Application Submitted for Development Permit for 3365 Commercial Drive

We have just been notified that this project is entering the final stages before the start of construction. The Development Application can be viewed on the City’s website here.

They are planning to present at the Urban Design Panel on April 19 at the main City Hall building (main floor, Town Hall Meeting Room) and are #5 on the agenda, currently scheduled for 7:00pm. Members of the public are welcome to attend the Urban Design Panel meetings, but they are not afforded an opportunity to speak at this meeting.

In addition, this project will not be seen by the Development Permit Board, but rather will be subject to a decision by the Director of Planning.

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Investigating DCL Waivers

Hi All CCAN members

Season’s Greetings and may 2017 bring you health and happiness.

Global News reported this EXCLUSIVE, City of Vancouver says it mistakenly gave $1.5M break to real estate developer. Here is the link to that article: http://globalnews.ca/news/3099233/exclusive-city-of-vancouver-says-it-mistakenly-gave-1-5m-tax-break-to-real-estate-developer/

Based on the above information a motion was put forward at the Regular Council Meeting on Tuesday, December 13, 2016 Investigating DCL Waivers.

This motion says that 30 projects that have received DCL waivers since 2009 will be reviewed to see if they were entitled to receive the DCL waiver. Based on this information CCAN has asked the City to review the DCL waiver received for the project at 3365 Commercial Drive and 1695 to 1775 East 18th Avenue. CCAN has posted this request on our website as well as at the bottom of this letter.

Below are the minutes and a link to the City Council meeting which refers to the motion to investigate DCL waivers, http://council.vancouver.ca/20161213/documents/regu20161213min.pdf

  1. Investigating DCL Waivers

MOVED by Councillor Carr

SECONDED by Councillor Ball

WHEREAS

  1. City Council’s approval of the rezoning application for 1396 Richards Street at the Public Hearing of June 18, 2013, based on the Policy Report of May 6, 2016 presented to Council on May 15, 2013, required the payment of a Development Cost Levy (DCL) of $4,550,319 (Appendix G page 1 Public Benefits Summary), with no consideration of waiver of this DCL;
  2. The 2015 Annual Report on Development Cost Levies of May 20, 2016, presented to Council on May 31, 2016 notes in Appendix F, page 3 a 2014 DCL waiver of $1,558,753 for 1398 Richards, an address for which there was no specific staff Policy Report or Public Hearing or Council decision, although the address is geographically located on the same site as the rezoning application for 1396 Richards Street;
  3. In an email to Council dated November 30, 2016, the City Manager stated that Onni Group, the developer for this site, agreed to pay the city the DCL, and staff are reviewing how this project received the DCL waiver and reviewing each of the 30 projects that have received DCL waivers since 2009 to ensure this didn’t happen with other projects.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Council direct staff to include in its public report to Council on 1396/1398 Richards and the 30 projects that have received DCL waivers since 2009:

  1. How the address of 1398 Richards came to be used in the 2015 Annual Report on Development Cost Levies, as opposed to the address of 1396 Richards which was the address for the rezoning application and Public Hearing.
  2. Whether there are any other address changes relevant to DCL waivers.
  3. Whether the City provides discretionary authority to any City Staff to overturn a Council decision regarding payment vs. waivers of DCLs and if so:
  • Which City staff have this discretionary authority.
  • Since when.
  • Under what legal authority.
  • Under what specific circumstances or with what limits, if any.

 

CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY (Vote No. 01634)

 

—————–LETTER SENT TO CITY HALL FROM CCAN————–

RE: DCL Waiver for the project at 3365 Commercial Drive and 1695 to 1775 East 18th Avenue

The project at Commercial Drive and East 18th qualified for DCL waivers because it is to provide 100% dedicated rental housing.  The problem is, this project also contains strata units.  We are questioning if the project should have received the DCL waivers when it also contains strata units.

The Council Report shows strata units in the project.  The rezoning application website Project Statistics shows strata units.

