In the tiny house community there are so many flavors it seems we’re all utterly unique – an ice cream parlour with 300,000 choices. But we obviously share at least one mutual understanding; housing solutions as commonly practiced now are not working for us. Or much of anyone. In our circles much has been made of those few who quietly sidestep legal and monetary restraints with homes that are mobile, recycled, off-grid, or hidden away. We make use of deliberate sizing and pedantic distinctions; some bending the existing rules to JUST fit and many just keeping under the radar.
While this approach has its victories, most mainstream folks want to live simply in the public view, taking full responsibility and claiming full rights as tax paying, law abiding citizens. For example, it looks like the sweetest spot for the greatest number of people leaning toward small homes is in the modest cottage range – between 300 and 800 square feet. We’ve all heard how most residential zoning includes a minimum square footage for new homes.
We the people of the United States have the right to pursue happiness. Yet crushing debt prevents college grads from buying homes, Boomers are reaching retirement age, lifespans are increasing, and economic recovery is still reserved for those in the top 20% of the income scale [EPI study]. How will we assert our rights to freely create and inhabit homes to meet these realities?
I present this simple (HA!) outline of a plan for housing freedom activists who feel ready to press for change, with intentions to add more visuals and details as I’m able. Enjoy, and if you like it, please steal, share, adapt, and use it in any way you see fit. If you have any specific feedback, please share it in the comments.
Plan Angle of Approach
- look up local zoning database to search out the ‘easiest’ zones
- residential; multi family, medium density, in-fill, lane housing, etc.
- mixed use; residential/commercial, live/work, residential/agricultural, diverse agricultural, etc.
- recreational; recreational park, other?
- look up zoning map & cross reference ‘easy’ zones with RE values to narrow search & budget range
- read your general plan and look up recent housing ordinances
- search out public goals aligned with your intentions;
- walkable, mixed use, affordable, accessible, transitional, age in place, revitalizing, etc.
- select a property, capture screenshots of listings and satellite maps
- make visuals, show your idea; plot maps from real properties, 3D, animation, physical models, inspiring example photos, etc.
- write up a brief business plan;
- summary (write last); mission (express alignment with public goals), vision, strategy, start up brief
- marketing mix; ‘product’ details, ‘price’, ‘place’ you’ll market it, plan for its ‘promotion’
position; strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats
audience; context, biographics, demographics, needs
branding; name, look, feel, colors, mood, voice, slogan, logo, icon
- financials; rough budget/schedule; development costs, projections, payback
- funding; investor search, crowd funding, shared ownership, public subsidies, angels, etc.
- make marketing collateral;
- cards, letterhead, postcards (consider posters, t-shirts, etc. through on demand print service)
- simple web site, YouTube channel, blog and/or SM network (use branding throughout)
- create a short inspirational presentation video;
- make splash page on site
- upload to YouTube channel as an intro
- post & promote to social media
- study and prepare strategy
- From NIMBY to YIMBY: Strategies and techniques to gather community support for affordable housing developments br>by the California Department of Housing and Community Development
- more excellent CDHCD resources:
- HCD Housing Resource Center
- Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing
Charge the Line
- recruit the local planning and/or zoning department with your rough overall plan
- go in with plan and visuals, discuss benefits to the community, possibilities, and obstacles – if they:
- green light your planned project; gather funds and execute
- require doable changes; adjust and execute
- require deal breaking changes; request exception – if they:
approve exception; execute
deny exception; lobby to change or make new ordinances to allow project
- recruit the public at community meetings, town halls, farmer’s markets – wherever else your village gathers
- crucial; zoning changes/exceptions requires public support or at LEAST little to no public objection
- always be hustling the idea face to face (“likes” online are great, but this is primarily about local people);
- never be without a few t-shirts with killer project graphics and Moo cards with different pics
- memorize a short sweet hooky elevator pitch, practice on everyone who checks out your shirt
- give everyone who listens 2 Moo cards – connector types get 5 cards + a shirt for pics/likes, etc.