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On the Road Again . . .

towingthehouseI’ve moved at least once a year, since I left home for college in 1998. In the last year, Logan and I moved three times. We’ve lived in Portland, Little Shasta, Red Bluff, and now we are in Chico, California. Moving so frequently has given me the opportunity to meet new people and to live in both cities and rural areas. On the other hand, moving is stressful and moving so much makes it hard to feel like I’m part of a community. By the time I feel comfortable in one place, it’s time to move again.

The latest move . . .

On July 1, 2013, we moved to Chico, CA. Our tiny house is parked on a one-acre parcel in the city and I love our new neighbors. I felt hopeful that we could call Chico our home for the next few years. We assumed that the tiny house would be okay in terms of code and zoning since a second mobile dwelling had resided on this lot for twenty years. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.

In mid-August, our neighbors — the landowners — received a letter from the City of Chico that stated we were out of compliance with the city zoning code. A community member complained about our tiny house and that’s why the city sent us a letter. Since then, we’ve had multiple conversations with the city planning department and the staff has been extremely helpful and nice! Sadly, the tiny house doesn’t fit into the zoning and maintenance codes neatly. The little house isn’t an RV or a mobile home or an accessory dwelling unit. It’s a hybrid of all three and it doesn’t have a place in the city code.

Even if we were able to work a solution for the tiny house to stay on this lot — in the City of Chico — we would have to do the following:

  • Submit a site plan to the city and county.
  • Hook the tiny house up to the city sewer system, which is more complicated than it sounds.
  • Retrofit the bathroom in the tiny house, which would include taking out the paneling and installing a flush toilette.
  • Have an engineer or architect review our tiny house plans and approve them.
  • Pass inspections by the City of Chico, Butte County, and the California Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • Paneling and flooring of the house interior would need to be taken out for electrical and plumbing inspections.
  • Tie the house down to a foundation and take off the wheels.

The list above is only a small part of the story. In addition, these changes would cost a lot of money that we aren’t willing to spend and create additional stress in our lives. Modifying the house to this extent is not the right option for us.

I debated whether or not I should share this news with you because we still don’t have a firm understanding of how the City of Chico would classify the tiny house. However, I believe it’s important to highlight the complex nature of tiny house living. And, hopefully you can learn from our mistake. Upon reflection, we should have done a better job researching the City of Chico’s zoning codes before we moved. If we move the house to another city, I will be visiting the planning department before we tow the house down the road. I don’t want to be caught in a similar stressful and emotional situation again. We love our tiny house, but the experience with the City of Chico and my recent back injury caused me to rethink the long-term feasibility of tiny house living.

Moving forward . . .

Since Logan is still looking for full-time work, we’ve decided to move back to the ranch. Logan will be able to help his family and we can reassess what is best for us. We are starting to pack-up the tiny house and will tow the house down the road on Friday, September 6th. I’m actually relieved to be moving back to the ranch. After so much upheaval, I’m looking forward to the quiet and the amazing scenery.

I want to continue living in the tiny house — in Northern, California — with Logan and the kittens. However, we are open to the idea of leaving the tiny house at the ranch — and using it as a vacation home — especially if Logan gets a faculty position at CSU, Chico or Southern Oregon University. The thought of leaving the tiny house behind makes me sad. Yet, we can still live simply even if it’s not in the tiny house.

More than anything, I’m grateful to be healthy again and I’m not in pain; that by itself is amazing! Plus, I have an incredible support system. We aren’t rich, but I have my health and good relationships — two things that are extremely important.

Be well,

P.S. If you are interested in reading additional articles about our tiny house moving adventures, check out these essays:

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Linda September 1, 2013, 11:09 am

    oh my days! I can’t believe you have to move yet again, especially after your back injury.

    All that zoning stuff sounds very complicated. I think it’s similar here in UK, if not stricter, as the only real place to have tiny houses is on land you already own. Which is counterproductive if you want to avoid the mortgage route….

    I’m also happy that you’re moving back to somewhere familiar for a while. Little Shasta is stunning! I hope that Logan’s job search goes well, and if you have to get an apartment in the city, at least you know that you can live in the smallest place, and not have to worry about having enough space!

    Life is a big adventure!

    • Tammy Strobel September 1, 2013, 11:18 am

      Hi Linda – Indeed! Life is a big adventure. I’m happy to be moving back to Little Shasta. It will be good for us!