There was a Public Hearing on June 23, 2016 for 3365 Commercial Drive and 1695 to 1775 East 18th Avenue.   This project received a waiver on the DCL based on the fact that the project is to provide a public benefit of for profit ‘affordable’ rental housing.  However, when showing the FSR for this DCL waiver in the Council Report of April 11, 2016 staff uses the average FSR of the entire site, that being 2.40 FSR.  This averaged FSR includes strata units. This 2.40 FSR is shown in Appendix G on page 1 of 1 of the April 11/16 report.  These strata units are mentioned in this Appendix G page 1 of 1 as (**DCL charged on new strata floor area only (299.3 m²).

The Project Statistics show two portions of the site, the rental part at 2.70 FSR and the heritage and additional two strata units part at .96 FSR.   The 299.3 m² strata units are mentioned in the Fee Simple section of the Project Statistics as 2 three bedroom units (3222 sq ft).

Another thing that makes us think that the DCL waiver should not have been allowed is the fact that some underground parking for the project is under the strata units. The only way to enter these parking stalls is through the rental portion of the site. The two parts of this project, the rental part and the two additional strata buildings at the back of the heritage house part, are integrated through the underground parking.  This is another reason to see the strata units as an integral part of the entire project.  There is no back lane on this project.

In the Development Cost Levy By-law at, 3.1A, for a Waiver for for-profit-affordable housing, it says no dwelling units are to be strata units when receiving a DCL waiver.

Thank you for considering our concerns.

References:

Here is the link to the April 11, 2016 Council Report showing Appendix G page 1 of 1: http://council.vancouver.ca/20160419/documents/p4.pdf

Here is the link to the rezoning application website, showing the Project Statistics with 2 three bedroom strata units (3222 sq ft):  http://rezoning.vancouver.ca/applications/3365commercial/documents/projectstats_rev2.pdf

Here is the link to the Development Cost Levy By-law. No. 9755: http://bylaws.vancouver.ca/9755c.PDF

On behalf of the members of CCAN (Cedar Cottage Area Neighbours)

 

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Grandview-Woodland Community Plan goes to Council

Sign up now to speak to Council Wednesday, July 27th!!

This Grandview-Woodland Community Plan encroaches on the Kensington-Cedar Cottage Community Vision north of Broadway.. this should be opposed!

Now is the time to act!

Please sign up to speak on the proposed Community Plan at next Wednesday’s Council meeting at City Hall. The meeting begins at 9:30.  Council needs to hear from YOU  about what you think about what is being proposed for our neighbourhood.  No one else can represent your interests as effectively as you can!

* To  learn about GWAC’s position, &
* For tips about speaking at Council go to the Grandview-Woodland Area Council website at http://www.gwac.ca/news/-how-to-present-and-write-to-vancouver-city-council

* Here’s the page about this particular meeting on the City website
http://council.vancouver.ca/20160727/documents/pspc20160727ag.pdf

GWAC encourages you to do this NOW!
People speak in the order in which they sign up.

To: speaker.request@vancouver.ca

Subject line: Request to speak to City Council
Body of message:

Hello. I am requesting to speak to City Council at a meeting.
Meeting date: July 27
Meeting type: Policy & Strategic Priorities Standing Committee
Agenda item number1
:My organization’s name (optional): Resident
Agenda item title: Grandview-Woodland Community Plan

Thank you,   [Enter your full name]
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Council Approves Rezoning at 3365 Commercial Drive and 1695-1775 East 18th Avenue

To absolutely no-one’s surprise, on Tuesday afternoon City Council voted 10-1 to approve the Cressey rezoning proposal for 3365 Commercial Drive and 1695-1775 East 18th Avenue with only Green Councillor Adrian Carr voting to reject it.

As always, Councillor Carr carefully weighed the various arguments brought forth by speakers and concluded, correctly, that this proposal was deeply flawed. Not the least of these flaws was the fact that it failed in a number of ways to conform to the policies designated to enable it to be built.

Equally as predictably, the rest of Council completely ignored the policy failures, the wanton destruction of trees, and all the issues presented by opposing speakers only to fall back on their one trick, the same mantra repeated ad nauseum by the speakers who supported the project at the Public hearing, “We need more rental housing”.

One of the failures in policy is the broken promise to spread these projects across the city, not to cluster them in one neighbourhood. In an ironic twist the people of this neighbourhood woke up today to a notice from The City informing us of a new six storey Rental 100 project proposed for the 3000 block of Commercial Drive. So that will make five within a six block radius, or is it six, I’ve lost count.

