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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Second Email to City Manager re: Voiding of May 24th Public Hearing

Dear Mr. Johnston

We are writing this as an open letter which we will post to our website.

We are contacting you again about Council’s decision at a Council meeting on May 31, 2016 to void Item # 3 on the agenda for the May 24, 2016 Public Hearing for the proposed rezoning of 3365 Commercial and 1695, 1707, 1733 and 1775 East 18th Avenue.

It has been nine days and we have received no response, despite your promise that you would get an answer for us.   The ‘new’ June 23, 2016 public hearing is fast approaching and we request that you provide answers well before this date. As residents of this community who expended considerable time and energy to attend and speak at the original hearing it is our view that The City has at least a moral and probably a legal obligation to provide the community an explanation why their presentations to Council have been tossed out, given that all speakers had finished speaking.

To remind you these are the questions we asked June 6, 2016:

  1. Provide to us the complete text of the legal opinion which led City staff to recommend voiding the meeting of May 24, 2016, Agenda Item # 3 instead of reconvening that meeting with the Council members who attended the May 24 meeting.
  2. Did City Council have the choice to reconvene this meeting if they chose to?
  3. If they did have the choice, then why did they choose not to do so?
  4. Why will the speakers’ comments NOT be forwarded to the ‘new’ public hearing on June 23?
  5. Please tell us specifically what policies and rationale you based your decision on to cancel the May 24, 2016 Public Hearing. It appears to be questionable if the cancellation of the public hearing was in compliance with the city’s Procedure Bylaw or with Roberts Rules of Order.

As always, thank you for your time,

Yours sincerely,

The CCAN Communications group

(Cedar Cottage Area Neighbours)

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Letter to Council re vacant City-owned lot 1739 East 18th Avenue

Dear Mayor Gregor Robertson and Councilors’ George Affleck, Elizabeth Ball, Adriane Carr, Melissa De Genova, Heather Deal, Kerry Jang, Raymond Louie, Geoff Meggs, Andrea Reimer, Tim Stevenson

RE:   Vacant City Lot 2, Block A, Plan VAP1795, District Lot 753 New Westminster

This letter is written on behalf of the Cedar Cottage Area Neighbours (CCAN).

A 12 March 2015 rezoning application for 3365 Commercial Drive and 1695-1775 East 18th Avenue seeks CD-1 approval for 80,000 square feet of secured rental market housing on five consolidated parcels in an area presently zoned RS-2.

Addresses for the four developer owned or optioned parcels are: 3365 Commercial Drive; and 1707, 1775, and 1695 East 18th Avenue. It appears that the fifth City of Vancouver parcel at 1739 East 18th Avenue could be proposed for sale to the developer of the site. This parcel is addressed as 1739 East 18th (also known as 1733 East 18th) Avenue, PID 009908200, Assessment roll number 692242250000. [Legal description: Lot 2, Block A, Plan VAP1795, District Lot 753 New Westminster.] BC Assessment values this parcel at $665,000 in 2014, and at $800,000 in 2015.

We anticipate that a proposal to sell this lot may soon come before an in-camera meeting of Council. We ask that you withhold approval of this sale.

Our Kensington-Cedar Cottage Vision (p. 37) approved creation of small green mini-parks and green links. This particular City of Vancouver parcel would provide an exemplary space of this type. The terrain features a small stream that has continued to exist in an uncovered state. Trees on site include apple, cherry, hazelnut and Douglas fir, and the location provides a home for birds and other wildlife. To condemn this natural space to serve as a ramp into underground parking would be a travesty of the green claims made by the City of Vancouver.

Approved Vision Directions

21.1 Rowhouses, Four-and Sixplexes, Duplexes

More housing variety should be provided by rowhouses, four- and sixplexes, and duplexes, which have many features of single family but would cost less than a new house. Among the conditions that should be met for this new type of housing are:

  • in defined areas, not just anywhere
  • with design controls to be attractive and fit into the neighbourhood
  • built in small projects rather than in large ones
  • with small green mini-parks and green links

Support %: 64 / 15 / 21

The now proposed six- and four- storey block buildings were never supported in the visioning for RS zone by the Kensington-Cedar Cottage Vision. The approved direction for new building types is copied above, and includes a mini-park space which this city-owned lot could provide.

In 1983 a moratorium on apartment buildings in RS-2 was ended, provided that development would be small-scale and respect the character and diversity of existing development. Such development is to occur with small-scale apartments or townhouses, at densities common in RS-2 areas, using building designs which are complementary to neighbouring structures. The adjacent existing apartment building to the north is two storeys. To the south and west are single family houses. To the east is a two-storey building.

If the current development proposal were to respect what was envisioned when the moratorium on apartment construction in RS-2 was lifted, then the 3365 Commercial Drive site could host an apartment building of appropriate small scale, and the parcels at 1707 and 1775 East 18th could host separate townhouses. This approach would make it possible for the existing green space at 1739 East 18th to benefit the local area as a mini-park. The disposition-for-cash alternative would do nothing except take value out of a neighborhood that in recent years has already accommodated considerably more than its proportionate share of new rental density.

To allow a third secured market rental project within a single ten-block area would further burden existing amenity and unfairly target a single specific local area. The STIR project Porter lies one block south of the site in question, and approved IRP at Knight and East 15th lies nine blocks west.

