You might think the tiny house capital of America is in Portland, Ore. or along the west coast, but Texas surprisingly seized that title for the small town of Spur in 2014. While town officials hoped the tiny house movement would bring an influx of young and educated creatives to the flagging 1,000-person city, a wave of tiny house hopefuls with dreams of composting toilets and hobbit-like underground homes are raising alarms among the local population fearful of “anarchists [and] nudists.”
Located 75 miles east of Lubbock, Spur has a semi-arid climate and is surrounded by rolling plains punctuated with farms. In a bid to reverse the long population decline, Spur began marketing its relaxed building codes, low land prices, and access to ultra-high-speed fiber Internet to tiny house pioneers. While the plan to turn the town into a tiny house mecca appears to have worked—over 60 lots have been sold for around $500 a piece, and 40 more lots are being freed up for sale—talks of plans for yurts, off-grid dwellings, and underground earth homes unnerved some locals.
“A lot of these towns out here are dying. These folks coming in are educated, professional and seem like they really have something to bring to the community. They are like a ray of sunshine on an otherwise cloudy situation,” Charlie Morris, a long-time Spur resident, retired federal agriculture inspector, and Dickens County, Texas, commissioner told the Wall Street Journal. “What we don’t want are anarchists or nudists.”
In March, the town council reversed their open-arms policy and passed an ordinance requiring tiny house designs to be submitted for approval, while prohibiting experimental homes. All tiny houses must be connected to the electric grid, water supply, and sewer system. While some tiny house dwellers are likely to stay put, such as Denise Rosner who owns a traditional-looking, 440-square-foot home, others, like Benjamin Garcia, have opted to build outside Spur. The new ordinance change doesn’t appear to have dampened tiny house enthusiasm for the town by much, however; around 20 more tiny house pioneers are expected to move in by the end of this summer.