In letting you know a bit about Jerry Rogers, I should share my passion for civic involvement. We love Anacortes, our newly adopted community up here in the Northwest where at the gateway to the San Juan Islands. It’s a great town with tons of promise, and we’ve pitched in to try to convince the city fathers to envision zoning changes for truly affordable housing along the lines of “tiny houses”. Thus we’ll share a concept paper and vision statement which we recently shared with decision makers.
Tiny Homes for Anacortes, WA
Concept and Vision Statement
"Where there is no vision, the People perish"… Proverbs
Version 4.0 October, 2016
This a concept paper and vision statement for Tiny Homes in the City of Anacortes, a very vibrant city with a diversified residential and industry base. The objective of this paper is to present information on Tiny Homes such that Community decision makers can make more informed choices for community betterment. Through many hyperlinks actual tiny homes, including on water, are depicted along with definitions, unit and property design, zoning issues, unit financing, along with ideas on how Anacortes could develop into a Tiny Home-friendly community and local manufacturer of Tiny Homes.
What is a tiny home? By dimensions: meeting DMV size restrictions for home travel trailers; no more than 13 feet in height, 40 feet long, 8.5 feet wide. Practically, they range in length from 15 to 25 feet, 13 feet high and 13 feet high.
As RV manufactured dwellings their building standards are set by that industry. Tiny Homes are manufactured homes, often custom made to suit the needs and budget of the client. Such customization extends to the physical layout and amenities to include appliances (a detailed list of off grid and on grid appliances is available upon request). This price range is $35,000 to $70,000 depending on unit size and features. The price of rented/leased land or purchased land for the unit is not included nor is the costs for any infrastructure included: sewer, city water, electricity, or LP gas. This paper does not discuss Small Homes ranging in size from 500 to 1,000 square feet. This would include regular structures as well as manufactured homes such as Park Model RVs. Tiny Homes may be 10 feet wide; however, they require special handling for transportation and site placement. They would need to be special ordered from a manufacturer.
Are Tiny Homes a Fad? No! They are not when considering their presence and growth in the USA and as a truly global phenomenon. Here are links to Tiny Homes:
There are no Tiny Homes in Anacortes. There is one on Guemes Island.
Around the World: Example 1 * Example 2 * Example 3 (U Tube) * South Africa * Canada * Mexico * England * Norway * Russia * Morocco * South Korea * Australia * Germany * Costa Rica * Guatemala * Poland
Why a Tiny Home? Mainly it involves a quality of life considerations, a conscious life-style change- less things and more active life. For some it is avoidance of mortgage debt and larger residence expenses and more time for travel, time for self, professional pursuits and entrepreneurial activity. For many it is the unaffordabilty of housing (priced out of the market) and wage/salary stagnation, decreasing pension purchasing power, and downsizing with family gone or living changes due to age.
The challenge for purchasers is Tiny Home financing, as non-residential property. It comes from a variety of sources, one to a combination: personal savings, gifts or loans from relatives, and personal loan/credit cards. If the Tiny Home is mobile and not affixed to a foundation it does not qualify for a home bank loan mortgage. If the unit is fixed to a foundation the owner could apply for a regular home loan and mortgage. There may be a bank issue with lack of “comps” with the unit and its property. The owner, if a veteran, could qualify for a 100% VA loan to include the property.
There are basically three kinds of Tiny Homes: Mobile, Permanent, and Floating.
A. Mobile (self contained, able to live on or off the grid (whole or part). Like a towable recreational travel trailer.
B. Permanent (Does not move, affixed to a foundation on a permanent basis. Living mainly on the grid but has capability to live off the grid (whole or part)
C. Floating Tiny Homes (a watercraft affixed to a platform all floating on pontoons. While out on the water it is self-contained. At shore, tied to a dock, it could receive electricity, city water, and sewage pumpout.
Tiny Homes for Anacortes:
A. Recreational: The following three sites are readily available for camping:
1. Washington Park, City of Anacortes, 68 campsites, half with hookups. $20.00 dry camping (no hookups), $26.00 with hookups. 14 day maximum stay.
2. Skyline Marina parking lot. This privately owned and operated.
A triangular shaped property with no improvements. Located at end of Skyline Way at Founder Bay Lane. Fee: Vehicle: $8.00 per day; Motorhome or Trailer with car: $15.00 per day. Pay at post inserting money in envelope. No maximum stay cited. No reservations. Property owner would need to be contacted for Tiny Home use/parking. Lot could handle 8-10 Tiny Homes, recreational or permanent. Excellent proximity to marina and waterfront.
3. Cap Sante Marina parking lot (on east side of marina). Twenty (eleven numbered) no hook up campsites with overflow. $20.00 per day, 14 days maximum. First come, first served. Excellent proximity to marina and downtown Anacortes.
