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Tiny House Village:From Vision to Reality (Berkeley)

Would you live in a Tiny House Village - a cluster of cottages with a large community common house? Would you believe it could be built and make housing affordable in the urban East Bay and San Francisco? Would you like to meet someone who has a vision and design for how it can be done, and is recruiting investors and future residents to collaborate on designing these new neighborhoods?

Our friend Rabbit (a Berkeley Student Coop Lothlorien alumni who is part of the SpaghettiNight dinner series hosted by cooperative houses in rotation) put forward an idea for such a community on the series' email list, and budding architect/designer Alfred Twu of FirstCultural created some renderings and ran the numbers for how it could be done. We're excited but not convinced that it really is feasible - let's crowdsource our reality-checking and bring our collective wisdom and experience to bear.

Come see the vision and hear Alfred present the concept, and places it could be done, based on finding currently-vacant lots in Berkeley, Oakland, and even San Francisco.

 

 

Join us to discuss what the dynamics of what such a place could be:

  • Would it work if each house didn't have its own bathroom facilities?
  • How about kitchens?
  • Would neighbors allow it?
  • Would cities approve it?
  • Would it serve people at different stages of life?

Some initial thoughts about how it could be structured, from Alfred:

  1. Regardless of square footage a permit is needed, but lofts are a great idea.  They would allow more space without the complexity of going 2-story.
  2. Land trust ownership structure seems to be a good way of doing it
  3. I agree there should be a common space unit.  Would folks still want their own kitchens if there was a communal one?  Since zoning counts kitchens this would provide a lot of flexibility.

More thoughts:
- the advantage of tiny houses vs. one big house is the ability to do it incrementally.  Getting a big chunk of financing together for several people to cooperatively buy a house seems to be complex.  New tiny houses would also add to the supply of housing, and lock in a cooperative way of living in that site, as such a village could not be turned back into boring housing the way a regular house could. 

- utility hookups & permitting are probably the most expensive part, this would favor a model of a living room, kitchen, and bath bldg with utilities and a few offgrid bedroom buildings. the next door lot of an existing house would also be ideal. 

We still want to hear some specific numbers of what people would be willing to pay per month - either in rent or in an installment purchase plan - to live in such a village as that will really be a key factor in whether or not this is possible.

Alfred did a study of what it would look like in downtown Oakland, and the numbers are impressive, perhaps even unbelievable -- let's look at these and see if they really include all the costs:Inline image 1


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  • Lee

    Hey folks - I started Boneyard Studios Tiny House community out here in DC. www.boneyardstudios.com. I'll be out in the Bay Area mid-May to participate in a workshop with Dee Williams of PAD Tiny Houses. I'd love to connect with some of you while I'm out there!

    February 17, 2014

  • veleda

    please let me know when the next meetup is!

    February 17, 2014

  • Dev-iant

    Sign me up.
    I'm especially interested if they can be custom tiny house cottages instead of the thoughtless bricks you see in many mobile home communities.

    January 29, 2014

  • Sarah T.

    I'm extremely interested in this idea. Are people still pursuing it? If so, I would love to get in the loop.

    November 27, 2013

    • Allyse H.

      My partner and I are interested! And it seems like we have similar goals & interests judging from your bio. We haven't started talking about this very formally with anyone yet, but would like to soon...

      November 28, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I'm interested in building a tiny house for myself and my aging uncle. His income is diminishing with his retirement coming up (social security dependent) and I'm still a student, working full time. I'm most concerned about finding affordable parking within reasonable distance to my current work and school. Is there a secondary discussion planned? I'm in Oakland, Ca. Please send any helpful information regarding rental, land purchases, or possible tiny house communities in the Richmond/Berkeley/Oakland/ SF area. [masked]

    October 19, 2013

  • Allyse H.

    This looks awesome. Did this project go anywhere? Were the numbers determined to be unrealistic?

    September 29, 2013

  • debi

    A tiny house house village is being planned in Forestville, CA. Jay Shafer, Founder of Tumbleweed Houses and Four Lights Tiny House Company is involved. DENSITY: 16–22 houses-per-acre.
    SIZE: 40 -70 beautiful tiny houses, each up to 400s.f., plus sleeping lofts.
    AMENITIES: A 800 – 1600 s.f. common house, private gardens, 1.5 parking spaces per house, shared outdoor space, private storage units, prominent pedestrian walkways out front with parking out back.
    LOCATION: Northern California
    INTENT: To create a contagious model for responsible, affordable, desirable housing.
    PROPOSED OPENING: 2015
    Here's a link to more information: http://www.fourlightshouses.com/pages/the-napoleon-complex

    April 16, 2013

    • debi

      No, I just thought I would pass the information along as another possible resource.

