House and Home

Could tiny homes be the answer to SLO County's affordable housing crisis?

SLO County holds workshop on tiny homes

Could tiny homes be the answer to SLO County's affordable housing crisis?

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif. - With direction from the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, officials are working on the County Housing Initiative Package. 

This set of policy solutions aims to address affordable housing in the unincorporated areas of SLO County. A large crowd gathered Wednesday in San Luis Obispo to give input at the first-ever workshop devoted to tiny homes. 

While the City of San Luis Obispo is in the process of finalizing their tiny homes ordinance, there’s nothing on the books involving tiny houses on wheels in places like Nipomo or Templeton. 

Tiny homes, big concerns and even more questions. 

“I want to find out how open San Luis Obispo is to this, like some of the other cities, if they can adapt all these rules and regulations,” said Steven Viera, area contractor. 

Viera deals with housing for those with special needs and on the spectrum. 

“It’s nice to have an affordable house if the parents want to be close to their children that are being held by these companies that way they can afford to stay close and be able to visit with their children,” said Viera.

Movable tiny homes, usually 400 square feet or less, are currently not allowed to be used for permanent residential purposes in the unincorporated parts of SLO County. 

“Our Board of Supervisors has directed us to consider policy options that would allow for people to live in tiny houses on their property but of course balancing that with issues, such as adequate health and safety standards, utility connections,” said Airlin Singewald, SLO County Supervising Planner. 

Sinegwald says researchers are also focusing neighborhood compatibility and aesthetics.  County officials say ultimatly, it’s their responsibility to make sure these tiny homes are safe to live in. 

“I think it is a little complex because it’s an unconventional type of housing so we’re understanding of the federal and state rules surrounding tiny houses and looking at how we can adopt local rules,” said Singewald. 

Like many packed into the San Luis Obispo Library, contractors like Viera want clarity on the county’s plans to address affordable housing. 

“If they’re going to be a small tiny house, it’s a house. So they need to have the standards just like a normal house would be,” said Viera.  Viera is also concerned about keeping the format to process fees to a minimum.  He says folks should be asking, how do we keep these tiny houses affordable while holding them to the same standards as a regular house?

After a public comment and research period, the goal is to get an ordinance written by the end of the year to before the Board of Supervisors.

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