      And yes, all the zoning stuff is very complicated. There are a lot of risks when it comes to buying a tiny house and we were clear on those risks before we purchased our home. However, the experience with the City of Chico makes me wonder if tiny homes are really viable for city living.

      As a side note, I was SO impressed with the city planning department. The folks who work in planning were extremely nice and helpful.


  • Sandra Pawula September 1, 2013, 11:41 am

    What challenging news, Tammy! I’m so sorry you will have to move the tiny house and both of you again. Hopefully, there is a silver lining in this cloud. Hope you feel well and happy on the ranch and Logan finds the perfect position.

    • Tammy Strobel September 1, 2013, 5:46 pm

      Hi Sandra – I’m excited about the move. It was really hard to leave back in May. I’m looking forward to another fun adventure. xo.

  • Katie September 1, 2013, 11:42 am

    I’m sorry to hear about your housing challenges in Chico. It sounded like a great move for the two of you. I can totally understand how weary you must be of moving so often – I can SO relate. As always, I love your attitude about life and know that whatever you decide to do, things will work out. Best of luck with the move and Logan’s job hunt!

  • Divya September 1, 2013, 11:53 am

    the small house leaving seems so exciting. after reading your experience it is horrifying. You are able to manage only because you are so much used to move once every year.

    I liked your spirit and you still enjoy your tiny house.

    • Tammy Strobel September 1, 2013, 5:59 pm

      @Divya – I’ve learned a lot from this experience. It’s been stressful, but not horrifying. Honestly, I think the tiny house community (and builders) have to confront the issue of zoning and code. Also, it’s essential to make sure tiny houses meet health and safety standards.

  • Erica Breuer September 1, 2013, 12:18 pm


    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on what it’s like to move around so much. I know so few other people that have done so that sometimes I’m not sure if my feelings (those of stress and longing for community) are normal or just mine. It’s reassuring to know that these responses are “normal” 🙂

    Best wishes on the move and PLEASE share what you learn about zoning stuff in the future– it’s such a quagmire to work through!

  • Cynthia September 1, 2013, 12:22 pm

    First of all, I’m so happy to hear you’re no longer in pain; what a relief that must be! As for the stress of moving, I completely understand. My husband and I have moved twice this year, including a big move from central Canada to the east coast. We’re tired, and happy to settle in Halifax, hopefully for a long while! It’s so true that you can’t feel a part of a community if you’re constantly moving; it takes time to build relationships and connections and personally, after many years of moving a lot, I’m tired of losing that sense of community and connection every time I move.

    Whatever happens, you’ve had some wonderful experiences and can look forward to many new adventures. Happy thoughts and hugs from Halifax, Canada!

  • Dan Garner September 1, 2013, 12:57 pm

    What timing – I was talking about you and your tiny house last night. My mother is charmed by the tiny house idea and always sharing pics of them on Pinterest. I was actually commenting that I thought that we would in the future see a lot more small homes, RV’s, etc… being used in place of the traditional 2000 sq. ft. home, but that it would meet a lot of resistance with city and county zoning ordinances.

    I’m sorry you are being uprooted in this manner. Even if you don’t continue to live year round in the tiny home, I’m sure the experience taught you a lot and you have passed your lessons on to others.

    Some of the laws are to protect people, but I feel that most are to control rather than help. A lot of real estate agents, builders, and developers feel very threatened by the idea of tiny, mobile homes. Others are just snobish and feel threatened if you don’t want the traditional home that gives them a false sense of pride and security. There was a huge push in Georgia several years back to make it illegal to live in an RV – even in a legal campground. The excuse was that the lands and sewer systems were not designed for year round occupancy. What difference does it make whether one RV is parked there year round or a different RV each week? Obviously none, but I don’t think that was the point anyway.

    Good luck in future adventures.

  • deborah September 1, 2013, 12:59 pm

    I hope you can find peace in a tiny/small home again where you will not have to keep moving. You’re right, moving is stressful and I did my share of it in my youth. It’s good to put down roots somewhere that you can enjoy a calm, frugal, happy, lifestyle. Just put it in God’s hands and say, “Take me where you will.” 😉

  • Janet Jensen September 1, 2013, 2:08 pm

    Tammy, I am sorry you have to go through with this upheaval. I for a very selfish reason are glad you are moving
    Back to the Ranch. I LOVE your pictures of Mt. Shasta!! Your morning view always lifted my heart.

