McKenzie River Reflections - Make the McKenzie Connection!

Could tiny homes become a McKenzie housing option?


September 30, 2021 | View PDF

EUGENE: The Lane County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday heard an update on how siting tiny homes on private properties might become easier to accomplish. Keir Miller, manager of the county’s Land Management Division gave a background report including a review of how the smaller structures could help recovery and housing needs following the Holiday Farm Fire.

“Current regulations enable the use of tiny homes through various permitting paths. However, their use is not widespread outside of urban growth boundaries due to density limitations established under state land use laws,” Miller noted. “Further, the use of a tiny home as permanent dwelling requires nearly the same level of building code review as a traditionally sized domicile,” he added.

The Small Home Specialty Code was created under Oregon House Bill 2423 in 2019). The code requires that tiny homes meet the same requirements contained in the Oregon Residential Specialty Codes with some exceptions. Provisions include lower ceiling heights and allow a sleeping loft accessed by a ladder if the tiny home is under 400 square feet and contains a fire protection system approved by the local building official. That type of tiny home would need to be permanently attached to a foundation.

Despite their small footprint, permanent tiny homes are considered dwellings under state land use laws. That means parcels with established dwellings generally cannot qualify for the placement of a tiny home. In addition, permanent tiny home villages - which are becoming more and more common within cities - are not permitted in unincorporated areas.

Other options include an accessory dwelling unit that could be up to 1,000 square feet and must be hooked up to existing septic and electrical systems.

A third possibility covers structures that have been built on a chassis. Some might resemble “tuff shed” type construction. Others are actual recreation vehicles licensed by the Oregon Dept. of Transportation. Although RV’s face a much simpler planning process review, they’re currently limited to a six month maximum length of stay.

Miller said his department is now working to have updated regulations ready by the summer of 2022.


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