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City Council Unanimously Approves Allowing Moveable Tiny Houses In City

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The amendment will allow the city and its residents to increase housing supply in space already zoned for residential use, said Councilman Scott Sherman.

Speaker 1: 00:00 After years of opposition to the concept of tiny houses, the San Diego city council last week unanimously approved the use of tiny movable homes on private property. The houses, which range from 100 to 400 square feet are usually faster and cheaper to set up in backyards. Then granny flats and advocates see the small living units as part of the solution to San Diego's housing crisis. The estimated monthly rent for tiny house would be about $900. Joining me is San Diego city council member of Scott Sherman, and it Councilman Sherman. Welcome to the program. Thank you for having me and Ellen stone is here. She's a founding member of the San Diego chapter of the American tiny house association and Ellen, welcome to the show. Thanks for having me Councilman Sherman. When did you get interested in tiny homes as a housing option in San Diego?

Speaker 2: 00:54 Uh, we probably started in my office, uh, two, two and a half years ago. Once we, uh, saw a presentation at a homeless committee, uh, about tiny homes and their advantages. And then we started thinking, okay, not only we can use it in the homeless round, but it also will help in the, in the rental market realm to provide affordable housing for people. So we've been working on it for quite a while. Georgette Gomez, his office started the ball rolling, and then we picked up the ball and ran it through to the, to the finish line. To me, it just makes a whole bunch of sense, uh, on how we can at least start dealing with the affordability issue that we have here at the city without taxpayer subsidy and without all the other issues that go with it. This just was a win win all the way around.

Speaker 1: 01:38 And you went to an event that was put on by Ellen that showed you what tiny homes looked like and how and how they, they could be an option for San Diego. Yeah.

Speaker 2: 01:48 Is that right? Yeah. Yeah, that was one up in Del Mar. We went up there and looked at everything that they had to offer, talk to about the advantages and pluses of movable tiny homes. And we'd done a bunch of work at the cities with accessory dwelling units and making it easier to build those here at the city and to get those done and remove the, the regulations, but tiny movable, tiny homes kind of fell through the cracks. So we put together a bunch of regulation work with the industry and came up with a proposal that got an unanimous vote

Speaker 1: 02:16 Right now, if you could counsel them in, what are some of the differences between tiny houses and granny flats, granny flats, of course, which homeowners can already add to their price.

Speaker 2: 02:27 Right. Um, tiny homes, immovable, tiny homes are built on a chassis basically, and can be rolled into a backyard and hooked up and used as a, as a rental accommodation. Now we did a bunch of regulations that prevent you from, you know, getting your, your basic RV and putting it out there and calling it a tiny home. Most of the regulations required pitch roofs and certain construction standards that exclude the vast majority of any kind of RV type situation. These are true little homes that are made just to roll and put it in the backyard or side

Speaker 3: 03:00 Yard and get them set up to where you can rent them out to help with your mortgage. You can put the Kinlaw in there, or, or a caretaker who is on the property. You know, there's so many advantages to it.

Speaker 1: 03:11 Ellen, how do these tiny homes compare with granny flats when it comes to speed of being able to put them up and how much they cost?

Speaker 3: 03:20 Sure. So the American tiny house association is very happy with everything that's been happening in California around accessory dwelling units or branding plats. Um, but we were really excited by this other option that would allow you to move the tiny home in, on wheels. So it's getting built offsite while you can, uh, make the improvements to your land. And, uh, that can take, you know, one to three months, depending on where you're getting your tiny home built. And that cost can be between a couple thousand dollars, um, for the, um, improvements to your property, uh, to maybe 10,000 tops. And then the tiny homes themselves range between 65 to 85, if you want a lot of, uh, comfort, so you can go even higher. But, um, that's a big difference from the cost of, uh, the granny flats, which can be, um, upwards of a hundred to 150,000 and take anywhere from 12 to 18 months to complete. So there's definitely a place for them, um, the granny flats, but it's nice to have options for people who perhaps can't afford, you know, alone for that much, or have the time to put, put in right

Speaker 1: 04:46 Now, Ellen, I understand that you want to live in a tiny home. Can you give us an idea of what the space is like inside one of these very small houses?

Speaker 3: 04:57 Well, that's just the thing, it's a magical experience when you go into one, because you wouldn't think that something under 400 square feet would be doable, especially for a couple like my husband and myself, but when you walk in the design is most of them are designed so effectively that the space can be utilized for multipurposes and you can have either a bed on the same level. If someone, you know, has mobility issues, or you can have a loft, which I'm very excited about, that can be up high and you have additional space. So, you know, there's no one size fits all tiny house or moveable tiny house. And I think that's part of what I love about them is that you can, you can create them to the, to the needs and the interests of the person who wants to live there. And ours will have lots of beautiful windows and, you know, a space for my little dog, you know, but

Speaker 1: 05:58 Besides Ellen Councilman Sherman, who do you think tiny homes?

Speaker 2: 06:02 Oh, you know, if I look back when I was fresh out of high school and starting in college, you know, and I was looking for a place to rent, you know, I couldn't afford a place of my own to rent back in those days, but so I had to rent a room from somebody and share it with, with roommates and those types of things, you know, those types of people would be more than comfortable in a tiny home that they could afford. You, you look at caregivers that could be in here. You look at people who are very low income, who would actually have a place that they could afford and put their them and their families there. If the house that is the right size. So I think it appeals to a whole bunch of different people, especially those who are just getting into the market for housing. It's a perfect solution.

Speaker 3: 06:45 Yeah. It's the new, um, entry-level housing market.

Speaker 1: 06:49 Why do you want to live in a house? That's so small. Ellen, what are the advantages?

Speaker 3: 06:54 Is that such a great question? You know, it's one of the things that pops up in people's minds, right, right off the bat, when they hear about people's desire to live in a tiny home, there's a lot of different reasons. One of the things is of course the affordability. The other thing is that, um, it really helps you be thoughtful and mindful about the things that you have in your life. You know, when you have a limited space, maybe you don't do as much shopping. Um, however, I have seen some tiny houses that have hidden spaces for shoe lovers. Um, there are some women that just cannot give up their shoe collections and that's fine. Um, but that's one of the things I'm really drawn to. And I think the other part is that concept of really being able to make a house work for me in a way that is affordable. Um, and not as time consuming as doing a remodel for a house, there are certain things that I really like and would love to have in my home. And, um, those things would be really expensive to remodel, uh, in a regular sized house. And they're not, they're not as expensive. They're pretty easy to do if you're building a tiny home.

Speaker 1: 08:06 Well, I've been speaking with San Diego city council member, Scott Sherman and Ellen stone, founding member of San Diego chapter of the American tiny house association. I want to thank you both so much for speaking with us. Thanks for having me. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 2: 08:26 [inaudible].

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.