Archive for the ‘IRP’ Category
Comment on Rezoning Application for
3868-3898 Rupert Street & 3304-3308 East 22nd Avenue
1. The FSR of this building is too high. In a neighbourhood of mostly single family houses, an FSR of
2.0-2.5 would be more appropriate.
2. The height and massing of the proposed building needs to be reduced. Aside from the school across the street, which is set well back from East 22nd Avenue, most residential and commercial development is one or two storeys.
The Rupert Street frontage of the site includes a full city block between East 22nd and East 23rd Avenues, a total of 270 feet. The building takes up 258 feet of this frontage. The development should be broken into two buildings, varied in size and height (i.e. 6 storeys and 4 storeys , along this frontage. There should be a courtyard at least 25 feet wide between the buildings to add some ground level open green space. These changes would make the development fit better with the neighbouring single family houses. A 2-building typology would also increase the number of corner units with more than one exposure, giving them more natural light and ventilation.
3. There should be more family-sized 3-bedroom units. The location is ideal for family housing. It is across the street from Renfrew Elementary School and a couple of blocks from Windermere High School. Renfrew Community Centre, Renfrew Park and Renfrew Library are all within easy walking distance. There will be a grocery store and other shops and services in the development. Yet the proposal is for 70 one-bedroom units and only 4 three- bedroom units. There should be at least 10 3-bedroom units in addition to the currently proposed 30 two-bedroom units.
4. The location of the lobby and elevators needs to be changed. The currently proposed location means that residents in the northeast corner of the building need to walk almost a city block to reach their units from the elevator. Ideally, there should be an entrance at both the north and the south ends of the development, with an elevator at each location. This is an additional reason to build two buildings. If this is not done and only a single entrance is built, the lobby and elevators should be located on Rupert Street near the centre of the building.
9 July 2016 / rev 2 August 2016
The following report on Interim Rezoning Policy makes it possible to assess factors that City of Vancouver obscures in its documents.
Norquay is not affected by the “policy” described below due to its mass rezoning of 1912 properties for Vancouver’s second neighbourhood centre in 2010. But the 1577 properties mass rezoned in 2004 for Vancouver’s first neighbourhood centre at Kingsway & Knight are subject to the policy. This discrepancy is only one of the anomalies that taint the initiative.
Eye on Norquay has taken a particular interest in Interim Rezoning Policy, and in similar provisions of the Rental 100 program which has landed units within Norquay. That interest stems from a broader concern for policies which affect other Vancouver residential areas, especially those that lie in East Vancouver.
On 3 October 2012, Vancouver City Council approved an Interim Rezoning Policy for Increasing Affordable Housing Choices (hereafter cited as IRP).
At this stage, the I for “interim” could stand for indefinite, with regard to both policy specifications and duration of implementation.
Public $$$ Handed Out with Little Accountability
IRP and the related Rental 100 program raise huge concerns:
1. The City of Vancouver makes massive financial concessions to developers to build “secured market rental” — presumably “secured” for the greater of building lifespan or sixty years. Since no present Council can “fetter” a future Council, there is no assurance that any project will not be flipped from rental to strata sale at some point in the future.
2. Overall concessions in the form of waiver of DCL (development cost levy) and CAC (community amenity contribution) now run toward or beyond $100 million ($54 million for Aquilini alone). These waivers mean that increase in population comes without corresponding funding for amenities and infrastructure. The result will be a strip-mined public realm for Vancouver.
3. The “affordable” rental scale has imported west side rents into east side projects. This means that developers will concentrate on locations where they can exploit maximized differentials between costs and returns.
4. The supposed affordable rental scale is not monitored, and evaporates at first rental turnover of a unit. After being handed $54 million in concessions, Aquilini has just implemented a fixed-lease approach that will guarantee 100% turnover after one year (see St. Denis). In effect, the City of Vancouver writes the developer a blank cheque.
Problems Specific to IRP
The distinguishing feature of IRP is a de facto rezoning of most of Vancouver with no consultation and no planning. As of 20 April 2016, the policy includes a more detailed mapping. IRP has unleashed widespread speculation and massive land assemblies (see Yaffe).
Unlike Rental 100, IRP can extend off of arterial streets for a distance of “approximately 100 metres” — the length of a football field. Precedent has just been set at 3365 Commercial to push an apartment form into that entire space, contrary to the policy that specifies ground-oriented housing forms for off-arterial locations.
The City of Vancouver has expressed notions of participating with unit owners in future price appreciation of IRP units designed for ownership. The net result is expansion of conflict of interest — the body that controls zoning will self-deal by sticking its own finger into the pie. For about forty years, the City of Vancouver has already served itself in this fashion with the secretive off-balance-sheet Property Endowment Fund.
