designing ways to a better world

Housingami: Fold New Shapes for Home

Housingami: Fold New Shapes for Home

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.

Tiny House Pros Facebook Banner
Faces from the diverse tiny house scene grace a banner of one of many growing tiny house groups on Facebook.

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.

So Co Permit Resource Mgt Zoning Index
The Permit and Resource Management Department of Sonoma County Zoning Index

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.

Envision Goals

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.

Prepare Arsenal

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 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.
Project Wosho TeeSpring Shopping Page
Zack Jones of Project Wosho gives us one of the best examples out there of making captivating visuals to bring across a great idea, get people on board, and let them buy in and lend force to development, taking a small active part in the campaign for goodness.

Paprika Clark

I’m a lifelong student of language, art, and human nature: an ENFP Aries Fire Dragon Sex Positive Intersectional Feminist Independent. Join me as I feel my way through this. If you have any questions, send them my way - as far as I'm concerned, every day is an Ask Me Anything.

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