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Creative and Sustainable Solutions to the Housing Crisis

Tiny House Tour and Panel on Housing
Sunday, December 27th 12-3pm
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Redwood City
2124 Brewster Ave. Redwood City, CA.

Tiny House Tour: 12:00 – 1:00
Presentations & Panel:  1:00 – 3:00

Betsy Morris – (http://www.betsymorris.com)
Len Marsh – (http://www.lenmarsh.com)
Aaron Castle & Candace Anderson – (http://www.canander.com)
Diana Reddy – Redwood City Residents for Renter Protections

 

Len Marsh of Belmont has a background in real-estate investing, and commercial development. These days Len is thinking small and has built two Tiny Houses from Recycled Shipping Containers and advocates for their use as suburban accessory structures.

Betsy Morris of Berkeley is Co-founder of Planning for Sustainable Communities, helping intentional communities draft their agreements and operational guidelines. Betsy holds a Ph.D in City & Regional Planning from U.C.Berkeley and offers her perspective having served MTC/ABAG and the Bay Area Equity Collaborative in planning for climate change.

Diana Reddy of Redwood City Residents for Renter Protections serves as a Community Builder for Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo.  Diana will speak to the current housing crisis on the Peninsula and offer measures that can be taken to address the growing housing insecurity.

Candace Anderson and Aaron Castle have lived in their self-built tiny house on wheels for two years and blog about their experiences.

Prepared questions for any of the guests can be mailed to aaron@canander.com

quixote_village_0            lenmarsh2                driveway2

 

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Where do you park a Tiny House?

I just posted this to nextdoor.com . Do you think it will get flagged as inappropriate?

Candace and I have lived in our Self-Built Tiny House on Wheels here in Friendly Acres for the Past Two Years, and I was born and raised in Redwood City. Our house is currently situated in the backyard of our dear friend who passed away earlier this Summer. We will have to move the Tiny House at the end of the year, and are looking for a location to live in it for the next 1-2 years starting as early as January.

Our tiny house is very energy efficient to be sure, but not off grid, so we would need access to a hose spigot and sewer clean-out or bathroom, and electricity for any location where we would use the house as a dwelling for longer than a week.

If used as for living quarters, we can offer a modest cash rent, and landscaping, gardening, domestic, domestic care, or handyman services and are looking for a community minded individual, family, or co-housing group who would benefit from such an arrangement.

While technically not a legal dwelling Redwood City proper, the only restriction I can find in SM County municipal codes on dwelling in an RV in unincorporated county is that the occupant have the permission of the landowner. We are currently (illegally) within Redwood City. Prior to moving our house to it’s current (illegal) location we discussed these matters with the neighbors and felt comfortable enough to risk living in such a tentative way because of the openness and goodwill of our immediate surrounding neighbors. This is a complaint based system of enforcement, in the two years that we have been in redwood city, we have found that Friendly Acres has indeed been quite friendly, and we offer our current neighbors as references to our quiet and simple lifestyle. Sometimes I think people are only sad to see us go because we only have one car.

We would like to remain in Redwood City, but in the likely event that we are unable to find a suitable location to use our home as a dwelling, there are no restrictions on storing our trailer on a paved driveway, or in a side or backyard, so we are also looking for a potential short term storage solution to our problem.

If you are curious about this at all, please reach out here, or at aaron@canander.com or give me a call at 650 898 4058

The “Tiny House Movement” is a diffuse network of individuals whose interests in the subject range from economic, ecological, social, spiritual, and aesthetic… and if you are interested in Tiny Houses for any of these reasons feel free to reach out to because I can likely connect you with resources relevant to your personal sensibilities. We maintain a personal blog about the Tiny House at www.canander.com

driveway2

 

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Tiny Houses Help Homeless in Nashville.

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Today five people who are currently experiencing homelessness in Nashville, Tennessee will move into tiny shelters built upon trailers. About the size of a garden shed, each structure has a fold down bed, a microwave, a tiny gas stove, and a tiny heater/AC in the window. This project was spearheaded by Rev. Jeff Obafemi Carr who stayed in a model home for sixty days while fund-raising to make a larger village a reality. At the time of this writing, Jeff’s gofundme.com page has raised over $55,000 with 650 individual contributions for this effort. Similar projects are popping up all across the country organized by a diffuse group of individuals concerned about affordable and environmentally sustainable housing. More details can be found by visiting Jeff’s gofundme page and the links available there. http://www.gofundme.com/HomelessVillage

 

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Glad a Tiny House

Reading all the articles lately about bay area families displaced by apartment fires, rent increases, and properties transitioning ownership makes me feel very fortunate that My Fiancé, Candace, and I decided to build our own Tiny House when we did.

A Tiny House, while technically a travel trailer complete with kitchen and bath, is designed less for camping, and more for semi-permanent occupancy. Tiny Houses can provide an ownership option for people who don’t want to make a long term commitment to a region, as well as an opportunity to develop sustainable, energy efficient housing. A Tiny House is also a very affordable way of develop communities with a density of 24 to 32 persons per acre, and this density could be increased by organizing smaller bedroom units around larger shared kitchen and sanitation facilities. Density could be comparable to apartment hi-rises and even SRO’s using standardized modular units designed to stack. Due to the portability and compact size of the Tiny House, areas where future development is threatened by sea level rise could serve as temporary lots, or they could be towed right into the back yard of your typical suburban home as an “Instant In-Law Unit.”

Affordable Housing is defined as being 30% of an individuals total income. A minimum wage worker on the peninsula would have to work Roughly 110 hours a week to earn just under $4,000 (before taxes) and that workers’ share of a rent for a two bedroom apartment would be $1300. This presumes that you are lucky enough to find a two bedroom apartment for $2600. A room in shared housing for $700 monthly would still require 55 hours a week, with not much left over to put aside for savings or for an emergency fund, let alone weather an unexpected financial blow. A Tiny House truly is an affordable option, but until there are clear codes defining them, existing building codes are modified to allow for their use, or a process is established for securing variances or camping permits, Life in a Tiny House is simply too good to be legal.

 

Aaron Castle
Aaron Castle blogs about his experience building, and occupying a tiny house at canander.com and can be reached at aaron@canander.com

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