Statement on Proposed Housing Options in Single Family Neighbourhoods

The City’s proposal for updated zoning in rich, low density neighbourhoods falls short of meeting the scale of our housing problems. While the proposal represents a small improvement in RS ("one-family") and RT ("two-family") zones, it fails to address a leading cause of Vancouver's exclusionary, unaffordable housing: an unjustifiable emphasis on preserving single family houses and the status quo which restricts the vast bulk of the city to systematically unaffordable homes. Single family house prices increased by 300%, so we need solutions that fit the scale of that problem. Instead, this plan continues the current practice of unfairly forcing the city's renters into basements or along polluted arterial roads.

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What Motivated Vancouver's First Zoning Codes?

(hint: you might live in one)

Ask a random person what the purpose of zoning is, and they’ll probably mention that it keeps unpleasant or dangerous things away from homes. You wouldn’t want to live next to a garbage dump or concrete factory, right?

Most people agree that that’s a good thing (myself included), but zoning codes often do a lot more than that. If you could ask the people who wrote our first zoning codes, you’d quickly learn that separating industry from homes was very far down their list of goals. Separating certain homes – specifically low-cost apartment homes – from other homes was much more important to the founding fathers of Vancouver planning.

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Douglas Park Homeowners Rise up to Stop Basement Suites

Who would cite too much affordable housing as a reason to oppose new basement suites? In their newsletter yesterday, the Douglas Park Neighbours Association cited "an enormous amount of density within blocks of the Douglas Park area and beyond, and...thousands of affordable units," as a reason to oppose a small infill development.

These friendly neighbourhood landowners have organized to oppose new housing. They mean to safeguard Douglas Park "against the erosion of its special character and RS-5 residential integrity through incongruous development and over-densification." In pursuit of this goal, they may have four basement suites eliminated from the application at 809 W 23rd Ave.

That is four units that we will not have. Four families or households that will not be able to live in Vancouver. Multiplied over the whole city, it's death by 1,000 cuts.
The current residents instead want development that is "consistent with what other buildings are like in the neighbourhood." And what are other buildings like? They're $3,000,000+.

Intense opposition from established homeowners, even to modest infill projects like this, leads to a rental vacancy rate below 1%, with no signs of a return to sane levels. And it prevents more affordable options from being built.
This one example, played out across all of the city's "single-family" zones, explains a lot of the exclusion, displacement, and crisis that our city is experiencing. The 10-unit project originally proposed is getting towards the kind of building that, on a large scale, could make better use of existing land and actually provide sufficient housing for our population.

What can you do? For Vancouverites who are not fortunate enough to have invested in Douglas Park real estate in the 1990's, or who would like to live next to Douglas Park yourselves one day, it is important to support this project in one of two ways:

First, you can write to the Mayor and Council at publichearing@vancouver.ca to explain why you would support thousands of affordable units near the Canada Line, and four additional units in this small infill development in particular. You can also beta test AHV's new letter generator. It doesn't send yet, but you can copy and paste the generated text into your own email client.

And if you really love housing, you can request to speak at Council tomorrow, Tuesday June 13th, at 6pm on the 3rd floor of City Hall (12th and Cambie). You can sign up to speak here.
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Mount Pleasant and Grandview-Woodland Zoning Review

You might have heard that Vancouver is considering allowing more homes in parts of Mount Pleasant and Grandview-Woodland. The bad news: the plans are much less ambitious than we’d like. The good news: the city is asking for feedback via online questionnaire, and this is a great opportunity to show them that there is broad support for more housing in established neighbourhoods.

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Rental Housing Round-up

Want to see more rental housing in Vancouver? We've got some opportunities for you to make your voice heard or learn more about housing issues. Find an open house, a rezoning hearing, screening, or panel discussion near you, or across the city! 

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Marine Gateway and Joyce-Collingwood

cross-post from here at Jens' blog Mountain Doodles

There has been some recent confusion that got confounded further about transit-oriented development in Vancouver harbouring a large number of non-primary residence homes. Good data is important in moving forward in Vancouver’s crazy housing market. Without proper context, a couple of data points can serve to paint a very misleading picture of what is happening. So I decided to fill in some gaps on the very narrow question of understanding the CT level numbers that get tossed around. No deep analysis, just looking into the CTs in question to see where the numbers that the census picked up came from.

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The Good, The Bad & The Maybe?

AHV Comments on Mike de Jong’s Housing Supply Proposals

BC Finance Minister Mike de Jong was in the news lately with suggestions for dealing with housing supply problems in the Lower Mainland. He has some good ideas, and some not so good ideas.  

The Good 

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Rezone Kerrisdale!

A Kerrisdale church building below-market rentals faces fierce opposition from incumbent homeowners who are organizing to prevent new housing in a wealthy neighbourhood.  Be sure to check out the open house at the Ryerson Memorial Centre in Kerrisdale between 5 and 8 PM on February 27 to make sure they aren't the only voices in the room!

Ryerson United Church, like many aging churches, seeks to make better use of their property and provide more affordable housing, and have partnered with developers to build:

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City's Temporary Affordable Housing Under Fire from Homeowners

The pushback against the City of Vancouver's recent rollout of the first of its Temporary Modular Housing (TMH) is a stark reminder of why we formed Abundant Housing Vancouver.

If you haven't seen it already, check out the new TMH the City recently installed at Main and Terminal. This is the City's effort to provide affordable housing to those most in need on a temporary, or transitional basis.

If you're interested in learning more about the TMH program, have a look at a host of info on item 2 of the minutes from the December 13th, 2016 public hearing.

The installation at 220 Terminal Avenue consists of 40 units, renting at the $375/month income assistance shelter rate. This is housing for those who would otherwise live in SROs, a form of housing that's been dramatically eroded by newer development.

The finishing touches were being put on the TMH at 220 Terminal Avenue just this past week.

The bigger picture for the City's TMH plan is to install this housing on three other City-owned CD-1 zoned sites, as well as looking to third-party partners (government, commercial, faith-based, sites awaiting development, etc) for additional temporary TMH sites.

Sadly, that plan has drawn predictable complaints from the community, mostly from residents near the proposed TMH site at 3590 Copley Street, beside the Copley Community Orchard (both the Orchard and the proposed TMH site being City-owned CD-1 land).

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Our Questions for the New Chief Planner

It's official: Vancouver has finally hired a new Chief Planner! And Abundant Housing Vancouver has some questions we'd like to ask him. You probably have some questions too, so send your warm welcome to Gil Kelly and ask him about what he can do to foster more abundant housing in Vancouver.  

Kelly's prior experience has been as Director of Planning in Portland, San Francisco, and Berkeley, California - all cities with a harsh shortage of homes for all the people who want to live there. We're sure he'll bring many lessons learned here to Vancouver.  

Below is what Reilly, Adrian, Sebastian and I wanted to ask him, but please add your voice and send your questions to him directly.

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