Questions to Staff

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A Case Study in “Duplex” Impact on Norquay

 

 

 
Canning the Clarifications

At some undetermined point in the relatively recent past, Vancouver City Council streamlined the “process” of public hearing by having councillors direct “questions to staff” via email for later, canned, premeditated, bulk “response” by staff. This format often leaves the onlooker wondering what the “question” actually was. Most of the verbal exchange between councillor and staff has been killed in the interests of control and speed. This innovation typifies what Vision Vancouver has done to public hearing procedures over the past ten years. Some glutton for wonk could provide a great public service by timelining such changes in procedure.

What follows is a case study in the quality of planning staff response to questions. A comparison with detailed independent data leads to one frightening result. This result brings into question all of the newish mode of planning staff’s rapid-fire bulk-packaged response to “questions to staff.”

 
From and For the Record

On the evening of 19 September 2018, a member of planning staff delivered bulked planning staff answers to questions from councillors as part of the public hearing on

5. REZONING: Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law for Most RS Zones to Allow
Two-Family Dwellings (Duplexes) to Increase Housing Choice
https://council.vancouver.ca/20180918/phea20180918ag.htm

Below are three transcriptions, in chronological order, of remarks made during the five minutes that run from 3:00 to 8:00 on the video record at

http://civic.neulion.com/cityofvancouver/index.php?clipid=3496176,005


At what price … Typically in the market we see a lot more of this product on the east side than the west side because zoning enables duplex in a lot more neighborhoods on the east side than the west side.

The neighborhood that is most likely for duplexes to work is in the northeast quadrant
[followed by specific mention of Grandview-Woodland]

In our experience on the east side of Vancouver, where we see a lot more of duplex zoning in place in neighborhoods such as Norquay for example, the uptake of building duplexes in zones where duplex is enabled is quite low, about 1% annually since 2013. It’s happening slowly.

 
Eye on Norquay Direct-Observation Data

 

    New-Build Applications by Type / Zonings (excluding RM-9A)

    Outright Duplexes    Conditional RT-11    Conditional RM-7


2014         26                    5                    5

2015         14                    8                    9

2016          5                    3                    8

2017         13                    4                    3

Totals       58                   20                   25


Note: Conditional RT-11 and conditional RM-7 = More than a duplex

Note: Total land parcels in RT-11 and RM-7 = 1648




       Land Parcels Assembled for Conditional Projects

          20 Assembled RT-11      25 Assembled RM-7
    
          One    Two              One   Two   Three   Four

2014       3      2                2     2      1

2015       6      2                2     6      1

2016       2      1                      7             1

2017       3      1                1     1      1

Totals    14     12  =  26         5    32      9      4  =  50


Total of  20  Building Sites Assembled for RT-11
    from  26  component parcels

Total of  25  Building Sites Assembled for Conditional RM-7
    from  50  component parcels 

 

 
Comments on Assertions and Data

In Huber’s “answers to questions,” there seems to be a lack of clarity operating between (1) report on actual experience with duplex in Vancouver, and (2) projection of impact of duplex into existing RS zoning.

It appears that planners anticipate that East Vancouver will continue to be the primary area for construction of duplex, even after the possibility of duplex has been extended citywide. This accords with previous Eye on Norquay analysis in The Duplex Set-Up. The obvious question is, why would City of Vancouver plan for such continuance of inequitable distribution? The most apparent answer is that planning has designed RS duplex specifications to perpetuate inequity in order to avoid or minimize west side blowback.

The 1% per year statistic for Norquay seems decontextualized, minimized, and misleading. If 58 parcels have accommodated outright duplex 2014-2017, there remain an unmentioned additional 45 parcels / assemblies that have accommodated yet more new development. The component number of parcels for those other 45 new strata developments actually calculates to 76. Thus an overall total of 58 + 76 parcels have been affected by new development over the four-year period of 2014-2017. That total of 134 as a proportion of 1648 yields a redevelopment percentage of 8.1%, which annualizes to 2% — double the figure provided by staff. A factor of 100% difference in reported result is not a minor difference. Norquay’s on-the-ground experience is that conversion of more affordable old to far-less-affordable new is NOT “happening slowly.”

Further note that our tabulated data excludes 2013 and 2018. Beyond that, the foregoing analysis takes no account of the other larger-scale redevelopments that have taken place under RM-9A (5 projects) and CD-1 (very large projects = 3 during period and 2 underway) — projects that have added well upward of 500 more dwelling units to the same local area.
 
 

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Written by eyeonnorquay

27 September 2018 at 9:52 am

Posted in East & West, Events, News

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