Tag Archives: Density

What’s that smell?

What’s that smell?

There was a distinctly fishy aroma at Monday’s CNV Council meeting when, at the behest of Mayor Mussatto, Council re-considered Starlight’s proposal to develop 40 units of infill rental housing around the existing high-rise building at 151 East Keith (fronting Victoria Park).

The development had already been discussed at a public hearing on April 23, and Council had turned it down by a 4-3 vote. That should have been the end of it under the rules, which state: “No further information or submissions can be considered by Council once the Public Hearing is closed.”

Then suddenly last week, the mayor directed that an item be added to the May 14 council agenda: to reconsider (and approve for third reading) the zoning bylaw changes that Council had rejected on April 23.

No one seemed to know what the mayor was up to. Had one of the dissenting councillors decided to change his or her vote? Surely he wasn’t bringing up new information received after the public hearing had been closed – that would be against the bylaw.

And we know the mayor was sensitive about upholding the bylaw, because at the start of the May 14 Council meeting, he did not allow two members of the public to speak about 151 East Keith in Public Input Period. “We’re not allowed to receive any new information,” he explained.

Then came the mayor’s big reveal. In their original proposal, Starlight had promised to apply the “10-10-10” affordability formula, meaning 10% (i.e. four) of the new units would be rented for 10% below market rates, for 10 years. Now, the mayor told Council, Starlight was proposing to make 20 per cent (i.e., eight) of the new units available at 10% below market rates, in perpetuity. More affordable housing! Who could be against that?

But didn’t this contravene the rule about “no further information or submissions…once the Public Hearing is closed”? Heavens no, claimed the mayor – Starlight had informed him of this pot-sweetener before the public hearing. Apparently, they just neglected to mention it at the time.

In the subsequent discussion, both the mayor and Councillor Keating revealed they had had discussions with the developer offline about this offer. Keating claimed the rule had not been violated because it’s OK for individual councillors to receive new information, just not Council as a whole. (Hmm.)

Despite the mayor’s urging, and some passionate oratory by Councillors Keating and Buchanan on the crying need for more rental housing and more affordable housing, the dissenting councillors (Clark, Back, Bell and Bookham) stuck to their guns and the mayor’s motion was defeated.

Some closing thoughts:

Either the mayor was less than entirely truthful when he claimed Starlight told him about the deal sweetener before the public hearing, or Starlight’s project team is amazingly incompetent for neglecting to mention such an important detail at the April 23 hearing.

It seems municipal bylaws governing public hearings are merely suggestions, unless you’re just a taxpaying citizen, in which case they are iron-clad.

Could it be that this whole exercise was just to provide a platform for Councillors Keating and Buchanan to kick off their election campaigns with some thundering rhetoric about the need for more rental development? We’ll see.

 

Advertisements

Re: ‘Collecting Stuff’

Letter to the Editor, North Shore News (not yet published):

During the City Council meeting discussion on a new proposed development, honest questions were raised regarding parking and storage.  The developer answered the parking concerns with the fact that the  carports were to be opensided and therefore safe  only for parking  and, as for storage, there were to be several large closets within the home itself.  Further questions followed:  Will those closets take winter tires?  What about skis, strollers, lawn mowers etc.

.

    Our Bachelor Mayor finally pronounced his solution;-  “We must all stop collecting “stuff”.  Living spaces and storage spaces are going to be much smaller. Acquire only what you need, not what you would like to have.

.

     And so, in the Mussatto future, say goodbye to bargain filled thrift sales and garage sales.  My generation has been avid ”stuff” collectors  and “stuff” recyclers.  I for one have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it!

