Georgia City Sued Over Ban on Tiny Houses, Small Cottages
Can the government force you to buy a larger, more expensive home than you want? That’s the question at issue in a lawsuit filed by a nonprofit housing group against Calhoun, Georgia, over its minimum home size requirements.
For the past several years, Tiny House Hand Up, Inc. (THHU) and its executive director Cindy Tucker have sought to provide affordable housing for people in Calhoun by building smaller homes, which are cheaper to build and can be sold to people of modest incomes without the need for government subsidies. However, the city’s requirement that new single-family dwellings be at least 1,150 square feet is frustrating this effort to create private, affordable homes.
Minimum unit sizes, for single-family homes and apartments, are common across the U.S. and considered a major driver of high housing costs. Those with means are forced to purchase more house than they otherwise would, while people with lower incomes are regulated out of the market entirely.
Cities and states that have reformed their regulations to allow for smaller homes—including California’s legalization of accessory dwelling units and Houston’s minimum lot size reforms—have seen a wealth of new development.
But despite repeated conversations between Tucker and city officials about how Calhoun’s own minimum home size regulations are thwarting THHU’s mission, those restrictions remain unchanged.
Earlier this month, the city council also denied THHU’s application for a zoning variance that they requested for their Cottages at King’s Corner development: a project that would build an initial six small homes (with plans to add up to 40) on an eight-acre plot of vacant, donated land.
In response to that rejection, THHU yesterday sued the city and the members of the city council.
“The Georgia Constitution requires that zoning restrictions bear a substantial relationship to the public health safety and general welfare. These minimum home sizes don’t serve any of those purposes,” says Joe Gay, an at
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