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Making it in San Diego: Tiny homes may grow as affordable rental option

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Posted at 5:24 PM, Feb 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-29 15:49:58-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego's housing crunch could soon offer a very small but mighty option for renters.

They would come in the form of what are called tiny homes — which can be up to 400 square feet.

The homes are easier to manufacture and transport than so-called granny flats because they are built in a factory, as opposed to on-site. The homes can be as affordable as $18,000 but as much as $100,000, depending on size and amenities.

RELATED: San Diego's first tiny house village invites people to live with less

Dozens will be on display at this weekend's Tinyfest at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

David Martinez once lived in a tiny home to save money.

He now sells them for an El Cajon company called homes to go. On Friday, he was showing an 84-square-foot home, which had a bed, tiny stove, mini-fridge, storage space, a wall-mounted HD TV, and a full bathroom.

RELATED: For rent: San Diego backyard shed listed for $1,050 per month

"You'd be surprised, you get used to it," Martinez said. "You find out there's rooms you don't need, and this gives you essentials."

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The bed inside an 84-square-foot tiny home

The tiny homes could provide renters a low-cost option to stay in San Diego, such as by renting one in someone's backyard.

The issue now is that the city has still not designated them as allowed to be used for permanent housing, unlike traditional granny flats. This is because tiny homes have attached wheels and are movable.

Councilman Scott Sherman is advancing an ordinance to legalize them and streamline permitting, which the city has already done for granny flats, also known as accessory dwelling units. The ordinance passed out of committee and could go before the City Council this spring.

"This is a way to offer naturally affordable housing and also help homeowners offset their mortgage," Sherman said.

The TinyFest runs Saturday and Sunday at the fairgrounds. Tickets start at $15 plus fees for adults if purchased online.