Small city, tiny homes: Garden City considers proposal on movable housing

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Tiny home communities were up for discussion during a Garden City City Council last month. 

Developers Hannah Ball and Jason Jones left council members with two main questions surrounding code changes that would allow for tiny homes in Garden City: what defines a tiny home community, and should RVs be a part of that community?

The developers say changing the code to allow for the homes would bring in a new style of affordable housing. The proposed zone change defines a tiny home as a “movable home” on a trailer or wheels built out of home construction materials with a ground floor no greater than 400 square feet. 

Updated concept

Ball and Jones presented the council with an update to their concept, which includes changing design standards from permitted use to conditional use. They say this way, the project will be subjected to a more rigorous review.

“Changing them to conditional use permits, it really allows the bodies to look at a site by site design, and say, does this feel like a community” Ball said. “Is it appropriate for the street or the area? So we also see it on a street-by-street basis. What if it’s already next to a gym and a laundry shop? What if it’s not?”

Tiny homes wouldn’t go through the regular building permitting process because they must be roadworthy. This also sparked a debate about whether an RV could come to a traditional tiny home community. Ball asked the council if they would rather see communities with a mix of RVs and tiny homes, or strictly tiny homes.

“So kind of mixing these in with that, I can see a huge difference between these and a 20-foot long, eight-foot wide RV that you can also tour around,” Mayor John Evans said. “So you know, how the code would address that would be something I think would be interesting. And something that might be doable within our current RV code.”

Amenity mix

Amenities were also a fair share of the discussion. It was suggested by city staff they look to mixed-use code for amenities and follow that standard. Another idea thrown out was to have a new code that says communities must have two types of amenities and then pick from a list. This idea was the one Ball preferred. 

“I actually liked that because I do really believe that high-quality amenities are very important in a community of this nature,” she said. 

Spinning off that topic was the question of what defines a tiny home community.

 “A one-acre site is a sweet spot because, again, it allows for a lot of fun amenities. It has a lot of open space. We don’t imagine that the tiny house communities, well they’re designed to not be dense, to not be packed and crowded and loaded in a manner doesn’t foster a sense of community.”

The tiny homes community code changes are still being discussed. 

Autum Robertson - BoiseDev Reporter
Autum Robertson - BoiseDev Reporter
Autum Robertson is a BoiseDev reporter focused on Meridian and McCall. Contact her at [email protected].

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