    May the Ranch and the Mountain heal your body and spirit.

    Best to you and yours to the future.

    Janet, Nevada City, Ca.

    • Tammy Strobel September 1, 2013, 5:52 pm

      Thank you Janet! You are sweet. 🙂

  • Stacy McCoy-Rose September 1, 2013, 2:51 pm

    Things do happen. Taking a deep breath &
    looking on the positive side of an event is a
    very good way to handle it.

  • Trish September 1, 2013, 2:59 pm

    that is so disappointing to run into such impediments! I watched the documentary ‘Garbage Warrior’ about Michael Reynolds, an architect who builds earth ships in New Mexico (I believe). They are off the grid, but he had a terrible time with the local government trying to get approval. It was really disheartening to watch this portion of the documentary. In his arguments he wasn’t allowed to use certain language, ‘global warming’, for example had to be excluded. Beyond frustrating!

    Best of luck. It will be very interesting to see where all this leads you and Logan. I look forward to reading about it.

    • Trish September 5, 2013, 6:22 pm

      I found out the other day that our rural county in Illinois does not enforce codes – there isn’t enough building to support a full time inspector. The zoning laws are strict, to keep people from selling off small parcels of farmland presumably. that would work to the advantage of a tiny house enthusiast.

  • Miss Britt September 1, 2013, 3:01 pm

    This was such an honest post, Tammy, and I appreciate that. It’s important to see that big dreams can be really hard sometimes, and that there might even come a time when it makes the most sense to get a new dream. When that has happened to me, I’ve struggled with doubt, feeling stupid for having taken on the big dream in the first place, and confusion. But in the end, I always come back to being glad that I made the big, crazy decisions.

  • Nina September 1, 2013, 3:22 pm

    I’m crushed. I was excited to meet you. I just moved to Chico 2 weeks ago and am planning on building a Tiny House from FourLightsTinyHouses.com (The Zinn Model). I guess I’ll go in to the planning department and see what I can do to work within the guidelines as a pre-emptive approach to issues? I’m just in the planning stages and thought I would learn a lot from you…I’m learning more than I thought about zoning just from your post. 🙁

  • Nicole September 1, 2013, 3:55 pm

    Dear Tammy,
    There is a season for all parts in our lives. Each season is important for it helps us to navigate the next season. Sometimes they come faster at a more unexpected pace than usual, eh?

    Still the same, whatever you decide and do, I appreciate hearing about you and Logan’s journey. It is real and it is true and it is simply living a life as best as we can so that we manifest in the world what is deep within us. I think that is one of the most important things we can do in this world. To live our life, in love, in connection to that part of us.

    Glad to hear your back pain is gone, I also struggle with Chronic back pain. I have learned to appreciate it more now when it comes because it is trying to tell me something. Lately I have been listening to mine, not wanting to hear the work ahead to make it more at ease, but I am grateful for it still the same.

    Life has bitter and sweet parts to it, which really makes it delicious.

    Although I don’t know you and Logan, I will be thinking of you and sharing your story with my husband. We can learn so much from each other. Another big thank you and a wishing you well in this transition.


  • Joan September 1, 2013, 4:13 pm

    Hello, would just like to wish you luck on your adventure. I would also like to let you know about a place in Florence Oregon, along the coast ,that has a campground like place where everyone actually owns their lot and are able to have it set up like a camp or have a mobile home or even a stick built home. The name of the place is Coast Village in Florence Oregon. Worth checking out. It is beautiful up there!

    … in addition.. the HOA is only 145.oo a month. They also have a community garden there and swimming pools, bath house, post office and you are actually walking distance to town it says. The sights are very private with lots of trees. Plus , there is a community college in town too.and the beach is near by.

  • janeandmoxieontheroad September 1, 2013, 4:28 pm

    hey tammy-that sounds like a drag. ive moved four times in the past two years, twice in 6 months. just getting
    over a bout of pneumonia so I know how that feels. you are lucky to have a person with you and a place to go!
    we are heading back to new England for a while to MY mom’s to re-group also. we have also run into a lot of
    strange and frustrating rules and attitudes towards nomads, and alternative houses. I think this legal/zoning question is going to be THE BIG ISSUE in the near future and I, for one, am going to start some legal research into it and maybe even get some law students interested in the issue!?
    jane and moxie

  • Roger Thompson September 1, 2013, 4:32 pm

    I think people who are knowledgeable in the benefits to the environment, local economy and families etc. should start a letter writing campaign to the City of Chino. This is sad news, I thought Chino was a more progressive city than this.

