Three tiny home designs in San Diego

Nook apartments in East Village

A look at Nook East Village. | Screenshot via Google Maps

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San Diego has a growing need for more living space, but in some cases, it’s an opportunity to downsize. When Mayor Todd Gloria introduced “Homes For All of Us” in July of 2021, he made it clear that small solutions would make a big difference.

These little homes have the potential to reshape our city. Terms like accessory dwelling units (ADUs), moveable tiny homes (MTHs) + micro-unit apartments are becoming part of the conversation, and we’re ready to open the door for these housing alternatives.

An ADU being built in San Diego County

A nearly completed ADU in San Diego. | Photo via @calljennyf

🏘️ Accessory dwelling units

Your new neighbors won’t be too far away — single-family homes can add additional units to their legal lots, creating homes for tenants on the same plots. Sometimes called “granny flats,” San Diego defines ADUs with these key features:

  • Up to 50% of the primary residence — not exceeding 1,200 sqft
  • Provide one parking space unless public transit is accessible within one-half mile
  • Must have a separate exterior entrance
  • Cannot be used as short-term rentals, designed to be a more permanent solution
  • Junior ADUs are under 500 sqft and do not have parking requirements

“Homes For All of Us” streamlined the application process + waived development impact fees for the first two ADUs, but instated requirements for tree canopies for lots exceeding 5,000 sqft.

🚐 Moveable tiny homes

In 2020, San Diego City Council approved a law allowing tiny, wheeled houses to reside on residential lots rather than just RV parks. These homes are similar to ADUs but they tend to be cheaper and smallergenerally 150-400 sqft.

This doesn’t make them RVs. MTHs are built like homes with open living spaces. They’re designed to be low cost, so tenants should pack lightly + get creative.

🏢 Micro-unit apartments

In North Park, a new apartment complex is being built on Oregon Street that’s a little different. The compact, “micro-unit” complex features 406-sqft studios + 593-sqft 1 BD units. The whole building is six stories and 16,000-sqft, but will offer 94 units when it opens in summer 2023.

While the concept isn’t common yet, we’ve seen similar designs at Nook East Village + The Continental in Little Italy. Renters learn to pack a lot into their spaces and that sharing is caring by using public resources + integrating community spaces.