This result once again raises the question, what is the point of spending all that money creating policies and guidelines and holding Public hearings, wasting everyone’s time, when Council pays no attention to any of it and votes based on a predetermined rigid ideology? This money could be put to better use. Anything would be better.

On another note, I heard today that Grandview Woodland has a new Community Plan. I just want to scream at the top of my lungs, “DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME!”. The people making the decisions are developers and City Council. The Community Plan, whatever it says, and I won’t waste the time to read it, means nothing, just like the Mount Pleasant Community Plan meant nothing.

We’re living in a virtual dictatorship in Vancouver and barring a revolutionary change at City Hall we all may as well just learn to live with it.

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Time to End Subsidies for Developers Who Build Rental Buildings

Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear about Vancouver’s miniscule rental vacancy rate. I’ve heard stories of bidding wars for apartments; rents are through the roof. A tenant I know in a 490 sf studio in a newer building in East Vancouver pays $1300 a month. Developers can’t keep up with the demand.

In response to this The City of Vancouver has a program with the awkward name “Interim Rezoning Policy for Increasing Affordable Housing Choices” which rewards developers who build new rental buildings with incentives, waivers of Development Cost Levies (DCLs), Community Amenity Contributions (CACs), and reduced off-street parking stalls.

So what’s the problem? As with anyone who supplies a commodity, developers are in the business of filling a demand, in this case for rental housing. And as previously stated, the demand is insatiable. This should be a business opportunity which is addressed by the free market. A few years ago these incentive programs may have made sense but in the current environment there is absolutely no justification for handing out these perks. We, the taxpayer are foregoing millions of sorely needed dollars. Wherever these projects are built they put pressure on infrastructure like streets, parks, community centres, schools and daycares. These levies are the only extra money available to at least begin to defray these pressures. It’s time to put an end to these subsidy programs, developers can manage quite well without them. Vision Vancouver, are you listening, or are your ears all plugged up with those developers’ campaign contributions?

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3365 Commercial Drive Public Hearing Gets Contentious

The defunct Public Hearing for 3365 Commercial Dr & 1695-1775 E 18th of May 24, 2016 was one for the books, but the re-do on Thursday did not lack for drama either. The meeting began with the usual formalities, actually more formal than usual, Council seemed a little nervous after the way the last hearing crashed and burned. Staff and the applicant started with the usual heaping of praise on the application. If I had heard the word “affordable” misused one more time my head would have exploded.

One notable question to staff during the preamble to speakers came from Councilor Stevenson, remember it was his motion to refer the question to the City arborist “for more information” that initiated the eventual collapse of the previous hearing. Well, this time the City arborist was there to answer his searing questions, which amounted to, “After what happened at the last meeting I am assuming that you as staff went out to the site and did some more assessment, is that true?” The arborist responded, in so many words, that yes, I went out to the site today, and it appears that none of the trees have fallen over. That apparently was enough to satisfy the deep concern for the trees that caused Councilor Stevenson to want to abort the May 24th hearing because he did not ask any further questions. If that does not give you pause to be skeptical of the motives for his motion at the previous hearing, then I have some swampland you might like. Alligators included.

Then came the speakers, ah yes, the speakers.

Aside from one distraught fellow who lobbed insults at the mayor for five minutes, the twenty or so speakers who spoke against the proposal were all Cedar Cottage residents, were all well informed about the proposed project and its implications, knew the site and its history, and many were well informed about the City policies that enabled the application. The arguments were nuanced and well thought out. Some presented detailed solutions and alternatives in the form of plans and renderings to address some of the shortcomings of the proposal. Not one said don’t build rental housing here. Not one insulted “young people”.

The seven speakers who supported the project were strikingly similar to one another in a number of ways. Not only in age, which was around 30, but not one of them lived in the neighbourhood, not one showed any knowledge of the actual proposal, the City policies, the historic significance of the site, or anything else specific to this issue. They all read from one script, “More rental housing is needed” and that was the Golden Ticket each of them used to disqualify every other argument, no matter how well thought-out. Each included a touching personal story to dress up his message. So facile, so devoid of information were these speeches one could have taken any one of them and transposed it to any city in the world and without changing a single word, it would have fit. It was all a meme, a hashtag, a social-media driven attempt to steamroll over the legitimate concerns of neighbours.