  • Greg September 1, 2013, 5:58 pm

    Hi Tammy. As an x CA code official and a lover of tiny homes, I don’t think that you could pick a more restrictive state to live in than CA. The regulations that Chico enforces are true for every entity in CA under the California Building and Fire Codes. There really are no exceptions if you try to obtain legal approval. I think that the codes need to be modified to allow for tiny homes, no doubt, but that won’t happen in the near future.

  • Teryl September 1, 2013, 6:25 pm

    Dear Tammy,
    I really appreciate the honesty of this post. I think it is valuable to all. I am glad to hear your pain has subsided. My heart went out to you with the complex red tape of government. I have a home and wanted to put a tiny home on the back of my lot and was told I needed to pay $400 for a zoning board “second driveway” permission to go before the board. I don’t even have a first driveway!!! The back of the lot is fenced in and I would need to ask the neighbors who have driveway access if I could drive down their driveway. So simple and human.
    So I can understand all the mixed feelings and wish you both the very best with all of it and thank you for sharing your breadth of experience with us! Best wishes to you all:)

  • Elaine September 1, 2013, 6:45 pm

    I’m so sorry for you and Logan! I really enjoyed meeting you at the Tiny House Fair and reading about your experiences on your blog. I hope your transition back to the ranch goes smoothly and that life will be happy and peaceful in the coming months.

  • Debbra September 1, 2013, 7:33 pm

    Moving is not my favorite anymore either. I’ve moved so much in my life that I had become really good at it!!! Lol!! Now I continue to downsize, downsize and more downsizing. So much just isn’t so important as I used to think. Simplification and comfort is what I seek now…with a garden.

    Anyway, I wanted to say that I think it is really important to share your city/planning department information for all if us to know. The information is very helpful. Thank you for sharing.

  • Dee Williams September 1, 2013, 9:43 pm

    Tammy, I understand the moving fatigue, and I’m so happy you can move back to the ranch. I can’t wait to visit!
    I just read the comments on your blog and have been talking with some other tiny house folks about your situation, and it seems there is a lot of talk about changing codes to allow for little houses parked in various neighborhoods. I wanted to offer a slightly different perspective. As you know, I have been a hazardous waste inspector for decades and from that I understand that codes/rules are written to address the worst case scenario and least common denominator. So in your case, the city wants to simply focus on what’s safe: that your house was built safely, has adequate electrical and plumbing set ups, and proper sanitation so no one (you or the neighbors) gets hurt. The code is a good thing… really!
    The challenge (or puzzle) is the best way to communicate with them that your house is safe, and the way you’re using it is safe. That’s what the city wants; and thats why they want you to turn yourself inside out to demonstrate that you fit the square hole that the round peg fits into.
    The ‘hybrid’ consideration is a lot to ask of a city or county government; they’re already busy dealing with limited budgets and real, serious risks (think: meth labs rolling around in an RV). So I think your decision to move away but continue to talk from a distance is good one.
    From my perspective, the conversation needs to be less about the code and more about tiny housers fully coming to terms with the unique challenges of properly engineering a mobile home, with minimizing fire risk in a house the size of a Yule log, or with pooping in a bucket. I know your house is well built and y’all are good environmental stuarts and good neighbors, but there was a monetary investment and learning curve to all of that. Not everyone is like you, and the code helps keep them from placing themselves or others at risk.

    Do the codes need to change? Heck ya! Especially as they apply to restricting safely constructed small houses on a single piece of property. But we need to move forward mindfully to best support our desires and those of the city/county municipalities.

    • Tammy Strobel September 2, 2013, 10:54 am

      I agree Dee!!! Thank you for leaving such a thoughtful comment. 🙂

    • Dan Garner September 2, 2013, 2:29 pm


      I understand what you are saying about codes being used to “protect” us and yes some codes and laws are necessary for safety. I also know that codes requiring 1500 square foot minimum for building permits are common and not designed to protect me. Often things that are meant to “protect” us from ourselves are later used against us – Patriot Act – listening in on our cell phone conversations. Regulation offers safety, yes. It also offers a means to control people and make them conform.