      April 17, 2013

    • Raines C.

      Jay will be at tonight's Tiny Homes movie showing in SF: http://www.ebcoho.org...­

      May 22, 2013

  • Lee

    Hi, I cofounded Boneyard Studios in urban DC - we have four tiny houses on an urban alley lot - I'd love to chat with the folks trying to do this in the East Bay - I make it out to the SF area a few times a year. Please contact me at [masked]
    You can check out our project on our blog - www.boneyardstudios.com - we've done a lot of work on figuring out zoning, code, etc.

    April 22, 2013

  • Bob K

    Really sorry I was unable to make it. I'm really interested in tiny houses...I may end up living in one in the future :-)

    April 20, 2013

  • Jennifer

    I used to live in a cottage complex. It had been built for summer visitors (fishermen and boaters). I've also always been a fan of the little ones that exist in So. Cal. and have wanted to start a complex of my own if I could. These look too cramped for my tastes but I will keep my eyes peeled for more info like this.

    April 17, 2013

  • Nancy C.

    Sorry, my timing has changed for the day and will be unable to make it.

    April 17, 2013

  • Nancy C.

    Great concept. I've been to a Tiny house workshop so now it can be a community.

    April 17, 2013

    • Nancy C.

      I thought I was going to be able to make this event, but sadly now I will not be able to attend. Hope someone can take my place.

      April 17, 2013

  • Meera C.

    will be late in coming but will be there

    April 17, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    opps... didn 't finish my statement... i've also lived in the santa cruz mts on 250 acres with 17 other people and we had no electricity and preferred it that way. 6 horses, 3 goats, 200 chickens, 9 dogs, 2 pigs and huge veg-plots and gardens all over the place.. we left this inhumane and capitalist 'culture' behind.. we even delivered our own kids and taught other communes our ways.. long story but i'm interested in finding other people who seek that 'tribal' and cohesive lifestyle. i used to be an architectural designer/draftsman and went on to buy houses, anf fix them up myself (a really good 'handyperson') own a house in oakland on a double lot that i wanna get rid of...

    April 17, 2013

    • Cohousing Coaches Raines & B.

      Ken, thanks for sharing that exciting background. Will you be joining us tonight? Please use the RSVP button if so. Otherwise, it sounds like it would be fun to schedule a gathering specifically around your vision, as I believe you are not alone... you can use the "Suggest a MeetUp" button to start the planning process, and we can help.

      April 17, 2013

    • Sue H.

      I'd be interested in hearing about your housetruck experiences too!!

      April 17, 2013

  • Sue H.

    I'm not certain if I can make it but I'm very interested!

    April 17, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I can't make it, but sounds fantastic. Would love to have another chance, if you could do it again.

    April 16, 2013

    • Raines C.

      We hope to capture it on video for the benefit of the many who can't make it.

      April 16, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Excellent!

      April 17, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    i have been designing houses made of non conventional materials and have lived in housetruck communities here in berkeley

    April 17, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    This is exactly the kind of thing i want to help create. I can't make it to this meetup, but I really want to be in touch - please let me know of other opportunities to meet and talk etc.

    April 16, 2013

    • Raines C.

      This is definitely a first exploratory meeting, there will definitely be more if it looks viable. I have my concerns about the politics and zoning of it all - if you had a big multi-hundred-dollar-to-­a-million-or-more home, would you be psychologically ready to accept dozens of neighbors paying a fraction of the cost? All kinds of stereotypes get activated, triggering many defense mechanisms, NIMBY responses, etc. This may take careful communications and support-building to succeed.

      April 16, 2013

  • JB

    I like the idea. What, though, do you consider "impressive" or "unbelievable" numbers? So much of what I see labeled as "affordable" really is not. What would be a ballpark purchase price per tiny house?

    April 16, 2013

    • Raines C.

      the numbers are so far below even what gets called "affordable" housing around here that I literally don't believe them, so I'm not going to type them and set up any false expectations (if you look carefully at some of the graphics above you can see some numbers). I hope that one of the things we can do in the meeting is re-derive the costs for a couple sites as a reality check.

      April 16, 2013

  • Raines C.

    Of course Alfred will be with us, along with some SpaghettiFolk I hope.

    April 16, 2013

  • Joe M.

    The last image, which I assume was of the numbers, seems to be broken.

    April 16, 2013

  • Deborah H.

    Have to work late Wednesday and can't attend, but would love to live in a tiny house! Please keep us updated on this ... thanks!

    April 16, 2013

  • Maja

    very interesting Raines. not available that evening though

    April 16, 2013

22 went

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