In 2014, Jay Shafer, founder of Tumbleweed Tiny Homes - that he left in 2012 to found Four Lights Houses, his new tiny houses building company, started planning: he was going to open a tiny houses village in Sonoma County, CA. We know what you're thinking: "What about zoning codes? It's impossible that the county would allow him to build that!" Well, not this time. Turns out that Sonoma County officials were as much in love with this idea as Shaffer is.
According to KQED, Sonoma County planning chief Tennis Wick said that if Shafer is able to find the right place, the right utility hookups and enough financing to build his village, "we’ll find the right permit process for him." His project "Napoleon Complex" had started on the right foot. Despite having had to put off the project until now due to "unforeseen personal circumstances," Shaffer is now back at work and has chosen a lot for his village close to Santa Rosa, CA.
How would the village and the houses look like?
They'd look more or less like in the above and below images; these are homes designed by Four Lights Houses, Shafer's company.
What would the life in the Napoleon Complex be like?
"Company and solitude are most appreciated when they're not forced on us—my village design provides ample room for both," Shafer explains on his website, "I want to live where I can disappear into my little house for days while always knowing that my neighbors are near and that they've got my back." He also refers to his tiny village idea as "co-housing for the anti-social." This village won't force the owners of the tiny houses to have meetings or share anything that they wouldn't like to be sharing. However, there's no need for big appliances taking the valuable space of your tiny abode. "You can share resources like washers, dryers, and lawn mowers," Shafer explains to Sonoma Magazine.
How is the village designed?
Since most of these tiny houses are built on trailer bases, the community would be zoned as an RV park. The difference with a regular trailer park is that the Napoleon complex will have a large shared parking lot to one side of the property. "I have no doubt that this will be the most beautiful "trailer park" in the world," Shafer keeps explaining.
Initially, the Napoleon Complex was designed by Shaffer to look as depicted above. Sonoma Magazine informs that the founder of Four Lights Houses had thought of starting the project with just 8 to 16 houses and a total of 20 residents.
However, the project has expanded a little. "A third of the 13-acre property will be occupied by a high-density core comprised of 60 houses, a 2,300 square foot common house, a community workshop, and more than 2,000 linear feet of gently winding walkways to connect it all. The houses will range from about 100 to 400 s.f.," Shafer explains. For those who prefer a little bit more of solitude, Shafer will most likely leave some acres for low-density housing.
He ended up modifying the plan to include a 50-square-feet storage shed for each tiny home, as well as bike parking, 12 small guest rooms, and a shared kitchen and bathroom.
The location chosen for the Napoleon Complex isn't only perfectly situated, overlooking " one of the state's most biodiverse wildlife habitats," but also is 4-minutes of walking away from a grocery store, a park, and a cafe. Shafer designed the village as an urban infill so people don't have to drive around so much.
We know you're dying to know the cost of living in the Napoleon Complex. Unfortunately, no information regarding the exact price has been disclosed yet. Only that people will own the houses and the land and share the expenses of the common areas, as explained on Sonoma Magazine. KQED adds that it being zoned as an RV park is an advantage when it comes to saving money since RV owners don't have to pay property taxes.
Why is this significant?
According to KQED, the most difficult part of this project has been finding financing for it. Shafer is now confident that the village will be ready by the end of 2016 and also that an idea like this is one of the best solutions for such an expensive place as California can be. "This part of the world is as expensive as it is beautiful, so it's an ideal spot for a bunch of little houses. There's a dire need for truly affordable homes in this, and many other, pricey areas. Smaller, more efficient houses of quality fit the bill."
Shafer is well aware of how difficult is to find a place to build or put a tiny house, due to the intricate zoning codes and laws that vary from state to state, county to county or even town to town. That's why he's really interested in making an idea like this one work. "For the Tiny House Village idea to spread, it will have to demonstrate how affordable, sustainable and livable a neighborhood can be," he adds in the blog entry of his website. "What excites me is designing a vital place where everything's there for a reason and the relationship between these essential parts to each other, and their whole, makes perfect sense."
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