      • Tammy Strobel September 3, 2013, 7:24 am

        Great points Dan! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  • Darris September 1, 2013, 10:37 pm

    So sorry to hear of your recent zoning challenges. Sad to hear that people are having trouble grasping the concept of a tiny house and that the building/zoning departments are having such a difficult time figuring it all out. It just shouldn’t be that difficult. It’s been 20 years since I built my last house (not tiny by any stretch : / ) and from what I’ve heard, building in 2013 is a whole new animal with all of the new codes and costs. Cities are desperately looking for revenue streams and in my experience, that is sometimes what drives codes and restrictions. Tiny house builders and dwellers must take the bull by the horns before municipalities stack up so many mazes and brick walls that it becomes financially prohibitive to own and live in a tiny house. You have a refreshing attitude about all of this Tammy . . . I would be a raving banshee : 0

  • Jeff Peck September 1, 2013, 10:55 pm


    I am new to your blog and do not know how to contact you. I am writing here to thank you for you inspiring book , Money Can Buy Happiness and Its Cheap. The ideas presented resonate with me and I hope I will be able to act on on some of the changes you made in simplifying your life. You seem very reflective about you life and strive for peace, purpose, and fulfillment. My thoughts have been following this pattern for the past two years sine I became vegan and I am curious about your thoughts on this subject. As I stated, I am new to your blog so forgive me if you have already addressed these thoughts in the past. I know that my mind, body, and spiirit have improved profoundly since I made that decision. The ideas of the great author, John Robbins and many others have influenced my out look on life and seem to coincide with yours as well. Well, anyway, I was just curious about your thoughts on diet if you have not yet expressed them

    Thanks , Jeff Peck

  • Clark September 2, 2013, 5:57 am

    The bright spot that you are pain-free was wonderful to hear. Thank you for your measured account of the zoning problems and how they have influenced your plans. I am sorry you must move again, relieved you have a wonderful place to go, and grateful for the information and good spirit you share with us.

  • Mark O-W September 2, 2013, 9:28 am

    If everything happens for a reason, then maybe the reason is to get you to forge a way to get planning rules agreed for tiny houses. With 7bn people on the planet, smaller homes can be the only way forward even if the homes end up small rather than tiny. Good luck with the move and embrace the change!

  • Colleen September 2, 2013, 9:54 am

    Hi Tammy and Logan,
    As mentioned in other comments, I too am impressed and grateful for your candor in this post. Lots of folks out there were critical of your choice to live in the tiny house, and it is brave of you to talk about the realities you’ve experienced of late. I’ve really enjoyed reading about your journey (literally and figuratively), and would live in a tiny house if I could. I still have a long way to go in simplifying, and you two are role models. Thanks so much for sharing.

    I’m glad to hear that you’re feeling better. Living with pain is debilitating and life changing. Also glad that you’re happy about going to the ranch. It is stunningly beautiful, and filled with support for you both.

    Best of luck in this next move! Take care of your back 🙂

  • Annika September 2, 2013, 9:58 am

    I am sorry to hear you need to move again. Have a safe journey back to the ranch! And take your time for re-adjusting, planning your next steps and so on. Good luck!

  • Kathy September 2, 2013, 10:19 am

    Living in a “tiny house” is not for cowards. You have to always assess what can fit in and what to take away to keep the tiny house at its ultimate function of giving you shelter and “some” storage, but not too much. As it stands, I need to downsize and declutter my 1200 sq. foot home. It is not big but it has been filled with furniture and accessories that need to be purged.
    I’m sorry to hear that Chico Planning Dept. denied your continued residence but then maybe there is a reason the Lord brought all this red tape. I think of the Psalms that says, “Trust in the Lord and do good. So shall you dwell in the land, and verily you shall be fed.” (Ps. 37:3) God has a place for you to dwell, to be filled with His riches. You are on a wonderful journey that God will direct each day and each move.

    • Nila September 3, 2013, 5:44 am

      Amen and Amen.

  • Karen September 2, 2013, 10:34 am

    No matter what happens, know that a bunch of us out here are rooting for you. The best to you.

  • Elizabeth September 2, 2013, 7:30 pm

    You’re so lucky to have the ranch to go back to — I look forward to your gorgeous photos taken once again from there.

