Right next to the harpists’ colony, you spot an odd sight. At first, among the trees, it looks like an RV park.
But then you realize: there’s no RV in here. It’s all houses. Lilliputian houses. Tiny Houses.
I’ve read about them, of course, and my li’l heart always gives a leap at the thought. They’re so right for now, for dialing back on the “more is better” ethos. I crunch through the gravel of this space in the trees, past these little houses — on wheels, but still houses. You can’t help noticing they are all different designs. One looks like a little farmhouse; one’s a log cabin; one’s red, boxy, and super-simple, like a Mies van der Rohe Bauhaus design. Another looks like a cut-down version of a 1950s suburban house.
“Welcome to the first Tiny House village in San Diego,” says Jon Block. He has partnered with his sister, Melissa, who’s a realtor, to create this village. He says you have choice of flavor, too. Like one house is “Crystal Zen,” with an eastern, meditation feel; another’s “Sedona Spirit,” a third is “Blue Sky,” and the fourth is ‘The Green House.” “That one’s 420 marijuana-friendly,” he says.
Who comes? “We get a lot of younger couples, and a lot of hikers taking a break from the Pacific Crest Trail.”
Weekday charges, including cleaning fees, run around $120. Monthly rental’s about $1200, Block says.
They both got hooked on the tiny house movement, Block says, because the ever-larger size of houses was just getting “ridiculous” (new single-family homes averaged 2662 square feet in 2013, according to Wikipedia). Tiny houses, on the other hand, max at 1000 square feet and go down to 80 square feet.
“It’s to do with materialism fatigue,” Block says. “I was a successful motivational speaker. I was getting $5000 per seminar client. But I got bored with the seminar business. And I had family issues. Living in big houses is a lonely life. I got divorced. I needed a new challenge. My sister bought this RV park. She liked the environmental benefits of downsizing. You use less energy, you regain a kind of intimacy, you talk more, you’re closer to nature and each other, and these tiny houses are cute, and a growing trend. Melissa getting this RV park was perfect timing.”
He is inspired by projects such as Portland, Oregon’s “Caravan” tiny house hotel, a charming collection of six tiny houses around a courtyard which feels more like a gypsy camp than a hotel. He wants to spread this idea of tiny villages. “I mean, having two people living in 2000 square feet of house is ridiculous. You don’t own it, it owns you.”
Downside to tiny house living? “You cannot let clutter happen. And I like to stand up when I get out of bed. With our loft beds, that’s not going to happen. And I like to party. No room inside.”
Of course, a lot of neighborhoods won’t want small houses to drag down their property values. (At $25-35K each, they’re super-affordable, and could help homeless issues.) But Block hopes that the green results Tiny houses promise will transform NIMBYism into THIMBYism: “Tiny Houses In My Back Yard.”