Steilacoom, WA Asks Tiny House Family to Leave

Between Olympia and Tacoma is Steilacoom, a small town of about 6,100 people – 3 of which are being asked to move their tiny house by September 17, 2016. Peter, a high school graphics design teacher, mother Shannon, and baby Hart Samuel, live in a tiny house they built themselves.

Their tiny home has been parked for 17 months on property they own. A normal house is also on the lot – and Peter’s sister lives there. Peter, Shannon, and Hart live in the tiny house in the back.

They’ve been working to resolve the legal and zoning issues with the city for some time… here’s a recap on their website.

If anyone has any expertise in issue like this, and might be able to suggest ways for Peter & Shannon talk the town government into letting them stay, reach out to Peter & Shannon via their website,

Photo via The Bellingham Herald, where you can read more about this tiny house legal battle.

Video: Tiny House Legal Battle

Video: Tiny House + Baby

13 thoughts on “Steilacoom, WA Asks Tiny House Family to Leave”

  1. I think that is one problem that these tiny house are going to run into more and more in the future.
    Also I have watched a few of these tiny homes being built and one thing that concerns me is do they have to have state and local inspection on them like regular homes do?

  2. I wonder if (they chose to change the laws) you could have your home “grandfathered”. Many towns will allow something that existed before certain rules to remain and are “grandfathered”. It might help your family but wouldn’t do anything for future tiny home dwellings 🙁

    1. Along those lines, this seems like a classic “Ex post facto” situation, and as a result they would have to grandfather you tiny house in since it was not illegal when you bought your house with the plan that you could legally do what you have been doing. Many thing in houses all over the country don’t meet current codes etc. but are able to exist since they predate the newer regulations and owners are typically only required to change them if they do a significant remodel. You couldn’t get a speeding ticket because the municipality changed the speed limit after you drove down the street at the original speed limit.

  3. Leave the family alone! What difference does it make? Whether it is a garage or storage shed? They own the property, built the house they should be able to live in it

  4. My main question would be what are the safety reasons for adding in these new ordinances. Typically zoning codes and permits are based on historical events that threatened the safety of people or the town, right? Maybe ask what safety threat they believe this tiny house causes and work with them to prove that it is not a threat. Seems a little silly to think of a tiny house as a threat, but this might be one way to approach it. Good luck!

    1. Zoning laws were put into place to get around laws against “redlining” and housing discrimination a little over 100 years ago. Usually they were used to keep African-Americans and other undesirable minorities out of neighborhoods/cities. From what I read in another posting…this is what this town is using to keep the poor and anyone else from being able to build/buy/live in this community. For more information…read the book “Sundown Towns” by Dr. James W. Loewen. He explains this legalized method of discrimination very well.

  5. The Town of Steilacoom is one with a government filled with bullies. Earlier this year, when I called them out on the requirement in their town code to post disconnect notices for electricity, the town administrator and mayor went to the town council and had the code changed. No notices were sent to the residents alerting them of this change because they hadn’t been following the code for some time. My question to them was how long were they shutting off peoples’ electricity without following their own codes. The response I got from Paul Loveless was that he didn’t know and didn’t care. This is a town that is actively trying to rid themselves of any person or thing that is considered or has the illusion of being low income.

  6. Leigh Jackson

    What happened is a noisy neighbor reported you, if there are no codes being broken, they have to pass law to change rules, they can’t just do it on a whim. The biggest problem I’ve run into which it looks you you’ve done is making your tiny house a sore thumb, that is, other people can see it. If your property is big enough, and you can move your tiny house so it’s hidden, then the complaints might vanish. If the planning commission is planning on changing the code, they still have to go to the city and pass a provision. Go door to door in your neighborhood and ask your neighbors if they will sign a petition to let you stay, the guy that won’t sign it is probably the one that complained.

    Another things is go to the city counsel of a town who have already approved tiny house’s in another town and ask them for a copy of their amendment and take it to the planning commission in your town, and to the city counsel. If there’s already a model in place in your state that’s working it can also be your model.

  7. Has anyone ever reached out to the International Code Council (ICC) about creating a Tiny House Building Code, similar to the International Residential Code (IRC)?

    Right now, without a model code to adopt, cities find it easier to just outlaw these new things. If the were a “ITHC” for cities to adopt, it would make it easier for tiny house enthusiasts and city councils to”speak the same language.”

  8. Hester Adamson

    I lived in Lakewood, Washington before it became a city for 15 years. Steilacoom and Lakewood sort of run into one another. What I found about them is that they are snobs and you either are in their click or you will be run out some way or another. There are people that have been living there all their lives and they don’t want outsiders that won’t play their games.

  9. Your choice to live in a tiny home in a more expensive community means you are enjoying all the benefits without the expenses. That may make some envious. So a way to control who enjoys that privilege is the coding. Best wishes. I hope it turns out well for you.

  10. Linda Zwirner

    Oh My Gosh! When will people learn to mind their own business. I am so sorry your going through this. If your on a family’s property, It should be no ones concern. I hope & Pray you find a good solution. Be careful & be safe.
    Linda Z

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