Tiny homes are more energy- and resource-efficient, and can be great outlets for DIY creativity. But in many places, they occupy a kind of legal limbo -- they are not quite a house, and not quite an RV. We've examined some of the barriers that people might encounter when it comes to living in a tiny house, and while there is still some ways to go, it does appear that things are slowly changing. For instance, cities like Fresno and Ojai have joined a growing list of places that have made tiny homes legal in recent years.
To give people a behind-the-scenes view into the process, American filmmakers Alexis Stephens and Christian Parsons of Tiny House Expedition recently debuted the first installment of a three-part docu-series called "Living Tiny Legally". They talk to tiny house owners, policy makers and other organizations about what it takes to legalize tiny homes. Watch the first part on YouTube:
The film delves into the nitty gritty details of the process of how some citizens are convincing municipalities to re-examine local zoning regulations. In the case of Rockledge, Florida, one resident got the conversation started with local officials, which led to discussions about "pocket neighbourhoods" that would allow tiny homes to be built on urban infill land that would have been otherwise difficult to develop. The city's focus was on creating longer-term communities, so a new ordinance that was hammered out included the requirement that tiny houses on wheels would need to add on a front and back porch, to create a cohesive community feel, and to discourage people from moving around too much.
The film presents a positive and encouraging overview of how some tiny home owners are actively engaging with city officials in order to gain wider acceptance for tiny houses, rather than merely staying under the radar. It's a good thing, as it will get tiny houses out of that niche it's in now and potentially scale it up, and make it an affordable and viable option, in the face of a growing housing crisis in many cities. As Stephens and Parsons explain:
From our in-depth discussions with policy makers from all over the country, we learned that there’s a major lack of understanding about tiny housing, the people who want to live in them and the potential benefits and concerns around this unconventional housing option. Education is a crucial first step in their process to consider supportive legislation for tiny housing. It’s important to note that many local governments, county and municipal level, don’t want to be the first to try something new. They are looking for precedent to be set elsewhere before they are willing to consider new zoning ordinances or waive certain building code requirements.
Well, that list of precedents is growing, as more people choose to live fuller lives with less stuff and debt, and possibly more close-knit communities, we may be fast approaching a tipping point of some kind. We're looking forward to seeing more of this educational series in the future, and you can find out more over at Tiny House Expedition.
UPDATE: See Part 2 of Living Tiny Legally here.