Heads up from West Kitsilano Residents Association on impending “stealthy changes” in RT-7 & RT-8 zones

CoV map Kitsilano RT-7 RT-8 zones, June 2018(Updated with references at bottom)

Consider this another mini-case study of how planning is currently being done in the City of Vancouver. It is by no means an exception these days.

Below is an open letter we received from the West Kitsilano Residents Association. The existing zoning in this area was the result of an extensive public consultation process over the course of years in the early 1990s, culminating in a mail-in referendum for 100% of residents. In contrast, in the final few months of the current regime in 2018, changes to zoning are buried in huge reports, come forward with no direct notification to affected residents, include important changes introduced by a last-minute motion by Mayor Robertson (not even fellow Councillors would have known it was coming), and could be quietly and quickly approved by City Council during the summer holiday season. Below is an analysis of the situation that could soon affect RT-7 and RT-8 zones within a matter of weeks. At present, no one knows exactly when this will go to a Public Hearing, there are guesses it could be as soon as late August after just one information meeting.

WKRA is raising concerns about a possible increase in demolitions, loss of existing affordable housing, loss of character homes and more. Stay tuned.

Excerpt: Many residents are open to the idea of reviewing the current RT-7 and RT-8 by-laws to determine if changes are needed, but we need an open process that gives residents a say in the kind of changes to be introduced and a deeper, more thoughtful analysis of the potential impacts of those changes.  (West Kitsilano Residents Association)

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“Residents react to stealthy zoning changes for their neighbourhood”

(Open letter from West Kitsilano Residents Association, July 14, 2018)

Have you heard of the City’s proposed changes to zoning regulations for Kitsilano and other areas? Would you like to be consulted before such changes are approved?

Over a period of several years in the 1990s, hundreds of Kitsilano residents took part in a neighbourhood zoning review and and worked with the city to create a new RT7 and RT8 zoning by-law that reflected the high value that residents placed on the character and heritage of their neighbourhood and that has governed development ever since.

This zoning was in response to the demolition of many character and heritage houses and their replacement with new duplexes that usually had fewer units and fewer people. The new zoning encouraged the reuse and recycling of character houses into multiple ground oriented units rather than their demolition and redevelopment.

Since their adoption, these by-laws turned the RT-7 and RT-8 zoned areas of Kitsilano (both West Kitsilano west of Larch and the Kitsilano Arbutus area east and west of Arbutus Street) into examples used by many urban commentators as to how density can be absorbed into a neighbourhood while retaining green space, character and heritage. The zoning has led to a variety of housing outcomes with some houses becoming strata conversions into 2 to 4 or 5 units per house and some on larger lots adding infill units. Others have various rental and ownership/rental combinations and many non-character sites have had new development. This RT-7 and RT-8 by-law dramatically slowed the loss of many affordable rental units. New development follows design guidelines in order to be compatible with the existing architecture. Continue reading

Epilogue + case study on Nanaimo Street after zoning amendment decision (June 10) to Grandview Woodland Community Plan

Grandview Woodland zoning changes for 10-June-2018

Map of area covered by zoning amendments to Grandview-Woodland Community Plan

This epilogue to a recent council decision serves as a mini-case study about some serious flaws with processes in our municipal government — last minute changes, confusing materials, jargon, and lack of consultation.

Further below, we include a letter by J. Daigneault describing the Council discussion. We also include a photo taken TEN days before the rezoning decision, showing a realtor was advertising lot assemblies as if the new C-2 zoning had already been approved. (Did the City offer better consultation to developers than to the community?)

At a Regular Council meeting on Tuesday, July 10, 2018, Vancouver City Council and Mayor ruled 9-1 in favour of proposed re-zonings along Nanaimo Street as part of “REZONING: Increasing Housing Choice in Grandview-Woodland – Proposed Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law.” This was unfinished business from the Public Hearing on June 26. We published a letter from frustrated residents the day before the meeting (see Residents write Council on flawed process, opposing rezoning in Grandview Woodland (Nanaimo Street C-1 & C-2)). Official meeting agenda,  documents (including the surprise internal “yellow memo” from staff the day of the meeting), and video clip here.

