Oregon is already something of a leader in the U.S. tiny house movement—home to tiny house companies like PATH Architecture and Tiny Heirloom Homes, a documentary about local tiny living, and even a Portlandia sketch about tiny houses. The city also recently unveiled a pilot program to built tiny houses for homeless families. So it should come as no surprise that the state’s lawmakers are interested in rewriting municipal zoning codes to make it easier to build homes under 400 square feet.
Bill 2737—the “tiny house bill”—would create new requirements for the construction of these small dwellings, making it easier for people to build safe tiny abodes without resorting to illegal building projects. The bill passed the state’s House of Representatives earlier this month and is being considered by the state Senate, but there is pushback.
Oregon’s building codes administrator, Mark Long, is against the bill, saying it doesn’t do enough to ensure fire safety and pointing out the dearth of research on how fires spread in tiny homes. Long referenced comments from a state senior assistant attorney general that the proposed codes could be viewed as enforcing “lower safety standards” for the homes of lower-income individuals, violating the state’s equal protection laws.
Oregon is suffering from an affordable housing shortage of more than 24,000 units, and many in the state hope tiny homes could fill the gap.