Tonight we knocked on all 22 doors of the rowhomes backing on the lot, meeting a bunch of folks and leaving flyers at the rest. It was great to get out and meet neighbors, answer questions, and start off our engagement on a positive note. We dropped off fliers with some general information on what we’re up to:
What’s planned for the alley lot behind my house?
The alley lot changed ownership on March 26th and will be undergoing a transformation over the next 6+ months. All concrete will be removed from the lot, and a community garden area will be installed in the southern area. 10-15 trees will be planted, and a 8’x20’ garage/storage structure will be permitted and erected. The existing parking area on the west side of the lot will be gravelled, and will serve as long term parking for four to five 8’x22’ tiny houses on wheels. The center of the lot will remain an open, grassy area with a picnic table open to the community. We look forward to discussing plans further with the community at the next community association meeting in May.
What are tiny houses?
Tiny houses on wheels provide an affordable, attractive, environmentally-friendly housing option for 1-2 people. Nationally the tiny house movement is growing, although most of these mobile units have been built on the West coast and parked in backyards in cities or on rural lands. As property values and rents rise across the city, we want to showcase this potential option for low-cost District living. Some of the best designs for tiny houses on wheels come from Tumbleweed Tiny Houses (http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com). Adding small units to empty alley spaces also draws on a rich DC tradition of African American alley dwellings and alley culture that began during the Civil War era and continued during the Great Migration, as chronicled in a great book, ‘Alley Life in Washington’ by Jame Borchert.
Where can I see a tiny house on wheels?
There will be a tiny house on wheels on display at the ‘Repurposing Space’ event this Sunday, April 15th, Noon-5pm at the new Wangari Gardens. The gardens are located nearby – west of the Washington Hospital Center/Children’s Medical Center, bordered by Irving St. NW, Kenyon St. NW, and Park Pl. NW. More information is available at: http://repurposingspace.wordpress.com
What about zoning?
The alley lot is zoned R-3. Current DC code does not permit the construction of habitable dwellings on a foundation on an alley lot unless the alley has a width of 30 feet or greater (see 11-2507 / R-3 Buildings on Alley Lots). Private parking of vehicles and trailers (what tiny houses on wheels are classified as) on private property is permitted under DC zoning, as long as parking is not operated as a business (a DCRA license would be required in this case, and the owner does not plan to rent spaces or operate a business on the lot). Per 11-321 (R-3 Accessory Uses and Buildings) and conversations with DCRA, a private garage up to 900 square feet may be constructed on the property.
Will I be able to park my car on the lot?
Prior to lot cleanup, parking will be allowed only to neighbors with a free windshield parking permit (the one with a tree on it). Unfortunately, after the lot is cleaned up and garden/garage installed, parking will not be permitted on the lot. While we understand parking in the neighborhood is limited, with few exceptions all rowhomes abutting the lot have up to 2 potential parking spaces behind them.
Who are you all?
We (Lee, Brian, Gaby, Steve) are some DC residents who own and rent homes nearby. We are interested in tiny houses on wheels as a model of simple, affordable living. We will be building the homes this summer and won’t be living in them full time, although we will park them on the lot until other arrangements are made. We really look forward to meeting you all and being respectful neighbors/stewards of the lot. Please contact us with any additional questions, or if you’re interested in a garden plot or free temporary parking permit.