The problem with the tiny house movement has always been- where do you put them? Because for most people, living is more than just a roof over your head, however small, but it’s important to be part of a community. If you are going to live in such a small space, it’s nice to have some shared resources, like a meeting room or a laundry. Everybody in the industry knows this; tiny home pioneer Jay Shafer calls it ” a contagious model for responsible, affordable, desirable housing.” But zoning codes across America prohibit them, concerned about property values and identifying them with trailer parks.
Now it appears that it is finally happening. Rod Stambaugh, founder and president of Sprout Tiny Homes, has a plan described in Outside Magazine:
…to build the world’s first tiny-home subdivision and revolutionize the rural economy in the process. “Tiny homes are the only solution that can save some of these declining rural communities or provide quality affordable housing in…the mountain communities that are booming.”
He convinced the town of Waldenburg, Colorado to remove their zoning code restrictions on houses less than 600 square feet to permit tiny homes. But where most tiny homes are built on chassis with wheels so that they can be legally classed as trailers, these will be on real foundations and connected to municipal services.
According to the Denver Post, the town of Walsenburg started out as a city of miners’ cottages, so it is full of tiny lots already. That’s why the Mayor changed the zoning for the whole community, not just the new tiny home subdivision. The town was hit hard when the mines closed down and the historic core is full of empty storefronts, all in need of revitalization and new ideas.
He decided that more homeowners paying property taxes and utility bills can only be a good thing for his community. “Long as they’re supporting the city, I have no problem with that,” [Mayor] Eccher said.
Sprout is also working on a much larger community in Salida, Colorado with 200 tiny homes, storage units and a restaurant overlooking the river. I must say that the site plan looks dreadfully trailer park-like with everyone lined up in rows, and streets lined with parking. This is such a missed opportunity to do something far more creative. But at least it appears to be finally happening. And there might even be a place to work; they are planning a marijuana greenhouse facility, a cannabis campus, just down the road in Walsenburg.