Tiny Tuesday: Legally Tiny in Central California

To make housing more affordable, and to capitalize on a growing trend, many US cities and towns have recently adopted zoning provisions for tiny houses. Walsenburg, Colorado, the island of Nantucket, and Portland, Oregon are just a few places that enable accessory dwelling units or (in the case of Walsenburg) primary homes without minimum size restrictions. But these rules almost always require a foundation, which means you still can’t permanently park a tiny house on wheels anywhere… except in Fresno, California.

Last year, Fresno changed its zoning code to allow a homeowner to place one permanent accessory dwelling of any kind on a property. The code explicitly allows a “Tiny House” and includes a definition: a Tiny House must satisfy six conditions, including licensure with the California DMV, towability, and basic functional areas for cooking and toiletry. The homeowner may keep the smaller house for personal use or rent it out. Any homeowner with a lot size 6200 square feet or larger can take advantage, adding a smaller house up to 440 square feet. There must be all-weather pedestrian access to the smaller house, but no additional parking space is required.

The nearby city of Clovis is encouraging tiny houses in its own way with the Old Town Cottage Home Program. It’s an initiative to beautify the city’s alleys and make them pedestrian-friendly with alley-facing tiny houses. Any property owner with alley access and an extra parking space can qualify. It’s an imaginative method of urban infill.

An approved Cottage Home design in Clovis.

About the Author Scott

When I decided as a teenager that I would become an engineer, what I really wanted to do was build houses. But then I went to college and got tricked into thinking I should work for a big company, design big structures, and make lots of money. With a professional license in my pocket, it's time to get back to following my dreams, and I hope my perspective can teach you something new.

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