lot update (late july): stop work order, work resumes
Well progress this month was a bit slower than planned. On July 3 Brian and Tony discovered a DCRA stop work order had been placed on the lot. The bright orange document posted on the shipping container cited ‘commercial activity’ was not allowed in a R-3 (residential) zoned area. This was a surprise, since nothing we are doing on the lot is remotely commercial in nature. Unfortunately with the stop work order posted, we were not allowed to even step on the lot until the issue was resolved. So right after the 4th of July Brian set off to DCRA for his 9th visit there since February.
In some sense, everyone was just simply trying to do their job well- a Councilmember’s staff promptly responded to a neighbor’s concern, and DCRA responded to the Councilmember’s staff inquiry. But there were plenty of reasons to feel frustrated: Tony, Lee, and Jay were just about to start building the following week (the irony was that no work had yet occurred at all on the houses when the stop work order was placed). Brian had discussed and cleared the proposed personal tiny house building activity with a DCRA zoning official in February, long before the lot was even acquired. There was a FAQ document posted on the lot for months explaining the project, and that no commercial activity was taking place, and with full contact info of the lot owner. No one attempted to reach out to us before contacting DCRA or before DCRA placed the stop work order. And by the time it was officially agreed we had done absolutely nothing wrong, we had lost 3 full weeks.
But in fact this episode was a blessing in disguise: with the stop work order in hand, suddenly the doors to the top DCRA building code official and the top zoning official opened up- something we had wanted for months. Brian was able to present firsthand the concept of the tiny house showcase. And despite the loss of some time and $, we were able to concentrate further on planning the tiny house build. Now with this episode behind us, we are again full speed ahead.
And so Adam the welder arrived this week to start welding brackets to Jay’s trailer and weld up the new gate, Jay and Tony started laying the foundation to Jay’s tiny house, Brian spread 14 cubic yards of woodchips around the garden, and sourced the garden water cistern. August is looking to be a very exciting month of progress, so onward.
Check out a short clip of Jay’s timelapse photography of first day of building on the lot.
But for the record, there are no commercial aspects to this project. The owner is not running a parking lot, or charging anyone a parking fee. The tiny homes are being built and kept by the current owners essentially as a hobby, for personal use only, and not for sale upon completion or any time in the foreseeable future. There will be no assembly/manufacture of any additional tiny homes for sale from the lot. The tiny homes will not be rented out when completed. No fees will ever be charged for anyone that wishes to visit one of the completed trailers. No commercial activity will be conducted from within the trailers, or on the lot. And the owner does not own a company or nonprofit that is in any way associated with the lot. Exhale.