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Fresno Changes Zoning Code for Tiny Houses

Phil Hall
Jan 19, 2016
Small Home in Hands Pic/Credit: AlexRaths

While the tiny house sector has been viewed by many in the housing world as either an amusement or an annoyance, one California city is viewing these micro-residences with enough seriousness that it has updated its municipal guidelines to accommodate their presence.

According to a KQED report, the city of Fresno has approved new rules that pertain to tiny houses on wheels. Under a new municipal zoning code, homeowners can park a tiny house on wheels on existing residential property and identify it as a permanent second dwelling, either for use by the homeowner or as an income-generating rental unit.

“We are the first city in the nation to actually write into its development code authorization for ‘tiny homes,’” said Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearingen. “If there’s one thing that Californians should know about Fresno, it’s that we are full of surprises. And just when you’ve think you’ve pegged us to be one type of community, we’ll surprise you.”

Although exact data on the tiny house sector is unclear, this smaller-is-better approach to housing has been seen as a means of gaining homeownership without having to obtain a mortgage – homes are currently sold in the four- and five-digit range. And the Fresno zoning code changes is not the first time a local government in California has addressed the question of tiny houses on wheels – the county governments in Alameda, Contra Costa and Napa allow these structures if they are used for housing caregivers tending to individuals living in the primary residential property.

However, Fresno is home to California Tiny House, a homebuilder that recently placed one of its 270-square-foot residences in front of the Fresno City Hall to show off the benefits of this approach to housing. While it is unclear what role (if any) the company had in the zoning code changes, the city’s mayor insisted this is the start of new wave in housing.

“This is a hot new trend in the United States housing market,” said Mayor Swearingen. “It attracts people who are drawn to the prospect of a simpler lifestyle with less stuff, and more financial freedom.”

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