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Old 06-10-2007, 07:18 PM   #1
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Seattle , Washington
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Zoning and empty urban lots

Here is the situation.

I purchased an empty lot in a small town (20,000 people). I have plans in place to build a very modest sized home down the road, but would like to occupy the lot in the meantime. The airstream, recently purchased seems like my ticket for short duration living on the lot.

I don't know what the zoning regulations have to say about trailers on unimproved lots. The neighbors are amicable, and would have nothing to complain about, but how observant are the authorities? Has anyone done this before? The A.S. is small and will move regularly.


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Old 06-10-2007, 07:25 PM   #2
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You might get an answer from a local person. Where is the town?

How observant the local authorities are will range from totally blind, to grease my palm, to "no you can't do that, no way no how!"

Like fishing, local knowlege is the only way to find out.

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Old 06-10-2007, 07:26 PM   #3
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Mt. Vernon , Washington
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zoning issues

You really should check with the planning/zoning dept of the local jurisdiction to find out what the 'rules' are. You can do that without giving away your intentions. Ask for a copy of the zoning code and determine what your planning zone is labeled. Then read, read, read and you can find out what the restrictions might be. I would guess that 'parking' a trailer on your lot would be ok but 'living' in it might be a problem.
Good Luck
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Old 06-10-2007, 07:26 PM   #4
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It depends on your city. Some places only send someone out if there is a complaint, and some don't even send anyone out then. The city we recently moved out of had code patrols driving around looking for violations.
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Old 06-10-2007, 07:29 PM   #5
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I live in a city and will be rebuilding my home next spring. Zoning allows for a "Site Trailer" during construction. My Tradewind will be that trailer. Check the zoning for your municipality online. Zonin Bylaws are almost always on the town or city's web site nowadays. I'm an Architect and deal with zoning regs all the time and have noted that the authorities are more observant than we think they are. Despite neighbors appearing amicable, there is usually one fun-sponge who likes to see the rules followed. If it is going to be a temporary situation while you build your home, the town will likely have no problem with you using your trailer for your living arrangements. It often pays to approach the local government and be up front about what you want to do. If you just assume that you can do something, these guys often become more difficult to work with. If I can help you interpret Zoning Bylaws, just let me know.
Cameron & the Labradors, Kai & Samm
North Vancouver, BC
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Old 06-10-2007, 08:42 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by cameront120
..... It often pays to approach the local government and be up front about what you want to do. ....
In a perfect world it should work that way - but from personal experience it does not.

Northern BC is still one of the few places left that people do things to HELP not hinder development. But many other places including many in the
States not everything goes according to what it should be.

Here in Ontario - land owners with NO dwelling have virtually NO Rights to do anything on their property!!

We looked into it for the same reasons - as we have a waterfront lot it would be great to spend a couple of nights down at the lake in the trailer.

We have the same by-law - if you are building you can stay in a trailer on your lot. Any other time nope!! And once your house is built you may only be able to store so many vehicles, trailers etc and they are not to be used as storage

So we went one step further and looked into what the "consequences" were if you did. The by-law infraction has a process - processes are comlaint forms and fines. Usually most places a by-law officer does not go around checking things unless a complaint has been received by a "voting" citizen.

The process is about 2-3 months with a couple of warning letters before action is taken like a fine. Usually the fine is a couple of 100 which is a lot cheaper than say taking out a camping site for the summer.

If you get along with your neighbours and do not give them cause and talk to them and they don't mind - get them to give to you in writing- the towns love when neighbours get along.

Good luck whether you do it above board or below the radar.
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Old 06-14-2007, 12:57 AM   #7
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Thanks all for the advice. The logistics of keeping the trailer on the lot without utilities is difficult enough. If I can get the local park to accept my airstream, I think it is safer to aim for that. I don't want to cross the authorities, as I want them on my side for the house that is to be built.

Many thanks,

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Old 06-25-2007, 11:37 AM   #8
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Good luck Adair,

In Little Rock, there is a minimum of 150 square feet for a domicile. My 67 was about 12 sqft too small, so I moved it out of the city limits to a park in the county. Side benefit, it is the best park I have ever seen.

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Old 06-25-2007, 11:49 AM   #9
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hi adair...

i see you live in seattle and consider 20,000 people a small town?

city boy....

seattle proper used to be very easy on rv storage.

king county suburbs are not so kind. back yard, behind the fence line and so on...

i kept one in the side yard of my leschi house, without any issues ever for years...

most 'small towns' of 20k are gonna have very specific zoning regs...

at the city and county level and without public utilites i'll wager it's not allowed.

park models perhaps and then only if septic system is approved.
"rvs" unlikely.

modern suburbs of 20K? very unlikely unless you live in a retirement/rv zone...

now if the property is in eastern washington and way off the beaten path...

it's possible.

then there is always the issue of the a/s getting legs and vanishing...

the rv park or a storage lot would be better.

did you know there is an airstream park south of tacoma?

IF you join the wbcci and the local unit, parking there is VERY inexpensive.

check it out.

all of the true things that i am about to tell you are shameless lies. l.b.j.

we are here on earth to fart around. don't let anybody tell you any different. k.v.
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Old 06-25-2007, 11:54 AM   #10
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Parking an RV or trailer on a lot for storage is generally OK in an area zoned R1. Occupying said trailer is not allowed in R1 zoning. Usually, anyway.

Good luck!


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