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While Vancouver allows ADUs their own occupancy limit, Portland and Seattle require that the maximum occupancy be shared between the primary house and DADU.Tiny home communities, where multiple tiny homes share a lot, bump up against several of these zoning restrictions, as existing categories have yet to accommodate this new way of living.
Lina Menard, a tiny house dweller in Portland’s Simply Home tiny cohousing community, experienced firsthand how occupancy and zoning requirements could quash her community.
Continuing to adapt existing building codes to tiny abodes, or creating a new certification process specific to tiny homes, would be a big step toward unbanning a housing form that’s as old as the , parked her tiny house on wheels (THOW) in a friend’s backyard in Olympia and enjoyed not only lower living costs, but also closer connection with her neighbors.
But these wheels present another challenge to legalizing tiny houses, placing them in a regulatory gray zone between standard houses and vehicles.
The wheels often lead cities to classify them as recreational vehicles (RVs) rather than houses, which moves them from the frying pan of IRC and HUD into the fire of RV certification— outside of an official RV park.
This is the case in Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, British Columbia.
, for example, requires that habitable rooms have at least 70 square feet of floor space, and not be less than 7 feet wide and tall. Though 70 square feet is still a rigid requirement for habitable rooms, it’s actually a step in the right direction.
In 2015, the , making building tiny to code much more feasible.After Lina and her neighbors bought property in Portland, they went to the City to figure out how to live legally on their new land.The residential lot has an approximately 1,400 square foot single-family home, a garage, and three tiny houses on wheels in the backyard.DADU regulations allow a second unit on a single lot, something often prohibited.Even then, many tiny houses may not find relief in DADU-friendly neighborhoods.Finally, occupancy limits restrict the number of unrelated individuals who can live in one house, no matter how large it is.