Conversation: 10 Policy Considerations for Streamlining Rental Housing (Scot Hein) (Public Hearing topic 2-Nov-2021)

(Update: The speakers list and correspondence closed for the Public Hearing on ‘Streamlining Rental’ on November 9, 2021, and the final vote by Council will be done during a Regular Council meeting on Tuesday, November 16,2021.)

On the topic of “Streamlining Rental Housing” going to Public Hearing on 2-Nov-2021, we share this letter from Scot Hein to Vancouver City Council. Adjunct professor in the master of urban design program at UBC, Scot was previously the senior urban designer with the City of Vancouver. CityHallWatch has carried a number of his works, including ‘You Forgot About Me!’ graphic novella (development regulation concepts), “Recommended reading – ‘Zoning Must Evolve’ 5-part essay,” and a video conservation with Jak King on “Battleground: Grandview (An Activist’s Memoir of the Grandview Community Plan, 2011-2016).” The Public Hearing agenda and documents are here, as well as instructions on how to write or speak to Council on this topic. Time is of the essence.


Subject: 10 Policy Considerations for Streamlining Rental Housing

Map: Pink and blue sections are affected by the Streamlining Rental Housing topic of the Public Hearing on 2-Nov-2021.

Good evening Mayor and Councillors.

I am curious why you would consider, and possibly approve, the following under the proposed “Streamlining Rental Housing” policy:

1) A policy that compels land assembly with the costs of land passed on in higher rents.

2) A policy that compels underground parking (at combined hard + soft costs of $70,000/stall) with these costs of parking by-law compliance passed on in higher rents.

3) A policy that compels underground parking in concrete suspended slab systems that generate enormous, and unnecessary, environmental costs.

4) A policy that compels unnecessary building heights, and related shadowing/view impacts, for the anticipated density and related forms (a four storey building only requires 35 feet, not 45 feet, to be economically viable and meet building by-law/fire fighting requirements).

5) A policy that compels less efficient (net to gross) apartment buildings with the costs of excessive circulation systems, including interior corridors, elevators and exit stairs, passed on in higher rents and related operational/maintenance costs. Note: A 100% efficient, compact, 3.5 storey building form would be a better response to housing needs, especially for families as they would yield ground oriented, larger units. Such buildings would also be more contextually compatible to off arterial contexts. Considering 4 storeys, vs 3.5 storeys, opens the door to out of scale apartment buildings on assembled flanking street sites.

6) A policy that limits more innovative missing middle building typologies that can provide similar, if not more, unit yield per site frontage. The policy before you defaults to conventional (uninspired, not innovative) housing form. There so many other approaches available to you for arterial development, including more contextually responsive building forms on unassembled lots that could be more dense, and even modestly higher, towards even greater affordability than the policy before you could motivate.

7) A policy that discriminates between neighbourhoods with community plans, and those neighbourhoods without.

8) A policy that does not enjoy the insight, and ideas, of local community that a CityWide Plan process might reveal. The False Creek South delegations, and your thoughtful response, are informative at this moment.

9) A policy that does not secure true affordability, while giving away land value to market speculation after you have approved, as recently evidenced by the article “Vacant lot rezoned by Vancouver city council for rental project flipped for $5 million” (Georgia Straight 29-Oct-2021).

10) A policy that puts the future of rental housing in the hands of only those familiar with the system when you could democratize market participation through a more thoughtful policy that could also motivate changes to the approval process currently plaguing builders of smaller housing projects.

Thank you very much for considering the above.

Scot Hein Retired Architect,

Retired Architect, former MAIBC
Registered Architect, USA
Former Senior Urban Designer and Development Planner (20 years), City of
Former Campus Urban Designer, University of BC
Adjunct Professor, UBC Masters of Urban Design Programme
Adjunct Professor, UBC School of Community and Regional Planning
Lecturer, SFU City Programme
Lecturer, BCIT Architectural Degree Programme

One thought on “Conversation: 10 Policy Considerations for Streamlining Rental Housing (Scot Hein) (Public Hearing topic 2-Nov-2021)

  1. Pingback: Fumano: New rental policies met with praise, skepticism, and a threat - Last Today - The last days of today

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