  • Maria Storgaard September 3, 2013, 3:57 am

    Uh that is so sad, I wasn’t expecting that in my inbox. Thanks for sharing, it is important (I think) to share the difficulties of Tiny Living as well as all the good things. Thank you for being honest.
    I really hope you dont give up on the little house.. of course it is there to serve you and not be a burden. Hope with all my heart that you find a god solution:)

  • Nila September 3, 2013, 5:43 am

    I understand the frustration with government zoning. You are young and it takes time and patience. But don’t give up on your dream. It will happen in the right timing for you. After 20 years of running my business, the laws changed and I had to comply or quit. It was time to retire to a small house. However small price rather than house was the result for now. The small “house” boat is in the planning stage. I am loving all the hints, stories, pictures and ideas of the rest of you on this journey.

  • Ethan Waldman September 3, 2013, 9:31 am

    Hi Tammy and Logan. Reading this makes my heart ache and brings on a flood of emotions: Namely, I wish I had gotten the electrical and plumbing inspected before the walls and insulation were up! But that’s not it: This situation is literally my worst fear when it comes to my tiny house. I wonder if you could have done anything differently to avoid this conflict? I don’t think so- you would have contacted the planning dept. in Chico and they would have said ‘no’. Perhaps, you wouldn’t have moved there, or would have picked a spot where the house wasn’t so visible from the street, but still. I think it’s easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission- at least with the current climate regarding tiny houses vs. zoning/planning rules.

    I’ve wrestled with what to do in my particular situation. I absolutely LOVE the piece of property that I found to live on. It is relatively private with few neighbors. The code in the town says that my house is akin to an RV or travel trailer, and that it cannot be lived in for more than 30 days per year. I could go to the zoning board with my intentions and attempt to get a variance, but what if they still said no? If I moved in once they said no, I would be directly disobeying what they told me. If I don’t ask up front and I get caught, I can try to play dumb and negotiate. Neither option feels good to me- the former seems like a losing battle and the latter feels dishonest. Yet, I find that it’s the best option at present time being.

    I’ll be thinking of you both over the coming days.

  • Arianne September 3, 2013, 10:39 am

    I love that you are still committed to the tiny house but aren’t so rigid as to immediately dismiss other options. My favorite part about finding simplicity is the flexibility available. Thank you for sharing your story, best of luck no matter what you choose!

  • Rebecca September 3, 2013, 11:25 am

    Wow! Sorry to hear that you have to move yet again and that the city is being so annoying about having your house in its presence ah, well sometimes you just cant help people who choose to make life difficult for others. Just remember the “stupid” are everywhere.
    I am glad that your back is feeling better just be careful and have Logan do the “heavy” lifting.
    Good luck and I am glad that you have at least somewhere to go with your beautiful house. It is home no matter where it is.
    Take care!

  • Kat September 3, 2013, 11:40 am

    I’m so sorry to hear you are having all this trouble. I really appreciate you writing about it because I’m currently in the midst of seriously trying to figure out whether I could make a tiny home work (I use an electric wheelchair so I have some unique challenges) and reading things like this helps me to really consider all the various aspects.

    I wish you guys the best of luck.

  • Martha "Mat" Sanborn September 3, 2013, 11:56 am

    Tammy, I was shocked to see that you were moving again. The Universe has a funny way of guiding us! It reminded me of a book that I just finished called No Place Like Home by Brooke Berman. It is about a writer who lives in NYC and moves several times within the city to try and makes ends meet and make her dreams come true. It is a fabulous book you may relate to. I also know what it is like to downsize into a small place and then move back into a “stick” house. My family of 4 lived in a 30 foot RV for 3 years while my husband went to nursing school and I homeschooled our 2 children. We now live in a home that I still feel is too big and not cozy enough, but for now we are where we need to be. Life is always changing and no one move is permanent. Glad your back is better. Enjoy Little Shasta, I just drove through there a few weeks ago and it is just beautiful.

  • Laura Bradshaw September 4, 2013, 4:51 am

    Dear Tammy,

    I’m so sorry that the zoning folks couldn’t find a way to interpret the code to allow you to stay in Chico. I work in the zoinng department of a large and wealthy (read: NIMBY-o-rama) county outside of D.C. and would have also found this a hard call to make. Our code would also have required you to hook up to the sewer system (or septic field) the cost of which would have been prohibitive in itself. This experience does point out a cautionary tale for others hoping to live tiny (and mobile). Perhaps some of the requirements of the city could have been satisfied by providing photographs of the construction process. Electrical boxes, and plumbing & framing joins, that took place, keeping the plans at hand etc.

