Should Tiny Homes Be Allowed In Humboldt County, Ca.?

Should Tiny Homes Be Allowed In Humboldt County, Ca.?

Seeking Public Comments To Help County Decide

Written By Janet Thome

Humboldt County, California- Should tiny homes be allowed? Where tiny houses will be allowed in the future depends on how the county  defines tiny houses  and what codes and standards apply to their construction. The public is invited to help the County figure out if, when and where they should be allowed by contacting Mary Milner, the planner of Humboldt County.

California Definition

There is currently no official definition of a Tiny House in California. However, in practice, it is generally understood that a Tiny House is a permanent dwelling or bedroom less than 400 square feet in size, either built on a tow able chassis (Moveable Tiny House) or attached to a foundation.

Proposed Definition

The definition of the Tiny House dictates which building code or standards apply to its construction. Humboldt County proposes a definition that includes the following characteristics:

Classification as a permanent, year-round dwelling,

On wheels or on a foundation

.A few jurisdictions around the state have adopted local ordinances that permit Tiny Homes on Wheels (also known as Moveable Tiny Houses) as Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). These are These are Fresno, Ojai, Placer County, San Luis Obispo  and Los Angeles (proposed, not yet approved).

Why Promote Tiny Houses?

When the International Code Commission (ICC )made changes to its residential code (IRC) in 2018 to facilitate Tiny House construction, its rule making document cited these reasons:

Average US home size is increasing, while family decreasing;

Tiny Houses use a fraction of the wood and wood products of a conventional home

Lifetime conditioning costs can be as low as 7% of conventionally sized homes;

Increased housing cost makes home ownership unfeasible for many;

Tiny Houses can add to affordable  owned and rental housing stock

Tiny House Fact Sheet

Call  Mary Milner, Planner at 707-268-3772

Eureka Is Encouraging Homeowners To Build ADUs In Their Backyards

One of the city’s main priorities is encouraging homeowners to build mother-in-law units in their backyards and to offer perks to developers who construct affordable-by-design units.

There are also 22 churches in the city, most of which are zoned in single-family residential zones and which also have large parking lots, Holmlund said. A couple of parking spaces in those lots can also be used for tiny houses.

“We encourage all the churches in town to do this,” Holmlund said. “Maybe they have the resources to find someone that is very low-income or homeless, have them live in that unit, work with them, coach them into reintegrating into society and then we have 22 more housing units just like that.”

Article Source Time Standard

2019 Housing Element

Welcome to Humboldt County’s Housing Element Update page. It is intended to inform people, and invite community input about current and future housing in the unincorporated parts of the county.

Housing Element Progress – Latest Version

The files below represent the version of the Housing Element to be presented at the August 20, 2019 Board of Supervisors hearing. It includes public input, revisions requested by the Planning Commission, by Dept. of Housing and Community Development (HCD), and by Legal Services of Northern California. The last file is a summary of the revisions.

Topics Related To Housing
New allowances for ADUs
New allowances for Tiny Houses
How Can You Participate?

You are invited to help us update the Housing Element in several ways:

Sign up for notifications
Attend workshop(s)
Take our surveys
Submit written comments
Attend Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors hearings

You can sign up for email or text notifications for the Housing Element update and other topics on the County’s website at: Notify Me

Select “General Plan Implementation” for Housing Element workshops, meetings, and notices.


As work on the Element progresses, interactive surveys and tools for public comment on specific topics will be incorporated into this and other websites. To receive notifications as surveys become available, sign up at Notify Me. Select “General Plan Implementation”.

Written Comments

Please send written communications to:

All comments will be part of public record.

Contact Person for Housing Element

2019 Housing Element

Michelle Nielsen, email:

With Housing Element Passed, Staff Pushes Forward on Tiny Houses  August 29th, 2019

The nonprofit Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives, which has long lobbied for creative solutions to the county’s housing crisis, applauded the board’s vote to pass a plan that, in addition to tiny homes, also includes provisions for a sanctuary parking program and campground.

Article Source NCJ

Bold New Approaches

But there are also some “bold new approaches,” according to the county’s staff report. “For example,” it states, “the amendments propose to dramatically expand allowances for accessory dwelling units (formally known as second units), and to create new allowances for tiny homes, moveable tiny houses, and tiny house villages.”

This comes as welcome news to many of the county’s most prominent activists on homelessness issues. Nezzie Wade, board president of the group Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives (AHHA), said she’s very happy the county has included tiny houses in its plan.

