Tiny Homes in Placer County
As part of the Housing Related Code Amendments approved in Summer 2022, Placer County has approved movable tiny homes:
- as ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units or “Accessory Homes”)
- as primary units in certain zones
- in cluster lot developments (“moveable tiny house communities”)
"Creation of moveable tiny houses, under Article 17.56, Section 17.56.400 (Moveable Tiny Houses) establishes general regulations to guide the location, design, and development for moveable tiny houses. A tiny house is required to have its own address, either through an electrical permit or through a sewer or septic permit if the tiny house uses solar; and must be licensed by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. It will also have to meet the standards of the base zone, or the standards of an accessory dwelling unit if the tiny house is being used as an accessory home. Based on concerns about design, language was added to mandate design which respects the surrounding neighborhood and does not allow for recreational vehicles or campers to qualify as tiny houses."
- Tiny Home Industry Association Webpage
Checklist: See the Checklist for Movable Tiny Homes in Placer County here Version OptionsTiny Homes in Placer CountyHeadline.
How does Placer County define Moveable Tiny Homes?
“Moveable tiny House” or “moveable tiny houses” means a separate, independent living quarters that is no larger than four hundred (400) square feet; includes basic functional areas that support normal daily routines, including a bathroom, a kitchen, and a sleeping area; is mounted on a wheeled trailer chassis; is designed and built to look like a conventional residential structure, using conventional building materials, and is thus architecturally distinct from traditional mobile homes and recreational vehicles; and is titled and registered to tow legally under the California Department of Motor Vehicles (See Section 17.56.400 for specific use requirements applicable to moveable tiny houses).
How does Placer County define Moveable Tiny House Communities?
“Moveable tiny house community.” See “Cluster lot development.”
“Cluster lot development” (land use) means as to this chapter a residential or mixed-use development intended to create a more compact residential footprint to preserve and maintain working agricultural lands, natural lands, or open areas, or to create a cooperative community or workspace. Cluster lot development is a clustered group of 4-12 dwellings arranged on a development site around or adjacent to usable common area. Cluster lot development may also encourage affordability, innovation and variety in housing design and site development while ensuring compatibility with surrounding land uses. Cluster lot development may occur on single or multiple parcels and may consist of single-family or multifamily dwelling units. Common spaces are protected with an easement and maintained and monitored by a homeowner’s association or other entity. Cohousing is an example of a cluster lot development in which community facilities are constructed to foster social interaction. See Section 17.54.115 for specific use requirements applicable to agricultural, conservation or open space cluster lot development, cottage housing development, and moveable tiny house community.
Where are they allowed?
If used as an accessory dwelling unit (ADU): If used as an ADU, moveable tiny houses are allowed with a Zoning Clearance in Residential Single Family (RS), Residential Multifamily (RM), Residential Agricultural (RA), Residential Forest (RF), Neighborhood Commercial (C1), General Commercial (C2), Commercial Planned Development (CPD), Highway Services (HS), Resort (RES), Mixed Use (MU), Agricultural exclusive (AE), and Farm (F) zones.
If used as single-family dwelling: If considered a single-family dwelling, moveable tiny houses are allowed with a Zoning Clearance in Residential Single Family (RS), Residential Agricultural (RA), Residential Forest (RF), Resort (RES), Agricultural Exclusive (AE), and Farm (F) zones. Single family dwellings are only permitted in the Residential Multifamily (RM) zone as part of cluster lot developments.
If part of a moveable tiny house community: Moveable tiny house communities are allowed with a Zoning Clearance in Multifamily residential (RM), Commercial Planned District (CPD), and Mixed Use (MU) zones. They are allowed with a Conditional Use Permit in Resort (RES) zones.
Full Ordinance: 17.56.400 Moveable tiny houses
When allowed, by Section 17.06.030 et seq. (Allowable land uses and permit requirements), in the zone applicable to a site, moveable tiny houses are subject to the requirements of this section.
- Addressing. A moveable tiny house shall obtain a separate address with an electrical permit.
- General Standards. Moveable tiny houses that function as a primary residential dwelling are subject to the standards of the base zone. Moveable tiny houses that function as accessory dwelling units are also subject to Section 17.56.200 (Accessory and junior accessory dwelling units). All accessory storage shall comply with Section 17.56.250 (Storage, accessory-indoor and outdoor).
- General Requirements. A moveable tiny house is subject to the permit requirements established by Sections 17.06.050 (Land use and permit tables), 17.06.060 et seq., (Zone district regulations), and the base zone district.