We further note that of the five IRP proposals to come forward so far, this would be the THIRD to land in the same Kensington-Cedar Cottage neighborhood. The City of Vancouver turned down ONE such project in Dunbar. We hope that KCC (a twin with Dunbar in the visioning process) might enjoy at least a fraction of the respect that has been shown to the Dunbar area.

In light of the foregoing considerations, we request that you vote AGAINST the sale of City of Vancouver land for the purposes of facilitating an underground parking ramp.

 Yours sincerely

Secretary, CCAN

http://ccan2013.ca/

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PUBLIC HEARING 3365 Commercial Drive, 1695 to 1775 EAST 18th

PUBLIC HEARING 3365 Commercial Drive, 1695 to 1775 EAST 18th

DATE and TIME: Thursday, JUNE 23, 2016 at 6:00 pm

PLACE:                       453 West 12th Avenue, City Hall

Email, write letters, attend the hearing, speak to City Council

Ask City Council to oppose this rezoning

Vision City Council Voided the May 2016 Public Hearing so you must speak again to have your input heard.

The proposal http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/rezoning/applications/3365commercial/index.htm

The Council Report http://council.vancouver.ca/20160419/documents/p4.pdf

ugly

This what Cressey wants to build

Here are the reasons:

  1. 40 trees will be cut from the site. A historical stream bed on the site will be buried.
  2. Apartment buildings on East 18th don’t follow City policies. The proposed 4 storey apartment building on East 18th should be replaced by ground-oriented building types.
  3. The proposed 6 story building on Commercial does not fit the character of this single family neighbourhood. It should be reduced in height.
  4. The density of 6,225 square feet (0.96 FSR) is too much at 1695 E. 18, where the house from 3365 Commercial will be moved to. A laneway infill house would only be 650 square feet here but the backyard housing proposed is 3,222 square feet. This is excessive density.
  5. The density of 78,278 square feet (2.71 FSR) is excessive for the 6 and 4 storey apartment buildings proposed on Commercial Drive and East 18th Avenue. Normal density for this neighbourhood is up to 0.75 FSR.
  6. 114 units and only 81 parking stalls, this will create parking problems in the area.
  7. Parking ramp for 81 cars is on East 18th. This should be off Commercial Drive, as there is already too much traffic congestion on East 18th due to church and school traffic.

Signing up to speak

To speak at this Public Hearing contact City Hall by Thursday, June 23, 2016. Here is how: Just before the meeting, you can also sign up in person, up to 10 minutes before the meeting begins. Once the meeting starts on June 23 at 6:00 pm you can view it online from home at vancouver.ca/councilvideo so that you can see when your speaker number is coming up.

Don’t want to speak, but want your views heard?

If you don’t wish to speak to City Council but still want to share your views, send an email or a letter. Deliver your letter to the City Clerk’s Office at least three working days before the meeting so it can be distributed to elected officials on time. Emails are accepted as late as when the last speaker has finished speaking during the Public Hearing.

Be prepared; the hearing could go on for several days depending on the number of speakers and the number of other agenda items.

After all speakers on the list have spoken, the Mayor will ask if there is anyone else who has not spoken. You are allowed to speak at that time.

To be added to the speakers list for the agenda item 3365 Commercial Drive and 1695 to 1775 East 18th Avenue email publichearing@vancouver.ca or call 604-829-4238. Ask them to tell you what speaker number you will be on the list.

This message is brought to you by the Cedar Cottage Area Neighbours (CCAN) http://ccan2013.ca/

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An Alternative to the Cressey Proposal

ugly

This is what Cressey wants to build

compatible

A balanced approach, apartment-style and ground-oriented rentals

 

The design you see above was commissioned by the Cedar Cottage Area Neighbours, CCAN. It proposes a win-win scenario.  There is a more modest apartment building with it’s parking entrance off Commercial Drive and ground-oriented, family rental row house style dwellings on the rest of the lot. This allows for open space, gardens perhaps, an oasis of nature with a natural water feature. Also, this plan would allow for much better tree retention. This proposal fits with City policies, the Cressey proposal does not.

 

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City’s stealthy redefinition of “ground-oriented buildings” at 3365 Commercial could mean bigger buildings in many Vancouver residential areas. Action needed.

CityHallWatch: Tools to engage in Vancouver city decisions

Words mean everything. Subtle changes in definitions used by a municipal government can have huge implications on urban design and on your personal experience of your own neighbourhood. Here is a current situation that people across Vancouver should know about and consider providing feedback to the City.

3365 Commercial streetscape 3365 Commercial streetscape as proposed if rezoning is approved, view from 18th Ave.

This is a proposal by Cressey Developments to rezone five heavily treed lots to build what is depicted above. The location is 3365 Commercial and 1695-1775 East 18th Avenue (click here for full info on rezoning application). In the process, it appears City Hall is attempting to redefine the description “ground-oriented development” to allow much bigger buildings. If the precedents in this rezoning are approved, the implications could be citywide.

Until now, the phrase “ground-oriented forms” has been understood to mean “small house/duplexes, traditional row houses, stacked townhouses, and courtyard row houses.” Obviously, what is…

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