After the Council decision, the residents’ group took up our offer to follow-up. One of them wrote that these changes will have a dramatic impact on Nanaimo Street and the bordering Hastings-Sunrise neighbourhood. He wrote that they support reasonable densification and appreciate the years of good work that has gone into the Community Plan, but “this local community is astounded that City Planners have the audacity to slip the imposing C-2 zonings into the Policy Report at the last minute – without community consultation. No consultation on one side of the street and, years of consultation on the other side of the street – but thrown in the garbage.”

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Feature – A letter from resident J. Daigneault.

Grandview Woodland Community Plan — Rezoning Decision

July 11, 2018

To Whom It May Concern:

I feel like I’m speaking a foreign language.” When Councillor Andrea Reimer uttered those words during yesterday’s Regular Council meeting I had a few reactions. Firstly, if she doesn’t understand the proposed zoning changes in the Grandview Woodland area, the expectation that residents do is illogical. Secondly, when a councillor with voting privileges expresses her confusion, isn’t that indicative of the fact that Andrew Pask’s plan is being pushed through a little too quickly? Finally, I found Councillor Reimer’s confusion to be both laughable, yet indicative of serious problems with the process as it unfolded.

When Councillor De Genova spoke, it was evident that she too found elements of the process to be problematic. She spoke about the “yellow memo” and the fact that public comments had been closed prior to receipt of the memo. She asked Mr. Pask if council members weren’t “obligated” to deal with the amendments. She went on to say that perhaps “legal” needed to address these concerns. She sure had my attention! Then a colleague of Mr. Pask’s jumped up and announced that, “legal signed off on it.” Councillor De Genova looked as confused as I felt. Continue reading

Public Hearing July 10, 2018 (Tues): 3655 West 3rd, 8444-8480 Oak, 2109 West 35th, 3560-3570 Hull, 777 Pacific Blvd, 750-772 Pacific Blvd

cityhall_statue2.jpgSome major items are up for the Public Hearing on July 10, 2018.

Here is a list of upcoming Public Hearings — a total of TEN in the next 2.5 months. Vancouverites will need to be on their toes, as the current regime moves toward its end with the October 20 civic election, trying to secure a legacy and finish up on commitments. It is a bit risky for the future of this City, as the current mayor and most of the councillors will NOT be in office after the election, so they will not be accountable for their actions. Square brackets indicate new additions to be approved by Regular Council on July 10.

Jul 10, 17, 18, [31]
Aug [2]
Sept [5], [6], 18, 25, 27

As a side note, a new blog site named City Duo has done a summary of the Public Hearing agenda, summarizing many of the actual facts of the proposals. But we mention it with a caveat that the purported authors-couple is guardedly anonymous but speculated to be either employees of the City of Vancouver or surreptitiously sponsored by the development industry. And that tone permeates the descriptions.

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PUBLIC HEARING AGENDA FOR TUESDAY, JULY 10, 2018

This version below is from the evening of July 9. Please visit the City website for the up to date version.
https://council.vancouver.ca/20180710/phea20180710ag.htm

1. HERITAGE DESIGNATION:  3655 West 3rd Avenue (Fraser-Strauss House)

  Continue reading

Regular Council Tues July 10, 2018: Music & arts, Grandview-Woodland zoning, East 11th, Robson St, Chinatown, Higher Buildings, more

City Hall StatueAs the current Vision Vancouver dominated regime winds down and the Oct 20 civic election approaches, there is a big push at City Hall to finish up a large amount of business. Here is the link for upcoming meetings. Note that four Public Hearings are being added to push through more decisions during the summer (see “Referral to Public Hearing” below for some of their likely items). There is a huge amount of material and limited time to analyze and respond, making it difficult for public oversight of and involvement in what is going on.

Here are selected items on the agenda for Regular Council on Tuesday morning, July 10, 2018. Please visit the City webpage for the official list.
https://council.vancouver.ca/20180710/regu20180710ag.htm

Regular Council agenda
July 10, 2018, Updated: July 6, 2018

Date and location
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
9:30 am

Council Chamber, Third Floor, City Hall

Council will start discussion and debate on Unfinished Business Item 4 (Text Amendment: Amendments to the Chinatown HA-1 and HA-1A Districts Schedule, Design Guidelines and Policies) at 2pm

REPORT REFERENCE

1. Arts and Culture

Sandra Singh, General Manager of Arts, Culture and Community Services, along with Arts, Culture and Community Services staff to present on the following:

a. Vancouver Music Strategy

b. Making Space for Arts and Culture: 2018 Cultural Infrastructure Plan

2. City Support for Free Outdoor Public Events

Jerry Dobrovolny, General Manager of Engineering Services, to present on the Administrative Report dated June 29, 2018.

