Tiny homes are all the rage these days, with at least four network TV shows and countless websites promoting them. Tiny homes are a great option for people who want to reduce their housing costs or simplify their lifestyle. They also offer opportunities for communities, like ours, that have a shortage of affordable housing.
Despite their attractiveness and promise, the sad truth is that these tiny homes on wheels are generally outlawed in California. Local zoning codes largely prohibit parking a tiny home on your own lot or behind someone’s home. The only option tiny-home owners might have is to place their home in RV parks. However, this is neither a permanent nor cost-effective solution due to the shortage of RV spaces, competition with tourists, and limits on stays.
One solution is for cities and counties to allow tiny homes to be used as secondary dwelling units or “granny flats.” The city of Fresno recently did this. Fresno now allows homeowners to place one tiny-home in their yards permanently. Homeowners may either live in the tiny homes or rent them out. San Luis Obispo County and its cities should follow Fresno’s lead and legalize tiny homes as secondary units.
Another solution is to allow tiny home villages. These villages are essentially RV parks, but there should be the option for the tiny-home owners to also own their lots. A local nonprofit has been trying for years to create a tiny-home village for people who are homeless. With our large homeless population, the county and cities should embrace Hope’s Village and actively support its efforts. They should also support tiny-home villages for people who are not homeless.
-- Jerry Rioux� - executive director, SLO County Housing Trust Fund