Tiny Houses come to Dayton. 2 years later…

Tiny House Jamboree in Dayton Ohio

Coming to the Hook Estate June 19- June 21

The last time I ran for Dayton City Commission I had a section of my platform about building Tiny Houses in Dayton. It wasn’t discussed by anyone on the campaign trail. No one cared. Dayton just voted for more of the same. Next weekend, the “Tiny House Jamboree” is coming to the Hook Estate– great, we can look, but it’s still not legal to build one in Dayton.

Last year I wrote:

Do zoning and building codes really protect our property values- or keep us safe? Or are they just another way for government to stick its nose where it doesn’t belong? Is the reason for big houses- because the construction, home building, banking and insurance industries don’t want you to build your own house for cash?

Source: Why infill housing fails in a failing community. The Tiny House option. – Esrati

One of the biggest problems in our real estate market is the practice of valuation. Your house isn’t worth what you say it is- even if someone else wants to buy it for that amount- unless they have cash. All others must rely on “Comps” or “Comparables” and this makes tiny houses a bad option for a neighbor. Your house is worth $120,000, the tiny house next door is $20,000- that hurts your property value, so zoning laws “protect us” from diversity. Of course, if someone wants to build a million dollar home next door- you’re all for it (discrimination is alive and well).

The reality is that Dayton is losing population, losing value, and losing taxable property at an appalling rate. Our geniuses in charge think the solution is to build new versions of the same thing and people will come. As I said in the above referenced post- this is insanity.

The more I think about successfully implementing tiny houses in Dayton- I think they need to be built in mini-communities, on three lot parcels. In the center would be a shared space, community room, with a small workshop, storage for garden tools, laundry, mud-room, and mini-gym. It would have a solar roof, and also serve as the geothermal hub for the 8 tiny houses that would surround it in a semi-circle.

These little communities would be valued collectively- and billed collectively for taxes, trash, water- and would have one shared fast pipe internet connection.

By regulation, one home would be reserved for transitioning the homeless, veterans, and recovering addicta in order to qualify for the “collective” tax/trash/water billing. If you don’t want to “adopt” a low-income household- you pay full boat for each unit.

If you want examples of this type of community- Dayton still has a few “Mutual Homes” arrangements- left over from idealists of another time. Read more about it on Jeff Dwellen’s amazing Daytonolgy post: Dayton’s Socialist Suburb

I’m happy the Tiny House movement is gaining traction in Dayton. It took from 2009 to 2015 for Dayton to launch bike share after I brought the idea to the table, so maybe by 2019 we’ll start to see Tiny Houses.

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Jeff DziwiulskiDianedjwGaryRalph Recent comment authors
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Nick Brusky
Nick Brusky

Its great to see this coming to the area. I have always been a big fan of tiny houses. Allowing the people the liberty to build a home to whatever size they see fit is the best fair housing policy a community could implement. People should have the liberty to build whatever size home they want on their own property. I understand your argument with having some type of zoning arrangement as you suggest because of neighborhoring property values, however I believe the best solution to that problem would be to replace our existing property tax system with land value taxation. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_value_tax

To do that however would require a constitutional amendment, so your idea of creating a code with a certan “tiny home per lot” regulation would be the most practical way to give people in the area the liberty to have this option as their dwelling. However the discussion needs to begin about why we tax land and improvements instead of just land.

Under the current system, the only property owners who dont have to pay tax on improvements are the politically connected who can get tax abatements. Under land value taxation, no one would have to pay taxes on improvements and people could build a tiny home right next to a regular single family home without any effect on their valuation.

new government
new government

I remember the last post you had about the tiny houses in Texas about your friend living in one. The area is overdue for such options that could of kept a base of tax payers and money in the area for the economy, and service industry and keeping many jobs that were lost and progress could of kept innovation and updates to the area with a larger stable base in retention of a strong population we would of been miles ahead of the pack.

Montgomery county and Dayton, and Moraine and surrounding communities had the opportunity to convert mobile homes as tiny houses as you will into very cheap, efficient, affordable housing and equal opportunity but choose to kick poor people for so called high class individuals with the belief that would create more tax base and income but discriminates against many individuals. a lot of these homes already could of been fitted with energy efficient, alternative solar, wind, geothermal energies and even could of had the geothermal option for shared residents for clean comfortable, healthy living. The city choose to do things there way by discriminating and alienating individuals for “their” progress.

We need fair assessments for all sizes and fits which makes things fair and equal for all as well as keeping our population base and additional income from retention of all individuals big and small and all walks of life for a melting pot; it can not come soon enough.

Bill Rain
Bill Rain

David- What you want to do can be done today. PD or PUD (Planned Development or Planned Unit Development) overlays existing zoning and allows alot of flexibility. Condo docs would be set up so all the land and “collective” items you discribed would be “common” and zero lot lined tiny houses would be indivually owned.


Now you’re practicing architecture? How about an architect being an ad man? Let see, “Victorian vernacular tastes good like a cigarette should.”


In 2010 someone came to me as Mayor wanting to push this idea. I think the guy was Gary Wagner. I put him in front of Jeff Samuelson, a local developer who liked the idea and took it a stage further. Imagine the houses aligned like musical notes. From an airplane looking down, anyone who could read music could make out the tune. We figured that zoning in Dayton would be an issue unless this was a planned development of similar sized houses in a two or three block sized area, which doesn’t exist. So I said “What about the VA? We have way too many homeless vets. This would solve a major problem.” The VA is federal land. Dayton zoning does not apply. Jeff went to the powers that be to suggest the concept and after several months of pondering they shot it down. I think the excuse was that it would not tie in with the historical nature of the campus. We could build tiny Victorian homes folks! Had the VA done this, it would have forced the City planners to look at the neighborhoods a little differently and made them more willing to try new ideas. Hey, some things worked out and some did not. Just another one of those unknown stories about how I tried to change the culture at City Hall ……


I’m completely with you here; it’s a fundamentally illegitimate use of zoning to force people to build larger houses than they want or need. With respect to….

The reality is that Dayton is losing population, losing value, and losing taxable property at an appalling rate.

Isn’t it the case that population has stabilized and is growing slightly? The census estimate saw an increase of 1500 from 2010-2013. Do you have reason to believe that estimate is incorrect, or the last two years have produced a significant reversal?


According to http://www.city-data.com today:


Population in 2013: 143,355 (100% urban, 0% rural). Population change since 2000: -13.7%

Read more: http://www.city-data.com/city/Dayton-Ohio.html#ixzz3dKTTeBI8


Well, yes, everyone knows the population was still declining substantially in the oughts. According census data, the population in 2010 was 141,527 and is now slowly increasing, up to 143,355 in 2013. There have been numerous local news stories about this. The other major population estimate technique is also showing small yearly increases now. This may or may not continue, but as of right now that fact of Dayton’s declining population is no longer a fact.


@Gary, It’s unfortunate that you didn’t hold more sway over the idea but Dayton could sure needs another successful Samuelson development.

I remember him discussing this with ISUS (another fine organization that went it’s way thanks to no significant political efforts – all NSP money going to demolition). Cost per sq. ft. for micro housing doesn’t make a lot of sense from an appraisal and equity underwriting basis no matter how zoning would look at it. If one want’s micro housing to work it’s unfortunately called “apartments.”

Jeff Dziwiulski
Jeff Dziwiulski

Back in the 19th century there was quite a few “tiny” houses built in Dayton (and elsewhere in the Midwest), mostly as working class housing on what was then the edge of town (were land was cheap). You can still see them in the older parts of the east side (like Twin Towers). Quite often these were starter cottages and then were added on to over time.