Chelsea Rustrum can picture her future tiny house village like she’s looking at a postcard.
Located within commuting distance of San Francisco, it has 10 to 20 homes on wheels nestled in the grass. They circle a community center where residents can grill over a fire pit, stage a film screening, and tend the garden. Pathways connect homes to the hub like spokes on a wheel, and each 150-square-foot abode has as much character as its owner.
“I saw creatives, entrepreneurs, mindful people, and those of all ages living the dream by doing more with less,” Rustrum, who works as a consultant on the sharing economy, tells Tech Insider. “I thought about how much money people would save, and how they’d value each item they owned with more fervor.”
What she didn’t see coming was a legal battle.
The problem is that most city and county governments don’t authorize residences under a certain square footage. Development codes have requirements on plumbing, utilities, and building foundations that such unconventional dwellings can’t possibly meet.
Cute as they may be, tiny houses are often illegal…
“Money isn’t an issue. We have a number of investors ready to be part of the project,” Rustrum says. “Interest isn’t the issue. I have thousands of people who want to live there and multiple people emailing me daily to ask about the progress of the village.”
She estimates that between land, development, design, and engineering, the tiny house village will cost at least $1 million to build.
Rustrum and her team of 10 cohorts now regularly meet with city and county government officials, and are developing templates for legalizing tiny homes in towns surrounding the Bay Area.
They’re also planning a hackathon, where designers, developers, civic engineers, lawyers, teck workers, and other tiny house evangelists would come together to brainstorm ways to remove legal hurdles.
“It’s going to take more than talking to city officials,” Rustrum says. “It will take the public to say, ‘we want this.'”