Tiny House Village Update!
My plans for a village had to be put on hold for a couple years due to unforeseen personal circumstances. They'd still be on the back burner if not for my new developer-friend, Vince Rizzo . Vince is, apparently, the answer to my prayers for someone who'll take care of zoning, permitting and all the other developer-stuff I'd rather not do.
New site, new plan
I've come up with a new site plan for the community. Unlike my previous designs, this one is designed specifically for an existing piece of land. Nothing's set in stone yet, but it's encouraging that this property has recently come up for sale and that local officials love the idea of a tiny house village in Sonoma County. That it's the same lot I identified seven years ago as the perfect location for what I have in mind, is also encouraging. The Universe conspires.
Part of my intention with the village is to provide myself and my two little boys with a nice place to live that doesn't cost a fortune. I was, at one point, using the term "co-housing for the antisocial" to describe my vision for the complex, but some folks didn't get it. Company and solitude are most appreciated when they're not forced on us—my village design provides ample room for both. I want to live where I can disappear into my little house for days while always knowing that my neighbors are near and that they've got my back. My boys and I have been needing a supportive community, like this one, for a long time. Judging by the positive response to the idea of a tiny house village, it seems we're not alone.
A contagious model of efficiency
For the Tiny House Village idea to spread, it will have to demonstrate how affordable, sustainable and livable a neighborhood can be. Yes, I just used two adjectives that I generally try to avoid when describing what I do. Please know that when I say "affordable" I'm not talking about unnecessarily wide streets lined with artificially subsidized houses—all clad in the same beige T-1-11 siding (I like to call beige the color of shame). When I say "sustainable" I don't mean what the word and it's correlate "green" have come to mean (i.e. almost nothing) when used to market pretty much everything. Before "green" and "sustainable" became adjectives for something and nothing in particular, they were just shorthand for "efficient". Efficiency doesn't pose affordability and quality as opposites. They're parts of the same equation.
This community will have to be more than just a "tiny house village" too. The idea of designing a "tiny house village" doesn't excite me any more than the idea of designing a "tiny house" does. What excites me is designing a vital place where everything's there for a reason and the relationship between these essential parts to each other, and their whole, makes perfect sense. Reducing our collective idea of home (already one of the most meaningful and useful constructs we've got) down until essential meaning and utility are all that's left—THAT'S my idea of a good time.
A Much needed alternative in a pricey area
The lot we've chosen is near Santa Rosa, California. This part of the world is as expensive as it is beautiful, so it's an ideal spot for a bunch of little houses. There's a dire need for truly affordable homes in this, and many other, pricey areas. Smaller, more efficient houses of quality fit the bill.
About a third of the 13 acre property will be occupied by a high-density core comprised of 60 houses, a 2,300 square foot common house, a community workshop, and more than 2,000 linear feet of gently winding walkways to connect it all. The houses will range from about 100 to 400 s.f.. Each will have its own storage shed and will sit on its own 25' x 50' (minimum) parcel. A great room with a big fireplace will occupy most of the common house. A shared kitchen and bathroom and 12 small guest rooms will occupy the rest. Covered parking for more than 64 bikes and one and a half open-air parking spots per house are integral to the design. A portion of the remaining land will, most likely, be used for lower-density housing. The seven or eight acres beyond that are likely to stay as is.
The location feels rural and overlooks one of the state's most biodiverse wildlife habitats, but it's only a 4-minute-walk from a grocery store, a coffee shop and a park. The village has been designed as urban infill so residents won't have to do much driving.
I can't make any promises, but I'm still hoping that, in spite of all my unexpected delays, we can still break ground before year's end.