 

                                                                                                    Joan Peters

 

Community is back in the conversation

Submission to Council from long-time City residents Bob and Peg Heywood re 151 E Keith proposal:

Dear Councillors:

Thank you so much for all your efforts to listen to the community that lives, works, and plays here now.  We will be forever grateful that the proposed development at 151 East Keith Road was rejected.  And a special thank-you to Holly Back — the residents around Victoria Park, and indeed the whole of the City will be looking to you in the next few months to ensure that the green necklace and the vision of our early city planners is not undone by the development frenzy and the plundering of our community assets.  This is likely in part triggered by an excess of profits going to the developers at the cost of the citizen’s of North Vancouver’s quality of life.  We are worried about our other community green spaces — and who is next to be targeted by this aggressive form of development and facilitated by some of our own City Councillors?  Regional development is necessary and will continue to accommodate newcomers however, our small City has now taken on more than our share of new housing in the short term—it is time for other communities to do more.

.The set-backs around Victoria Park are an essential part of the green spaces that connect our parks.  The green spaces and vegetation that grows give the residents fresh air to breathe, and much needed green spaces in a City of increasing asphalt and concrete.  Most of the set-backs are well treed with mature stands of evergreen and other beautiful trees that would likely be destroyed if all of the buildings were to be enticed to develop this space, not to mention the loss of now affordable housing.  This in turn will also diminish the space for our existing bird and animal population in the city as well.  

Election 2018

Comment from Voices:  With more discussion about the October 2018 election happening in coffee shops, Council chambers and on the street we thought it was time for a separate area for articles and discussions.  We start with a thoughtful comment by a City resident in response to a letter from another resident, published previously on our site: https://nvcityvoices.wordpress.com/2018/03/13/2601-lonsdale-developer-payback/

and the subject of an article in The Global Canadian:https://www.theglobalcanadian.com/woman-wanted-tell-cnv-council-couldnt/.

The public hearing for 2601 Lonsdale was last night, no decision until next week. The public hearing for 151 East Keith is next Monday.

Margaret Heywood Agree, we should be holding the “gang of four” to account. And be extra vigilant during this pre-election time for the four forcing through developments that are against the community plan, the community’s wishes and in my view common sense Pay attention to 151 East Keith coming on the heals of 161 East Keith and slated for public hearing next Monday. Right under our noses, the gang of four arbitrarily relaxed the distance between towers with no meaningful public input and no overall community notice — all to the benefit of their developer campaign donor. Now they are considering additional density at 151 East Keith where I understand much of the build out is on the 25 foot set back. This is a drastic change to the Victoria Park community, and in combination with the relaxing of distances between towers creates a precedent that has neither been approved nor discussed in the community plan and has never been envisioned by the people who live around Victoria Park. We need to be preserving all the green space we can, not giving it away for developer’s profits and cloaked in the elusive quest for rental housing. The 10-10-10 formula for density bonusing is grossly inadequate compared to the benefit that accrues to the developer. This has occurred largely because of the votes of Councillors Buchanan, Back, Mussatto and Keating. If you vote, and we urge you to do so, do not vote for these four because their record is entirely inconsistent with community interests and totally consistent with giving their developer friends and insiders profits on the backs of taxpayers.

North Shore losing it’s charm – letter to Editor NS News

Comment from Voices: We have received the following Letter to the Editor, NS News (now published). We note that the public hearing has not yet been scheduled, and we have a further comment after the submission:

 Not just Deep Cove – the entire North Shore is rapidly losing its charm!!

I read with interest the comments from the residents and merchants of Deep Cove.  They have every right to be frustrated with the congestion and parking issues in their Community.  Unfortunately, apathy from the residents in the rest of North Van is allowing the City to ram through projects with no regard to the consequences to the people who live in the areas.

Case in point is the proposed infill development at 151 East Keith Road by Starlight Developments.   

Despite bitter opposition to the project almost completed next door at 161 East Keith (an 18 storey monstrosity that was pushed through by Council without regard to the thousands of signatures on a petition),  the 93 units on that property will have parking based on .7 spaces per unit.  Council says that will have no impact on the parking on East Keith or 6th Street …. Even though parking is already at capacity on both streets.

