The Hailey City Council—with the exception of Council President Kaz Thea—agreed on Monday to move forward with the purchase of a $149,230 tiny home on wheels from Snake River Tiny Homes, a tiny home dealership based in Rigby, Idaho.
The 350-square-foot unit would be considered an expansion of the Hailey Fire Department and parked to the west and behind the fire station, uphill from Hailey Elementary School. It would first be offered as a yearlong rental to city firefighters and next more broadly to local emergency-service workers, City Administrator Lisa Horowitz said.
“The price point we’re thinking would be lower than 30% gross adjusted income,” she said.
The council will have the option to approve a purchase contract with Snake River Tiny Homes as part of its consent agenda at its next meeting on Tuesday, June 13. Any council member can pull the agenda item from the consent portion, requiring a full council vote.
Porter Talbot, owners of Snake River Tiny homes, said the model the city is interested in has been featured on HGTV and “has a five-star rating with 71 reviews online.” He added that it uses mineral wool insulation to stay warm and can accommodate a heavy snow load.
“The only complaint that somebody had was that he bought one of these and took it up to Driggs, and it got minus 43 and he said he had to put a space heater in,” said Talbot, who offered to bring one up for tours during the city’s Fourth of July parade. “I think it would really be good for the aesthetics of the community and set a great example.”
Horowitz said fabrication and delivery could take up to four months.
“We’re sorry we didn’t do this five years ago,” she said.
Tiny homes on wheels are semi-permanent yet portable homes between 100 and 400 square feet that can be lived in on a full-time, year-round basis. They became legal in the city in April after the Hailey City Council agreed to recognize the homes as a subtype of accessory dwelling unit, meaning that they must connect to the municipal water and sewer system, follow specific setback and parking space standards and go through a brief design-review process with the city.
The tiny home being considered would cost $129,229 including delivery, with an extra $20,000 added for site preparation and utility installation, bringing the project subtotal to $149,229. The purchase would come out of the city’s $500,000 earmarked for community workforce housing in its 2022-2023 budget.
The city has already spent $375,000 out of the $500,000 on a deed-restricted townhome on North River Street for a city employee, leaving $125,000 in the bank. To make up the remaining $29,000 balance, the council could either choose to transfer over unexpended 2022-2023 capital funds or delay the purchase of the unit to the next fiscal year.
Councilwoman Heidi Husbands said she thought the city should “stand by what we approved.”
“I think it’s awesome, and I’m totally willing to move forward with it,” she said.
Council President Kaz Thea said she wanted to “slow down and look at other programs that are happening in the Vail, Aspen, Park City and the Jackson Hole areas.”
“I’m going to put a wrench in this,” she said. “I think that we should be looking at ways to collaborate with others to make our dollars go further. We bought one place and I think that’s great, but this is one tiny home for one person, and I think we need to look at other avenues before we jump on it.”
Thea also suggested that the city take another look at Placemate’s Lease to Locals program, which she previously opposed. (The program is designed to increase rental options by offering homeowners cash incentives to rent out their homes on a long-term basis. Horowitz said the city could potentially house up to 20 people under a $118,000 annual contract with Placemate.)
“We’re in a crisis now. Somebody came into [Hangar Bread] today crying because she has to leave town,” Thea said.
Husbands countered that Hailey is in a different situation from other Western resort cities, and added that the city would have enough funds to pursue Landing Locals and other housing initiatives next fiscal year with tax dollars freed up by the recent successful “.5% for housing” ballot measure.
Councilman Sam Linnet said he found the cost reasonable and didn’t want to delay the project.
“I don’t want to stop this to keep looking at other unknowns,” he said. “The price per square foot on this is reasonable—about $370 per square foot, which around here is cheap—and we have funds right now for this unit, which could be here in July. We’re about to enter our next budget cycle for 2024. I’d like to devote my time and energy into figuring out how we’re going to use next year’s money for community housing.”
Linnet—mediating some friction between Husbands and Thea—said the council didn’t have to take an “either/or” approach to housing. He noted that tiny homes aren’t a “perfect” solution because they don’t appreciate in value like traditional homes.
“But this is what we’ve been doing all along for the last several years since we’ve all been a council—looking at a diversity of housing options,” he said. “This doesn’t preclude us from other options. This is not the last thing we’re going to spend money on.”
Thea then advocated for paying homeowners a certain percentage of their homes’ market values to place deed restrictions on their accessory dwelling units—an idea she said came from the housing director of Summit County, Colorado.
“Maybe there’s something out there we can do this summer,” she said.
“This tiny home is part of the solution,” Councilman Juan Martinez countered. “This happens in a lot of discussions we have, talking about programs that don’t exist for us.” ￼
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If it's on wheels it's a mobile home/trailer, so why not buy mobile homes that would accommodate a family?
Trailers deserve trailer parks.
Welcome to the discussion.