Lemon Cove Village, which bills itself as a “tiny house community,” is making the argument that smaller is better, at least when it comes to houses. The property, located on a former KOA Campground at 32075 Sierra Drive in Lemon Cove, is scheduled to open to its first residents on January 1.
“We got rid of the dead trees, fixed the building and redid the bathrooms and the showers,” said Dirk Dole, the owner of Lemon Cove Village. “We’re trying to make it a tiny house community – that’s the goal,” he added, explaining why the property is not looking to accommodate recreational vehicles.
Lemon Cove Village, which is licensed for 55 homes, is apparently a groundbreaking venture.
“It’s one of the first tiny house communities in the country, maybe even the first,” said B.A. Norrgard, who runs the website aBedOverMyHead.com where she shares information and her enthusiasm about tiny houses. “There may be five or six houses on a property somewhere, but this could be the first tiny house community.”
There are currently no tiny houses on the property, but Norrgard arrived with her house to show to the small but interested group in attendance on the first evening of a three-day open house.
Norrgard is a consultant for Lemon Cove Village, one of the projects she has undertaken since leaving her legal career. “I loved my legal career,” she explained. “It was great, but the legal world is changing. It was time to walk away from it.”
She likes her new life and enjoys the opportunities and benefits of owning a tiny house. “I don’t have rent; I don’t have mortgages; I don’t have property taxes,” she said, adding that she likes being mobile. “My plan is to travel and teach.”
Norrgard conducts tiny house workshops, which cover the options for a tiny house owner, including deciding on wheels or a foundation, and whether to rely on solar energy. She also promotes the idea of tiny houses wherever she can.
“People are tired of mortgages and keeping up all their possessions,” she said. “Possessions are a lot of work. I think people are looking for a simpler life.”
Tiny house communities need water and some houses need electricity, she said. “A shared laundry facility and an Internet connection would be good,” she added, “and definitely a community garden.” She also believes that a campfire is important. “It gives a sense of community. It’s a gathering place. Good things always happen around a campfire.”
According to Norrgard, the biggest misconception that people have about tiny houses is that they provide low-income housing. “$26,000 doesn’t sound bad until you calculate the cost per square foot.”
Although the idea appeals to a lot of people, Norrgard said that most of those interested in tiny houses are “a lot of empty nesters and a lot of single women. It’s their time.”
A woman named Mary was at the open house on her way to see tiny houses in Vancouver. “This is a tiny house research road trip,” she explained.
Her partner, Tamara, said their plan is to get a tiny house 30’ long by 10’ wide, along with a smaller house. “Then we’ll also have a smaller one to live in,” she said. “If she gets tired of me, she can go in the other one to spend the afternoon.”
Tamara likes the idea of living in a tiny house because it’s less expensive and she believes that a tiny house would provide her some relief from her “multiple chemical sensitivities.”
“It’s kind of fascinating to me,” said Stephen, who was recently widowed. “This is the closest I’ve come to living off the grid. I’m looking for something energy-efficient.”
Annie, who drove up from Orange, may be living in a tiny house in the near future. “I retire in about 157 workdays,” she said with a big smile. “I rent a house. I’m a single parent so I could never buy a home in Orange County.”
Annie runs tinyhouseresource.com, which provides information about the “Tiny House Movement.” She also has a Facebook page with 1,700 followers. She said that sustainability, a small footprint, economic reasons and concern about the environment are making tiny houses attractive to a wide range of people.
“Even the people here (at the open house) are coming for different reasons,” she said. “All of them find this common ground. It resonates with so many people.”
“I downsized my house and my husband,” said Amy, who drove up from the San Fernando Valley. “The kids went to college, although one has creeped back.
“I don’t want a mortgage and there’s no house that I can afford,” she added. “I really like the he idea of being able to pick up and move. I have issues with making decisions so it would be good.”
For more information about Lemon Cove Village, visit lemoncovevillage.com or call 370-4152.