    As Dee has said above the code is really about safety and must capture the scenarios that can arise from people MUCH LESS mindfull than you and Logan. I’ve have really enjoyed the documentation of your travels and travailes and especially the morning view of Mt. Shasta so personally, I’m not sorry to see you return there. I’ll bet the kitties will be happy there too. (BTW, do the kitties stay in the house when you’re on the move or in the cab of the truck? Hopefully this means something else and wonderful is around the corner.

    All Best,

    • Tammy Strobel September 4, 2013, 8:21 am

      Hi Laura – Thanks for leaving such a thoughtful comment. Pictures might have helped, but like you said hooking up to the sewer system was out of the question. Revamping the system on this piece of property would cost between $10,000 to $15,000!

      We are excited about the move to the ranch. Logan and I have been missing it! And, the cats are going to be SO happy.

      When we travel, the kittens are in their carriers in the cab of the truck. It’s too dangerous for them to be in the tiny house.


  • Natalie September 4, 2013, 8:13 am

    I read posts like this and it makes me realize what great courage you and Logan have shown in switching to a minimalist lifestyle with your tiny house. I’m sorry that Chico didn’t work out for you, but I am glad that you have an option of another location to return to in your tiny home. Whatever the outcome of this, you have embarked on an adventure in tiny house living that has changed both your lives, and the lives of your readers in the most positive way. May you find peace and health back at the ranch. I look forward to reading more of your adventures along the way.
    Sincerely, Natalie

    • Betsy McCullen September 5, 2013, 5:35 am

      Perfectly said!! DITTO ❤

  • Diane September 4, 2013, 12:29 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear this, but not surprised either. I think even if you did jump through expensive hoops to comply and were permitted to remain, the neighbor who initially complained would still be hostile to the idea… and who needs to live with that?

    I appreciate your honest posts about the challenges, as well as the benefits, of tiny homes. I’m fascinated by them, but with physical limitations, have really had to decide to look and not leap… and reading your and others’ experiences with building codes has made me even leerier.

    Best of luck!

  • Kevin Keasling September 4, 2013, 3:32 pm

    Sorry to hear about the zoning issues you have had. I hope to someday live in the zinn plan and even though it will be on a foundation and hooked up to city sewer and water the size is the problem. I hope someday zoning will not be a problem for tiny house people. I work a job and pay my taxes but it seems I have little right when it comes to housing. I do love your blog and love that you shared this as it might help more of us to understand the issues with living in tiny houses, but don’t give up the times will be a changing.

  • Detlev September 4, 2013, 6:18 pm

    Yikes, sorry to hear that Chico was so counter-intuitive and legalistic – yes, yes, I know: “they were SO helpful and nice”. LOL

    I’d theorize that if even a portion of our population lived a more nomadic life, not only would such an adventurous and flexible lifestyle be a healthy change of scenery as well as adding to social variety and professional opportunity, but can also give the land a break/breather from its occupants and in some cases have a chance to recuperate.

    In the end, all of this is valuable experience, so NO REGRETS, just adjustments!

  • Betsy McCullen September 5, 2013, 4:52 am

    Tammy & Logan…I am sorry about this stress you have to go thru. As you know, I have followed you from the start. Moving so much IS unsettling and STRESSFUL! I think it is worse when moving without the familiarity of your own Home in tow. Thankfully you have the Farm and the peace of the country should help calm your nerves. I am on the move again too. I am also retiring at the end of October. I am moving back home (akso in Upstate NY) for the fall, winter & spring to a quiet country lakehouse owned by a family that only live there in summer. While there I plan meeting up with a small home designer that resides at the nearby campground to help me design my small cabin. He built a couple at the campground, along with his own and I loved them! I haven’t picked the land yet, but after much thought since the Tiny House Fair, I have pretty much settled on something bigger and more stable. I needed to know all that I have found out over the last few months & years. It has been thru much of what I have found out by following your Journey that helped me decide! Thank you for posting this. As hard as it must be to admit what you have admitted here, I am always so thankful for your Honesty! I will continue to follow your Journey…no matter where it takes you

    • Tammy Strobel September 5, 2013, 8:00 am

      Thank you Betsy! Your upcoming move sounds like a fun adventure. And, I’m really excited to hear about the little cabin you are going to build! Keep me posted on your progress.