The proposed infill for 151 is adding an additional 40 rental units to that property.  Originally, it was 43 units but that has been ‘amended’ due to the opposition from residents of the area.  The Official Community Plan provides for an existing FSR density of 2.3 and a maximum bonus of up to 1.0 FSR in exchange for a community amenity, in this case, rental housing. The Developer has attempted to take maximum advantage of the bonus opportunity by going up to .96 FSR in its first submission.  (We have not been provided the FSR for this new revision.)* 

Currently, the building at 151 has 104 stalls.  The original proposal was to decrease it to 93 stalls representative of 0.7 parking stalls per unit.  When we found that the plans had been altered, we asked how many stalls they would have in their new submission.  We were told 82 – representative of 0.6 per unit.  The change to the bylaws in June 2017 to enable this for rental buildings was just slipped through as a “clarification” by the Mayor and Council of the City of North Vancouver.

The proposed infill for the 40 units includes NO provision for parking.  It is laughable that both Starlight Developments and North Van City Council think this is acceptable on any front.  The building at 161 is not even ready for occupation yet and the .7 parking per those 93 units is going to have a major impact.  Nonetheless, the City will probably push through the infill development at 151 East Keith without researching or studying the impact when 161 is fully occupied.

Residents need to sit up and take notice.  As with the building at 161, the infill will occupy the property from lot line to lot line.  The precedent has already been set and, if it is not stopped, all properties around Victoria Park will be able to apply for infills.  Infill developments face several challenges.  The projects are more expensive to build; infill sites are sometimes constricted in available space; additional transportation and vehicle parking issues have to be addressed; and the need for architects and developers to “respond to the context” of the neighborhood – in other words, to create a development that fits into the “character” of the neighborhood.

How does one define the “character” of a neighborhood?  A neighborhood’s character goes well beyond how the buildings look – it’s about how people live and work there, how people move around, the scale of the neighborhood, and many other factors.  Architects and planners should be asking themselves how people live in and interact with a place – and how they can support people living with broader, longer-term changes in the economy and environment. 

The saddest part is that Victoria Park is a place of comfort and refuge for many.  It is particularly evident on Remembrance Day when hundreds of people fill the park to commemorate the soldiers who fought and died for our country.  The park will be a lot less used and appreciated when there is total unavailability for parking. Starlight had a PR Company recently distribute an information sheet to local businesses along the Lonsdale corridor (I know specifically of shops on East 14th) asking for them to support the project.  From the flyer – it says 40 rental units will be added with 10% below market rental rates – this means only 4 units!! * The renderings shown on the flyer are only for the townhouse components – it does not show the 4 story building that will block the view corridors from 6th Street.  In the Project Timeline it shows this all started in Oct. 2016 and is now coming to the second last step.  How can our planning people and Council allow this to have continued to this point?

Hopefully, other residents will voice their comments and objections through the NS News and by letters to NV City Council and Mayor Mussatto.

Victoria Thompson 

On behalf of Strata VR 2735 Victoria Place

*comment from Voices: FSR will now be 3.21. We also note that the four units will be studios, size approx 400 sq ft. These units will be rented at subsidized rates for a period of ten years only.  The equivalent cash option would be $3.7 million for the additional density.  Is there proof of a ten year demand for 400 sq ft units? Would the cash perhaps be a better option for the residents of the City?  Zoning variances are required for the north, east, west and south sides. In addition, parking variances to a width of 8 ft.

http://www.nsnews.com/opinion/letters/it-s-not-just-deep-cove-that-s-losing-its-charm-1.23211426

2601 Lonsdale – developer payback?

Comment from Voices: We have received the following from a resident who went to the Council meeting last night hoping to speak at public input:

