Vail Daily editorial: Tiny homes, tiny impact?
February 21, 2017
An Eagle County housing assessment last year estimated that we're in a right-now shortage of around 4,500 units.
Whether or not that's true — and there's reason for skepticism — the fact is that the Vail Valley's housing shortage for most of the past 55 years is about as bad now as it's ever been. That means just about any and all efforts should be welcome in the effort to find places to live for families, seasonal employees and everyone in between.
That said, some healthy skepticism should accompany ideas to bring a number of so-called tiny homes to Minturn and Gypsum.
If you haven't heard of tiny homes, then they're small (as the name implies), usually no bigger than 600 square feet. They're also portable. Many can be towed with a pickup truck. They are, in fact, cuter, better-insulated campers.
Tiny homes are also trendy as the latest video game. TV shows are dedicated to the joys of tiny home life.
Tiny homes are cute, no doubt. But they ask a lot of their inhabitants.
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The biggest requirement is that occupants need is a firm commitment to cutting down on possessions. Most of us have stuff, from clothes to dogs to skis and bicycles. Some of us have too much stuff — or an extra pet or two. A 500-square-foot home won't hold much stuff. How many of us are really willing to do the kind of down-sizing tiny-home living requires? Two people and two labs in a tiny home in January sounds like the very definition of close quarters."
Then there's the fact that tiny homes still require space. Sure, you can wheel in 25 or 30 tiny homes in short order, but the fact is that the same space would also comfortably hold double or triple that number of apartments or condos.
Again, virtually any method of quickly delivering more housing to the valley is worth a hard look. But tiny homes sound like a temporary, partial solution to a much bigger problem. Even if they are adorable.