Springfield City Council Committee Considers Tiny House Rules

The Springfield City Council Plans and Policies committee met Thursday to discuss changes that would need to be made to city ordinances to deal with tiny homes and Park models versus Recreational Vehicles.

The city currently does not have definitions in city code for many types of housing that are possible for the community, including Tiny House, Tiny House on Wheels, Tiny House Community, Park Model structure, and Recreational Vehicle.

Because those items are not defined in city ordinance, they are technically prohibited inside the city without special dispensation.

City Planning Director Mary Lilly Smith told committee members that city staff want to define thing such as the minimum size for homes in residential single family and townhouse districts, amend zoning to show where tiny home uses could take place, and add to the zoning ordinances permissions for homes that are currently not allowed in the city.

Smith told OI this is just a matter of society getting ahead of zoning.

“The zoning ordinance doesn’t define them so we can’t recognize them as legal use,” Smith said. “It’s just like short term rentals, that was the whole thing with that. In 1995 when we adopted the zoning ordinance, a tiny home village wasn’t even thought of and sometimes that means we can be behind the curve.”

City staff hopes to bring draft ordinances to the committee by late August with hopes of having the full City Council consider the bills by late October or early November.

“I think we have initiated a step toward something that is needed in this area which is affordable housing for all our residents,” Councilman Abe McGull told OI. “We need now to come up with a plan that will compliment the city’s goals and meet the needs of those who are less fortunate so they have a place to stay. I’m excited about this. I think it’s great.”

Councilman Richard Ollis encouraged residents who are interested in tiny homes and the potential city regulation to reach out to their City Council members with comments.