Affordable housing is a well-documented problem on these fair isles we call home. Time and time again we have asked the question, what is the solution?
The San Juan County Building Advisory Council, who wants to make tiny houses legal for long-term dwelling in the county, has a few ideas, out of their larger proposal, that could fast-track affordable housing.
They want to lift the guest house limitation in rural zones, giving landowners the ability to have a tiny home on existing developed land, and allow structures to be “self-contained.”
We agree that these are reasonable requests, although they might not will not fix the housing crisis as buying land is expensive, as is installing or connecting to water systems on an island. These requests, however, will give people more flexibility when it comes to alternative living.
Across the country, states with tiny home communities have successfully created affordable housing by having 10 or more dwellings on one piece of property. Due to the fact that developing land is expensive, we would love the county to delve deeper into the possibility of purchasing and creating usable land for a tiny home community. Although we support the idea of giving landowners an option for a second structure, we think two structures on one property is not enough.
The council needs detailed plans on how tiny homes can create affordable housing in the county before they can make a decision. Common sense also dictates that smaller homes have a high potential to be affordable especially if they can be self-contained and not require water hook ups. If property owners could build tiny houses on existing developed land it would be an obvious budget saver. We don’t see the downside of loosening the restrictions on tiny homes.
Read more about tiny house on page 1 of this edition.
We want to give power to the people to decide what is affordable. Studies should be performed before any of these changes are actually made, to see their effects on the environment and neighborhoods.
In the meantime, let’s try to make tiny home communities a reality.