On October 6 New York Times journalist Lisa Prevost wrote an article posing the question: Where Can You Park A Tiny Home? Amongst those in the modern tiny house movement, it is known as “the million dollar question.” There seems to be no definite answer. In the Portland, OR area you can park one in a community setting that shares a land parcel with a certified domicile. In Southwest Texas you can park one legally (as there are very low populations in SW Texas) and in towns like Spur, you are welcomed with open arms. In Asheville, NC you can’t park a tiny house on wheels but you can legally build an ADU (accessory dwelling unit) so long as it is behind a more traditional house situated on a tax assessed parcel. Ms. Prevost acknowledges this conundrum almost immediately after introducing tiny houser Darryl Bray:
…one of the biggest challenges of tiny-house living: finding a place to park. HGTV programs like “Tiny House, Big Living,” which have helped popularize the movement, often gloss over this not-so-tiny detail.
The issue seems to be most prevalent in densely populated areas such as the great New York area where the New York Times is based. The issue boils down to zoning ordinances. And herein begins the great misunderstanding of it all.
WHAT IS ZONING?
Modern-day zoning law came into existence in the late 18th century in Germany as a way to distinguish where people would live and where people would work. Zoning is the process of dividing land in a municipality into zones (e.g. residential, industrial) in which certain land uses are permitted or prohibited. The type of zone determines whether planning permission for a given development is granted and may specify a variety of outright and conditional uses of said land. It may also indicate the size and dimensions of land area as well as the form and scale of buildings. The guidelines are set in order to give direction to urban growth and development.
The problem with historical zoning and modern-day America is that in the beginning of the 20th century had not yet seen a real population explosion, corrupt banking establishments, exploited real estate markets, etc. Sub-prime mortgages didn’t exist, suburbs were yet to be created, and smaller spaces with more occupants were the norm. In today’s world though we have families literally going broke trying to afford a home. We have banks foreclosing on bad mortgages. The American landscape in some areas is dotted with empty homes and forgotten spaces. The homeless population is greater than ever and the historic zoning laws seem antiquated at best and archaic, to be sure! The tide is changing though and people are demanding a new and more scalable real estate marketplace where tiny houses (on wheels and on foundations) are accepted as legitimate housing options. Notes Prevost, “But with the tiny-living craze having lasted well past the fad stage, the pressure is growing for municipalities to embrace tiny houses as legal residences. And more tiny-house building companies are popping up, anticipating just such a shift.”
Noted tiny house advocate and policy influencer Andrew Morrison points out:
As a result, “easily upwards of 90 percent of tiny-house owners are living illegally, when it comes to zoning. A very small minority live in R.V. parks, though they usually have a limit on how long you can stay,” he said. “A friend or family’s backyard, or land in the country, is much more common.”
Try It Tiny exists for just these reasons. We connect people to give them the opportunity to rent a tiny house or share their land with tiny house enthusiasts nationwide. WE broker the possibility of renting a tiny house or parking your tiny house on hosts’ properties including sites in the aforementioned New York area. (Redwood, Catskill, Fly Creek, and more.) Whether it’s for a short or long-term stay, Try It Tiny aims to aggregate as many options as possible.
Even though Mr. Morrison and others like him hope the modern tiny house movement will gain more political ground in coming years now that the IRC (International Code Council) has approved a model code for tiny houses for inclusion in its Code, finding a place to live long-term in a tiny house requires boldness, discreteness, creativity, and flexibility. But with sites and services like Try It Tiny offers, the search is becoming much easier.
To view our available rentals (both property and tiny houses) visit our Property Search page and give it a try before you buy!