Santa Cruz County Leaps Over Other Jurisdictions to Lead The State In Innovative Housing
Santa Cruz is the First County in California to Legalize Tiny Homes on Wheels as Primary Homes
Santa Cruz County, CA, November 2022 – Santa Cruz County Supervisors led by First District Supervisor, Manu Koenig, unanimously passed SCCC 13.10.680 to legalize tiny homes on wheels as single-family dwellings to provide a lower cost housing option in the County, which is particularly needed by those who lost their homes in the CZU lightning fire in 2020. Making good on his campaign promise, Supervisor Koenig along with Supervisor McPherson shepherded the new ordinance through the arduous process of the many commissions, public hearings, staff research and reporting required to make a change in the County’s definition of housing. By defining a tiny house on wheels as a habitable independent dwelling,
people may now move a tiny house on wheels onto a residential property, and then live in it. This will save years off the usual process of building a house, obtaining many building permits, inspections, and costly utility hookup requirements. The new permits will be available via a “ministerial” process. This means that the county staff must grant a permit if the requirements are met. There is no opportunity for planning staff to delay or deny a permit application based on their opinions, which has been a major point of contention for other home builders.
Numerous jurisdictions in California had already legalized THOWs – The city of Los Angeles, city of San Diego, city of San Jose, city of Oakland and county of Santa Clara being the largest. Smaller areas including San Luis Obispo, Humboldt, Fresno, and even Ojai, beat Santa Cruz by legalizing THOWs to be used as accessory dwelling units, also known as granny flats. However, Santa Cruz County is the first municipality in the state to legalize THOWs as both accessory units and as primary homes. In Santa Cruz County a property may have a THOW as it’s first and only dwelling. It isn’t necessary for a stick-built single-family dwelling to already be on the lot. Oakland is leading in the process to permit tiny home villages.
THOWs could be a game changer for creating housing in the places such as Santa Cruz, described as the worst housing markets in the country year after year.