The Washington Senate voted overwhelming 44-2 in favor of a bill allowing cities and towns to create ordinances regulating tiny house communities, while prohibiting them from banning tiny homes used as a primary residence. The policy is meant to incorporate homes that are 400 square feet or smaller into existing affordable housing options.
Prior to the Mar. 6 Senate floor vote, SB 5283 sponsor Sen. Hans Zeiger (R-25) said “we all know the need for more affordable housing in our state. This is a new housing option; it is not one that is going to deliver us completely from our affordable housing crisis, for sure…but we’ve done some other things this session that I think make a real difference.
“I think there is a real market for tiny houses that is waiting to take off,” Zeiger said. “Local jurisdictions and people who want to enter this market need a better legal framework.”
For supporters, the homes offer a similar appeal of cottage homes or accessory dwelling units (ADUs) which, unlike tiny homes, are fixed structured. A separate bill SB 5282 allows tiny homes built to code standards to be used as ADUs without having to be attached to the primary residence. However, they must be built within a city or county’s urban growth area (UGA), and the tiny home owner must make “reasonable accommodation” for the water and power supply, as well as sewage disposal. That bill cleared the Senate Committee on Housing Stability & Affordability and has been referred to the Rules Committee for its second reading.
Testimony offered at the bill’s Feb. 6 public hearing of the Senate Housing Stability & Affordability Committee by tiny home builders and advocates highlighted the benefits to people transitioning out of homelessness. With a price tag of around $25,000, it’s also an option for people who want to own a home but can’t afford a regular residence. It was on that basis the town of Spur, Texas declared itself as the first tiny home friendly community in 2014.
“Just because the housing type doesn’t appeal to everybody doesn’t make it an illegitimate choice for those who want that option,” Ethan Goodman with Tech 4 Housing said at the Feb. 6 public hearing. He added that unlike temporary housing units, tiny homes can last for decades and “allow people who want to use it as an income property.”
Lou Pereyra with Tiny Mountain Houses said: “Whether we want to or not, tiny house buyers are in abundance; the biggest challenge that they have is placement.”
SB 5383 cosponsor Sen. Guy Palumbo (D-1) said at the Mar. 6 Senate floor vote that the bill will “really address some of the supply challenges that we have. It doesn’t make sense that we would prohibit these tiny home villages from happening when we have people in a housing and homelessness crisis in this state.”
The bill has been referred to the House Local Government Committee.