Planning Commission will hold public hearings

CALIFORNIA CITY – City staff will move forward with drafting an ordinance regarding Tiny Homes and designating areas for their development following direction from the Planning Commission Dec. 17. Commissioner Ron

“We want to point out that it’s really great to get to a point of constructing Tiny Homes in California City,” said Community Development Director Matthew Alexander. “It’s really a two step process.”

The first step is creating an ordinance to define and authorize construction in the city limits.

If adopted by the City Council, the first ordinance will allow the construction of dwelling units between 150 square feet and 500 square feet. Currently the minimum size dwelling unit within residential single family districts must be at least 1,200 square feet.

“The second step is going to be to rezone properties that are appropriate,” said Alexander. “And it’s important to bear in mind that we’re going to have to go through the notification process for each and every property owner within these areas that are designated for Tiny Homes, as well as all those  property owners within 300 feet.”

Interim Public Works Director Joe Barragan spoke about off-the-grid options for Tiny Homes.

“One of the benefits of these tiny home districts would be if we were able to create tracts where there is currently no water or power,” he said.”The great thing about a tiny home is that it has such a small footprint, you can actually have heating and air conditioning in a split unit, which will draw, depending on the size of the home, anywhere from five to 10 watts. So you’re able to do smaller solar array, maybe a 10,000 kilowatt backup battery.”

A water tank could serve as protection for a fire sprinkler system with another for home use.

“A tiny home can be built these tracts that currently have no water, no power, and be completely off the grid,’ said Barragan. “This would be a great way to give value to the lot and allow these people to be able to do something with their lot.”

Members of the public largely spoke in favor of the tiny homes ordinance including DJ Twohig, president and CEO of Big West Corporation. Twohig and his company have been spearheading the push for tiny homes in California City for several years. He submitted a presentation on tiny homes and went over some of the company’s recommendations and historical perspective on tiny homes.

“Tiny Homes are such an incredible movement across the country,” said Twohig. “They’re known to be innovative, they’re known to be space efficient. People prefer independence: off-the-grid, green, reclaimed, re-imagined, non toxic artisans. A new chapter, baby boomers becoming empty nesters and downsizing minimalists with equity. Millennials without debt. Good for jobs, good for mobility and great for tax base. Great choice for environmentally friendly Democrats and self-sufficient Republicans.

“Tiny Homes are a big movement. This is our opportunity California city. Watch Tiny Home Nation one time and you will be hooked. We are taking the lead in California you will have one of the best areas in the entire state for folks to identify with a tiny home movement.”

Another group that could be interested in tiny homes are military assigned to Edwards Air Force Base.

“You should know that an E5 (basic housing allowance) is $1752  a month and with dependants is $1911 a month,” said Twohig “They would love to buy a beautiful tiny home.”

Army veteran and co-founder of Dust To Diamonds Inc. Mariah Dodson said she also thought tiny homes could be a good fit for California City.

“This is three years later, so it’s so exciting to see this progress that is here within our hands,” she said. “California City needs this. This is very progressive, and it will attract the right types of people. We have the opportunity to tap into the base, they’re at maximum capacity over there. They’re looking for solutions. So environment-friendly, minimalist entrepreneurs are what this is going to attract. The right types of people to California City. This is what we need. I definitely, definitely recommend that you guys adopt this.”

Commissioners directed staff to draft a tiny homes ordinance and bring it forward for the next Planning Commission meeting on Jan. 7 for a public hearing.

Staff then presented information on which tracts they were recommending for a tiny home overlay zone. Two tracts near California City Municipal Airport were recommended as well as one at Neuralia and Minidiburu Boulevard; the Legends property near Central Park was another recommendation as well as the mobile home park on Randsburg-Mojave Road and four tracts in the south east portion of town at the city limits, one alone Sequoia Boulevard between Neuralia Boulevard and Hacienda Boulevard and three farther down Sequoia close to California City Boulevard as well two tracts in the Second Community. Each of the tracts have their own challenges, including some without access to city power, sewer and water.

After some discussion from public and commissioners about restricting or not restricting possible development, direction was given to staff to move forward with all zone overlays and draft an ordinance for a public hearing, also on Jan. 7.

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