Friday, March 8, 2019

Another really, really bad idea that just won’t go away. . .

“We’re in a housing crisis!”

“Why can’t we just live in shipping containers?”

This is a terrible idea that just won’t go away as evidenced by the increasing number of shipping containers being stored and used in the City of Lake Worth’s Park of Commerce and staged around the City for current and upcoming infrastructure projects,
“Hmmm, those shipping containers would make good homes for people.”

These containers, if you didn’t know, are those large containers that get placed on tractor trailers and trains for distribution of commodities, products, etc. throughout the country. You’ll also see these containers used by companies for storage, temporary and permanent, on back lots and work sites.

Many who have recently relocated permanently to Palm Beach County— many of whom have struggled to solve societal issues, unsuccessfully, such as homelessness or vagrancy in other areas of the country — can and do suddenly become the ‘experts’ on how to solve those same vexing problems here in South Florida. For example, many of you will recall Mr. Snarky.

But there’s a big problem with people living in shipping containers: it’s called the Building Code.

We’re prone to hurricanes in South Florida. By the time one secures a shipping container on a foundation, adds a sleeping area, bathroom, kitchen, water and utilities, one may end of wondering afterwards if hiring a developer to build more apartments to code would have made more sense.

All of this nonsense about using shipping containers as homes for people was fueled once again last year by an article that appeared in The Palm Beach Post. Here’s an excerpt:

During an affordable housing summit in West Palm Beach Wednesday, he [Craig Vanderlaan, executive director of Crisis Housing Solutions] told a ballroom full of county officials, lenders and developers that re-purposed shipping containers can be part of the answer to a problem they said has reached a crisis point.

Somebody or some group very soon here in the
City of Lake Worth is going to fall for this.
Again. Just wait and see.

This really bad idea gets recycled every now and then going back a decade or longer: groups of people here in the City of Lake Worth, for example, wanting to build small communities or find neighborhoods to place shipping containers for visiting fellow-travelers or as part of a neighborhood garden. The problem is there were some who actually believed it could happen. Before long somebody will throw out a line like this at a City meeting or write a Letter to the Editor at the Post:

“Perhaps this could be
replicated here?”

There’s just one problem, as was pointed out on this blog several years ago, a blog post titled, “Airbnb, eco-tourism, hipster cred, and shipping containers”:

But before you get all excited check the zoning code first before diving ahead. More likely than not this type of structure is prohibited where you live. For instance, you couldn't build this in Lake Worth or most other cities in the County.

No one is going to get approval to live in a shipping container here in a coastal city in Palm Beach County. Perhaps in the unincorporated County somewhere, but certainly not here in the little City of Lake Worth.