Our friend Vina Lustado from Sol Haus Design and a team of committed citizens took it upon themselves to create the change they want to see in the world. Through a series of meetings with local Ojai policy makers, Vina and friends were able to capture the interest of commissioners by introducing tiny houses as part of the solution for this small community’s housing crisis.
Ojai, population 7,500, suffers the same debilitating chokehold that has a grip on so many other communities: historically low vacancy rates coupled with exorbitantly high real estate/rental prices. Sadly, this combination is driving out natives from communities all around the country and forcing them to relocate to new areas. Fortunately for Ojai though, council members saw the viability of tiny houses as a partial solution for their housing crisis.
Vina shares the following:
Here are proposed items for tiny homes on wheels (THOW) under the 2nd unit ordinance:
* THOWs will be used for long-term rental as secondary units to the primary residence
* THOWs will be ANSI certified to comply with health and safety standards
* THOWs will be hooked up to a sewer system as a permanent dwelling
Another exciting outcome of this collaboration is that Councilman Weirick suggested that some city-owned land ought to be used for a tiny house village. This step may take a while to implement because currently, their focus is on making the amendments to their ordinances for the legalization of tiny houses on wheels.
Vina would like to thank Planning Commissioners Chester Jagiello & Kathleen Nolan; City Council members Bill Weirick, Severo Lara, and Randy Haney. Thanks also to their consultant Dan Fitzpatrick who traveled from Fresno to give tiny house presentations at each meeting.
You can watch the video of the proceedings from the final meeting HERE. There are video recordings of the other two meetings as well and we highly recommend that you watch them if you intend on approaching your local city/county commissioners.
I’ll echo Vina’s sentiment and say that our experience in approaching our own city of Ashland, Oregon has been extremely positive. After our first meeting, they shared that they had been hoping for a tiny house advocate to approach them. Every month they have despaired community members attend their meetings, asking the City to implement changes so that they can stay living in our community.
Tiny houses on wheels offer nearly instant (just tow them in), and more importantly, (essentially) NO COST (to the city), solutions to the housing crisis. These two key points should pique the interest of most policy makers currently dealing with these housing challenges.
How about you? Have you approached your local building department and planning commission about tiny houses? If not, what’s holding you back? What kind of support do you need in order to make it happen? Let’s band together and create an action plan for those that want to create the change they want to see in their community.
UPDATE FROM VINA 12/2/16: Many of you have asked about the status of legalization of tiny houses in Ojai. It has been a long road since we started the process last year in Nov. 2015. We did receive approval from City Council to move forward but the changes have not been finalized. The reality is that many other issues have taken priority (ie: water crisis in Ojai, local elections, etc). We will continue to move forward as best as we can. We hope you will join us when we ask for your support.