How to Live in a Tiny Home In Los Angeles
Things are changing fast in the World of Tiny Homes. Learn more about the recent legislative development in Los Angeles.
When you think about housing in America, “tiny” usually isn’t the first word that comes to mind.
On the contrary, American homes have nearly doubled in size over the past fifty years, from an average of 1500 sq Ft in 1970 to over 2500 in 2017.
At the same time, the average number of household members decreased from 3.67 in 1948 to 2.55 in 2012.
As our economy grew over time, Americans continuously operated with a “bigger is better” mindset. The size of our homes, cars, and yes, portion sizes have increased dramatically on average. Just look at the McMansions, Hummers, and Big Macs that fill the American consumer landscape.
The sustainability of our appetites for more is a different question. But a more encouraging counter-trend has risen in the past decade that challenges the traditional ethos.
Seeking a Different Path
Housing costs have also risen dramatically, especially in states like California. Many young families have realized that they simply cannot afford to maintain their previous lifestyles.
And so, they’ve decided to downsize. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, tiny homes emerged as an alternative solution to standard housing, and many people embraced this direction to create a more affordable lifestyle.
Tiny Homes are movable and generally under 400 sq. Ft They are not vehicles. They include small bathrooms, kitchens, and bedrooms. They cost as little as $10,000 to $40,000 and are low cost to maintain.
Those who joined the tiny home movement found that with significant cost reductions, they could avoid debt traps and were able to save money again. Housing downsizes led to lifestyle changes, like nomadic or communal living.
Proponents of Tiny Homes argue that “smaller is better” and that life is better without high rent expenses or mortgage payments.
An entire culture has developed around Tiny Homes, and you can find a diverse array of Tiny Home bloggers, Instagrammers, YouTube influencers, and more. They all espouse the merits of the Tiny Home lifestyle and offer tips, tricks, strategies, and more.
For all of the enthusiasm, the Tiny Home movement is still very small and not widely known; only 1% of newly purchased homes in the United States are under 1000 sq. Ft, indicating that the Tiny Home movement is only a tiny fraction of the broader housing market.
One of the significant obstacles to growth is zoning. Very few cities in the US have any regulations on the books that directly address Tiny Homes. Most municipalities have minimum square footage rules, which prevents Tiny Homes from legal acceptance. Subsequently, legally connecting to utilities can be an enormous challenge.
Thus, the Tiny Home culture has primarily been relegated to RV Parks and off the grid living, or illegal/part-time dwellings.
Yet things are changing fast. California municipalities are interested in normalizing Tiny Homes as a solution to the broader housing crisis.
Los Angeles Takes the Lead
California’s housing crisis has caused price rises that are not sustainable for the majority of people. The homeless population has increased, and many people are barely scraping by.
Local governments are under intense pressure to find new solutions that can alleviate the crisis.
Tiny Homes were not taken seriously by governments until recently when increasingly emboldened activists advocated to include Tiny Homes in local zoning codes. The movement celebrated its first success upon the passage of new legislation by the Los Angeles City Council in late 2019, allowing Tiny Homes to qualify as Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).
Tiny Homes can now be permitted and connect to utilities in LA.
The legalization is of enormous significance because it means that Tiny Homes go from being a fun DIY project to a viable form of housing for Los Angeles residents. Many people who were not previously interested in or eligible are now considering Tiny Homes more seriously.
Tiny Homes in Los Angeles are sort of a “have your cake and eat it too” situation; you can enjoy all of the benefits of city life without having to pay for the cost of it. We don’t have enough data yet to know the average rent cost of a tiny home in LA but rest assured that it will be a fraction of the current average price of rent ($2500 for an 800 sq. ft apartment).
Tiny homes are now available for rent across the city, from Echo Park to Huntington Park.
The requirements for a Tiny Home to qualify as an ADU in Los Angeles include:
-Licensed by the DMV. -Meets American National Standards Institute’s 119.5 requirements or National Fire Protection Association 1192 Standards. -Cannot move under its own power. -Able to transport on highways -no smaller than 150 ft and no larger than 430 ft -One per lot, in addition to a primary residence -Placed in the backyard -Connected to utilities -No higher than two stories.
For more information on the requirements, please visit the Latch Collective’s website.
Permitting a Tiny Home is straightforward than the process for a stationary ADU, but it is still a time-intensive and sometimes frustrating process. You will need to visit your city planning office and fill out a significant amount of paperwork.
If you are interested in permitting your Tiny Home but don’t want to deal with the headache, Housable is here for you.
We are the leading ADU marketplace service in California and offer feasibility, design, and permitting solutions for ADU projects across the state. Our service includes Tiny Homes: we can speed up the process, and you will have a permitted Tiny Home in no time.
First, check your eligibility for a Tiny Home using our free property check tool. Then, verify your homeownership and view our ADU services to purchase a permit.
If you have any questions, please call (415) 843-2387 ext: 986 and set up a free ADU consultation.
Beyond Los Angeles
Los Angeles was the first domino to fall in the Tiny Home legalization movement. But this is only the beginning; LA itself has a long way to go in speeding up the permitting process and incentivizing adoption.
As many as eleven other municipalities across California are considering or in the process of legalizing ADUs. Cities include:
-San Diego -San Jose -Santa Clara County -Humboldt County -San Luis Obispo -Sacramento -Oakland -Berkeley -Fresno
Cities across California are in search of strategies to create affordable housing, and they’ve realized that Tiny Homes are the answer.
We should expect more cities to adopt ordinances legalizing Tiny Homes, and for the existing cities to become more friendly by reducing permit fees and improving the permitting process.
If you are interested in bringing Tiny Homes to your city, it is worth calling your City Hall and advocating for progressive Tiny Homes legislation.
The Road Ahead
If you live in Los Angeles, there has never been a better time to live in a Tiny Home.
Living the Tiny Life isn’t a decision to take lightly, as there are benefits and drawbacks. You need to be comfortable with significant reductions in living space. If you are ready for that, then you will enjoy a much lower cost life.
And if you are interested in permitting a Tiny House, visit Housable and get started to see if you are eligible.
Happy Tiny Living!
photo credit: thespruce.com