Wednesday, March 29, 2023



Homeless Navy vet’s new tiny home runs afoul with county code

Photo: Larry Steagall / Kitsap Sun

A homeless Navy veteran’s new tiny home built by volunteers that transformed a bare trailer chassis into a tidy framed house with a bedroom, composting toilet, kitchen and cozy living room, has collided with Kitsap County code, reported King 5.

The former Navy machinist camped in a tent in state parks around the Seattle area Kitsap Peninsula before military buddies banded together a year ago to help him build a little house on wheels. Big retailers donated supplies for the project.

“It’s a real home,” said Sam Rye, 50, who is disabled and uses a wheelchair.

A Seabeck property owner and relative of Rye’s offered him a place to park the 240-square-foot home in May. And that’s where a complaint led county staff to inspect the property, where they found Rye living in the tiny house alongside other residents staying in RVs.

County rules prohibit people from living in tiny homes on wheels or RVs (permanent tiny homes can be allowed if they meet dwelling requirements and zoning). Landowners also can’t provide space for multiple RVs to be used as dwellings without being approved as a mobile home park.

Kitsap County Fire Marshal David Lynam said there are ways for Rye and his tiny home to remain on the property. The county allows “special care units,” essentially small homes for people who need care due to a health condition or other circumstances. Rye’s home would likely qualify, he said.

Under a recently passed transitory accommodations ordinance, a property owner can also provide space for an RV or other shelter to house a homeless household for up to 180 days.

“The property owner where this is occurring has alternatives – but the property owner has to decide what they want to do and then follow the adopted laws,” Lynam said.

Central Kitsap County Commissioner Ed Wolfe said he spoke to Rye on Thursday and was working to get a waiver for the fees required to bring Rye’s tiny home into compliance.

“This isn’t right and I don’t feel good about it,” Wolfe said.

Rye realizes his living situation, and that of his neighbors in the RVs, violates county code. But he believes the rules need to be relaxed to address the region’s homelessness crisis. A count conducted in January found 149 people living without shelter in Kitsap County.

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