4. Pioneer Trails Mobile Home Park, Anacortes. Properties are for rent, lease and sale.
5. Any other property the City may identify.
There are no Tiny Homes sited on properties in the downtown Anacortes residential core/heritage homes. Current City zoning may not exactly permit it. The City will be working on this.
The City of Anacortes Master Plan includes language of preserving, protecting and improving the old central core/heritage home area and making the area more livable.
Current law establishes requirements for affordable housing. There is a need for affordable housing in Anacortes along with more flexibility in housing use. There is an issue in Anacortes of gentrification meaning more expensive homes and increased land values which makes the City unaffordable for some people.
Tiny Homes can help address some of these issues.
A strategy for starting Tiny Home development in Anacortes:
- The City changes zoning laws in re Tiny Homes to make them welcome. These laws affect land use AND building code compliance of the units themselves. In a different city the unit owner could not get a permit to site because of deficiencies in unit doors as well as insulation. The City needs to be clear on unit building code requirements for Tiny Home manufacturers selling their product here.
- There may be an issue on where to site Tiny Homes in Anacortes. Can they be sited on property with existing dwellings on them? Currently vacant City home sites? Runt or irregular properties which could site a unit but no larger dwelling? (There are a number in Anacortes). All such properties need to be identified and cleared for Tiny Home residential.
- There are a number of dilapidated, derelict and unsightly vehicle garages (I count at least 15) in the old downtown residential core/heritage homes. These are garages for cars made prior to the 1930s and the garages are possible health and public safety hazards. They certainly negatively affect property values and moreover this affects the tax base. The City should Identify and rank order these garages for removal. The existence of derelict buildings (including garages) and remedies thereof are cited in municipal code . The former garages then are possible sites for Tiny Homes. The City contacts the garage owner and offers to remove and haul away said garage.
- As for garage removal Brandon Cardinal, co-owner of Skagit Building Salvage , Mt Vernon, states his business handles recycled lumber and he could be interested in the project if it made sense (the lumber is not infested, there is tear down cooperation). There is not much profit in recycled lumber.
- The City also offers to provide an affordable shed for any valued contents in the garage. Where the garage once stool The City offers to create a home site for a Tiny Home the City furnishes materials to improve the footprint of the Tiny Home replacement. For the home footprint this would include plastic lumber for the rectangular perimeter, weed killer on the ground inside the rectangle and landscape plastic over that ground with gravel spread in the rectangle. This is a bare bones Tiny Home site for short as well as long term residential. The overall aim is long term residential. The property owner can at any point upgrade said site with infrastructure such as sewer, water, and electric.
- Perhaps the City can provide assistance here. The plot is then ready for property owner occupancy with a Tiny Home residence or the plot could be rented/leased out to a different Tiny Home resident. The property owner thereby gains revenue to cover costs of any infrastructure developments or makes a profit. The tax rolls are affected. The creative reuse of the property seems feasible under the City’s existing Accessory Dwelling Unit provisions (a “Granny House); (ADU provisions need clarification for Tiny Homes).
The residential Tiny Home owner can save money on the unit when it is configured from the start as permanent with regular toilet hooked up to city sewer, electric and water. Appliances are more expensive when they are off the grid. No need for solar panels, composting toilet or black water pumpout, or special fresh water source.
- 1. A least one 1 car off street parking spot near the Tiny Home.
- 2. Avoid self-built a Tiny Homes. With limited budget and time there is a risk the project is never completed, or long delayed and another eyesore is created.
- 3. No use of the Tiny Home site for an RV, boat, or single-wide manufactured home as City is invested in project and property for the purpose of a Tiny Home.
The Tiny Home occupies a site that then fits in further with a Tiny Home marketing strategy for Anacortes as below:
Anacortes Tiny Home marketing strategy:
The City declares itself: “Anacortes: A Tiny Home Friendly City”
a. Road signs at Gateways to City (such as at Anacortes/San Juan Islands Ferry Terminal and signage at entry to City on Route 20.
b. Press releases to newspapers and magazines local and nation.
c. A website could be built using all the content presented here.
d. Marketing (show and tell) at Anacortes street fairs. Have several Tiny Homes in center of Commercial Avenue on display and open house. This would include ArtWalk as tiny homes are an art form. Also, display at Anacortes Waterfront Festival.
e. Also show Tiny Houses on Anacortes properties cited in above.
5. Other residential sites:
a. The old Circus Drive-In Theater on SR 20 west of town seems to have potential to site a number for permanent Tiny Homes there. This was formerly a 500 car drive-in so it is a big piece of underutilized property. A cluster setting is recommended with amenities such as a small playground, tiny dog run, central picnic area under cover. The existing old snack bar and projection booths could be tastefully redone as one or a combination of children’s nursery community kitchen, meeting area.
b. Tiny Homes should not be jammed together as residents with limited inside space highly value ample/pleasant outside space.
