Rezoning of RS for Duplex

with one comment

 
Submission to Mayor and Council Re: Public Hearing 18 September 2018 — Agenda Item 5
REZONING: Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law for Most RS Zones
to Allow Two-Family Dwellings (Duplexes) to Increase Housing Choice

 
Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre in East Vancouver includes 1.5 sq km or 370 acres. Since 2013, 1911 lots in Norquay have been rezoned from RS-1 to new low density housing zones that allow for duplexes, triplexes, rowhouses, stacked townhouses and 4-storey apartments. All of the new zones permit duplexes to be built outright on single lots. During the last 5 years more than 60 duplexes have been built or have started construction. Today Norquay amounts to a City of Vancouver demonstration project.

Most Norquay residents do not object to allowing duplexes in our community. There is a completed duplex on our block. We are fine with this.

However, Norquay’s experience shows that more regulation for outright duplexes is needed. There are three major concerns.

One problem has been very large lock-off units. We have seen several lock-off units that are really one-bedroom suites. Appendix B of today’s Report proposes a maximum size of 350 sq. ft. for lock-off units. We support this change. But two other major problems remain unaddressed.

First, living rooms and bedrooms are usually too small. Living rooms typically accommodate only a couch (and sometimes a chair). Second and third bedrooms often measure less than 60 sq. ft. We saw one unit with 4 bedrooms all measuring 8 x 7. These are not livable family dwellings. At present, no regulations govern room sizes in Vancouver. The 1992 High Density Housing for Families with Children Guidelines document is being updated. But these guidelines apply only to apartments, not to lower density housing forms.

The second problem is inadequate attention to external design. The External Design criteria now proposed for all RS zones are essentially the same as what is being applied in Norquay today. These requirements are a good start, and they have resulted in acceptable external design for approximately 80% of our new duplexes. But that is not good enough. Our Norquay neighbourhood deteriorates when 1 out of 5 new duplexes is an eyesore.

Look at these paired pictures of duplexes built outright in Norquay — visual successes and visual failures.

http://www.vcn.bc.ca/norquay/duplex-2018.html

Staff have confirmed that building duplexes in RS zones will not provide substantially more housing units or increase affordability. This is all about increasing housing choice. Is this worthwhile goal urgent enough to sideline the two major problems that I have described? No. Before approving any proposal to build duplexes outright in RS zones, Council needs to direct staff to develop and bring forward for approval (1) guidelines for room sizes that apply to low density housing forms, and (2) additional regulations to govern external design.

 
Jeanette and Joseph Jones

17 September 2018
 

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Written by eyeonnorquay

17 September 2018 at 9:29 pm

Posted in Photos, Statements

One Response

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  1. Really appreciate your very thoughtful analysis and attention to these items. I have to take issue with many of your concerns however – we are in a housing crisis, so quick solutions are needed, and most people who can’t afford housing don’t care what it looks like and if their potential living room is a bit too small. Finding the perfect solution will take years so my family and I (and the hundreds of thousands of renters in this city) are happy they are pushing potential solutions through.

    Alex

    18 September 2018 at 7:20 am


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