Off-Grid Housing

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Salish Sea is facing a housing and homelessness crisis. Climate Change appears likely to bolster an already strong in-migration as the Salish Sea provides a refuge from extreme weather. Existing infrastructure both increases the cost of housing through impact fees while urban stormwater impacts and nitrogen loading from municipal waste water is damaging marine water quality. Finally, private forestlands are overstocked with dense timber that would benefit from pre-commercial thinning that could supply a generation of small post-and-beam micro-houses. This concept could integrate well with mobile Tiny Houses.

Citizens all over the Salish Sea are choosing mobile off-grid housing as an affordable housing option (this is also known as being "homeless" and living in RVs, trailers, and tents). Government programs are designed to encourage people back into extremely competitive rental markets of mortgaged housing. Zoning and codes prevent people from high quality small scale shelter. Local low cost infrastructure could replace dysfunctional infrastructure, but depends on citizen stewardship of off-grid waste management systems, primarily greywater and Composting Toilets. However these systems also achieve multiple ecological benefits that could benefit damaged urban ecosystems by reducing resource use and if well designed, restoring soils. If poorly implemented such systems result in sub-standard housing that damages local soils and groundwater.



  • State Labor and Industries regulates "Tiny Houses" - 2020 flier
    • In Washington State, tiny houses, and tiny houses with wheels, must meet the State Building Code requirements (RCW 19.27.031) – based on ESSB 5383-2019
    • These are regulated as "factory assembled structures" also known as "modular housing"
    • L&I does not regulate "site-built dwelling units", or a converted structure (like a shipping container) where the conversion is happening on site.
    • L&I can regulate structures designed as dwelling units, constructed off site, that meets state building code requirements, that does not exceed 400 square feet.
  • Local Jurisdictions are responsible for how and where these structures can be used in relation to parcel zoning, including factory assembled structures, RVs or Park Model RVs (PMRVs).
  • There are limited examples of Grey Water code in Puget Sound. Even with greywater and Composting Toilets, kitchen sink water is still requires a septic tank, and thus all "alternatives" to septic or sewer hookup, become redundant and thus actually increase cost.