Article Source Lost Coast Outpost

Related: Shit Talking: Humboldt County Looks at Adjusting Compost Toilet Rules Amidst Bureaucratic Tangle

A handful of rural resident stakeholders see composting toilets as the most environmentally responsible method for disposing of human waste in Humboldt County. When residents live away from communities with sewage services, wastewater is generally treated with septic systems under California Plumbing Code, but a group of rural residents are saying septic systems needlessly waste water and energy. These stakeholders are encouraging the County to not merely allow water-less and composting toilet systems but to see them as the preferred method of waste treatment in low density areas such as Southern Humboldt.

Article Source Redheaded Blackbelt

Related: Water less Toilet Systems Ordinance Passed

Photo Credit: American Tiny House

Washington State Tiny Home News

Washington State Tiny Home News

City staff, fire chief ask council to abandon allowing RVs as full-time homes on Bainbridge Sept. 10th, 2019

The Bainbridge city council is considering a change in its development rules that would allow recreational vehicles, or RVs, to be used as permanent, year-round homes.But while the move is meant to help alleviate the affordable housing crunch on the island, other public officials are raising safety concerns about the proposal, and warn it won’t be a quick fix to the lack of lower-cost housing on the island.

Article Source Bainbridge Island Review

Tiny home village coming to Port Orchard Sept. 10th, 2019

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. — Kitsap County leaders are hoping a tiny home village in Port Orchard will lead to some big changes when it comes to homelessness in the area.

We’ve told you about tiny home communities popping up across western Washington before, and now there plans in the works to bring one to Port Orchard.

Article Source 13 FOX TV

City of Seattle extends leases for several ‘tiny house’ villages Sept 8th, 2019

The City of Seattle has announced an extension of permits for several ‘tiny house’ villages to operate on city property.

Tiny house villages were created as part of the city’s efforts to create enhanced shelters for homeless populations. Tiny houses replace tents and provide insulated, wooden sleeping structures. These villages have full-time case managers, running water and expanded kitchens.

Article Source K5News

Elizabeth Campbell fighting legislation to allow more tiny house villages around Seattle Sept 5th, 2019

Elizabeth Campbell is challenging a suite of land-use code amendments that would ease restrictions on tiny house villages and allow for their construction citywide.

The Magnolia resident is challenging the adequacy of a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) Determination of Non-Significance, arguing that the city failed to properly assess the impacts of allowing tiny house villages — or transitional encampments — in all parts of the city.

Article Source Queen Anne And Magnolia News

Public Comment Stage: Appendix Q Washington State August 30th, 2019

On July 31st, 2019 the Washington State Building Code Council had a TAG meeting that was open to the public. The subject for discussion was IRC Appendix Q, Tiny Houses Sleeping Lofts. The building code council presented an amended version of Appendix Q. It was announced in the meeting that the public would be allowed to comment both in person and through written testimonies.

Senate House Bill ESSB 5383 mandated that the building code council adopt building codes specific for tiny homes by Dec 31st, 2019.

Article Source Tiny Home Industry Association

Tiny Homes Could Help Solve Region’s Ever-Growing Need for Affordable Housing August 30th, 2019

Sen. Hans Zeiger, R-Puyallup, led the charge in passing Senate Bill 5383, Barkis said, which recently went into effect. 

The bill allows cities and counties to permit tiny house villages and recognizes the use of tiny houses as a primary residence within mobile home communities. 

Article Source Nisqually News

Longview mobile home co-op a model for saving low-income housing August 7th, 2019

The co-op bought the park in February for $1.2 million, financed by loans from the Washington Community Reinvestment Association and Washington State Housing Finance Commission. ROC Northwest searches for manufactured housing parks up for sale and works with residents to create a co-op and secure financing, said Miles Nowlin, cooperative development specialist.

Article Source The Columbian 

Land-use code amendments could come before Seattle City Council this fall August 7th, 2019

The District 3 councilmember has proposed legislation that would allow up to 40 of the transitional encampments to be permitted in Seattle. It also would allow tiny house villages on all publicly owned and private property in the city on an interim basis, remove land-use permitting requirements for religious organizations to host the encampments and ease site requirements citywide.

Article Source Madison Park Times

Tiny home vs county: Effort to help homeless runs afoul of regulations August 7th, 2019

Blake has been renting Soderberg’s RV space since March. Before that, he was homeless for three months. Having the opportunity to live in a tiny house has helped him get his life back on track.

