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New Housing Math: Micro-Home + Parklet = Houselet?

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Tim McCormick, a micro-housing enthusiast and self-taught designer, has a proposal for San Francisco's housing crunch. McCormick is prototyping a portable micro-home styled after a parklet, dubbed the Houselet. This eight-foot-square module is about the size of the sinkhole that recently split open Lake Street, and it consists of a steel frame and swappable panels that would allow it to grow and shrink to fit an occupant's needs, according to the San Francisco Examiner. McCormick—he's also the guy behind ProtoHouse, a pop-up mobile micro-unit coming to Market Street in April—estimates the cost at between several thousand dollars and $15,000. But where would these Houselets go?

One idea is to temporarily site Houselets on land awaiting development—sort of like Hayes Valley's Proxy, but for micro-homes. (They could also work as backyard cottages or pop-up workspaces.) The thinking, notes the Examiner, is to "circumvent San Francisco's notorious red tape known to stall residential development projects for years":

"What I'm trying to do is say there's room to think about alternatives for housing — how to build them, live in them, finance them," McCormick said. "Can we widen the conversation here and look at concrete alternatives in a fun and exploratory way?"

Even spontaneous-seeming pop-ups go through careful planning, of course; Proxy itself is the result of a multiyear effort, and despite the self-styled anarchy of PARK(ing) Day, parklets are themselves an initiative of SF Planning.

McCormick, for his part, says he doesn't want to go around the system entirely, but does hope to start a conversation to encourage more flexibility. "You don't want to just throw the rules out the window and have a slum," he tells the Examiner, "but I think there's a happy medium between over-regulation that's leaving tons of people priced out and slum chaos."

· One-Bedroom Sinkhole Seeks $2,800/Month; Cats OK [Curbed SF]
· One Solution to SF's Housing Crisis: Microhomes [SF Examiner]
· Meet ProtoHouse, the Tiny Cube Home Popping Up on Market Street Next Year [Curbed SF]
· Photo-Stalking the PARK(ing) Day Exploits of San Franciscans [Curbed SF]
· Pavement to Parks [SF Planning]