Dirk Dole's Lemon Cove Village
Lemon DropsMarch 2015
By Fache Desrochers
Photos: Ericka Ramirez
Home ownership is one of the cornerstones of the American Dream. For generations, purchasing a home has been a sign of having arrived as an adult. But recently, the tide of this philosophy has been turning. As the median age for first-time home buyers continues to rise, the view of home ownership is appearing to diversify: young couples just starting their lives together are often travel-oriented and may not want (or be able) to invest in the financial commitment of a full-sized house. Similarly, recent retirees are interested in a balance of manageability and community. And increasingly, people across the board are just interested in simplicity: paring their lives down to the things that matter the most to them, and identifying their own essentials.
Enter the Tiny House Movement: a new paradigm of home ownership that achieves this magical trifecta of simplicity, affordability and independence within a community. As the owner and founder of Lemon Cove Village, Dirk Dole is one of the frontrunners of this burgeoning movement. Although the idea has been around for some time, a tiny house community is often difficult to implement due to common zoning issues, which strictly enforce the minimum sizes of homes allowed on lots. As a real estate retailer experienced in buying and selling properties, Dole knew this well. But one day, as he was driving up to Three Rivers, Dole glanced at an RV campground in the foothill community of Lemon Cove. This was his habit, as Dole admired this particular space for its beauty and accommodations. But on this day, something different was there: a for sale sign.
It was perfect: “I had been thinking about a tiny house community for awhile,” says Dole. “But the biggest problem in building one is finding a place to park the tiny homes that is zoned correctly, and has the facilities necessary to make home, home.”
So Dole decided to buy the RV park, and set to work with a vision. “We wanted this community to feature tiny houses exclusively. But this is pretty much the ground floor of the tiny house movement. There’s no one who has done it on a 50-plus-unit scale, so we’re still feeling it out a bit, seeing what works,” says Dole.
So what is a tiny house? In many logistical ways, a tiny house is not much different from an RV: it is mobile, it is compact, it is designed to be easily hooked up to the same kind of water, electric and sewer services designed for RVs. But something new and important defines the tiny house movement: a sense of practical aesthetics combined with a philosophy that does not sacrifice or uproot the idea of home, but in many ways, merely condenses it and makes it more achievable.
This pervading philosophy has not escaped Dole, who understands that those interested in tiny houses are not so much nomads as they are modern-day homesteaders. That’s why Lemon Cove Village has partnered with a builder out of Idaho, whose tiny houses are inspected and certified as they are built. Although the Village offers monthly rental rates, they have also aligned with a bank that will finance their tiny homes with five- or six-year loans for individuals wishing to buy. It’s an incredibly manageable process; the construction of a tiny house only takes about six to 14 weeks from the time of order. “I think the most incredible thing is that - as far as I know - we are the only company whose tiny homes are both certified and able to be financed,” says Dole. “But as amazing as that is, my favorite thing about Lemon Cove Village has to be the community feel. It’s wonderful for people to be able to create their own neighborhood together with other like-minded people.”
In addition to like minds, Lemon Cove Village offers an impressive resume of amenities, including a pool, laundry room, community kitchen, immaculate shower and restroom facilities, high speed internet and garden area, to name just a few. Tiny home inhabitants also have a choice regarding how much they would like to be “on the grid,” with sites that offer varying combinations of water, electric and sewer services to suit any inhabitant’s preference.
“I think the tiny house community is a great opportunity for someone to live more simply, and within their means,” says Dole. “Many people just get so overtaken by their finances that it ends up controlling their whole lives. But here, they can be in charge. It’s an empowering place, and I’m so happy to be a part of it.”
Dirk Dole, Lemon Cove Village: A Tiny House Community
(559) 370-4152 • www.lemoncovevillage.com
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