Article Source MYNorthwest

Can tiny houses help solve affordability crisis? A student who’s building one thinks so August 2nd, 2019

“I wanted the security of owning my own house, but this day and age, (for) my generation, owning a house isn’t really realistic,” she said.

Arriving at the property where she currently lives, which Tyrnauer calls an eco-village, she gives a quick tour, pointing out the chicken coop and vegetable garden. Residents collaborate on property chores and occasionally cook together.

Sections have been set up as campsites, rented out on Hipcamp, a site like Airbnb which matches property owners with people wishing to camp.

Article Source News Tribune

Will Washington State Adopt Appendix Q? ESSB 5383 Public Meeting July 31st, 2018

After reviewing ESSB 5383 and also speaking to Richard Brown, the Managing Director of the Washington State Building Code Council, he has been confirmed that Appendix Q has not been adopted. There is still a chance that it will be adopted, but it has been heavily amended. July 31st, 2019 is the launch of adopting Building Code Standards Specific For Tiny Houses and adopting Appendix Q as it has been amended.

Article Source Tiny Portable Cedar Cabins

SUBSTITUTE SENATE BILL 5383 : Effective July 28th, 2019

Section One: Appendix Q Can Provide A Basis For The Standards

The legislature recognizes that the International Code Council in 2018 has issued tiny house building code standards in Appendix Q of the International Residential Code, which can provide a basis for the standards requested within this act.

Section Six

The building code council shall: Adopt Building Code Standards For Tiny Houses

(1)(a) By July 1, 2019, adopt a revised process for the review of proposed statewide amendments to the codes enumerated in RCW919.27.031;

(b) Adopt a process for the review of proposed or enacted local amendments to the codes enumerated in RCW 19.27.031 as amended and adopted by the state building code council.

(2) By December 31, 2019, adopt building code standards specific  for tiny houses.

Article Source LegalWa.Gov

House Bill Report ESSB 5383

From Olympia to Bellingham: Tiny home villages offer a path toward permanent housing June 26th, 2019

Nichols only wishes people opposed to the villages could hear and see the kindness that pours from the people who inhabit the tiny homes. In one story she shared, a woman she came to know had been homeless for 10 years until she was finally placed in a tiny dwelling. It wasn’t too long later that a mother approached the gates at the tiny home village one evening with her four small children.

The mother pleaded with those at the village, “ We don’t have a place to be. We need a home.”

The chronically homeless woman, the one who was given a safe spot to sleep, offered to again move out so the mother and her children could have a place to sleep.

Article Source Snoqualmie Record

Snohomish County center to offer trade apprenticeships to high schoolers April 20th, 2019

Students who are accepted into the program spend half their day at the center building a set of skills they can apply in the trade field after school. The program is open to students at 14 school districts.

In the construction program, students are building tiny homes for the homeless with the Low Income Housing Institute, which provided the materials.

Article Source KBC News

Tiny house communities bill passes Legislature  April 12th, 2019

Article Source AWC Association of Washington Cities

Plum Street Tiny Home Village : Community Wide Effort to Help the Homeless February 19th, 2019

The tiny house village opened in February 2019, offering 29 shelters to homeless individuals previously living in tents downtown. “Once the village opened, there was an immediate impact on the downtown homeless population,” says Colin DeForrest, Homeless Response Coordinator for the City of Olympia.

Article Source Thurston Talk

Anacortes code update could pave way for new housing July 24th, 2019

A new concept called cottage housing, a cluster of four to 12 single-family homes around a common space, will be allowed in all residential zones.

Article Source GoAnacortes

As Seattle cracks down on McMansions, a question lingers: Are huge homes morally wrong? July 7th, 2019

At the same time, Seattle is allowing more people to build more spacious backyard cottages, either for rentals or for family members to use, providing more modestly priced housing for people who can’t afford McMortgages.

Article Source Deseret News

What new backyard cottage legislation means for Seattle homeowners July 18th, 2019

The old rules required homeowners in single-family zones to live onsite, preventing DADUs from being built on rental properties and making it impossible for homeowners to move out and keep their home and ADU as two rental properties.

They also required an off-street parking spot for each ADU so homeowners sans off-street parking could not rent out ADUs. Neither of these rules apply anymore. Size restrictions have also been eased to allow larger, taller DADUs.

