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Bend man facing $1,500-a-day fines after city says his ‘tiny home’ failed to meet accessory dwelling unit rules

(Update: Adding video, comments from builder and owner of tiny home, KTVZ.COM Poll)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A Bend man says he's facing up to $1,500 a day in fines after the city said he didn't meet accessory dwelling unit requirements and codes when he added a "tiny home" on his property.

Mack Carlson has been a Bend resident for nearly 20 years. Last year, Carlson said he decided to build the "tiny home" in an effort to house traveling nurses, as well as tourists and family members.

Carlson said Friday he has tried to work with the city on the issue, to no avail: "We went to the extent of, 'How do we keep this here? And we've been hit with nothing but roadblocks."

The tiny home was occupied by a traveling nurse for a few months, before Carlson lets his daughter's family move in last month.

"My kids and grand-daughter have bounced from city to city here in Central Oregon, looking for housing the past two years. And this was really a viable option for them to live in," he said.

Earlier this month, after a complaint was filed, Carlson received a letter from the city, saying his tiny home construction did not meet ADU codes and regulations passed by the city in 2021. The city threatened in the letter a fine of $1,500 daily if the tiny home was not deconstructed by March 2.

Carlson said his daughter's family had "been here about -- I don't even think it had been 30 days, and we had a letter duct taped to the door. And it told us we'd be fined $1,500 a day -- and they'd fine my daughter for living in it $1,500 a day."

Carlson says the city told him the note came in response to a complaint from a neighbor. In it, city Code Enforcement Officer Julie Craig said Carlson didn't obtain the proper permitting approvals.

According to the city, the 300-square-foot tiny home on a wheeled flatbed trailer doesn't qualify as an ADU, or accessory dwelling unit, because it doesn't meet required room dimensions. The city of Bend responded to NewsChannel 21's inquiries, stating that Carlson didn't get a permit before building and the home violates code because it doesn't have a foundation.

Bend city code also requires a temporary use permit before anyone can move in. Just last month, the city held an open house, encouraging Bend residents to add accessory dwelling units to their property outlining the regulations and permitting process.

Since getting the city noticed note, Carlson says he's tried to comply with city code, but the cost is prohibitive to make changes on it. Now he's making plans to sell the tiny home, which created big problems.

Carlson explained what he feels is the hypocrisy of the situation, with some Bend residents getting to "camp out" along Hunnell Road, site of a homeless camp in recent years, where the city will be removing dozens of homeless, starting in mid-March.

Carlson said, "We could pull this onto a public street and move it every couple weeks and not be hassled. But I don't think that's what we're looking for, in the way of housing in Bend."

Carlson says he currently has his kids and grandkids living in the tiny home, though they plan to move to Redmond due to the code enforcement action.

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics

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Blake Mayfield

Blake Mayfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.


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