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Mon, May 27

Miner Editorial | They be small, but they be mighty

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Like every hot button topic, tiny homes are met with massive resistance when they are brought up. Doesn’t matter if it is a casual conversation on the street or in city hall, someone is always vocal about their dislike of tiny homes.

This housing movement has increased rapidly since 2015. Tiny homes are most often defined as houses that are built under 1,000 square feet, but the most popular ones that are trending on social media are between 100 square feet and 250 square feet.

Kingman’s Planning and Zoning Commission has created its own definition of tiny homes.

“A site-built house smaller than 860 square feet in floor area, excluding lofts. Tiny homes shall not be smaller than 300 square feet. Tiny homes are allowed in R2 and RMH6 zoning districts only.”

The two districts that are talked about are the rural residential and rural manufactured home districts located downtown between First and Second streets, and behind Kingman Regional Medical Center. There are 24 lots downtown, 11 of which are only acceptable as tiny home lots if they can connect to the sewer system. These tiny homes also have to meet the appearance criteria for whichever zoning district they are in.

That isn’t exactly an invasion. It also isn’t turning Kingman into a “shanty town.”

The Planning and Zoning Commission has discussed the issue of tiny homes in Kingman for months. At the commission’s May meeting, the proposal for tiny home zoning areas was passed through to City Council, leaving tiny homes in the laps of our city leaders.

The Daily Miner would love to see these tiny homes become a reality.

Tiny homes aren’t shacks. The 300 to 800 square foot building isn’t some dilapidated hovel where only low income families live. They have bathrooms, kitchens, spaces for beds and tables. They are the average home, just on a smaller scale.

These kinds of homes are perfect for single people who have busy, hectic work lives, married couples who aren’t ready to have children, elderly retirees who want to downsize, and young adults and millennials who are just starting out their careers.

Many residents and local officials in towns where tiny homes are cropping up fear they will drive down property values. Some state and local governments, perplexed about whether to classify tiny homes as RVs, mobile homes or backyard cottages, still refuse to allow them.

It’s the smaller towns that are welcoming these micro houses with open arms. One example is Spur, Texas – population 1,318 – where people hope tiny houses will help revitalize the shrinking community.

The rhetoric of modern tiny-house living begins with the assertion that big houses, aside from being wasteful and environmentally noxious, are debtors’ prisons. In 2015, the median new family home in the U.S. was 2,500 square feet, 61 percent larger than homes from 1975. As our houses have become bigger, our family sizes have dropped.

Tiny houses are wonderful because they are easier to take care of and allow their owners to spend more money on pleasures.

One of the philosophical tenets of the tiny house movement is the departure from the values of conventional society such as excessive consumerism and materialism. By living small, a person must keep only what is necessary to live. A tiny house is a deterrent to acquiring more stuff that will just take up more space.

Human beings have always lived in small houses – not to make a statement but because small houses were practical and cheap. A Pilgrim house was about 165 square feet.

In 1987, an architect named Lester Walker published a book of photographs and drawings called “Tiny Houses,” which influenced a number of people who build such houses now. Walker’s book includes the dune shacks in Provincetown; the 200-square-foot houses built in Texas in the late 19th century by German farmers to use on the weekends when they came to town; and the 140-square-foot houses that San Francisco built in 1906 for survivors of the earthquake.

People love tiny homes. Buying a $300,000 home isn’t a reality for most people anymore, so spending $25,000 on a home that is adorable, affordable and transportable, is a big draw to young people and the elderly.


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