Tiny homes are coming

Tiny House Festival set for Oct. 11-13

To help the homeless population and supply some affordable housing SmartShare Housing Solutions, the organization that pairs people looking for places to live, is offering the first tiny house festival at the Madonna Meadows on Oct. 11-13. Tiny homes on wheels from local and national builders will be open for ticket holders to tour Saturday and Sunday. With clever use of space to maximize every inch of their under-400 square foot floor plans, tall ceilings and plentiful windows, the petite dwellings known as THOW’s (tiny homes on wheels) often strike first-time visitors as surprisingly spacious,
bright and livable.

Many of the models to be displayed at the expo meet the guidelines set by the City of San Luis Obispo in its new ordinance allowing them in qualifying city backyards. Others, like school bus conversions (‘skoolies’), vans, canvas houses and other creative housing options, may not qualify as accessory dwelling units under local rules, but will showcase the expanding definition of ‘home’ this new trend reveals.

Local nonprofit SmartShare Housing Solutions launched this new program to educate and inspire the community about the new option, and two SLO city residents have now installed tiny homes on wheels in city backyards. Executive Director Anne Wyatt explains, “Rita Morris, a health care professional who owns a tiny home, attended our first community workshop, where she met a SLO city homeowner who was interested in hosting her tiny home in his yard. They were the second ‘guinea-pigs’ to go through the official process with the city, putting in an approved compacted pad and getting a permit for the utility hookups. After final approval of the site, Rita hired a towing service, and in mid-August, they backed Rita’s charming tiny abode into its new setting—a lovely, shady backyard within city limits. Now Rita has housing near her job that she can afford, and they’ll share the yard through a yard-share agreement for rent.”  

The very first resident to apply for a permit built his own tiny home for his backyard and will build custom tiny homes for clients as well. Sustainable by design, tiny homes can be part of a strategy for individuals to reduce their resource use and impact on
the environment.

Event organizers are betting that almost everyone who enters one of the well-crafted, well-insulated, light-filled tiny homes on display and speaks with residents will see how they or someone they know could live comfortably in one. “They are well-suited to house the growing number of single-person households; those who want to lessen their environmental footprint and live simply, at lower expense; and seniors who want to age in place or near family,” says Celeste Goyer, Operations Director at SmartShare. 

In addition to the opportunity to peek into homes and dream tiny, or purchase one and move in, the Tiny Footprint Expo will host a line-up of informational workshops sharing expertise on housing and sustainability, from the nuts and bolts of DIY building to writing ordinances, micro-mobility, solar options, living a zero-waste lifestyle and more. 

Food and beverage trucks, kids’ activities, and local vendors round out the expo offerings. The expo is hosted by SmartShare Housing Solutions in partnership with Ecologistics and the SLO Climate Coalition with sponsorship from the City of San Luis Obispo and more than thirty other businesses and organizations.

For information on participating tiny house builders, workshops, tickets, and opportunities to volunteer, sponsor or exhibit, go to TinyFootprintExpo.com. Tickets: $8 advance; $10 door or $75 VIP Friday/3 day. BikeSLO County offers a free Bike Valet for those who ride in.

Tiny homes may be just the thing all the towns on the Central Coast could use to help solve the housing shortage. Some would like to see this program extend into Morro Bay.


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