Monday, October 19, 2009

Zoning for "Car Homes"...

I've been reading more and more stories about people who are being evicted or foreclosed on and, in turn, end up living in their cars.  This type of situation leads to a whole set of potential land use regulatory questions.

One of the most prominent is whether this type of residential use should be/is permitted in non-residential zones (including public property and even public right of ways).

My nascent research turned up this article from the LA Times earlier this year:

The number of cars and recreational vehicles has swelled so much over the last year that Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents the city's coastal areas, has proposed creating special zones away from neighborhoods where people can sleep in their vehicles.

"The community has been going ballistic," Rosendahl said. "They can't park their own cars. Some of the folks who live in their cars and in campers defecate and urinate outside and create other issues of quality of life and health."

His proposal, similar to programs in Santa Barbara and Eugene, Ore., would allow the cars and recreational vehicles to park in select "municipal properties, parking lots of churches or community-based organizations, industrial areas and other areas that would have minimal impact on residential communities." Current city laws prohibit sleeping in a car or RV on the street.

I suspect that this trend, even if it grows only a small bit, could present an entirely new paradigm through which to view land uses.  If anyone else has researched the zoning of "car homes", please leave a comment or shoot me an email at

--Chad Emerson, Faulkner U.

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