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Two Story Homes

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This information from the Cupertino Municipal Code (CMC) Chapter 19.28 R1 Ordinance is applicable to:

  • New second story additions to existing single story homes;
  • New two-story homes; or
  • Additions to an existing second story

Use the R1 and Two Story application form to apply.

Use the Notice Board Handout for instructions on required posting of site signage during the public comment period.

For more information on the process to obtain a two story permit, please click here.

R1 Development Standards


(a) Buildings in an ‘i’ zoning designation are limited to one story and restricted to 18’.

(b) Recorded easements in a Title Report or Parcel/Tentative Map that result in larger setbacks take precedence over setbacks stipulated in the Ordinances.

(c) The front yard setback for a side-loading garage with a curved driveway may be reduced to 15’ (CMC Chapters 19.08.030 and 19.28.070 (E)(1)(b)).

(d) First story rear yard setback may be reduced to 10’ with approval of a Minor Residential Permit provided that the area of the rear yard is equal to or exceeds 20 times the width of the lot at the front setback line. The width of the lot is measured at 20’ from the front property line (CMC Chapter 19.28.070 (E)(3)(a)(i)). Visit the FAQ page for information on Usable Rear Yard or check the Municipal Code

(e) Interior side yard setbacks may be reduced to 10’ subject to Residential Design Review approval (CMC Chapter 19.28.040(E)(2)). 

Second Story Setbacks

Second Floor Setbacks

*If the side setbacks measured from the side property line to the exterior wall on each side total less than 30 feet, the proposed second story is subject to residential design review.  The larger mass of the second story means there are more stringent architectural standards applied. Please see the Municipal Code section 19.28.110 and use the Residential Design Review Permit Application.

Second Story Design Guidelines

New two story homes and second story additions shall be generally consistent with the following design guidelines:

  • The mass and bulk of the design should be compatible with existing homes in the neighborhood. New construction should not be disproportionately larger than, or out of scale with, the neighborhood pattern.
  • The design should use vaulted ceilings rather than high exterior walls.
  • Long, exposed second story walls should be avoided.
  • The current pattern of side setback and garage orientation in the neighborhood should be maintained.
  • When possible, doors, windows and architectural elements should be aligned vertically, horizontally and symmetrically.

Design Review

Design Review by the City's consulting architect is required for:

  • Designs with second to first floor ratios greater than 66% and/or second floor setbacks to interior side property lines less than 15 feet; and
  • Two story homes with a second story to first floor ratio greater than 66%.

Note that homes with second story side setbacks less than 15 feet must offset the building massing with designs that encompass higher quality architectural features and materials. Homes subject to design review shall meet the design principles contained in Cupertino Municipal Code, Section 19.28.110 C of the R1 Ordinance.  Please refer to Appendix A of the Ordinance for design assistance.


Sometimes exceptions are made to the development standards in the R1 Ordinance due to the odd shape of lots or particularly difficult physical circumstances. 
You may apply for an Exception with this form. The final decision shall be made by the Design Review Committee upon neighbor noticing and a public hearing.

Second Story Decks

Second story decks may encroach by up to three feet into a required front setback.

Second story decks with open railings and no roof, does not count toward floor area ratio.

Minor Residential Permit application must be made for a second story deck. The purpose of this application is to notify neighbors of the possible impacts of a second story deck to their privacy and to mitigate the impacts of the deck.

Privacy Protection

Privacy protection planting is required within a 30º cone of vision from the jamb for:
  1. Second story windows that face the side and rear property lines that:
    • Have a sill height of five (5) feet or less from the finished floor and,
    • Have clear glazing and/or are operable
  2. Second story decks

You do not have to install privacy protection plantings if you obtain a waiver from the affected neighbor. Use this form to obtain the waiver.

Please reference the recommended Privacy Screening Materials and the Privacy Planting Requirements.