Six IRP Sites
The current version of IRP states: “As of April 20, 2016, six projects under this policy have been approved or are in process.”
It seems apparent that developer take-up on the policy has been underwhelming. The policy still states:
Once 20 rezoning applications are in process, other proposals will be put on a wait list pending any decision by Council to extend the policy beyond 20 projects.
The six sites listed in the table below appear to be the sites referred to. Passed over in silence by the City of Vancouver is the proposal from Pacific Arbour for a seniors facility on six parcels in the 4600 block on the east side of Dunbar Street. Facing extreme pressure from Dunbar residents, the City of Vancouver rejected the proposal in spring 2013, citing “affordability” concerns.
To extrapolate from six projects in four years, the City of Vancouver may get around to a “review” of the situation about ten years from now. At that point, developers may have plopped a series of one-off experimental projects mainly into East Vancouver. As it stands now, three of the six have landed in the single local area of Kensington-Cedar Cottage.
Only one of the six IRP’s has so far landed west of Main Street. That atypical project, 1037 West King Edward, displays low FSR, low height, and few units. For this, the developer receives huge upfront financial concessions — waiver of DCL calculated at $374,437 and no levy of CAC.
Initial Rents, East and West
From page 13 of report on 3365 Commercial
From page 8 of report on 1037 West King Edward
Site Data Site SqFt FSR Height Storeys Units 1729 E. 33rd 29,587 1.26 37 ft 3 31 3323 E. 4th 36,777 1.45 46 ft 4 54 3120 Knight 17,653 2.08 52 ft 5 51 1037 W. King Edward 19,008 1.48 40 ft 2 - 4 36 3365 Commercial 35,106 2.40 60 ft 3.5 - 6 110 3868 Rupert 29,102 3.60 69 ft 6 112 DCL Waivers 1729 E. 33rd Not applicable 3323 E. 4th Not applicable 3120 Knight $465,476 1037 W. King Edward $374,437 3365 Commercial $1,077,792 3868 Rupert ??? Unit Distributions Studio 1 BR 2 BR 3 BR 1729 E. 33rd (Strata co-housing plus 2 rental units) 3323 E. 4th (Life-lease) 8 46 3120 Knight 1 32 18 3365 Commercial 31 38 30 11 1037 W. King Edward 8 12 13 3 3868 Rupert 78 30 4
Council Reports for IRP Rezonings
1729 East 33rd
2013 March 12-13
3. REZONING – 1729-1735 East 33rd Avenue
3323 East 4th
2014 March 13
1. REZONING: 3323-3367 East 4th Avenue (Beulah Garden)
2014 May 20
1. REZONING: 3120-3184 Knight Street
2016 May 24
3. REZONING: 3365 Commercial Drive and 1695-1775 East 18th Avenue
2016 June 23
1. REZONING: 3365 Commercial Drive and 1695-1775 East 18th Avenue
1037 West King Edward
2016 June 21
3. REZONING: 1037 West King Edward Avenue
City of Vancouver Documents on IRP
Final Report from the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability (2 October 2012)
Affordable Housing Choices Interim Rezoning Policy (4 Oct 2012 / 2 Dec 2013 / 20 Apr 2016)
Council Meetings about IRP
3 October 2012
4. Final Report of the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability
3 December 2013
4. Development Cost Levy By-law Amendments to the Definition of
For-Profit Affordable Rental Housing
20 April 2016
2. Affordable Home Ownership Pilot Program
Rejected IRP for 4600 Block East Side of Dunbar Street
Brent Jang. Plan for Dunbar seniors home way up in the air. Globe and Mail (20 Nov 2012)
Naiobh O’Connor. City rejects seniors housing application in Dunbar. Vancouver Courier (6 Mar 2013)
Legal Challenge to IRP / Rental 100 “Affordability”
Carlito Pablo. City of Vancouver to amend STIR and Rental 100 bylaws after legal fight. Georgia Straight (19 Nov 2013)
Bob Mackin. West End Neighbours society wonders what is affordable. Vancouver Courier (10 Apr 2014)
Speculation (Yaffe) and Aquilini (St. Denis/O’Brien)
Barbara Yaffe. City looks to dismantle land assembly. Vancouver Sun (23 Apr 2015: D3
[Brian] Jackson says the land assembly activity that has been accelerating amounts to property speculation. … The activity is likely the result of an interim zoning policy adopted by the city three years ago.
