Lake Dallas Tiny Home Community – Meeting with City Council

Terry Lantrip (of Urban-Retro) is working with the city council and planning & zoning committee in Lake Dallas to create a 15-unit tiny house community. This month, he has asked me to present my views on how the tiny house movement could positively impact the city. Below is my presentation.

For more information about the Lake Dallas Tiny House Community, visit the Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/LakeDallasTinyHomeCommunity/

LakeDallasSitePlan

Lake Dallas Tiny House Community
City Council meeting – July 13, 2017

 

My name is Jet Regan. I currently live in Grapevine and am a database engineer for a healthcare company. I am currently in pre-construction, planning to build my own tiny house in 2018. I am co-administrator of the local DFW Tiny House Enthusiasts meetup group, along with founder Beth Ann (BA) Norrgard of abedovermyhead.com.

I’d like to give you a brief overview of the tiny house movement, both locally and nationwide, because I think a tiny house community in Lake Dallas has the opportunity to make an impact for both tiny house homeowners and the city of Lake Dallas.

 

The Meetup group

Our meetup group has over 2200 members on Facebook and over 2000 on Meetup.com. We are the largest tiny house meetup group in the nation. We host meetups monthly which include hands-on building workshops, educational lectures, tiny home tours, field trips to professional build sites, and social meetups.

Many tiny house homeowners choose to keep their information private due to the current grey-area legal status tiny houses are in, and also to avoid overly-curious and unannounced visitors. That said, in our group, and of those who volunteered their information, we have 12 members who are currently living in a tiny house (typically on the outskirts of town due to lack of urban parking availability), 14 who are currently building their tiny houses in the area, 24 who are currently planning their builds and/or waiting on a known parking spot to start building, and 73 who are currently in the research phase who actively intend to build in the near future.

 

The survey

In January of last year, BA surveyed our meetup group to find out some demographics. 77% of them prefer to live in a tiny house community (versus living on their own land or in someone’s backyard). 79% said they want to live in a suburban or urban area. 73% said they haven’t started building because they don’t know where they’ll be able to park it.

Link to full survey results: http://tinyurl.com/tinysurvey2016

The interest is definitely there – we just need a place to make it happen.

 

National popularity

Let’s zoom out a bit and talk about the rising popularity of tiny houses nationwide.

First, and most importantly, at last year’s International Code Council conference in Kansas City, a group of tiny house advocates, led by Andrew Morrison (of TinyHouseBuild.com) proposed an appendix specifically related to tiny houses to be included in the 2018 International Residential Code. The votes were cast and the appendix passed, and will be included in the 2018 IRC, currently referenced as “Appendix V.”

(Source: https://tinyhousebuild.com/code/)

The media is in love with tiny houses. At least five TV shows (including Tiny House Nation on FYI and Tiny House Hunters on HGTV) document the tiny house movement. Documentaries, podcasts, and magazine articles are recording the process of building, living in, and legalizing tiny houses. Tiny houses were featured at this year’s Dwell conference in Los Angeles. Companies are building tiny houses and touring the country to promote their brands (Behr paints, 84 Lumber, Nestea). Tiny house hotels are popping up all over the US. Airbnb has a growing list of tiny houses available to rent.

Tiny house workshops for those interested in building their own houses are popping up in almost every state, and are led by professional builders. Some are week-long hands-on workshops, others are in-depth weekend-long information sessions, and some are conferences where attendees choose various learning tracks, depending on if they’re planning on building, buying, or are already living in their tiny home.

Tiny house festivals are popping up all over the nation. Just this year, there are festivals in nine different states (Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, New Jersey, Iowa, New York, North Carolina, and Texas).

For the past two years, the Tiny House Jamboree (tinyhousejamboree.com) has been held in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Jamboree is a festival which offers tours of over 50 tiny houses (DIY and professionally-built), space for workshops and speakers, along with an expo for vendors to provide information about and sell tiny house-related items.

During the festival’s first year, they expected attendance to be at about 8,000 visitors, and the organizers and city were stunned when 40,000 people attended. The next year, the event moved onto the Air Force Academy’s grounds, and hosted 60,000 visitors.

This year, the festival has moved to the DFW area, in Arlington, and will be hosted in October. They are expecting a large turnout this year as well, and have expanded the curriculum. Due to the vibrant tiny house interest in Dallas, and Beth Ann Norrgard’s efforts to spur forward movement for legality of tiny houses, the founder of our local meetup group has been hired to run all of the educational events and organize speakers and presentations.

This festival is a great opportunity for potential homeowners and city officials to speak with the homeowners and find out firsthand what it’s like to live full-time in a tiny house. They can also see the high quality of these homes, most of which were built by their owners.

 

Local events

Our local tiny house events have been hugely popular as well. Beth Ann Norrgard has been exhibiting her own tiny house at Earth Day Texas (now called EarthX), held at annually Fair Park, since 2014. Last year, she invited eight other tiny house homeowners to join her, she invited me to join the team as volunteer coordinator, and we had nine tiny homes on display for people to walk through and the homeowners were all on site to answer questions. Last year, we had 37,000 people walk through our doors in 3 days.

This year at EarthX, we had 12 tiny houses on site in two “villages,” the festival provided greenery and charged admission for the exhibit, and 63,000 visitors attended our temporary tiny house community.

With that kind of turnout, we can definitely say that there is interest in tiny homes in the area.

 

Impact to Lake Dallas

Lake Dallas will be the first urban tiny house community in the DFW area, and will gain national publicity for being one of only a handful of legal tiny house communities in the nation.

I was at the vision planning meeting last month after the planning and zoning committee meeting, and what I heard from both residents and the planning and zoning committee was that they wanted to make Lake Dallas a welcoming place for visitors, as well as bring the existing community together with local events.

The tiny house community could fill this need, and be a huge draw for both locals and visitors. The community could host monthly events to include a community BBQ, art showings, kid-focused activities (bounce houses and face painting) – and could bring more income to the city through charging admission for tiny home tours, along with the visitors spending time and money at nearby businesses while they’re in town.

 

My endorsement

I believe Lake Dallas, with its convenient location in the metroplex, could be a benefit to tiny house homeowners, a unique way for the Lake Dallas community to meet their neighbors, and an opportunity for the city to increase visibility and gain revenue. I do hope you continue to discuss the community Terry is proposing, and if I can be of any assistance, please feel free to contact me.

Thank you for your time.

 

Jet Regan
jet@bookendtiny.com

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