Major demoviction threat for affordable rentals in Grandview-Woodland? City’s draft community plan puts existing rental stock at risk.

East 6th Avenue

Many affordable rental units in Grandview-Woodland could disappear under the City’s draft plan. City staff presented the plan to City Council at a meeting today. The public has a chance to address their elected officials — Mayor and Councillors — tomorrow, July 27, after which it is expected that Council will vote on the plan.

As currently written, a rezoning policy to cover the first three years of the plan would allow the redevelopment of existing purpose-built rental buildings. Additional height, of up to 6-storeys would be permitted; the redeveloped housing stock could also see substantial increases in rental fees. The changes to the apartment zones could become permanent.

We have noted that large real estate developers have holdings in mature and affordable rental stock in the neighbourhood. For example, Cressey Developments controls 152 units in three rental buildings, side by side, on 6th Avenue along the block between Woodland Drive and Commercial:

  • 44 units at 1555 East 6th Avenue (3-storeys)
  • 54 units at 1595 East 6th Avenue (Hazelmere Apts / 4-storeys)
  • 54 units at 1635 East 6th Avenue (Roslyn Place / 4-storeys)

The developer Amacon is linked to 1529 East 3rd Avenue that contains 47 rental units. Some renters are paying less than $1000 for a one bedroom apartment in mature rental stock. By Vancouver standards, many people would consider that to be relatively affordable.

But the demolition and redevelopment of these rental buildings will most certainly result in substantial rent increases. As well, existing tenants would be displaced.

The draft plan notes that Grandview-Woodland “had the highest proportion of households spending over 30% of their incomes on shelter of anywhere else in the city” while stating that “some of the most affordable rental housing in the city is located here”. If market rental buildings are to be demolished, City staff are proposing that Council make a cap of 5 market rental building redevelopments or 150 market rental units for the first three years of the plan. Staff have proposed no clear measures for the “protection of existing rental housing” after this time. After the three-year period, the plan will allow the City to review how well the ‘rezoning policy’ has worked, and then Council could make a permanent area-wide rezoning of the multiple family building zones (RM-3 & RM-4) to a 6-storey apartment zone. (Three years would bring us to 2019. Note that the next civic election is set for October 2018.)

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Blockbustings

King Edward Village
The following article is reproduced with kind permission from Eye on Norquay:

An appeal to write a letter in support of the No Tower Coalition and its long struggle against the Kettle/Boffo collaboration led to the compilation of the following list of blockbustings. For over a decade now, what calls itself “planning” in Vancouver has turned into a mishmash of naked spot rezonings and new local area plans. Sometimes the two are so entangled that it becomes difficult to determine exactly how an addled egg has managed to emerge from a chicken cooped up in an open house. Consider only the tortuous histories of King Edward Village, Rize Alliance, and Joyce Station Precinct.

Amidst the muddle, one thing remains clear. Developers always push for the tallest possible towers. And planners collude to set precedents that can prejudice future area planning to the greatest extent possible.

Concrete proposals for Kettle/Boffo development will be a salient matter on 27 July 2016 as speakers line up to address the new Grandview-Woodland local area plan.

Council Date        Storeys     Description


2003 July 24        17          King Edward Village for Kingsway & Knight

2006 Jan  24        22          2300 Kingsway for Norquay

2011 Apr  21        16          8495 Granville (Safeway) for Marpole

2011 July 19        35          8440 Cambie (Marine Gateway) for Marpole

2011 Nov  01        30          Wall Centre Central Park for Renfrew-Collingwood

2012 June 11        22          1401 Comox for West End

2012 Feb  27        21          Rize Alliance for Mt Pleasant

2012 Oct  16        12          955 East Hastings for Downtown Eastside

2016 June 28        30          5050-5080 Joyce (Westbank at Joyce Station)

2016 July 19        12          155 East 37th (Little Mountain) for RPSC

2016 July 27        12          Kettle/Boffo for Grandview Woodland

City Hall’s own assessment value spikes up 33% from 2015: Sign of the times.

City Hall

Land value of City Hall up 39% from previous year, or up 118% from 2008

Even the land and buildings at Vancouver City Hall are not immune to huge jumps in assessment values.

Analysis of BC Assessment numbers show that the total value of the land and buildings at 453 West 12th Avenue jumped to $113,256,000 in 2016. This is up 33% from the assessed value of $85,386,000 in 2015.

Most of the value for the property is locked up in the price of the land, valued at $99,285,000. By comparison, the buildings on the site are worth only $13,971,000. The value of the buildings will likely decrease in future years if the East Wing building along Yukon Street is deconstructed. (But what is planned next?)

In 2015, City Hall was assessed at $71,415,000 for the land, with the buildings coming in at $13,971,000. The increase, year to year, on the land alone was 39%. Back in 2008, City Hall was assessed at $59,766,000, with the land component of this value recorded at $45,510,000 (or just 45.8% of the 2016 valuation).

BC Assessment values land at the “highest and best use”. (An open question is what would the “highest and best use” of this site be?) The official contact for this property is the City of Vancouver Real Estate at 453 West 12th Avenue, Vancouver, BC, V5Y 1V4.

City Council & Park Board agendas, week of July 25, 2016: Grandview Woodland plan, Little Mountain, Trump Tower liquor, pools, DCLs/CACs, parks, more

City HallDraft agenda are now online for the last meetings of City Council (July 26 Tues & 27 Wed) and Vancouver Park Board (July 25 Mon) until the week of September 19, 2016. We copy the current drafts here and encourage citizens to scan the agenda, and then write or speak to them  on any items of concern. We will intersperse comments and media links, as time permits.

Some things to watch…

Park Board – July 25 (Mon)

1. REPORT: Hastings Community Park Baseball Field Naming
2. REPORT: Park Naming for Main & 18th and Yukon & 17th Park Sites
3. REPORT: Creekside & Andy Livingstone Playgrounds Construction Award
4. REPORT REFERENCE: Expediting New Outdoor Pools
MOTIONS
1. Symphony in the Park. Mover: Commissioner Kirby-Yung
2. Doors Open Vancouver – Promoting Women’s Roles as Creators and Champions. Mover: Commissioner Evans
3. False Creek – Anchoring-Free Waterings for Non-Motorized Races

Regular City Council Meeting – July 26 (Tue)

  • Grandview-Woodland Community Plan – Major item. Staff presentation July 26. Staff recommend Council to approve the plan. Speakers are scheduled for the next day, July 27 during committee meeting.  For local opinion see Grandview Woodland Area Council (http://www.gwac.ca/).
  • CD-1 REZONING: 155 East 37th Avenue (Little Mountain). This is continuation of discussion from the Public Hearing July 19, followed by the final council vote. For reference, see our post here.
  • 2016 Inflationary Rate Adjustments to Development Cost Levies (DCLs), Density Bonus contributions, and Community Amenity Contribution (CAC) Targets
  • 1161 West Georgia Street -1052072 BC Ltd. (Liquor license for Trump Tower. It is back again!)
  • A By-law to enact a Housing Agreement for 1847 Pendrell Street (a tower for Westbank Projects Corp in the West End) – Can Council impose a ban on term lease agreements, to prevent rents from being jacked up as soon as a tenant moves out?
  • By-law to amend Zoning and Development By-law No. 3575 to rezone an area to CD-1 (1575-1577 West Georgia Street and 620 Cardero Street)
    Related: “Developers set out to remake 1500 block of West Georgia in Vancouver
    ( Charlie Smith, Straight, 31-Jan-2016)
  • Approval of Amendment to “Marina Neighbourhood CD-1 Guidelines for Marina Development (300 Cardero Street) (By-law No. 7200) (CD-1 No. 312)”
    MOTIONS
  • Building a Seniors Centre in South Vancouver/Sunset Area (by “Acting Mayor” Louie)

City Council – Standing Committee on Policy and Strategic Priorities- July 27 (Wed)

Grandview-Woodland Community Plan: Council will have received a presentation at Regular Council on July 26  and will hear from speakers today, July 2.

***********

Also, note that the Urban Design Panel meets July 27 (Wed), and again August 10, 24 and so on. On the agenda for the UDP July 27 meeting:

  • 4066 Macdonald St & 2785 Alamein Ave (three-storey mixed-use building & one three-storey duplex )
  • 3175 Riverwalk Avenue (EFL Parcel 8A) (multiple dwelling containing 107 “affordable” rental units)
  • 3198 SE Marine Drive (EFL Parcel 3) ( multiple dwelling containing 89 “affordable” rental units)
  • 3198 SE Marine Drive (EFL Parcel 5A) ( multiple dwelling containing 51 “affordable” rental units)
  • 701 W Georgia Street (replace the existing rotunda with a three-storey retail building at Pacific Centre Mall)

And the Development Permit Board meets July 25 (Monday) for 1661 Davie (Safeway site), for two towers (21 and 23 storeys). Future dates include August 8, 22, and September 6.  A staff recommendation (to approve is on the DPB website. West End Neighbours did a serious critique of the application in May and found it did not satisfy many aspects of the West End Community Plan.

Below are agendas for the Park Board and City Council. Apologies for lack of formatting. Continue reading

Realtor lists decades-old West End condo at $995,983 for one bedroom unit (508 sq ft): Policy-induced land speculation?

Robert Moore listing imageHow big of a factor is speculation in Vancouver? To what extent are the City of Vancouver’s community plans, and dramatic increases in density having the perverse effect of destroying housing and affordability?

Grandview-Woodland and other neighbourhoods should beware the dynamics here. A new community plan with huge increases in density can drive spectacular levels of land speculation.

Here is one current case to examine — a realtor selling a 508 sq ft one-bedroom apartment in 34-year-old 1982 West End strata condo, for the astounding asking price of $995,983, or $1,961 a square foot. The location is near the Burrard Bridge and Vancouver Aquatic Centre.

The listing (see below for link and excerpts) says:
ATTENTION ALL INVESTORS! BUILDERS! DEVELOPERS! Land Assembly Opportunity for this building, very likely to happen very soon, potential to rezone the site to CD-1 and FSR of 6-8 at the discretion of the city’s director of planning.

This price can only be justified by the potential for huge profits. In the West End, the Vision-dominated city council unleashed the beasts of speculation when it approved the West End Community Plan in November 2013.

See “Real Estate Boom Projected For Vancouver’s West End: A new community plan unlocks value—and development potential —in one of Vancouver’s most storied (and storeyed) neighbourhoods (Margo Harper, Business in Vancouver, June 17, 2014).
http://www.bcbusiness.ca/real-estate/real-estate-boom-projected-for-vancouvers-west-end
Their are unconfirmed rumours that predatory developers, primarily one that starts with a “W,” have been chasing owners in this building and its vicinity for weeks. Realtors are reportedly approaching strata unit owners aggressively encouraging them to list their units.

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Housing Action for Local Taxpayers (HALT): New group seeks real estate reform, accountable politicians

HALT logo Housing Action for Local TaxpayersThe Globe and Mail reporter Kerry Gold introduced a new group to the Vancouver real estate debate through her article “Citizens’ group rises up for Vancouver real estate reform“on July 15, 2016. Below are some links, information from their materials online, and excerpts of Ms. Gold’s article. HALT members are going out into the city actively to spread information and collect signatures. See their Facebook page for the next location and time.

Their purpose is “to hold our politician’s accountable for the lack of housing affordability for local renters+owners” (Facebook). “HALT is a non-partisan community action group demanding that all levels of Canadian government address our current foreign money fuelled housing crisis” (website).

WHAT HALT BELIEVES:
(from website)

  • The BC government is avoiding the elephant in the room by focussing on peripheral issues rather than root cause, which is the unchecked flow of foreign capital fuelling our unsustainable housing crisis.
  • That the BC government is conflicted in their interests as they are financially backed by numerous developers and real estate companies. Their campaign fundraising manager is Bob Rennie, “the condo king”, who believes that all the answers are in building more condos and guess what, he does not believe foreign capital is an issue. Wonder why?
  • That “it’s not supply, stupid!”. The emphasis on supply as the answer serves the developers, but development has been happening at a record pace, so if supply was the answer, we wouldn’t be having this problem today. Condos tend to replace more affordable housing and many are sold to offshore buyers anyway. New supply is even sometimes marketed offshore before being made available to local buyers. The recent trend in house prices in Vancouver moved lock step with the devaluation of the Canadian dollar.
  • That this housing crisis is driving people out of Vancouver and that this impacts the diversity and richness of our city by making it impossible for people of varying income levels to afford to live here.
  • That this is an economic problem and not a racial problem. This issue impacts everyone in Vancouver and HALT rejects the smokescreen of racism to try to curtail conversation about addressing this problem which impacts everyone.

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“No Tower Coalition” shows City a serious alternative to tower at Venables & Commercial

No Tower logo July 2016NEWS RELEASE

Tuesday, June 19, 2016

NO TOWER PRESENTS COMPREHENSIVE AND PRACTICAL ALTERNATIVE FOR VENABLES AND COMMERCIAL TO CITY PLANNERS

Vancouver. NO TOWER volunteers met with Vancouver planners July 15, 2016 to present a practical plan for the Commercial and Venables site in Grandview‐Woodland.

The NO TOWER plan outlines in detail how the Kettle Friendship Society can build its own six storey building on the north section of the site, on land currently owned by the City of Vancouver. The building would provide all the space the Kettle needs for services and 30 units of studio housing, plus 21 one, two and three bedroom rental apartments for the community at “low end of market” rental rates.

The NO TOWER plan also proposes the creation of a public “piazza” by closing (old) Commercial Drive between Venables and Adanac, to create a new pedestrian-only public space in park-deficient Grandview-Woodland. Continue reading