Jen St. Denis / Frank O’Brien. New Aquilini rental tower uses controversial fixed-term tenancy agreements. Business in Vanocuver (8 July 2016)
Related Coverage at Eye on Norquay
Rental 100 Red Flag
Vancouver CAC 2013
Commercial at 18th Ave
Ground-Oriented Buildings in Vancouver Residential Areas
The City of Vancouver appears to be attempting to redefine “ground-oriented building form” under Interim Rezoning Policy (IRP) to include a higher building form located off-arterial with almost no ground-level access. IRP is a city-wide policy introduced in 2012 that has seen little take-up so far, but a policy which is reported to have spurred considerable land-assembly speculation across Vancouver.
An Open House for a proposed development under the IRP at 3365 Commercial Drive / 1695-1775 East 18th Avenue was held on 21 May 2015. The site includes 5 lots of varying sizes (one of them presently owned by City of Vancouver). The developer proposes a secured market rental apartment building complex consisting of a 6-storey wing fronting on Commercial and a 4-storey wing fronting on 18th Avenue. A shared entrance and elevator join the two wings. Five for-sale ground-oriented units at the western edge of the site are offered as transition to adjacent RS-2 zoning.
The IRP states that “mid-rise forms up to a maximum of 6 storeys” may be considered if they front on arterials. In this case, a 6-storey building is proposed to front on Commercial Drive. “Within approximately 100 metres of an arterial street ” (i.e. behind the apartment building), the IRP permits “ground-oriented forms up to a maximum of 3.5 storeys, which is generally sufficient height to include small house/duplexes, traditional row houses, stacked townhouses, and courtyard row houses.”
1. Current Definition of “Ground-Oriented Building Form”
Until now, the phrase “ground-oriented forms” has been understood to mean “small house/duplexes, traditional row houses, stacked townhouses, and courtyard row houses,” as specified in the IRP. The description does not include 4-storey apartment buildings.
2. Apparent New Definition
In the case of this application, we understand that three of the ground-level units in the 4-storey building are to have ground-level entries, although only one such unit shows on the floor plan. The City seems to be implying that the presence of these ground floor units with ground-level entries allows the entire 23-unit wing fronting on 18th Avenue to qualify as a “ground-oriented building form.”
Planners at the Open House referenced examples in other parts of Vancouver – multi-storey apartment buildings where a few of the ground floor units have private, ground-level entries. This weak analogy provides no basis for redefining a clear specification by IRP. An apartment building containing a few units that have private ground-level entries does not magically become a ground-oriented building form.
A 4-storey apartment building has much greater density than other low-rise forms. For example, in Norquay, the maximum allowable FSR is 0.9 for the RT-11 zone (small house/duplex), 1.2 for the RM-7 zone (rowhouse/stacked townhouse) and 2.0 in the transition rezoning policy (for 4-storey apartments). The allowable unit density per hectare is 74 for RT-11, 132 for RM-7, and 240 in the transition rezoning policy for 4-storey apartments. To allow the City of Vancouver to redefine this term through precedent would have huge implications not only for IRP projects, but for all City policies that include the words “ground-oriented building form.”
There is a real shortage of small house/duplexes, traditional row houses, stacked townhouses and courtyard row houses in Vancouver. They are a true transitional form that combines features of both single family houses (private ground-level entries, easily accessible open space) and apartment buildings ( attached side walls, shared parking). The stated intent of the IRP is to encourage the building of these housing forms between the apartment buildings on the arterials and single family residential areas.
and 1695-1775 East 18th Avenue : Comment
1 June 2015
This application should not be approved in its current form for the following reasons:
1. The building form does not meet the criteria set out in the Interim Rezoning Policy. The IRP states that “mid-rise forms up to a maximum of 6 storeys” may be considered if they front on arterials. In this case, a 6- storey building is proposed to front on Commercial Drive. “Within approximately 100 metres of an arterial street” (i.e. behind the apartment building), the IRP permits “ground-oriented forms up to a maximum of 3.5 storeys, which is generally sufficient height to include small house/duplexes, traditional row houses, stacked townhouses, and courtyard row houses.” The intent of the IRP is “to encourage innovation and enable real examples of ground-oriented affordable housing types to be tested for potential wider application that will provide on-going housing opportunities.”
Until now, the phrase “ground-oriented forms” has been understood to mean the housing types listed above. In the case of this application, I was told at the Open House that three of the ground floor units in the 4-storey wing have ground-level entries, although only one unit is shown on the floor plan. In any case, the City seems to be implying that the presence of ground floor units with ground-level entries makes the entire 23-unit 4-storey wing fronting on East 18th Avenue a “ground-oriented building form.” Planners have referenced examples in other parts of the City.
This is a false comparison. Yes, there are multi-storey apartment buildings in Vancouver where there are a few ground floor units with private, ground-level entries that could be called “ground-oriented units.” But these units do not define the building form. An apartment building does not become a ground-oriented building form because it contains a few units that have private ground-level entries. It does not meet requirements where City policy specifies that ground-oriented housing types should be built. The 4-storey wing of the apartment building proposed in this application needs to be removed. All housing units behind the 6-storey building fronting on Commercial should be small house/duplexes, traditional row houses, stacked townhouses, or courtyard row houses, just as the IRP specifies. Otherwise there will be fewer, not more, examples of “ground- oriented affordable housing types” built under the IRP. This would defeat the clearly stated intent of the policy.
2. The 6-storey apartment building is too tall and massive for this site. The height and mass are excessive for a building in the RS-2 zone. The building should be shorter. Failing this, the 5th and 6th storeys should be set back at least 10 feet from the building edge. The building design should be improved to reduce the massing, and to add interest and variety.
3. The 6-storey building is set too close to the property line. The setback is only 0.2 metres on Commercial and 0.91 metres on East 18th Avenue. This is not enough. A greater setback would enable landscaping to soften the impact of the building, and make it fit in better with the surrounding residences.
4. More trees should be retained. At a minimum, the fir and hemlock trees (#1677 and #1678) identified by the arborist as being in “normal” condition should be kept. There should be sufficient space allowed for the root balls of the grove of trees at the corner of Commercial and East 18th Avenue so that those trees survive undamaged.
5. The “heritage” house should be removed. The house has little heritage value at present. It will have virtually none after it has had its interior gutted and its exterior finishes replaced, and has been moved from its present location onto a new foundation elsewhere on the site.
• • • • • •
To: Yardley McNeill, Rezoning Planner, email@example.com
From: Joseph Jones
Date: 1 June 2015
Please confirm that this comment on the 21 May 2015 open house for development proposed for the above address has been received and put on record.
1. Comments are listed here in order of decreasing expectation that they will have any impact on the specific development proposal or on City of Vancouver planning practices. This means that comment numbered two seems most likely to result in revision to the proposal, etc.
2. Under Interim Rezoning Policy, it seems inappropriate to permit development encroachment along East 18th Avenue into a long-established RS area through mere fact of parcel contiguity. The parcel fronting Commercial Drive should constitute the single locus for application of IRP. The East 18th Avenue parcels should emphasize ground-oriented access to dwellings and should give preference to rowhouse form.
3. The retention of cypress trees at the corner is highly desirable. Extensive discussion with the project arborist at the open house underlies the following recommendations. As presently structured, the development adjacent to the retained trees will result in a root loss of approximately 30%, significantly impairing the longevity of the five trees proposed for retention. Therefore the physical structure fronting Commercial Drive should be modified to mitigate root loss and to enhance that area’s provision of water and nutrients. Slight additional setback of the building should be coupled with more extensive foundation setback to accommodate existing root structure. Cantilever with design to channel rainwater under the sheltered portion should provide a viable option, especially considering the large benefit already conferred on the developer in the form of requiring no commercial space on ground floor. As necessary to achieve this additional root space, commensurate reduction in underground parking would be acceptable. The existing grove of cypress trees amounts to a major amenity. Since absolutely nothing will be coming back to the neighborhood from this proposed development, impact on already enjoyed amenity should minimized as much as possible.
4. The weakest, smallest cypress should be removed immediately to enhance the viability of the remaining four. The arborist does not anticipate a healthy future for the runt. With slight additional setback, one additional tree to the north that is scheduled for removal could be retained.
5. The setback from Commercial Drive appears to be insufficient. At an absolute minimum, it should equal that of the Porter STIR project to the immediate south of the site.
6. It is not apparent that the development or the neighborhood will benefit at all from the extreme relocation and retention of a highly dubious “heritage” facade. This supposed heritage element should in no way benefit the developer in terms of increased FSR or height or transfer allowances.
7. It seems clear that the City of Vancouver via the Property Endowment Fund is prepared to sell its parcel of land to Cressey and to extract value from the neighborhood with no return whatsoever to the affected location.
8. This IRP proposal appears to be the fifth that has been entertained by the City of Vancouver since the 2012 inception of an obviously failed policy. It does not go unnoticed that the only IRP rejection so far has occurred on the far west side of Vancouver. Even worse, this particular IRP project is the third to land in Kensington-Cedar Cottage, and lies within less than ten blocks of an IRP site on Knight Street that eliminated existing affordable apartment housing and clearly fudged on the criterion of adjacency to a shopping district. The density dumping and amenity extraction that City of Vancouver fosters in KCC is execrable planning and serves a blatantly classist agenda.
9. There is evidence that Cressey is an exploitative and abusive landlord. It is unfortunate that the City of Vancouver would permit these operators to concentrate in one local area and to subsidize them handsomely.