Towards a better tinyhouse

Inventing to freedom?

Santa Cruz’s Accessory dwelling unit “promotion” program

with one comment

There are many tinyhouse-like things that have been around for a long time. There may be many other cities doing this sort of thing (seattle cottage housing and vancouver laneway housing are 2 I just happen to know).

An accessory dwelling unit in this case is roughly 500 sq ft. of habitable space, they can be detached from the main house, in which case it is essentially a stationary tinyhouse, but the term also covers attached dwellings.

The program’s main site. The program’s manual for people considering building one on their lot. Of course you have to remember it is probably written by a committee, so while some parts just give you a glimpse into the deeply biased half formed pseudo-thought processes some bureaucrats use to decide on the rules to impose on the rest of us, other parts look like practical information. Including about zoning and permitting and for those of us that are interested in seeing exactly what it *would* take make the zoning bureaucrats happy in a city, and a sympathetic one too.

Promotion in scare quotes because this is apparently these people’s idea of promoting something, they still include absurd rules like the owner of the property has to live in the main house, 5000 sq ft minimum lot size etc. Of 18,000 single family lots in the city 1,800 are “eligible” to have an ADU. As of 2005 they were managing to get a whopping 45 units built per year. Hoo boy, we’re really rollin’ now, that’ll sure get them housing markets straightened out in no time.

And is it any surprise? Actually it’s surprisingly many to me. These people and their regulations have jacked up the price of these things to what looks like roughly $100,000 judging from the figures in that doc, and even at roughly $1033 a month for a 1 bdrm apt and 6% mortgage that’s going to take forever before seeing a return on investment. And you have a stranger living in your backyard all the while.

If you’d get rid of the nonsense rules and the renter can just bring their own $20k house and feel free to leave anytime they choose with very little effort, things are so much better for everyone.

You can totally do the sensible things they mention, like talking to the neighbors, ensuring their sun rights and views are respected, all that stuff. It’s inexpensive and makes a good deal of sense. Requiring that the owner reside on the property, or that it be a hard and fast 5000 sq ft. minimum does not.

There is an order of magnitude of difference in the cost/benefit ratio of these rules, and some of them are just plain nonsense. There are good rules, and there are counterproductive rules that should be done away with. You dig?

If producing affordable rental housing was their homework assignment, they would get an F for effort and overall G for ghastly. And that’s when the government *wants* (purportedly, these people say all sorts of things) to promote this sort of thing.

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Written by gregor

May 6, 2011 at 17:32

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. test

    ;ajkshd

    May 7, 2011 at 22:46


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