Legalize Neighborship's "No Parking" Tiny Home Community
Since March of 2015, Neighborship's "No Parking" has quietly operated space for those interested in experimenting in off-grid tiny house technology and horticulture. We are a Community Garden where members can park movable storage units. We hold a lease on a 9,000 sq ft private lot, pay taxes, are insured, have trash service, water service, internet service, sanitation service and take being a good neighbor damn serious! Some members also serve as security night watch persons (people sleep in trailers). For this we are considered "illegal," by Oakland's code enforcement, which has fined us over $6,000 in the 2020 pandemic winter and demanded that we make the lot vacant. Acknowledging this strange legal fiction, we kept a low profile all these years, but we went public in 2021, created a petition and as luck would have it, a new ordinance that would possibly change the zoning and building code restrictions was proposed to the planning commission in the summer of 2021. The fate of our 9 space Tiny Home community depends on the passage of this ordinance. And depending on how Oakland City Council votes and decides to amend the proposed ordinance, it could mean substantial housing relief to many Oakland citizens and cleaner more humane streets.
Paperwork victory? Or actual housing relief?
This fall/winter Oakland City Council will consider an ordinance that would change zoning, blight and building codes to allow for “Vehicular Residential Facilities” on private properties that can support them.
This means backyards and vacant lots like ours could apply for a permit that would legitimize the use of affordable homes on wheels as housing.
BUT WHEN YOU READ THE FINE PRINT,
DOES NOT INCLUDE NEIGHBORSHIP!
AND IT'S UNCLEAR THAT IT WILL
MEAN MUCH OF ANYTHING FOR ANYONE.
IF IT'S NOT AMENDED.
CONTACT YOUR CITY COUNCIL MEMBER
The Proposed Ordinance has two “poison pills” inside of it that need to be removed to actually bring housing relief and help clean up our streets.
Tell your City Council Member to introduce or endorse a motion to amend the ordinance that would:
1) Exempt Vehicular Residential Facilities (TINY HOMES ON WHEELS) from density regulations.
2) Allow for the flexibility of utility provisions that is in the RV Pilot program language.
Our vacant lot is like many in Oakland. It sat unused for years before we began leasing it. The density restriction for our 9,000 sq ft. lot is 3 units. This is based on the size of a single-family home (2,500 sq ft on average). Tiny Homes or “Vehicular Residential Facilities” should be exempt from that density restriction.
What's to prevent the density from getting out of hand and unsafe? The setback requirements already in the ordinance, in addition to the human reality that people need personal outdoor spaces around their homes. The average Tiny Home is 200 sq ft. If we are held to only 3 units, we couldn't afford the costs to operate the space. This was the same flaw with the RV Parking Pilot, a restriction of 1 unit per lot. To date, not one person has made use of that "paperwork victory." Don't let this ordinance be the same.
Our vacant lot, like most in Oakland, by definition does not have traditional utilities connected to it. This is what makes it affordable to lease and is largely why it hasn't been developed yet. The costs to connect to the traditional electrical and sewer grids are in the $100,000’s range. The current ordinance does not allow flexibility to use more 21st century solutions to utility needs.
At Neighborship “No Parking” we get our power from Solar panels and store that energy in battery banks, which are safer and more resilient than grid power. We use a sanitation service to deal with our human waste, and greywater systems to deal with our wastewater.
Our sewer systems are aging, bloated with costs, clogged by the trickle of modern water-saving appliances, and will inevitably need to be rethought this century.
Tell your City Council Member to amend and vote yes to this important and long-overdue course correction in Oakland housing restrictions. Enough is Enough!