private Partnership

State and local grants

Project Status

Operational since 2022

Gov Champion

Pacifica Planning Department

Problem Addressed

The City of Pacifica’s ADU journey began in 2019, when the City received a grant to participate in a county-level program to discuss and address housing challenges in partnership with community members.

Community members came together to talk about the future of housing in Pacifica through surveys and events which propelled a much-needed conversation on housing challenges. One of the potential housing solutions of greatest interest to those that attended the Home for All conversations was the establishment of ADUs.

As a result, the City of Pacifica took steps to raise ADU awareness and construction. They updated their ADU ordinance and are now participating in a “One Stop Shop” Pilot Program to help homeowners with design, permitting, and project management support to build a second unit. The City would like to see as many ADUs constructed as possible within the next 12 months and was seeking a way to increase equitable access to housing resources and opportunities. However, rising homeowner interest and applications for ADUs could also mean challenges for Pacifica’s Planning Department.

In many cities, the process for determining whether an ADU can be built on a property is laborious and time-consuming, requiring a manual review of state and local regulations. This also often involves homeowners making multiple telephone calls and in-person visits to the Planning Counter. On average, these inquiries take longer for staff to process given the relative inexperience of homeowners with complex regulations.

Solutions Used

To improve the ADU approval and development process for residents and City staff, the City of Pacifica recently launched a homeowner-friendly, web-based portal with Symbium.

Symbium Build is an intuitive yet powerful web-based tool that empowers homeowners, design professionals, and city staff to:

1. Easily visualize where ADUs are allowed;

2. Understand the applicable, site-specific development standards; and

3. Understand the ensuing processes, including permits and fees, to build an ADU on any particular parcel.

Symbium's Build portal for Pacifica and other jurisdictions is available to the public at https://build.symbium.com



Saves staff time - Planners can forward the online portal link to customers seeking ADU information, helping customers to find information about zoning and the development process.


Supports community members - the portal provides homeowners with equitable access to housing resources and opportunities.


Supports community members - the portal enables anyone to envision whether an ADU is allowed and helps them understand zoning and development standards for their specific property.


Strengthens ecosystem of ADU efforts - the portal complements the City’s programs to encourage ADU construction in Pacifica.

Something Unique

The City is participating in a “One Stop Shop” Pilot Program (with the County of San Mateo and nonprofit Hello Housing) to help homeowners with design, permitting, and project management support to build a second unit. Symbium Build has complemented and accelerated that and other City partnerships focused on ADUs.

Who Should Consider

Cities and counties that would like to increase housing supply through ADUs, save Planning staff time, increase the quality of applications, and improve citizen engagement should consider Symbium Build.

Last Updated

Mar 20th, 2021
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