Category Archives: Alaska

09/09 As tiny homes take root, where do you park them in Alaska?

Jason Donig (right) and Jeff Martinson (left) stand in front of the tiny home they’re building.

Jason Donig (right) and Jeff Martinson (left) stand in front of the tiny home they’re building. (Photo by Elizabeth Jenkins/KTOO)

There might be a small solution to the capital city’s housing problem but it’s not without its roadblocks.

A Juneau company is building its first tiny house on wheels to sell commercially and it intends to make more.

The diminutive dwelling is crafted with reclaimed materials and locally-sourced wood.

But the city’s zoning codes haven’t caught up with the tiny house craze…

Donig says he hasn’t seen any of these.

“Me either. ‘Cause I’m afraid,” said Beth Mckibben — a planning manager at the City and Borough of Juneau.

McKibben says she’s afraid because she knows the tiny house zoning issue hasn’t been resolved. Yet, the interest in building small is growing.

Some communities in Alaska are skeptical that this is the solution cities should be looking for when it comes to a tight housing market. Wasilla’s city council recently banned tiny houses for a temporary period, due to concerns about landlords building multiple units on a single lot and what it could do to a neighborhood’s character.

In Juneau, the real issue is what do you do with a house that rolls? You can build a 120-square foot-home on a permanent structure. But can you park one if it’s on wheels in your friend’s backyard?

“Depends on where the house might be so it’s a big fat maybe,” she said.

Maybe because it’s not zoned for every location. Tiny houses on wheels can go in mobile home parks — no problem. But it requires a trip to the planning commission before rolling one onto someone’s private lot.

So far, Mckibben says no one has appeared before them to get the ultimate OK. But she thinks it’s only a matter of time before more small homes start popping up.

“Well, for me, that’s a concern right now. If people are going to buy them, they need to know they can place them somewhere,” she said. “They shouldn’t be making an investment not knowing what they can do with that.”

In Sitka, at least one tiny house on wheels is headed before the planning commission. It would be parked in a residential neighborhood. But nothing’s been decided yet.

Mckibben expects the zoning conversation to happen in Juneau later this year.

02/18 Tiny houses are allowed wherever RVs are

Skagway Alaska emblem
Skagway [Alaska] Borough assembly members passed the first reading of an ordinance that permits tiny house trailers as recreational vehicles where RVs are currently allowed.

The ordinance was recommended by the Planning and Zoning Commission in an effort to relax the restrictions for accessory housing.

The ordinance passed unanimously and will go to second reading.

Source – http://skagwaynews.com/tiny-house-trailers-considered-recreational-vehicles/

Building code map

Handy map of the US. Just click on your state (in the link, not on the picture) to see which building codes are in effect: http://www.iccsafe.org/about-icc/overview/international-code-adoptions/

International Code Council Map

International Code Council map

Park Model RV Regulations, State-by-State

The RVIA has provided a table showing regulations by state for park model RVs
http://www.rvia.org/UniPop.cfm?v=2&OID=3531&CC=7616

What is a park model? 

Below is a description from the RVIA:

On July 1, 2012, RVIA created a new membership category for manufacturers of park model RVs (PMRVs). A park model RV (also known as a recreational park trailer) is a trailer-type RV that is designed to provide temporary accommodation for recreation, camping or seasonal use. PMRVs are built on a single chassis, mounted on wheels and have a gross trailer area not exceeding 400 square feet in the set -up mode. They are certified by their manufacturers as complying with the ANSI A119.5 standard for recreational park trailers.

PMRVs are most often used in recreational vehicle campgrounds. They may be owned by the campground and rented to guests, or they may be brought in and used exclusively by their owners on a site rented or leased from the campground. They can also be placed by their owners on private property. These RVs are used for recreational purposes only. They are not meant to be permanently affixed to the property, they do not improve property values in any way, and they are neither designed nor intended by their manufacturers to be used as permanent residences.

Two different types of park model RVs are offered. One type is less than 8′ 6″ in width and is designed for frequent travel on the highways while the other and more popular type is wider than 8′ 6″ (usually 12′ in width), and must be transported with special movement permit. The 8′ 6″ unit typically is expandable when it reaches its destination utilizing slide-outs or tip-outs. The wider units, being less mobile, are usually sited in a resort or RV park location for an extended term, typically several years. Park model RVs are titled as vehicles by the various states. This is because PMRVs are built on permanent chassis such that they can be and are moved either within a campground or between campgrounds.

Free Online Zoning Codes

Here are two sources of online codes:

  • Municodes from the Nation’s leading legal publisher.
  • The American Legal Publishing Company provides a free online library of state and municipal codes for most locations. Click on the map to go to the library and chose your state and city. Then search or scroll for descriptions of minimum lot sizes, setback rules, etc.

    American Legal Publishing Compay online library

    American Legal Publshing Company online library


    Information is available for all states except these 13: AL, CO, ID, KS, LA, MO, MS, ND, NV, UT, VT, WA, WY.