Tiny Houses, Big Possibilities in Atlanta

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Photo Credit: Tiny House Atlanta

This article originally appeared in the Saporta Report Thought Leaders section in June, 2016.

Photo Credit: GA Tiny Rentals

Tiny Houses have captured the imagination of Americans who are questioning their high-consumption lifestyles. While the typical American home is 2,500 square feet, Tiny Houses encourage creative lifestyle choices by restricting space between an average of 400-750 square feet. People across the country are joining the Tiny House movement in an effort to minimalize their impact on the environment, their financial burdens and the limitations on their time and freedom. Southface supports that agenda, and we recognize that Tiny Houses can also address many community needs. Tiny House communities offer housing stock that addresses affordability, aging in place and responsible resource use. Around the country, we are seeing Tiny Housing development attract top talent of an increasingly mobile workforce, which can enhance regional competitiveness.

Southface recently partnered with the American Tiny House Association and Tiny House Atlanta to perform a feasibility study for the City of Atlanta to identify applicable local and state regulations pertaining to Tiny Houses, Tiny Houses on Wheels, Tiny House Communities and Micro Housing. Atlanta City Councilmember Kwanza Hall co-sponsored legislation initiating the study with fellow Atlanta City Councilmember Carla Smith. Southface’s Robert Reed will lead the study, along with Will Johnston of Tiny House Atlanta and several consultants with expertise in design, building codes, development and real estate financing. This project will pave the way for Tiny Housing solutions in the region by making recommendations on floor area minimums and examining the reasoning behind existing regulations.
Part of the study’s work will also determine land and construction costs, analyze appraisal values of Micro Housing in an effort to enable development of pocket communities throughout neighborhoods in the City of Atlanta. The American Tiny House Association will be a crucial partner in conducting research at a national scale for best practices from cities and states from Florida to California and the Pacific Northwest.

This study comes at an important time for Atlanta’s planning and development community. Currently, Tim Keane, Commissioner of the Office of Planning and Community Development, has commissioned a zoning diagnostic report which will have important repercussions for Micro Housing and Transit Oriented Development in the city. The diagnostic will expose financing standards and zoning requirements that call for parking and floor area minimums that go well beyond code, often forcing sprawling and unsustainable development patterns.

You can join the movement by supporting Tiny House Atlanta and participating in upcoming community engagement meetings for the feasibility study. The first Tiny House Town Hall meeting was a resounding success. More than 50 people gathered at Southface to share their perspectives and visions on what Tiny Houses could mean for Atlanta.

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