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Small fix to big housing need

The Union StaffRebecca Hughes-Hartog poses with her granny unit as it originally appeared, before it was expanded.
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Hughes-Hartogs

Rebecca Hughes-Hartogs is big on small houses.

The Grass Valley grandmother had a 96-square-foot cabin built in 1989, a stone’s throw from her home near the Nevada County Fairgrounds.



Hughes-Hartogs built the “granny unit” for herself. Living in Edinburgh, Scotland, at the time, the cottage allowed her to stay for extended visits here without kicking out the renters living in her main house.

As for the cabin’s tiny size, “What the building department told me (was) anything you build that is under 100 square feet, we don’t care.”




Now, Hughes-Hartogs is hoping to encourage others to think small.

She organized a two-day “community ideas workshop” on small housing this weekend in Grass Valley.

Hughes-Hartogs thinks tiny houses could provide a piece of Nevada County’s affordable housing puzzle.

“We have so many needs as far as affordable housing is concerned,” she said. “This is one solution. This is one of many.”

The workshop will feature Jim Reid, a San Francisco builder, activist and perennial mayoral candidate. Reid received lots of media attention by building a 100-square-foot home in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood.

Reid expects the $50,000 house – complete with a sleeping loft, kitchen and combination washer-dryer – to be occupied by a single mother and infant. He argues he could build 10,000 such houses for what San Francisco spends annually on the homeless.

Another speaker will be Kevin Donnelly, an architect who worked on the Bishop Quinn cottages in Sacramento, where homeless people can stay for up to two years while they get back on their feet.

The workshop will also feature photos and articles about small housing, as well as information participants can take home with them.

A discussion titled “Where Do We Go From Here?” will be facilitated Sunday by Jim Carney, Nevada County director of Housing and Community Services.

“There’s no one solution to affordable housing. This is just one of many possible options,” Carney said.

WHAT: Small-house workshop

WHEN & WHERE: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Center for the Arts, 314 W. Main St., Grass Valley. 9 a.m. to noon Sunday, Holbrooke Hotel, 212 W. Main St.

INFORMATION: 273-8690.

ADMISSION: ? Suggested donation $10.


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