- Zoning Clearance. A moveable tiny house shall be required to undergo zoning clearance to demonstrate compliance with all standards described below, and is subject to all applicable fees and charges, unless exempted by county code.
- A moveable tiny house shall be:
- Licensed and registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles or California Department of Housing and Community Development; and
- Exempt from parking regulations.
- A moveable tiny house shall not:
- Be larger than allowed by California state law for movement on public highways;
- Exceed one story; or
- Be able to move under its own power.
- A moveable tiny house shall be located at a fire separation distance of at least four feet from an adjacent lot line and at least ten (10) feet from any other structures on the premises.
- When sited on a parcel, the undercarriage, including wheels, axles, tongue, and hitch, shall be concealed from view. The wheels shall be skirted or removed and shall sit with leveling or support jacks on a paving surface designed in accordance with Section 17.54.070(C) (Design and improvement of parking).
Living Area Extensions. The roof and all exterior walls shall not be fixed with slide-outs, tip-outs, or other forms of mechanically articulating room area extensions.
Appearance. To maintain the character of residential areas, a moveable tiny house shall be designed to look like a conventional residential structure rather than a recreational vehicle, as depicted in the graphic below. This shall be done by incorporating design features and materials typically used for houses, such as typical siding or roofing materials, pitched roofs, eaves, residential windows, etc.
- Egress. A moveable tiny house shall have a minimum of two means of egress, one of which shall be the main entrance and one of which shall be in each sleeping area(s). Entrance and egress stairs, pathways, and windows shall be constructed in accordance with state standards.
- Foundation and Structural Components.
- If a moveable tiny house is retrofitted for placement on a permanent foundation, it must meet building and fire safe standards.
- A moveable tiny house shall be tied down with anchors or otherwise stabilized as designed by the manufacturer; or
- Wheels shall be skirted or removed when parked. Skirting may be made from materials such as lattice, fencing, planter boxes, etc.
- Structures such as porches, decks, sheds, and gazebos shall be designed to detach from the moveable tiny house. Uncovered porches or decks less than thirty (30) inches in height and less than two hundred (200) square feet do not require building permits. Permanent roofed structures over one hundred twenty (120) square feet do require building permits.
- Water and Sewer. A moveable tiny house shall be connected to water supply and sewage disposal facilities approved by the county’s environmental health department and building services division.
- Energy. A building permit shall be obtained for installation of a subpanel appropriately sized for the moveable tiny house’s amperage, electrical pedestal, and approved exterior outlets in the location the moveable tiny house will be located, unless otherwise designed to be self-contained to provide equal electrical accommodations (e.g., fully relying on solar power and battery backup). Separate electric meters may be permitted if approved by the building official and utility supplier.
- All mechanical equipment shall be incorporated into the structure, and shall in no case be located on the roof with the exception of solar energy panels or collectors.
- Certifications. A moveable tiny house shall comply with the standards set forth in California HSC 18027.3. A moveable tiny house shall be certified by a recognized national certification body as complying with these standards and a certified label shall be placed on the moveable tiny house to demonstrate compliance.
- Fire. When located on a premise where the primary dwelling unit is protected with an automatic fire sprinkler system in accordance with the California Residential Code, a moveable tiny house shall be protected with an automatic fire sprinkler system.
- When located within the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone, a moveable tiny house shall satisfy the following additional requirements:
- A moveable tiny house shall be protected with an automatic fire sprinkler system in compliance with Section R313 of the California Residential Code even if located on a premise where the primary dwelling unit is not protected with an automatic fire sprinkler system;
- Exterior walls shall be constructed with ignition-resistant materials in compliance with Section R337 of the California Residential Code; and
- Glazed openings, including skylights, shall comply with Section R337 of the California Residential Code.
- Minimum Wind and Snow Loads. A moveable tiny house shall be constructed to withstand minimum snow and wind loads for the proposed parking location, as described in Chapter 15, Article 15.04 and Section 15.04.290 of the Placer County Code.
- Parking. Parking standards are set by the base zone district or use as set forth in Section 17.54.060 (Parking space requirements by land use).
- Access Standards. Access roads shall meet state and local fire safe standards as determined by the serving fire agency and County Land Development Manual. Encroachment permits may be required to address ingress, egress, and sight distance requirements for access to county-maintained highways. (Ord. 6144-B § 33, 2022)
The ordinances and Housing-Related Code Amendments staff report can be found here15A.
For questions, contact [email protected]