One speaker started by calling people hypocrites for calling a $1300 studio not affordable while living in million dollar homes. This statement sounds catchy but contains no logic. Affordability, in the real world, refers to the cost of housing relative to a person’s income, not the current market value of one’s home.

That’s all well and good, everyone has a right to his opinion, but the tactics used by one of the supporters were quite deplorable. Kyle Macdonald, a walking, talking publicity stunt, a social media celebrity in his own mind and speaker-for-hire, baby-in-tow, fired a barrage of insulting remarks towards “elderly” home-owners. His speech contained a lot of bluster and not much sound reasoning. It appeared to be an attempt to start open war between young and old, owners and renters, while the real issues around projects like this become lost in the noise. Some in attendance were personally offended by this young man’s hateful and divisive rhetoric.

Another disappointing aspect of the night was that a young CBC reporter interviewed community members as well as Kyle Macdonald and as it turned out her report was strongly biased towards his inflammatory slant on the issue. Lesson, don’t talk to reporters under 40.

I hope City Council is able to see through the smokescreen and bases their decision on facts, not hype.

 

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Vision Vancouver Attempting to Transform All Single Family Neighbourhoods Warns CCAN: Public Hearing June 23

MEDIA RELEASE: June 17, 2016

City Council will hold a new Public Hearing on June 23 (Thurs.) after it voided the May 24 Public Hearing due to an unprecedented walk-out by Councillors protesting the handling of the meeting. Cedar Cottage Area Neighbours (CCAN) is warning other neighbourhoods that if Council approves the rezoning at 18th and Commercial Drive, Council may then use it as a precedent in Single Family (RS Zoned) neighbourhoods everywhere in Vancouver.

This project is proposed under the City’s Interim Rezoning Policy (IRP), which allows the construction of rental buildings up to six storeys on arterial streets. In this case however, the developers didn’t just set their sights on one lot on Commercial Drive. They scooped up the five connecting properties in this RS Zone and amalgamated them. Now the project includes a three and a half storey apartment building intruding into this single family neighbourhood, which until now would not have been permitted.

This application violates several of the policies and guidelines intended to protect Single Family (RS) Zones.

1. RS zones are not listed as eligible to receive extra density under
an IRP project.
2. The IRP policy permits only “ground oriented” housing within 100
meters of an arterial. “Ground oriented” generally means housing
that has direct access to the street or ground level (i.e., its own
front door).
3. The Mayor’s Affordable Housing Task Force: Roundtable on Building
Form and Design specifically recommended that to increase density in
RS single family zones, ground-oriented housing should be used.
4. New projects are supposed to reflect the character of the
surrounding neighbourhood.

Lee Chapelle of CCAN says, “We urge the City Council NOT to approve this rezoning. Too often, the Vision Vancouver majority uses rental housing to justify the violation of many principles. In this case, the principle is the protection of Vancouver’s single-family zoning and the preservation of the character of these neighbourhoods.

CCAN warns others that if this proposal goes through in its current form, then your neighbourhood could be next.

We encourage people to attend the Public Hearing on June 23rd at 6:00 pm to ask City Council to oppose this project at Commercial and East 18^th Avenue. Build ground-oriented styles of rental housing in RS zones.

Contact: Lee Chapelle 604-365-1069 (Cell)

Email<mailto:ccan2013@shaw.ca>ccan2013@shaw.ca, FaceBook<https://www.facebook.com/ccan2013>https://www.facebook.com/ccan2013,

Twitter<https://twitter.com/CCAN2013>https://twitter.com/CCAN2013

**

References:

* Mayor’s Affordable Housing Task Force: Roundtable on Building Form
and Design

<http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/HousingAffordability-DiscussionDraft-Gellers-BuildingFormDesign.pdf>

* Rental Incentive Guidelines
<http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/rental-incentive-guidelines.pdf>http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/rental-incentive-guidelines.pdf

* IRP
<http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/bylaws/bulletin/i002.pdf>http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/bylaws/bulletin/i002.pdf

* Project description
http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/rezoning/applications/3365commercial/index.htm
Cedar Cottage Area Neighbours (CCAN) is a non-profit coalition of neighbours who are striving to preserve the livability and unique character of this special community.

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