Here are examples of such Tiny Homes clusters
c. Other cluster Tiny Home sites as identified by the City
6. Types of residential Tiny Homes
a. Mobile, Residential, and floating: They all use regular home and office construction materials including metal studs. Some use recycled materials as well as off the grid appliances.
b. Shipping Cargo Containers: Shipping containers as homes:
Beyond the metal containers, they use regular building materials, recycled materials, appliances and may use off the grid appliances
There is no known shipping container Tiny Homes located in the immediate vicinity or manufactures nearby except possibly Seattle. Anacortes could establish itself as a leading of shipping container manufactured homes.
Shipping container homes tend to be self and/or custom built, not mass manufactured. They present special construction challenges (metal skin makes them too hot in summer and needing extra insulation as well as window ventilation remedies. Wherever built they must meet local building standards.
If authorized by the City it needs to establish construction parameters/standards.
Who are the Tiny Home Builders:
b. Washington State
- Artisan Tiny House, Vancouver
- Jade Tiny House, Freeland
- Moceri Construction, Bellingham
- Seattle Tiny Homes, Seattle
- Wolf Tiny Homes, Battle Ground
- Zyl Vandos, Olympia
- GreenPod Development, Port Townsend
- Yakima Canyon Tiny Homes, Yakima
- View Tiny Houses in Seattle
c. Oregon State
- Daystar Tiny Homes, Salem
- Greenleaf, Eugene
Oregon Cottage Company, Cottage Grove
- Portland Alternative Dwellings, Portland
- Rich’s Portable Cabins, North Powder
- Shelter Wise, Portland
- Small Home Oregon, Lake Oswego
- Southern Oregon Tiny Homes, Medford
- TechDwell, Sherwood
- Thimble Homes, Newberg
- Tiny Heirloom, Portland
- Tiny Mountain Homes, Salem
- Tongue and Grove Tiny Homes, Bend
- Water Shelters, Beaverton
d. Idaho State
e. British Columbia
- Camera Buildings, Vancouver
- Hornby Island Caravans , Vancouver
- The Little Cabin Company, Fernie
- Mint Tiny Homes, Vancouver
- Nelson Tiny Homes, Vancouver
- Nomad Micro Homes
- Rewild Homes, Nanaimo
- Small House Innovation, Argenta
Structural Spaces, Vancouver
- Tiny Living Homes, Delta
- Westcoast Outbuildings, Vancouver
None of these Tiny Home manufacturers build RV type "slide out" or "pop ups" to their units. It could be a special order item. Here are images of such units:
Such modifications add a significant ratio of square and cubic feet of interior space.
a. That Anacortes pursue all strategies, including those cited here to site Tiny Homes. This involves changes to existing and future municipal code provisions including zoning.
b. That Anacortes facilitate Tiny Home sites and encourage Tiny Home manufacturing locally through startups or partnership/franchising of established firms.
c. That Anacortes encourages Tiny Homes Afloat startup firm manufacturing. There are no known such firms anywhere in the Northwest or USA and Anacortes could establish a real niche in the industry with its status as a recreational port city (with its present six marinas of mainly recreational boats) and talented work force. A number of marine services companies operate here with slow winter seasons providing needed employment of Tiny Homes Afloat for the workforce There is also out of local area (numerous rivers and lakes) and foreign export potential. The annual Seattle Boat Show and Anacortes Boat Show are perfect marketing venues. Anacortes could establish itself as the Tiny Home Afloat manufacturing capital of Washington State, Puget Sound, The Pacific Northwest and USA (including for its numerous rivers and lakes).
As world futurists say: "Think globally, Act locally!"
That through cooperative efforts of Anacortes citizens, homeowners, government and the business community Anacortes becomes a more livable city for ALL its present AND future residents. While there is creeping gentrification ongoing there needs to be increased attention to affordable housing and living, as in the historic residential core of heritage home sites and land.
Tiny Homes is NOT THE solution to affordable housing; however, it is A solution. Affordable housing also includes Small Homes, both manufactured and existing, public housing, and subsidized housing. Cities which neglect affordable housing loses strata of society not easily replaced (musicians, artists, regular low income earners, young professionals) and lose their unique reputations as livable cities. Here is AreaVibes livability index for Anacortes.
Anacortes over the years could become even more of a jewel to the region than it already is. With Tiny Homes there could be a landscape of a diverse and unique housing mix, a kaleidoscope of varied dwellings for all residents. It can be a place where all folks “live happily ever after.”
"The longest march (journey) begins with the first step"… Mao
Half year Anacortes residents:
Judy Casanova, and
April-October each year as live aboards on Judy’s power boat "Skysong" at Skyline Marina, Anacortes. October to April at Jerry’s Palm Springs condo.