Spa Permit Requirements
The on-line permit is available for properties in Sunnyvale with a residential zoning district of R-0 or R-1. Zoning district information is available on-line by clicking on E-Zoning.

This permit will allow a new spa or replacement of an existing spa that is portable and completely above ground.

No planning permit is required for pools or spas, the standards listed below are reviewed with the building permit.

Setback Requirements
  • Spas that extend 18 inches or less above grade – no setback requirement.
  • Spas greater than 18 inches above grade - must meet the setbacks of the zoning district. For all residentially zoned properties, the minimum rear yard setback is 10 feet. For properties in the R-0, R-1.5 and R-2 Zoning Districts, the minimum side yard setback is 4 feet. All other residential zoning districts require a 6 foot minimum side yard setback. Pools and spas on corner lots must have a 9 foot setback along the longer street frontage. Zoning district information is available online by clicking on E-Zoning.
  • Spa equipment – must be set back 3 feet from any structure or property line.
Noise Requirements
All pool and spa equipment must meet the noise standards of Sunnyvale Municipal Code Section 19.42.030. Noise shall not exceed 50 dBA during the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. or 60 dBA during 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. at any point on adjacent residentially zoned property.

A building permit is required for all spa installations and shall be obtained prior to start of installation. The following is a listing of the general requirements for permit applications based on the 2016 California Building Code, 2016 California Residential Code, 2016 California Electrical Code, and the Sunnyvale Municipal Code. This brochure is intended to provide general information, contact the Building Safety Division for any questions or additional information.

Drowning Prevention Features
In order to protect the occupants of the house and members of the public, drowning prevention safety features are required to restrict unauthorized access to the pool from the house and from the public sidewalk. All private swimming pools shall be equipped with at least one of the following safety features to limit access from both the house and from the public sidewalk (CBC 3109):
    1. The pool shall be isolated by an enclosure that meets all of the following:
    • Gates shall open away from the swimming pool with opening devices placed a minimum of 60 inches above the ground. Gates shall be self-closing and self-latching;
    • Enclosure shall be a minimum of 60 inches high;
    • The clearance from the ground to the bottom of the enclosure shall be 2 inches maximum;
    • Gaps or voids in the enclosure are spaced so that a 4 inch sphere cannot pass through; and
    • The enclosure shall not have any protrusions, cavities, or other characteristics that would serve as hand/foot-holds.

    2. The pool shall incorporate removable mesh pool fencing that meets ASTM Specifications F 2286 standards in conjunction with a gate that is self-closing and self-latching and can accommodate a key lockable device.

    3. The pool shall be equipped with an approved safety pool cover that meets all requirements of the ASTM Specifications F1346.

    4. All doors providing direct access from a home to the swimming pool shall be equipped with a self-closing, self-latching device with a release mechanism placed no lower than 54” above the floor. Additionally, a fence meeting the requirements of item #1 shall be provided to protect the public from the swimming pool (this can be the property line fence).

    5. The house shall be equipped with exit alarms on all doors providing direct access to the pool. Additionally, a fence meeting the requirements of item #1 shall be provided to protect the public from the swimming pool (this can be the property line fence).

    6. Swimming pool alarms that, when placed in pools, will sound upon detection of accidental or unauthorized entrance into the water. These pool alarms shall meet and be independently certified to the ASTM Standard F2208. For purposes of this article, "swimming pool alarms" shall not include swimming protection alarm devices designed for individual use, such as an alarm attached to a child that sounds when the child exceeds a certain distance or becomes submerged in water.

Electrical Requirements
The electrical portion of the spa installation shall comply with the following requirements:
  • Overhead electrical conductors/wires located over the pool/spa and within 10 feet horizontally of the pool/spa shall be a minimum of 22½ feet above the maximum water level. (CEC 680.8)
  • All fixed metal parts, including underwater lighting, fittings, electrical equipment, piping, awnings, fences, etc. within 5 feet of the inside of the pool wall shall be bonded to the equipment grid with a #8AWG copper conductor. Bonding clamps for direct burial or concrete encasement shall be brass, copper, copper alloy, or other listed material. (CEC 680.26)
  • Junction boxes shall be a minimum vertical distance of 8 inches above the water or 4 inches above the deck, whichever provides the greater elevation. Junction boxes shall be a minimum horizontal distance of 4 feet from the inside wall of the pool (unless separated by a solid wall, fence, or other permanent barrier). (CEC 680.24)
  • Lighting fixtures/outlets within 5 feet horizontally of the pool shall be installed at a height of not less than 12 feet. Lighting fixtures installed between 5 feet and 10 feet from the pool and less than 5 feet in height shall be GFCI protected. (CEC 680.22)
  • Underground wiring within 5 feet of the pool edge shall meet the following burial depth requirements (CEC Table 680.10):
    Wiring Method Minimum Burial
    Rigid metal conduit 6 inches
    Intermediate metal conduit 6 inches
    Nonmetallic raceways listed for direct burial without concrete encasement 18 inches
    Nonmetallic raceways listed for direct burial with minimum 4 inch
    concrete coverage that extends 6 inch horizontally beyond raceway
    6 inches
    Other approved raceways 18 inches

Other Requirements
  • All new and remodeled spas shall have all suction outlets with an anti-entrapment cover meeting the current ASTM or ASME standards. (CBC 3109.4.4.8 and CRC Appendix V)
  • Glass within 5 feet horizontally from the spa edge and within 5 feet vertically of the walking surface shall be safety glazing. (CBC 2406.4 and CRC R308.4)
  • Covers are required for all new spas for water efficiency purposes (SMC 19.48.090).

The Spa Permit is NOT available on-line if:
  • The spa is not in the back yard.
  • The spa has separate equipment.
  • The spa is located under or within twelve feet of any overhead utility lines.
  • The spa has a roof/trellis over it.
If any of the above conditions apply, the permit shall be issued at the One-Stop Permit Center, City Hall, 456 W Olive Avenue. Specific process information is available at the Building Division web site.

  • A final inspection is required after all the work is completed.
Contact Building Division
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