Ian: Good solution for Vancouver. Instead of just putting community gardens on vacant lots, let’s put some actual communities there.
As Austin’s housing prices continue to climb, developers are tapping into the trend of building tiny homes. ….
Kasita was started in 2015 by Jeff Wilson, an Austin college professor who gained notoriety when he spent a year living in a dumpster. Wilson wanted to challenge himself to live small while furthering the conversation on sustainable living.
At a model home in the Community First! Village in East Austin, the kitchen and bathroom are built on a platform above the living room. A built-in sofa can be rolled out from under the kitchen floor to become a queen-size bed.
In general, the city considers anything between 100 and 400 square feet to be a tiny home. Those homes can be placed on any parcel of land zoned for residential use, Rusthoven says.
On a single-family lot, tiny homes have to meet many of the same standards as larger houses, things like minimum lot size and the number of units allowed on the property. Multiple tiny homes can be placed on land that’s zoned for a multifamily residence, and any tiny home that’s placed on a foundation has to meet the standards of the International Residential Code.
In 2014, the Austin City Council asked staff to explore the rules governing tiny homes to find ways to make them easier to build. That effort didn’t lead to changes for tiny homes in the zoning code, but it did identify one specific constraint.
“If they are on wheels and they have a license plate attached to them, then they’re considered to be a vehicle and not considered to be a home,” Rusthoven says.
Here’s the view from Kieryn Matthews – (tiny) homeless in Vancouver:
So what exactly is a tiny home and why aren’t they allowed in Vancouver? A tiny home is typically less than 400 sq./ft on wheels and has all amenities to live in permanently. They are completely customizable and can be built for as little as $10,000 in comparison to a minimum of $400,000 for a new apartment.
The problem surrounding tiny homes in Vancouver is there are no laws or regulations specific to building and living in them. City bylaws pertaining to laneway homes and recreational vehicles are used to prohibit people from living in them. Bylaws state a house must be a minimum of 398 sq./ft, with a few zoning exceptions downtown for social housing. The other problem is a house on wheels is considered an RV or trailer which you are not allowed to park and live in permanently. …
The B.C. Tiny House Collective is an organization working on engagement, research and pilot projects surrounding the tiny house movement and they have some great resources. Tiny homes are not for everyone and on their own are not going to solve Vancouver’s housing crisis but we need to talk about incorporating them into our city legally
Ian: I certainly don’t think tiny is the answer to affordable, there are a whole host of equity issues surrounding any assumptions that they work for more than a small subset of the population.
But… We are so far from equitable now that I think opposing the tiny house is making the perfect the enemy of the good. In a greater sense they are the wrong answer to many problems, but in an immediate sense they are a very real answer to a very real problem.
There are so many empty lots receiving tax credit for planting gardens, I fail to see how planting a temporary garden of tiny houses is in any way a bad thing on these same lots.
I would love to see a day when tinyhouse aren’t needed as an answer to Vancouver’s issues of affordability. Until that day, I think they should be allowed here also.