Source: I was at City Hall for five hours tonight. Did not get a chance to speak, unfortunately. Normal procedure is to allow five speakers on all agenda items. Three spoke on other issues. The two who got on the list for this matter were the developer’s folks. Council normally allows over five speakers, but they have to vote on that. Tonight, they voted against it. I got to City Hall an hour before the meeting started – I was seventh on the list. The two who spoke on behalf of the developer don’t live in the area. The developer of 2601 Lonsdale (where the fire was) wants to close 26th Street, permanently. One of his people got up and told Council that turning right onto Lonsdale from 26th is very dangerous. Crash statistics say he is wrong. After the meeting I told him so and that it was disingenuous of him to mislead Council with no supporting data. This is what we are dealing with. A developer who will get people to go before Council and try to mislead them. Council voted that the proposal go to public hearing. It is not what we wanted, but we will have a chance to speak, at least. The interested parties are: – the community, and our safety – ‎people who would like to move into the area – ‎the developer, who would like to make lots of money – ‎City Council If 26th Street is kept open: – people in the community will be safer – ‎a building can be built within existing property lines that will allow many people to move into the area – ‎Council members who vote to not close may lose some support from the development community The community and people who want to join the community are better off with the road open. Council members may not be. If the road is closed: – the developer will still make money, but less – Council will likely retain the support of the development community, which could enhance their careers. Only the developer’s bank account and Council members dependent upon the support of the developer community for their careers will benefit from the road closure. Several Council members said they need to look at the community benefits of the proposal. What community benefits? There are developer benefits and Council benefits, but there are zero community benefits. Bank accounts and career objectives should not trump the safety needs of the community. Holy Trinity Elementary School sits at the intersection most effected by the closure. The likelihood of crashes at that intersection will increase if everyone is forced to use an intersection already over-congested with cars and CHILDREN. For what? The developer’s bank account? The outcome of the next civic election? Not good enough reasons to risk the lives of children. Not good enough. We don’t oppose development. We want the developer to build. On his own property. Public roads should not be closed for personal gain. Full stop. Decisions have consequences. If this road is closed, there will be crashes that hurt or kill people, and they will partially be the result of money and power being valued over community safety. Closing the road is wrong for the community. Closing it for the personal gains of a select few is appalling and not a decision I will support with my vote this fall. The community needs this road open more than the developer needs money over and above what he’ll make building on property he actually owns. Councils and mayors should be elected based on the voice of the community and not by “payback” votes from the development community as a way of thanking them for putting their needs above those of the people who live here. I was born in North Van. My grandparents and parents raised their families here. My father was a civil servant his entire career (although District. He had to move out of the city he served for over 30 years because the housing costs were so out of control.) I am a North Vancouverite, through and through, and I know a lot of people here. We see what is happening. I will be voting in the civic election this fall and hope you will too. Please share if you live in North Van, especially the City, and especially if you live in Upper Lonsdale.

Lara Braithwaite Ramsay

Affordable Housing case study

One of the items on the agenda for Monday’s Council Meeting is a rezoning application for 365 E 2nd.  In the 1050 page agenda package are details of the application, for a new 42 unit rental building (with 4 suites at mid-market rates for 10 years).  This new building will replace an existing rental building with 15 suites.  The new building will be 6 storeys, existing is 3 storeys.

A report from Colliers (undated) details the sale of this building:

Westbrooke Apartments, a 15-suite wood frame apartment building located at 365 East 2nd Avenue sold in June 2015 for $3,750,000, or $250,000 per unit. In January 2016, the property sold again for $4,475,000, or $298,333 per unit, representing an appreciation in value of 20% in under seven months. Lack of product, influx of foreign capital and the introduction of the North Vancouver Official Community Plan can all be attributed to this insatiable demand for North Vancouver apartment buildings.

In the report (part of the agenda) are the results of the information meetings, attendees for the most part extolling the virtues of the new building, with particular emphasis to having rentals in the area. But the existing building is a rental building – with rents varying from $824 to $1650 (2 bed).  

Based on the City’s reporting: Generally the Mid-Market rates represent a discount of approximately 35 %- 45% from current market rates. Based on the 2017 average rents in the City, Mid-Market Rental Units are to be rented $1425 for a 2 bed – therefore the current market rent would be about $2000. 

Does it make any sense to continue replacing affordable renting housing with unaffordable new rental housing?  Should there not be proof of the demand?  Should there not be evidence of the neighbours supporting these new proposals? It seems as though 80% of the responses at the info meetings are not from residents in the area. How can a newly built building possibly complete with an existing building value of $300K/unit?

 

%d bloggers like this: