Citywide rental rezoning policy has huge implications, but final staff report/recommendations could go to Council next week before public input

Above: This map by City of Vancouver only roughly shows areas affected by the proposed Streaming Rental program. City staff positioning to make their recommendations to City Council for approval even before the public input period and clarifications have even ended.  

CityHallWatch wrote previously about a crucial public survey regarding the proposed “Streaming Rental” program (see “Streaming Rental Survey on rental rezoning policy citywide, affecting RS, RT and C zones, with 6 storeys on arterials, 4-5 storeys off arterials”. City of Vancouver staff have previously advised members of the public that a planning staff report would be going to City Council in July to seek Council direction to proceed based on an update. The only remaining Council meetings in July are next week, on July 20 and 21. The Council agenda for those dates has yet to be posted online at the time this post (July 12).

Staff extended the survey deadline from June 25 to July 27. That means the last Council meetings in July will be done BEFORE the end of the opportunity for public input. With that timing, the real results of the public survey will not be available for the report to Council. That is a problem.

Another big problem appears to be unfair advantage being given to developers versus the public. After the survey deadline was extended, staff provided additional “office hours” consultations in early July — for developers only. However, many members of the general public who tried to get an appointment during the limited “office hours” consultations for the public in June, in order to get answers to their questions, were unable to get an appointment because the scheduled office hours were already full.

How can the public provide informed input to the City if they have not been given an adequate opportunity to get answers to their questions? It would appear that staff are giving more consideration to developers than to the public.

Staff are proposing to give City Council an update with influential staff-recommended directions although the public process has not been completed.

It would be premature and unfair for the public if staff go ahead and bring their report to Council in July. It would be fairer and build trust in the City and planners if the report was completed and provided to council after the public input has been properly reviewed and considered. Obviously, that cannot happen before the survey ends July 27.

The above is just about the timing of staff recommendations and lack of fairness to the public.

There are many concerns about the contents of the “Streaming Rental” program.

Here is just one example.

The rezoning policy is already causing speculation and an increase of land value inflation.

Above: The combined properties are located southeast corner of Dunbar Street and West King Edward Avenue. Credit: Georgia Straight.

This article is a clear example of how full block assemblies are already happening due to the city’s anticipated policies. (“Vancouver land assembly pitched as potential site for rental project with city incentives lists for $39 million,” by Carlito Pablo, Georgia Straight, 31-May-2021).

This full block assembly on W. 25th Ave. at Dunbar Street, has the average lot price going for about double the assessed values. How is this making it more affordable?

Below are just some of the additional concerns.

Staff estimates provided to the public of how many rentals this program would produce require questioning, as no legitimate explanation has been provided as to how they have come up with these numbers. How can they use historical trends when there has never been 6 storey rentals allowed outright in C2 zones before? Same with on-arterials, the previous rezoning policy had a limit of only 2 projects for every 7 blocks. This proposed program would have no limits, allowing full block assemblies, and function as an off-the-shelf zoning bylaw that has already been approved. There has never been an off-arterials rental policy like this, so staff have no historical context and no justification to base their guesses on previous trends. There are none.

The proposed program would allow massive full-block assemblies on large areas have not been assessed for the effects of assembly within those areas. This would turn large areas of the city into development zones, just as we have witnessed on the Cambie corridor. This will cause rapid changes to increase development pressures and displacement.

There is no plan evident of how the City would provide the increased services and amenities for the additional population resulting from the proposed program, such as schools, parks, community centres, libraries, daycare, etc. which in many instances are already being used over capacity. It costs money to increase amenities. Yet most development fees paid by developers when their applications are approved only cover a fraction of the costs of services, and in fact, most developer fees are actually waived for rentals.

There are many questions also with the “eligibility map” that purportedly shows what areas are included and what isn’t in the proposed program. Eligibility for the program seems to be constantly shifting, as staff are making it up as they go. The lack of neighbourhood-based planning has many unintended consequences and is counter to proper planning principles.

The City needs to provide a better process when considering major changes to land use like this.

If the City’s staff make recommendations to our elected officials in advance of receiving full public feedback, that is akin to putting the cart before the horse.

See more here:

7 thoughts on “Citywide rental rezoning policy has huge implications, but final staff report/recommendations could go to Council next week before public input

  1. So tired of the cozy relationship between developers and City Hall. Planners seem to have more power than elected councillors, as well. As always, news from City Hall leaves renters feeling even more insecure. We already know that building does not solve the problem of unaffordable rent in Vancouver, and with the ‘First Best Use’ taxation scheme, pressure to demolish existing rentals will only increase.

  2. The first thing that I notice with the map posted is that the Cambie Corridor area and the Marpole plan area are excluded, among others. I assume that they are excluded because those planning areas already permit rental buildings of comparable densities.

    Is this right? The Cambie corridor stretches from Oak Street to Main Street. Would a rental tenant on Oak Street or Main Street really walk all the way over to Cambie to take a Canada Line ride, including walking to the widely spaced stations on Cambie? eg. no stations between Broadway and 25th, or between 25th and 41ast.

    Same with Marpole. the planning area is about 20 blocks by 20 blocks. Too big for a wholesale rental building prezoning giveaway.

    • You’re right, all plan areas are excluded because they have land use policies in place. Cambie, Marpole, West End, Noquay, Joyce, Grandview-Woodlands, DTES are all excluded. Looks like Jericho and Broadway too as those are coming.

      This isn’t a pre-zoning, btw. Properties will remain zoned as is. Any development will rezone to a to-be-created zoning schedule (as opposed to a CD schedule like most rezones) that will allow rental only, and whatever the applicable FSR and height are in accordance with the map. The rezoning process is basically exactly like the many of the Cambie Corridor townhouse applications that have gone to council the past couple years.

      • Caitlynn and once the to-be-created zoning schedule is created to follow the little map already created for location and height, then the developer will ask for ever more height, density and location just exactly like they are doing with the newly created Grandview Woodland Community Plan that took years to create just a couple of years ago. Look for yourselves at the GW Plan and the rezoning at Broadway and Commercial –NOT FOLLOWING THE PLAN!. OH, OH WAIT SORRY —your to-be-created zoning schedule will be completely different than any other Plan, schedule or policy ever created by the City. This one will be WRITTEN IN STONE and not just a casual guideline. And we’re to believe this because………….

  3. Building more rental buildings does not help the tenants in the City. It does not bring down rents it increases them.
    The Facts:
    1. Rents in new developments are more expensive than in older buildings.
    2. Landlords in older buildings can raise their rents to fall in line with higher rents in the area.

    How much can rent be increased for a residential tenancy?

    Residential tenancy landlords may increase rent annually by a percentage equal to the inflation rate plus two percent without tenants disputing the increase.

    Can a landlord request a larger rent increase than the allowable amount?

    Yes, a residential tenancy landlord may also seek an additional rent increase if the rent for a rental unit is significantly lower than that of similar units in the area.

    And, rents can also be increased if the cost of property taxes goes up for the landlord. The price of land always goes up if Council up-zones an area (this new zoning policy does that). The more expensive the land the higher the property taxes. Up-zoning increases property taxes and the tenant ends up with higher rents because the landlord must cover his additional expenses.

    If the City wants cheaper rents then why do they have a policy that tells the developer how much very high rent to charge? Insane. Here is the policy, Bulletin to determine rents.

    Click to access bulletin-rental-incentive-programs.pdf

    In this Bulletin rents are the rents the developer is told to charge by the City: Maximum Rents – Studio $1,653 1-bedroom $2,022 2-bedroom $2,647 3-bedroom $3,722

    Very frustrated, City Council is creating problems for the tenants living here. Stop having policies that tell the landlords to charge such high rents. You people are insane.

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