By R.C. Seely

ALONG WITH UBER AND AIRBNB, THE MONOPOLIES to traditional markets have another rookie to bring competition to another market–housing. Like other monopolies, the status quo titans are not giving up their power without a fight and the standard weapon of choice is the law.

    From Curbed.com, a housing business website:

“Despite the growing enthusiasm for tiny houses, it still isn’t easy to legally build them for full time use. Zoning laws and building codes by and large, require a minimum square footage for new construction homes, and progress to reduce that square footage is slow. 

Cities and towns that have started to accommodate tiny houses have typically been pushed by grassroots organizers asking government officials for changes to local building and zoning codes.”

    A little about “tiny houses” you should know, they are either a type of recreational vehicle or have a solid foundation like regular buildings. It’s the ones with the foundation that seem to have state legislatures in a frenzy. Many states are only allowing tiny houses to build within a tiny house community, if at all. The strict construction codes have mostly come from the same source, the International Residential Code (IRC) with such requirements as 70 square feet for room size and 7 foot tall ceilings, and a minimum 1,000 square feet for construction, all fairly common zoning guidelines. Also absurd for tiny houses.

    “Construction codes tell you how to build your home,”Andrew Morrison, of Tiny House Build says. “Zoning depends on where you build your home.” There are some states choosing to embrace the movement. Certain counties in the states of California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon and Texas–but again still check out the zoning laws beforehand since it’s only select counties within those states. For more information, the American Tiny House Association has compiled a list of state regulations and state chapter leaders. They might even be of assistance in getting a variance for your state or county.

    The state of Utah might be joining the list, all with the help of the Utah based legal activist organization, The Libertas Instititute. Along with the other economic and civil causes on their long list, the right to build on your property free from the zoning gestapo. With the trend of the smaller dwellings popularity with millenials a reevaluation might end up being more than something to consider, but a necessity. Options for housing could help reinvigorate the housing market for the demographic most cynical about the idea of being home owners. Because of the economic incentive and not just the novelty of tiny houses, it appears to be more than “just a trend.” And the first step is to reconsider is the zoning laws. “There’s plenty of momentum to continue changing zoning regulations at the local level. But there’s movement on the national level, too. Tiny house advocates are currently pushing to include a tiny house code in the International Residential Code,” explains Morrison.

    Adapting the zoning and construction regulations would not only make sense economically but is protecting the homeowner’s right to utilize their property in the manner best for their needs. Control obsessed state and county legislatures shouldn’t have more say about what is built on your property or how you use it than you do. If you live in a planned community you have certain bylaws you agree to, that’s a voluntary transaction. You can always leave if you want or petition the board and your neighbors to change the rules. But you still had the choice. With these sort of laws you are robbed of that choice, whether it’s a traditional home or tiny one.

R.C. Seely is the founder of americanuslibertae.com and ALTV. He has also written books on pop culture, his most recent Victims of White Male: How Victim Culture Victimizes Society is available on Amazon

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