In 2016 the state of California released a document meant to “clarify the legality of use, design and construction approval of any residential structure that may be commonly referred to as a tiny home.” and described when a tiny home fit one of the four following definitions, making it legal to occupy: recreational vehicle (including park trailer), manufactured home, factory-built housing, or a site-constructed California Building Standards Code dwelling.
On June 19, 2018, the City Council in San Jose, California, approved changes to ADU regulations that make it easer to build an ADU within the city. ADUs, or accessory dwelling units, are defined by the city as “small living units, including a kitchen and bathroom, on a property that has a single-family home.”
The city claims the the new policy will lead to multiple benefits, including increasing the amount of affordable housing in the community, providing homeowners with an income opportunity, encouraging public transportation, and providing a way for extended families or families with members who are disabled, to live closer together.
Some of the changes to the existing regulations include changing the minimum lot size necessary from 5,445 sf to 3000 sf, allowing an ADU in a second story, and allowing two bedrooms rather than just studio or one bedroom units.
The City Council in San Jose, California, is expected to vote on a pilot program that would bring a tiny house village to the area. Intended to provide temporary housing for homeless people, the 40 planned tiny houses would be classified as sleeping cabins, and bathrooms and other living space would be shared. Each house is expected to cost between $18,000 to $20,000.
The proposal has “sparked a wave of criticism from residents who don’t want the homes in their neighborhoods and say they are worried about everything from safety to property values.” They’ve staged several protests and collected 2,000 signatures from people who are against the idea of using tiny houses as temporary housing.
Two possibly locations for the houses are currently undergoing an environmental review, and if the proposal is approved by the City Council, the tiny houses should be in place by the end of the year.
A “home-made, specially constructed, or kit vehicle” is a vehicle that is built for private use, not for resale, and is not constructed by a licensed manufacturer or remanufacturer. These vehicles may be built from a kit, new or used parts, a combination of new and used parts, or a vehicle reported for dismantling (junked) that, when reconstructed, does not resemble the original make of the vehicle that was dismantled.”
A vehicle verification done by the California Highway Patrol (CHP). You must start your application process with the DMV prior to contacting the CHP for a vehicle verification. DMV verifies trailers with an unladen weight of 6,000 pounds or less.
Proof of ownership, such as invoices, receipts, manufacturers’ certificates of origin, bills of sale, or junk receipts for the major component parts (engine, frame, transmission, and body).
NOTE: A motor vehicle bond is required when proof of ownership cannot be obtained for parts valued a $5,000 or more.
Official brake and light adjustment certificates. When an official brake and light station that inspects specific vehicles such as motorcycles and large commercial vehicles is not located within a reasonable distance, DMV will accept a Statement of Facts (REG 256) from a repair shop attesting that the brakes and lights are in proper working order. Brake and light certificates are not required for off-highway vehicles or trailers weighing less than 3,000 pounds gross vehicle weight.
A weight certificate for commercial vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less.
On February 4th, 2016 the state of California released a document meant to “clarify the legality of use, design and construction approval of any residential structure that may be commonly referred to as a tiny home.”
The Information Bulletin doesn’t change any existing law, but instead simply clarifies the existing law, making it easier for those interested in a tiny house in the state of California to know what is legal to occupy.
The document describes when a tiny home fits into one of four definitions–which are all legal to occupy. The basic classifications are recreational vehicles (including park trailers), manufactured homes, factory-built housing, or a site-constructed California Building Standards Code dwelling.
A tiny home sold, rented, leased or occupied within California may be legal if used on an approved location, complies with all applicable laws, and is either:
• Built on a chassis with axles; contains 400 square feet or less of gross floor area (excluding loft area space); is considered an RV, CC or PT; is not under HCD’s jurisdiction for the design and construction of the unit; and its construction and occupancy is enforced by local enforcement agencies with appropriate jurisdiction; or
• Not constructed on a chassis with axles; is placed on a foundation or otherwise permanently affixed to real property; and complies with CBSC or FBH standards; and may be enforced by local enforcement agencies having appropriate jurisdiction.
A new ordinance that went into effect on January 3rd, in Fresno, California, allows tiny houses to be placed on residential property legally.
According to the Fresno Bee, tiny houses on wheels are now… “considered backyard cottages thanks to changes in the city’s zoning and development code. That means tiny homes can be used as independent living quarters on the same lot as a single-family house granted it meets some requirements. Previously, the mobile units could only serve as temporary lodging.”
Pat Mosley, owner of California Tiny House, a Fresno builder, worked with Fresno City Council Member Esmeralda Soria on changing the code.
Lemon Cove Village is an RV park dedicated to tiny houses on wheels, and is located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, in the foothills of the western Sierra Nevada mountain range in California, just 19 miles east of Visalia. The community of Lemon Cove has a tiny population–only 350 people–and the property itself is studded with oak trees and the air is fresh.
There are 55 sites on eleven acres; 30 sites with full hookups (sewer, water, electric) and the rest with partial hookups. There’s a community garden, and the park is dog-friendly.
The park is open to not just tiny house owners, but also anyone building a tiny house! There is even an apartment on the property available to rent, while you build your tiny house.
Space rent is $450 – $595 for a regular space, or $125 – $150 for a build site.
On September 24, 2014, Jared Whitlock of the Encintas Advocate wrote about how the city of Encinitas in San Diego County, is looking to legalize any granny flats that were built or converted before the city’s incorporation in 1986.
Granny flats — so named by Australian builders constructing smaller backyard dwellings for homeowners’ elderly relatives — are considered a source of affordable housing. So, if a large number were to be legalized, the city would have to plan for fewer units.
The units have to meet building and fire codes, and include a kitchen sink and bathroom, to be eligible for the amnesty program. And the owner must agree for the unit to be “set aside in perpetuity for low-income residents.”
“It is recognized that many illegal units which were constructed prior to the incorporation of the city provide affordable housing that may not otherwise be available,” the city’s policy states.