The Tiny Life NHV zoning initiative was initiated as a law school externship project with the support and collaboration of the New Haven City Plan Department.
Back in January 2019, the Affordable Housing Task Force, a group of city officials and housing advocates that met between June and December 2018 to discuss the current state and future need of affordable housing in New Haven, released its final report. The task force’s report contained 44 recommendations for how the city and the Board of Alders could best address New Haven’s desperate need for affordable housing (quantified as some 25,000 more units, according to the Executive Director of the public housing authority).
The report specifically called out the need to increase land use efficiency. In Section 3 of the report, the task force made seven general zoning recommendations:
- Amend zoning ordinances to allow a broader definition of “family member,” including, but not limited to, increasing the number of non-related roommates permitted.
- Increase number of rentable rooms in single family homes from 1 to 2.
- Encourage the construction of “mother-in-law” apartments and backyard cottages, both of which are forbidden by current zoning ordinances.
- Eliminate parking requirements for new housing developments and consider imposing maximum parking caps accompanied by violation fees.
- Encourage congregate housing by amending zoning ordinances to allow cooperative living units.
- Encourage the development of “tiny” units.
- Amend zoning ordinances to allow housing where not currently allowed, e.g., in areas zoned BB and BE.
While interning with the Economic Development Administration over the summer, Katherine McComic, a third year law student at Quinnipiac University School of Law, engaged the Deputy Director of Zoning, Jenna Montesano, Esq., to supervise a community initiative to amend the New Haven zoning ordinances to permit the development of Tiny House Cottages, Tiny House Communities, and backyard ADUs. Seeing that this initiative aligned with several of the task force’s general zoning recommendations, Jenna agreed to take Katherine on as an extern.
After conducting some preliminary due diligence research, their first move was to create this website and get the community together to discuss how to bring Tiny House Cottages, Communities, and Backyard ADUs to New Haven.
Who We Are
As a law school extern, Katherine is able to engage with local lawmaking processes from beginning to end by conducting due diligence research on a product/concept (tiny houses), soliciting feedback and gauging interest from the community, translating the research and community comments into draft zoning ordinances, proposing drafts as amendments to the current zoning ordinances, supporting the legislation at public hearings before the the Board of Alders, its subcommittees, and its commissions, and–hopefully!– shepherding the measure to adoption by the full Board of Alders before the end of the semester! For her work on this initiative, Katherine will receive law school credit towards her J.D.
As the externship supervisor, Jenna, the Deputy Director of Zoning will act in her official capacity to work towards proposing to the Board of Alders a zoning ordinance that expands the supply of affordable housing and adds to the diversity of housing options available for development in New Haven. Jenna, who is also a practicing attorney, agreed to supervise this law school externship to both mentor Katherine through legislative procedure and execute on the Affordable Housing Task Force’s “General Zoning” recommendations.
Katherine McComic is spearheading the Tiny Life NHV initiative with the Deputy Director of Zoning’s full support. As the project lead, Katherine is in charge of creating and maintaining this website, setting the schedule for community meetings, submitting the proposed zoning amendments to the Board of Alders, and presenting to the Board its commissions. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katherine McComic | email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Jenna Montesano | email@example.com