  • Matthew Fricke September 6, 2013, 12:41 pm

    Hi. I’ve been wanting to comment for years but this is a first for me. I’ve always enjoyed reading your blog and from day 1 it always made me feel better, ya know, just better. It makes me feel better just to know there are people like you guys out there. I was kinda sad when I read your latest about the move and the problems with the city. Sadly, I can offer no advice. Oh yeah, really enjoy your photography too. Good luck with the current move.

  • Mary Dawkins September 6, 2013, 8:16 pm

    Awwww, the issue with zoning is sooo disappointing. I get the safety issues, but sometimes I think the laws are far too overprotective and aimed at the wrong problem. I’m also a little surprised that a “tiny home” does not fit into any of the other homes-that-move framework. Did they explain to you why that is? Either way, it’s good to be feeling better, but very sad to think this little experiment may come to an end. You story and journey through this has been inspiring….I hope it’s not over yet!!

  • Austin Lyons September 7, 2013, 1:20 pm

    I live in Chico near Emma Wilson and would drive past your tiny home on my way to down town every day.
    I never noticed it until after I began researching tiny home living as an affordable option over renting.
    For several weeks now I was telling all of my friends about the tiny home on 8th ave and would voluntarily drive them past your house so that they could get the full picture of what I had been crudely describing to them. One of the last times you were outside when I was driving slow and showing my friend, I apologize if that made you uncomfortable :p
    The other day when I drove by and it was gone I was very sad, so I googled “chico ca tiny home” and found your site. I was really sad to read about all of the guff the city was giving you. This city has been ass backwards for years… (I have lived her my entire life)… 15 college frat boys can live in a 5 bedroom victorian with nearly hundred year old electrical and plumbing, throw massive parties that lead to fights, underage drinking, and potential riots, yet if you want to live in a tiny home you must be crazy!!!
    I find it a bit ironic that this cities town counsel wanted to ban plastic bags and promote the concept of biking to work, yet if you want to live green, affordably, and in a cute small space you must be NUTS (or Almonds since it is after all Chico ;p).
    To top it off if that one acre parcel’s owner had 10 old fishing boats in that lot there wouldn’t have been a problem. To make it worse some people throw those blue tarps over all their junk and yet that is completely fine…There is just something off about the logic that you can build your own child a tree house and put it 10+ feet in the air with out any building know how, plans, inspections etc. Then let your child and his or her friends play in it, but if you build a hybrid of an camper trailer you are in strict violation! Think about all of the safety concerns!!! Let me just say that my father build his own shed and the damn things more solid (or “safe”) then any one I have seen for sale at lowes or home depot…
    I even looked up at Paradise’s codes, up there you “cant live in an RV or camper for more then 6 days at a time”…I guess I am still new to this concept that the town basically tells you what you can and cant do with your own property…
    Do you believe that if the house wouldn’t have been viewable from the street that you would have encountered the same problem eventually?

    I wish you both the best of luck. I am just really disheartened by the response you got from such a “green, progressive, open minded city”…

    • Nina September 7, 2013, 3:16 pm

      Austin, I’m going to be trying to work with Chico as I move forward on my tiny house dream now that I’m ready to build. We’ll see what happens as I present out logic to them.

    • Tammy Strobel September 7, 2013, 3:41 pm

      Austin – It would have helped to have a fence that blocked the house from street view. All of this started because someone complained about our little dwelling. Then again, I’m sure someone would have found out about the house. Since I’ve blogged about the house, it’s hard to go under the radar. It is disheartening, but we are trying to stay positive. Thanks for the well-wishes!

  • Sarah Penner September 8, 2013, 2:12 pm

    (((((((hugs))))))) that’s incredibly disappointing, but I know you will find the silver lining. Your spot in Little Shasta is magical. Driving through this last time, I slowed down and just enjoyed the pavement between Weed and the border.

    On this trip down I was able to visit Chico and my cousin who is a transfer student there, such a beautiful city and campus, I hope Chico really thinks about their codes, in light of the fact they are moving more and more to a cyclist friendly city, and the homes there are smaller to begin with.

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