Article Source The Seattle Times

Facing Homelessness-a local nonprofit behind The Block Project, finds a new avenue for its advocacy July 11th, 2019

Facing Homelessness—which started as a Facebook page aimed at humanizing Seattle’s thousands of homeless residents by telling some of their stories, and expanded to include the BLOCK Project.

Article Source Seattle Mag

Kitsap Homes of Compassion targets local affordable housing July 8th, 2019

Kitsap Homes of Compassion (KHOC) is a nonprofit with the goal of ending homelessness in Kitsap County by creating affordable long-term housing solutions through the use of shared, leased homes.

Article Source Kitsap Daily News

Public Meeting Coming On Church’s Plan To Open Tiny home Village July 8th, 2019

An Olympia church that wants to house people in tiny homes on its property will hold a public meeting on its plan later this month.

In May, Westminster Presbyterian Church on Boulevard Road Southeast announced plans to offer homeless people transitional housing. Up to 10 people would live in eight 8-foot-by-12-foot structures and share a kitchen in the southwest corner of the church property, according to plans submitted to the city of Olympia.

The meeting on the plan is scheduled for 6 p.m. July 24 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1925 Boulevard Road SE.

Meanwhile, the city has committed $100,000 to support tiny homes and shelters hosted by churches and nonprofits. At Westminster, the Low Income Housing Institute, which runs a city-owned tiny home village near Plum Street Southwest, would provide case management under a contract with the city.

Westminster’s proposal is the first to come out of a group of faith-based organizations that has been working since last fall on ways to address homelessness.

Article Source The Olympian

Seattle Says Yes to the Best Rules in America for Backyard Cottages July 1st, 2019

Seattle City Council took a big step Monday toward creating a more sustainable city, voting unanimously to enact legislation that will make it easier for homeowners to build in-law suites, garage apartments, and backyard cottages—modest homes the wonks call accessory dwelling units (ADUs).

Article Source Sightline Institute

From Olympia to Bellingham: Tiny home villages offer a path toward permanent housing June 29th, 2019

The idea has become more common — in 2018 a group of 20 local Mercer Island volunteers built two tiny houses on the lawn of Mercer Island Presbyterian Church near Island Crest Way, and in 2019 the Mercer Island United Methodist Church followed with its own tiny home project. Tiny houses have been built and placed in villages emerging up and down Interstate 5. As a result, advocates say tiny house residents have found a path to not only permanent housing but toward reclaiming a sense of dignity.

Article Source Mercer Island Reporter

For some homeless, ‘a place to call home’ will be in these tiny homes in Bellingham June 24th, 2019

A nonprofit that operates a homeless tent encampment in Bellingham is replacing its tents with tiny homes.

Known as Safe Haven, the encampment is in part of the What-Comm Dispatch Center’s parking lot at 620 Alabama St. in the Sunnyland neighborhood. It’s been on the city-owned land since April 4 and will be there through this summer.

Article Source The Bellingham Herald

Mediator may be brought in to help with tiny home dispute June 24th, 2019

A mediator may soon play a role in the outcome of a dispute involving residents at the Othello Village who are on “strike” over who should run their tiny house village in Seattle’s Rainier Valley.

One small step for tiny houses could soften Puget Sound affordability crunch June 1st, 2019

Under Senate Bill 5383, Washington cities and counties now have more flexibility to authorize tiny house developments. Local governments are prohibited from adopting ordinances that would ban tiny houses from being used as primary residences in a manufactured/ mobile home community. And landlord-tenant law protections apply to residents of tiny house projects.

Article Source KOMO News

Governor Jay Inslee legalizes Tiny Houses and Tiny Houses with Wheels May 9th, 2019

Tiny House Law: Washington State

An  act relation  to tiny houses; amending RCW 58.17.040,135.21.684, 43.22.450, 19.27.035, and 35.21.278; adding a new section2to chapter 35.21 RCW; and creating a new section

Tiny Home Notion: Legislators, advocates for affordable housing see benefits of growing market

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Hans Zeiger, R-Puyallup, and passed by both the House and Senate, has been sent to the governor’s office.

“We are waiting for Gov. Inslee to sign off on it any day now,” said Todd McKellips, executive director of the Washington Tiny House Association, a nonprofit organization that advocates for tiny house legalization.

Tiny House Law: Washington State

Article Source The Spokesman- Review

Washington Just Advanced the Nation’s Best ADU Reform. Here’s Why It’ll Help February 28th, 2019

Granny flats and backyard cottages keep families together, save old homes, and let seniors age in place.

