It may seem surprising that Fresno, better known for sprawling new developments, is paving the way when it comes to rules for eco-conscious tiny houses.
"We are the first city in the nation to actually write into its development code authorization for 'tiny homes,' " says Mayor Ashley Swearingen. "If there’s one thing that Californians should know about Fresno, it’s that we are full of surprises. And just when you’ve think you’ve pegged us to be one type of community, we’ll surprise you."
Fresno's new rules specifically pertain to tiny homes on wheels, which are often treated like RVs in other cities. So that means there are limits on where and how long they can be parked. That's angered some tiny-house activists, like the folks at "Containertopia" in the Bay Area. I spoke with them recently for a BBC documentary about reducing Californians' carbon footprint.
Some counties, like Alameda, Contra Costa and Napa, allow cottages on wheels as caregiver dwellings in the backyard of someone who needs assistance. Here's a list of California rules from the American Tiny House Association.