On this Sunday morning Sparta thought you might enjoy seeing a picture of her dad.
This handsome old bird was built in 1937 and at the time was the premiere private aircraft available in the U.S.. The Spartan Executive could carry 5 passengers at 200 MPH with a range of 1,000 miles – fiqures exceeding some private aircraft today. It was called “The Packard of the Sky”. Only 36 were built and its demise was ensured by the ending of WWII and the ensuing glut of surplus aircraft for sale.
The Spartan Aircraft Company was not done yet, however. Majority owner J. Paul Getty and his team put their considerable production capacity to work to build luxury trailers, using the same internally braced and space-saving monocoque design that distinguished their aircraft. The result was the “Cadillac of Trailers” (apparently they enjoyed using car snowclones back in the day) and over a 16 year period Spartan built about 40,000 travel coaches – all distinguished by quality construction and attention to detail.
The Spartan trailer, however, was ultimately killed by several factors – its price (at $4000 to $8,000 nearly the price of a new home), cheaper competition and the resistance of U.S. communities to trailer culture. Back then Spartan and other companies thought trailers might fill the need for housing for veterans returning from overseas. The problem was where to put them. Yes, even back then the “not in my backyard” predjudice against trailers and their owners existed.
Fast forward to 2019 and the problem facing small, higher density housing alternatives persists. Despite California being ground zero for the inspiration behind the “Tiny House” movement (a noted tiny house architect lives here in Sebastopol), this state is one of the worst with regards to accomodating and situating such housing. I recently travelled to San Diego County to check out Pinecrest Retreat, a nice option for semi-permanent trailer placement. While there, I also looked into buying land for more privacy and control over my surroundings. Not so fast, Buckwheat. San Diego, like much of the state, has been slow to embrace tiny houses and it is still illegal to live permanently in an RV (their designation) anywhere in the county (unless in an RV park). Moreover, homesites average over $100,000 there. And forget about being anywhere near water.
This difficulty is painfully illuminated by the experience of Janet Ashforth, the now beleaguered founder of Habitats Tiny Homes. Hoping to establish a housing utopia in northern San Diego County, she collected over 30 deposits from like-minded souls desiring to live affordably and conscientiously in such a community. The powers that be stymied her vision, killed the project and left her and $62,000 worth of investors with nothing. Lawsuits are pending.
Although some California jurisdictions (ironically my hometown, Fresno) are embracing the movement, those individuals hoping to retire affordably, reduce their footprint or just simplify may need to move elsewhere. Texas anyone?