It’s a new life that lets multi-generational families live together, seniors age in place, and owners on fixed incomes stay in their homes. Tucked into or alongside existing houses, these small homes—collectively termed accessory dwelling units (ADUs)—can meet evolving household needs and help families of all kinds find greater housing security.

Article Source Sightline Institute

Legislature Paves the Way for Tiny Houses

Directs adoption of building code standards for tiny houses May 2nd, 2019

In 2018, the International Code Council issued tiny house building standards in Appendix Q of the International Residential Code (IRC). ESSB 5383 directs the State Building Council to adopt standards specific to tiny houses by December 31, 2019. The legislature expects the newly-issued IRC guidance to become the basis for these standards. Local governments, in turn, can amend their building codes to include these new provisions.

Also, just last year the state legislature passed a bill authorizing local governments to adopt regulations eliminating any minimum gross floor area requirements for single-family dwellings (See HB 1085).

Includes prefabricated tiny houses in definition of factory-built housing

The bill expands the definition of factory-built housing in RCW 43.22.450 to include tiny houses and tiny houses with wheels, thereby incorporating prefabricated tiny houses into the L&I certification process for factory-built housing.

Creates a regulatory pathway for permitting tiny house communities May 14th, 2019

Currently RCW 58.17.040(5) allows the use of a binding site plan:

Article Source MRSC

The Block Project: Seattle Backyards Needed June 8th, 2019

The Block Project and Rex Hohlbein, the founder of Facing Homelessness is on a mission to end homelessness one tiny home at a time. More backyards needs. Can you Say Yes In My Backyard.

Facing Homelessness connects a name, their face and tells the story of each person, without judgement. Rex shares their hopes and dreams and immediate needs and so gently asks for a tent, a camera, a hotel stay, a dentist, paint supplies or whatever the person is in need of. I read every story, donate when I can, share and always cry at the beauty of the real humanity that I know we are.

Rex Is Teaching Us To Say Hello And  Not Look Away

Through its integrated design, this project will not only offer opportunities for healing and advancement to those formerly living on the fringes of society, but it will also bring connection, relationship, and compassion to the center of our lives and communities.

Do You Ever Say Someone Needs To Do Something And Realize That Someone Is You?

Article Source Tiny Portable Cedar Cabins

Soap Lake, Wa Has Become Very Tiny Home Friendly July 24th, 2019

In 2016, the city council of Soap Lake, Wa. adopted chapter 17.25 into the Soap Lake Municipal Code to encourage single units and clusters of tiny homes on city lots in Soap Lake. The minimum requirement is 200 square feet and the maximum requirement is 1000 square feet. At this time, wheels need to be taken off, but they are very open to changes and willing to have an open conversation to make it work for everyone.

Note: Updated on May 29th, 2019: The requirement  for having the wheels removed will be amended because of the law the governor signed., Senate Bill 53883  Click Here.

Article Source Tiny Portable Cedar Cabins

Tiny Home Fire: No Insurance June 13th, 2019

Propane Refrigerator Caught On Fire

In June the family installed a propane refrigerator to provide fresh food in their recent off grid lifestyle. The first refrigerator had an immediate problem. After Renna carefully installed the refrigerator and went to light it, the refrigerator caught fire. Luckily Renna put the fire out and called Amazon to return the unit.

Days later a new new refrigerator was sent and it was installed and lit successfully. Renna watched the refrigerator closely for 24 hours. Luckily no one was home, when there was an explosion the next day that burnt the family’s home to the ground.

Wrong Information On Insurance

”Not only was this a 25,000 investment they made with nearly everything they had, it was not insured because of tiny house legislation that restricts these units from being considered houses. This does not account for the months of labor and love the entire community put into building it.” ( Homeowners quote )

Article Source

Once homeless and helpless, woman now helps build ‘tiny homes’ for others like her June 16th, 2018

She was with a group of other women, laughing and joking together as they set up walls, hammered in nails, framed doorways and painted houses for the city’s unique “Women4Women” project.

Article Source ABC News

Tacoma Adopts Exemplary Reform for In-Law Apartments March 20th, 2019

Tacoma has joined the growing list of Cascadian cities taking action to welcome more in-law apartments and backyard cottages into their residential neighborhoods. On Tuesday, the Tacoma city council adopted a liberalized set of rules for accessory dwelling units (ADUs). Tacoma got a lot right with its ADU reform, but there’s still room for improvement.

Article Source Sightline Institute