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Vol. 17 No. 43 - August 9, 2017


Getting tiny


It seems like every few years there’s a new vogue in housing. We’ve lived through mega mansions, villas, deed restricted single-family communities, condominiums and zero lot lines just to name a few. Now it’s the turn of the tiny house. Fans of HGTV probably already know everything they want to know about tiny houses, but there have been a few recent developments in the phenomenon right here in Florida.

Cape Coral, our neighbor to the south, is very close to making a decision on amending its 1,200 square-foot minimum house size requirement in order to allow tiny houses. There is no definitive size for what can be classified as a tiny house, but the Cape Coral planners are looking at tiny homes starting at 610 square feet, in addition, they are considering establishing a special zoning area for tinies.

This topic has also come up in planning commissions in Sarasota and Charlotte counties as well as Venice, Punta Gorda and North Port. Of course, the biggest worry that existing homeowners have is property values and the impact of placing a tiny house among a neighborhood of 1,600 square feet homes.

The closest Anna Maria is getting to the tiny home issue is the Hunter’s Point Resort & Marina proposed for the village of Cortez. If approved, the developer hopes to start building in early 2018, 148 mini-cottages of about 400 square feet each designed in the Cracker cottage style. In addition, the cottages will come with 1,000 square feet of outdoor living space and have access to a 49-slip public marina.

The price point is set to be around $250,000, and owners will be able to enter their cottages into a hotel rental program. In my opinion, this will extend Anna Maria’s rental problems over the bridge to Cortez. Something, frankly I’ve been expecting.

Proponents of tiny homes point out their reduced impact on the environment as well as creating the ability of living more economically with lower construction and land costs, as well as low utilities and general upkeep. In addition, tiny homes could fill a need in the real estate market for single people, first time homeowners and senior citizens who may find themselves alone and not needing a large home any more.

The tiny home movement is getting so popular that we now have tiny home festivals. In November, St. Augustine has one scheduled for the 17th at the St. Johns County Fairgrounds, and Colorado had its first annual tiny home festival at the end of July. The festivals will inform potential buyers about not only tiny home structures and affordability, but also about simplifying your life, minimalistic living and living greener.

It makes me crazy to think about tiny houses on Anna Maria, although there are aspects of the Island that would certainly lend themselves to tiny houses. Scarcity of land, a vibrant tourist season and high property values could have developers drooling just thinking of the possibilities. Let’s hope we don’t add tiny homes to the already long list of housing issues the three cities are currently dealing with.

Tiny living is getting more traction around the country as environmental issues heat up, but it’s unlikely to convert any sizeable portion of the population. I keep thinking of a friend of mine who said a good 30 years ago that he wanted to keep all his possessions on a shelf. Was he ahead of his time or was he just unrealistic? I think he might have had a problem getting his 35-foot boat up on the shelf.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper