Archive for the ‘RT-11 Comment’ Category

Two Major Deficiencies

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… Likely to Carry Over into Current Citywide Planning

 
The following open letter is sent to the following named City of Vancouver officials and simultaneously posted to the Eye on Norquay web site at https://eyeonnorquay.wordpress.com/2017/09/04/two-major-deficiencies/.

 

To:  Gil Kelley — Manager of Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability
     Kaye Krishna — Manager of Development, Buildings and Licensing
     Anita Molaro — Assistant Director: Urban Design
     Dan Garrison — Assistant Director: Housing Policy
     Kent Munro — Assistant Director: Vancouver Midtown
CC:  Sadhu Johnston — City Manager

From:  Jeanette and Joseph Jones

Subject: Two Major Deficiencies Evident in Norquay RT-11

Date:  4 September 2017

 

The Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre is the second large area of Vancouver to have all RS parcels rezoned to allow for new forms of low-density housing. Between 2013 and 2015 the City of Vancouver rezoned 1,912 parcels of land in the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre from RS-1 to three new specifications: RT-11 (small house/duplex), RM-7 (rowhouse/stacked townhouse), and RM-9A (4-storey apartment). As of 30 August 2017, fifty development applications have been posted on the City of Vancouver’s Development Applications web page. Eleven projects have been completed so far in the RT-11 zoned areas and two in the RM-7 zoned areas. The first RM-9A project on assembled parcels has recently begun construction.

In this way, our entire neighbourhood has become a demonstration project for the City of Vancouver designated “missing middle” housing forms that seem destined for other RS-1 zoned areas across the city. Problems associated with these new housing types are showing up first in Norquay.

At this point, two major deficiencies are clearly evident in many of the completed projects.

 
1.  Living rooms and bedrooms are often too small.

A large number of units, especially in the RT-11 zoned area, are 3–bedroom units expected to house families. In small house, duplex and townhouse units of less than 1500 sq. ft., the kitchen area and the living/dining area usually occupy a single room. After space has been allocated to the kitchen and dining functions, the remaining space can often only hold a 3-seater sofa. This amount of living room is inadequate for families.

Bedrooms in these units tend to be extremely small. A recent RT-11 application shows bedrooms that are 8 x 6 ft. or 8 x 7 ft. This space is barely large enough to accommodate a single bed. Many 3-bedroom units have at least one bedroom smaller than the 92 sq. ft. specified in the BC Housing Design Guidelines as a minimum bedroom size for social housing units.

It seems that no guidelines govern room sizes in Norquay’s RT-11 zone or in the proposed RT-5/5A and RT-6 zones for Grandview-Woodland and Mount Pleasant. The city’s Housing Design and Technical Guidelines apply only to social housing units. The High-Density Housing for Families with Children Guidelines apply only to “residential development, both market and non-market, of 75 and more units per hectare in density.” (p. 1) Units in the RT-11 zone and in the proposed RT-5/5N and RT-6 zones have a maximum unit density of 74 per hectare. The City of Vancouver urgently needs a new set of guidelines for low-density housing forms.

 
2.  Landscaping is not being maintained.

For the most part, landscaped areas are being planted with drought-tolerant plants. But these new plantings are not being properly watered. In some cases, the developer fails to water and the landscaping shows signs of severe stress even before the units are ever occupied [photos 1 and 2]. In other cases, the new residents fail to water the plantings, either through ignorance or lack of interest [photo 3]. In a worst-case scenario, both the developer and residents have failed to water. Irrigation systems usually have not been required. Failure to water and otherwise care for the landscaping is especially evident where there is shared “semi-private” open space. No one appears to feel responsible for these, or for city boulevards [photos 4 and 5].

Much of the sod that has been laid down does not look as if it will survive [photo 6]. Many trees have dead branches, and some entire trees have died but have not been replaced [photos 7 and 8]. While established plantings may recover to a large extent after a hot summer like this one, new plantings are much more vulnerable.

These problems can be anticipated to be even more acute in the RM zones, where units are likely to be smaller and virtually all ground-level open space will be semi-private shared space.

RT-11 zoning is referenced in the report “Increasing Housing Choice and Character Retention Incentives in the Mount Pleasant and Grandview-Woodland Communities – Proposed Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law,” as presented to Council on 13 July 2017 and referred to Public Hearing of September 19. What is happening in the RT-11 and RM-7 zones will also be relevant when the final Housing Reset strategy is presented to Council later this year.

Solutions need to be found to the two serious problems outlined above before these new housing forms are allowed in other areas of Vancouver. Staff have assured us that these problems are “on the radar,” but they need to become more than a blip. They need to be given urgent priority. We understand that cooperative effort between staff working in different areas may be required, and workable solutions may take some time to find. In the meantime, substandard projects proliferate in Norquay, exacerbated by failed plantings that are never remediated. Failure to address these issues in a timely fashion could spread similar degradation across Vancouver.

Please keep us updated on what is being done to ensure that living rooms and bedrooms are adequately sized and that landscaping is maintained in low-density housing developments.

Note: Photos are provided only on the web site version of the letter and may be viewed at https://eyeonnorquay.wordpress.com/2017/09/04/two-major-deficiencies/.
 

 
Photos

 

 
     Photo 1 — 22 Aug 2017 — 2297 East 37th Avenue
 

 

 
     Photo 2 — 22 Aug 2017 — 5197 Clarendon Street
 

 

 
     Photo 3 — 22 Aug 2017 — 4573 Slocan Street
 

 

 
     Photo 4 — 22 Aug 2017 — 2297 East 37th Avenue
 

 

 
     Photo 5 — 22 Aug 2017 — 2273/2275/2277 Slocan Street
 

 

 
     Photo 6 — 16 May 2016 — 4521 Nanaimo Street
 

 

 
     Photo 7 — 16 May 2016 — Killarney Street at East 41st Avenue
 

 

 
     Photo 8 — 16 May 2016 — 5689 Killarney Street
 
 

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Written by eyeonnorquay

4 September 2017 at 10:11 pm

4525 Clarendon

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Comment on Development Application DP-2017-00586
under RT-11 Zoning

http://development.vancouver.ca/pc4525clarendon/index.htm

 

 

18 July 2017

 
We consider the location of the buildings to be a good general response to the challenges of the site. The form of the buildings fits in well with the context. We strongly support the proposed retention of several existing tall conifers.

These are our concerns:

1.  City Sidewalk. There is no existing city sidewalk along the west side of Clarendon Street. Construction of a city sidewalk where none exists is to be a condition of new development in Norquay. No new sidewalk is shown on the current site plan.

2.  Pocket Park. A triangular piece of City-owned land at the southwest corner of the intersection of E. 29th Avenue and Clarendon Street adjoins the site. This land should be turned into a public pocket park, with seating and a more diverse collection of plants.

The park needs to be clearly separated from the development site by a low fence and/or plantings. Detailed arrangements need to be made for maintenance of the park, and the party responsible needs to be given clear instructions. Failure to maintain landscaping is a major problem of new development in Norquay.

3.  Parking. In general, a large amount of open space should not be devoted to driveways. In this case, the irregular shape of the site and minimal access to the lane mandate something like the proposed driveway to access the parking spaces required by current regulations. Use of paving stones would make the area more attractive and useful for recreational purposes.

However, it seems likely that the owners of the garages attached to Units 1, 2 and 3 will use them for storage rather than parking, or possibly convert them into additional rooms. The approximately 200 feet of adjoining curb on the two streets bordering this corner site make it easy for residents to park on the street. This situation may well lead to several undesirable outcomes:

a. An unused impermeable driveway taking up a large proportion of limited open space.

b. The centre of the site surrounded by unattractive and unnecessary garage doors.

c. Some of the largest rooms in the units rendered windowless and located away from the living areas.

We encourage the City of Vancouver to address the problems that result from attached garages, not only in Norquay but throughout the city. Space taken up by garages and driveways that are not likely to be used for their intended purpose would be better allocated to living space in the units and to landscaped open space in the yard.

4.  Size of Bedrooms. Unit 1 contains a bedroom that measures 8’ x 7’, and one bedroom in Unit 2 measures 8’ x 6’. These bedrooms are too small to hold anything but a single bed. It would be better to design for 2-bedroom units.

5.  Landscape.

a. Connections. The common area between Building A and Building B needs to be redesigned as a main pedestrian connection through the site. The north/south paving stone walkway should continue from the entrance on East 29th Avenue to connect to the driveway, with plantings at the edges. Building C seems to be isolated, with no clear connection from either door to the rest of the site.

b. Grass. Very small areas of grass are difficult to maintain and should be replaced with plantings and/or pavers.

c. Hedge. Keeping two fairly small pieces of an old existing hedge will detract from the appearance of the development. The entire hedge should be removed and replaced with plantings in keeping with those on the rest of the site.

d. Irrigation System. An irrigation system needs to be installed to water plantings in the common areas. This system should be extended to include plantings in the pocket park.

We ask that you address these concerns before approving this application.

 
Jeanette and Joseph Jones
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

18 July 2017 at 10:42 pm

Posted in RT-11 Comment

2310 Brock Street

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Comment on Development Application DP-2016-00529
under RT-11 Zoning

http://development.vancouver.ca/pc2310brock/index.htm

 

 

1 May 2017

 
The general appearance of the buildings is acceptable. However, we have the following concerns:

 
1.  Siting of Buildings and Parking Spaces

(a) This site is double-fronted, with frontages both on the south side of Wenonah / Brock Street and on the north side of Galt Street. The south side of Galt Street consists of new single-family houses. Garages and parking spaces for houses that front on Wenonah Street occupy all of the north side. This results in the inconsistent and unattractive streetscape common to streets in Vancouver with double-fronted lots. The application for 2310 Brock Street offers the City of Vancouver an opportunity to demonstrate to residents that new development can enhance streetscape. Three of the dwellings in this project should front on Galt Street.

(b) Parking spaces should be situated off the lane east of the site — not off Galt Street. “Off-Street Parking and Loading,” Section 4.9 of the RT-11 and 11N Guidelines, states:

Parking spaces will normally be located in garages accessed directly off the lane. On larger sites, parking at the lane may be accommodated in a combination of enclosed garages, carports, and surface parking.  [emphasis added]

Mid-block parcels in the 2200 block of Wenonah Street have parking located off Galt Street because there is no other possibility for them. But 2310 Brock Street has 200 feet of laneway adjoining its east property line, more than enough to accommodate 10 parking spaces.

 
2.  Sidewalk

Where there is no city sidewalk in front of a site, provision of the sidewalk is to be an urban design condition of development. In this case, the sidewalk should be extended in front of 2268 Wenonah Street to join the existing sidewalk, which currently ends in front of 2266 Wenonah Street.

 
3.  Landscaping

(a) Most of the plants specified are short. Some taller shrubs should be used.

(b) Very small and/or irregularly shaped areas of grass are not useful and are difficult to maintain. They should be replaced by plantings, or perhaps in some cases, by pavers.

(c) A watering system is required for the plantings.

 
We ask the City of Vancouver to address these concerns before approving this project.

 
Jeanette and Joseph Jones
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

1 May 2017 at 7:12 pm

Posted in RT-11 Comment

2441 East 40th Avenue

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Comment on Development Application DP-2017-003667
under RT-11 Zoning

http://development.vancouver.ca/pc2441e10th/index.htm

 

 

1 May 2017

 
This standard FuHo design for an RT-11 development is generally acceptable. The size and shape of the site results in very large duplex units — the largest built in Norquay at this point. However, the secondary suites in these units are correspondingly large and could be considered family housing. Five parking spaces are included.

We have noticed that recent applications by this architect are using a neutral colour palette for the exterior of the buildings. We much prefer the bolder colour palette used for earlier applications. (Photos are provided below.) These bolder colours add interest during Vancouver’s grey winters and help to camouflage the dirt and moss created by our wet climate.

 
Jeanette and Joseph Jones
 

 

 
     4517 Nanaimo
 

 

 
     5607 Rhodes
 

 

 
     2355 East 41st
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

1 May 2017 at 7:08 pm

Posted in RT-11 Comment

5700 Dundee Street

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Comment on Development Application DP-2016-00101
under RT-11 Zoning

http://development.vancouver.ca/pc5570dundee/index.htm

 
5700dundee-elevations
 

 
5 July 2016

 
This standard FuHo design for an RT-11 development is generally acceptable. We note the following concerns:

1. Only two parking spaces are provided. The Parking ByLaw states that parking in RT-11 zones should be one per unit, i.e. three spaces for this development.

2. There is no existing sidewalk along the East 40th Avenue frontage. Construction of this sidewalk needs to be included as a Condition of Development for this application.

 
Jeanette Jones and Joseph Jones
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

5 July 2016 at 11:10 am

Posted in RT-11 Comment

Double Fail

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When the City of Vancouver fails to follow its own development application protocols, and then fails to acknowledge and correct its own shortcoming in a timely fashion, worries compound. It feels like your neighborhood has become an impervious machine to serve anything-goes developers. Here is a case of a double fail. We now await response to a follow-up communication to administration at City of Vancouver. UPDATE: Same-day response was added at 5:00 pm to Correspondence section below as email # 3.

 
On Friday 13 November 2015 the City of Vancouver posted two new Norquay RT-11 development applications to its Development Application Information Web Page:

        4521 Nanaimo Street — DE419732
        http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/developmentservices/devapps/pc4521nanaimo/index.htm

        5391 Slocan Street — DE419733
        http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/developmentservices/devapps/pc5391slocan/index.htm

Before a development application gets posted to the web site, the developer is supposed to provide the City of Vancouver with a photograph that confirms display of a development application sign on the site proposed for development. (This and other such information may provide grist for a future posting on How to Monitor.)

 
Visual Evidence

Here are the photos that Eye on Norquay took of the two sites on Wednesday 18 November 2015.
Zero development application signage on site …

 
4521nanaimo
 
     4521 Nanaimo Street
 

 
5391slocan
 
     5391 Slocan Street
 

 
Correspondence

 
Email # 1 —

Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 10:22 AM

To: Project Coordinator

On Friday, November 13, two new development applications were posted on the CoV
web site: DE419732 (4521 Nanaimo Street) and DE419733 (5391 Slocan Street). Both
these applications are for duplex plus infill developments under RT-11 zoning.
As can be seen in the photos above, there is no sign posted at either site.

My understanding has been that the applicant is required to send CoV a photo of
the posted site sign before the application goes up on the CoV web site. Has
this practice changed?

Please ask the applicant to post the site sign as soon as possible. The deadline
for comment should be adjusted to a date two weeks after the sign is posted. It
is important to give opportunity for comment to neighbourhood residents who do
not live within the notification area.

Jeanette Jones

 
 
Email # 2 —

Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 8:17 AM

To: Project Coordinator
Cc: Supervisor, Processing Centre Development

On Thursday, November 19 I sent the email below regarding the absence of site signs
at the development sites for these two applications. I have not yet received a reply,
and as of 4:00 p.m. on Monday, November 23 no site signs have been posted.

Could you please confirm by forwarding me a copy of the relevant photos that the site
signs have been posted? The deadline for comments given in the notification letters
is November 27, three days from now. This date should be changed to a date two weeks
after the signs are posted.

Thank you.

Jeanette Jones

 
 
Email # 3 — City of Vancouver response

Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 11:15 AM

To: Jeanette Jones

Thank you for bring this error to my attention.

I am just in the process of preparing the sign information.

Once we receive confirmation that the signs are up, we will adjust the notification
deadline on the website. I will also let you know.

Sorry for any inconvenience.

 

Written by eyeonnorquay

24 November 2015 at 9:19 am

4981 Moss Street

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Comment on Development Application DE419700 under RT-11 Zoning

 
building1elevations
 

 
building2elevations
 

 
17 November 2015

 
Our main concern with this application is the design of the enhanced side yards.

1.  Most importantly, they are far smaller than what is specified in the RT-11 guidelines (Section 4.5). Each enhanced side yard is to be 4.9 metres wide in addition to the standard side yard width of 1.2 metres (see figure 9 on page 10). The side yards shown on the site plan have a total width of only 2.4 metres. Although the guidelines allow for a reduction in the size of side yards on short sites like this one, the excessive proposed reduction results in side yards that are less than half the specified width.

2.  The location of the enhanced side yards (between the garage and the fence) makes them almost unusable. To designate that space as “usable vegetable gardens” is fantasy. Few if any vegetables will grow in shady locations like this one, especially on the north side of the garage. Planting western red cedar trees “nearby” (a tree that grows to a height of 50 to 70 ft. and a width of 25 ft. even under cultivation, with branches to the ground) would make it unlikely that anything at all would grow between the houses and the lane.

The side yards of this development should be completely redesigned
in accordance with the RT-11 guidelines.

 
Jeanette and Joseph Jones
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

17 November 2015 at 11:00 am

Posted in RT-11 Comment