What If We Develop a Tiny House Hamlet?
Since the launch of the 2050 Comprehensive Plan, there have been no developments that have fully utilized the overlay to its greatest potential. Part of the issue is that the 2050 Plan calls for greater risk to the developers to achieve fiscal neutrality due to the costs of “business as usual” development. However, part of the impetus behind the 2050 plan was to offer alternative neighborhoods, not necessarily the multi-million dollar developments that are competing for a lukewarm market.
For the developer who wants to find a market with demand, for which they could still create a revenue stream without as much upfront costs or financial risk, and one which actually meets the needs of the community, there are great possibilities for affordable housing. I believe that Sarasota should create a tiny house hamlet in Sarasota County, utilizing the 2050 Comprehensive Plan to develop up to 400 units of affordable housing. Tiny houses are being developed in communities that are very similar to Sarasota, and are proving to be very successful in providing affordable housing, a smaller carbon footprint, and a progressive answer to the problem of homelessness.
According to the 2050 Comprehensive Plan, The Resource Management Areas are designed to:
Preserve and strengthen existing communities
Tiny houses preserves the dignity of those who believe that less is often more, and provides the versatility to create a housing plan around the intentions and activity of this developing community.
Provide for a variety of land uses and lifestyles to support residents of diverse ages, incomes, and family sizes, including housing that is affordable to residents at or below the median income for Sarasota County.
The mobility of tiny houses allows for adaptability in organic design to achieve optimal land use. Tiny houses are also very affordable, and allow residents to allot more energy into entrepreneurial and community development. Tiny houses attract a variety people who want to live on a smaller budget and participate more in the community. With costs ranging from 2,500$ to 25,000$, tiny houses are incredibly affordable for residents that do not require nor desire a larger domicile.
Preserve environmental systems
Tiny homes leave a very light footprint and do not require the excessive infrastructure of traditional housing so that they can adapt to the environment rather than forcing the environment to adapt to us. With an average of 250 square feet for a tiny house, even with the maximum of 400 dwelling units to be considered as a hamlet, the residential part of the hamlet will only use 100,000 square feet, just a little more than 2 acres, leaving a vast majority of the hamlet’s 400 acres of the natural community intact.
Direct population growth away from floodplains
Tiny houses can be placed nearly anywhere.
Avoid Urban Sprawl
Tiny houses afford us the opportunity to preserve our rural spaces by living lightly upon it, and they can be used to increase urban density without radically changing the existing infrastructure.
Reduce automobile trips
The comprehensive development of a tiny house hamlet, and the opportunity for alternative housing that it offers, includes the implementation of alternative forms of energy and transportation, including solar powered electric vehicles, car share and car pool programs, and the utilization of public transit. Establishing a walkable community like a tiny house hamlet, with public transit offering access to the rest of the county, along with the development of greater sustainability through edible landscaping and community gardens, will also decrease automobile trips.
Provide County central utilities
Implementing the use of solar panels into the development of a tiny house hamlet would more than adequately power the neighborhood, and have more energy to spare for the rest of the County.
Conserve water and energy
Tiny houses are very energy efficient, and they promote moderate living and the conscientious utilization of resources. Equipping each tiny house with solar panels allows each home to be virtually energy independent.
Allocate development costs appropriately
Tiny houses do not require the exhaustive infrastructure development of traditional housing, keeping development costs low and the environment more intact.
Preserve rural character, including opportunities for agriculture
Tiny houses do not require the manipulation of the environment like traditional housing, but can adapt to the environment, allowing for the preservation and greater appreciation of our rural areas while allowing for agricultural development and permaculture design. A tiny house hamlet provides for much more open space than a traditional development, offering the opportunity for more edible landscaping through permaculture design, and more possibilities for community gardens to support the Neighborhood Center, which will include it’s own farmer’s market.
Balance jobs with housing
Tiny houses provide affordable solutions for our current workforce, and their continued development provides jobs for craftsmen and designers. Jobs will also be created by integrating permaculture design, agricultural development, and entrepreneurial incubation into the comprehensive plan.
Create efficiency in planning and provision of infrastructure
Tiny houses can also be easily placed on trailers and moved, offering greater infrastructure versatility and the opportunity for residents to expand the tiny house movement to other communities, providing more job development and another solution to America’s housing crisis.