Nevada County logoThe Nevada County Planning Department received two awards for their collaborative efforts with the Mother Lode ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) Project: the Best Practices Award of Excellence from the American Planning Association of California’s – Northern Section, and the Small Town and Rural Planning (STaR) Division 2024 John Keller Award for Planning from the National American Planning Association (APA). 

The new Mother Lode ADU Guidebook and website,, walk people through all the steps needed to build an ADU and include a host of tools to make the process easier. The tools available include the guidebook, cost calculator, website, contractor list and floorplan gallery.

“This partnership effort developed tangible tools to help rural County residents on their way to developing ADUs. It also emphasizes the benefits of collaboration within rural communities,” explained Planning Director Brian Foss. “The STaR Division award is the highest achievement in the Small Town and Rural Planning arena.”

The STaR Division award is presented annually at the National APA conference to an outstanding initiative or program in public education, workshops, ordinances, or enforcement that promotes planning in small towns and rural areas. The Best Practices Award of Excellence is awarded annually within the State of California’s APA, and will be formally presented at an awards gala in September 2024. Both awards speak to the importance of this project and its potential impacts on rural counties throughout the state and nation.

Mother Lode ADU is a one-stop shop of online and print resources developed to help homeowners in the rural western slope of the Sierra Nevada foothills of California more easily build an ADU. ADUs are an important way to increase the housing supply in California.

“We are proud of the work we accomplished via Mother Lode ADU,” said Marie Maniscalco, Associate Planner. “The new resources explain the entire process of building an ADU from start to finish. This unique partnership between four counties (Amador, Calaveras, Mariposa and Nevada) grew out of a belief that ADUs can be an important part of the solution to the regional housing shortage and demonstrates how we can do so much more together.”

Resources and tools walk homeowners through the entire process, including ADU GuidebooksCalculatorsCan I Build ToolContractor ListPrefab ADU Showcasefloorplan examplesvideo homeowner “Spotlight” stories featuring VR360 tours of the ADU and site, homeowner exercises, a development checklist, local rules summaries, process maps and a forthcoming ADU plans gallery. All materials are written in an accessible and easy-to-understand way with helpful guides and visuals that create a bridge between complex processes and the homeowner experience. An ADU Affordability Incentive study was also produced to guide future policies and programs.

Since its launch, Mother Lode ADU has been heralded by decision-makers and residents across the region as an incredible resource.