 

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

1. REZONING: Increasing Housing Choice in Grandview-Woodland – Proposed Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law

Continue reading

Park Board July 9 (Mon) 6:30 pm: Britannia Renewal Master Plan (endorsement), Oakridge Centre Redevelopment (decision), Activating Community Space in Chinatown (motion)

Park Board

[Epilogue:

The Commissioners approved the “New Park Concept” on the roof of the Oakridge Centre Redevelopment. Here is a follow-up story in the Georgia Straight. ]

Some major agenda items are up for the Vancouver Park Board for July 9.

Date: Monday, July 09, 2018
Time: 6:30pm
Place: Park Board – Boardroom, 2099 Beach Avenue, Vancouver, BC V6G 1Z4

https://parkboardmeetings.vancouver.ca/2018/20180709/index.htm

AGENDA ITEMS

1. Britannia Renewal Master Plan (for endorsement)
—– Appendix A

“This report provides an overview of the Britannia Renewal Master Plan which is the culmination of a comprehensive multiple-partner planning and community engagement process. The Master Plan lays out a long-term vision for the renewal of the Britannia Community Services Centre (BCSC) and the 18 acre site on which it sits.”

2. Oakridge Centre Redevelopment – New Park Concept (for decision)

CityHallWatch note: The South Vancouver Parks Society is opposing this proposal and has done considerable analysis of the deal. Today they posted a 25-page document outlining many details about the background deal. Very detailed reading on Oakridge – L114050 & BG316670 Real Property Disposal: An explanation of the $99 million disposal that is happening without required Sec 190 disposal vote by Council, entitled Oakridge Real Property Disposal ( http://vanparks.ca/2018/07/09/oakridge-real-property-disposal/ ). They also posted an analysis a few days ago entitled Removal of Rights @ Oakridge (http://vanparks.ca/2018/07/05/removal-of-rights-at-oakridge/).

MOTION ON NOTICE

1. Activating Community Space in Chinatown
https://parkboardmeetings.vancouver.ca/2018/20180709/MOTION-ActivatingCommunitySpaceInChinatown-20180709.pdf.

Excerpt: BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Vancouver Park Board direct staff to
allocate up to $50,000 towards the improvement of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Courtyard
located adjacent to the Chinese Cultural Centre and the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park and
Garden in the 2019-2022 capital plan.

MOVER: Commissioner Shum

 

 

 

A comment on doxing, doxxing in the housing debate

top view of man holding android smartphone near macbook and newspaper

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

There have been a number of cases of “doxing” by anonymous (and sometimes not-so-anonymous) individuals and groups on social media in the context of debates about housing policy. It is time to shed a light on it. Perhaps one solution is peer pressure to keep others’ online behaviour fair and reasonable.

For people unfamiliar with this term, here is an excerpt from Wikipedia.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doxing

Doxing (from dox, abbreviation of documents) or doxxing is the Internet-based practice of researching and broadcasting private or identifiable information (especially personally identifiable information) about an individual or organization.

The methods employed to acquire this information include searching publicly available databases and social media websites (like Facebook), hacking, and social engineering. It is closely related to Internet vigilantism and hacktivism. Doxing may be carried out for various reasons, including to aid law enforcement, business analysis, risk analytics, extortion, coercion, inflict harm, harassment, online shaming, and vigilante justice.

Generally the cases of the most aggressive approach have being taken by people associated with the supply-side argument, which aligns closely with the development industry. In at least one case in the past several years, the connection even traced right back to a high level at City Hall.

Especially in the case of controversial developments, policies, rezonings, and public hearings, we have noticed that the pattern of grassroots volunteers or spokespersons being targeted, sometimes rather maliciously, with personal information being posted online for further circulation by other anonymous accounts, followed by nasty commentary.

Ultimately, the process can work both ways, and generally, that is not a nice way to have a constructive discussion. If you find yourself in group involved in doxing others, we encourage you to apply some peer pressure to keep colleagues’ online behaviour ethical and reasonable. It seems that within a given group, others probably know the true identity behind “anonymous” accounts.

As CityHallWatch has been documenting since 2010, we have witnessed systematic failures that have resulted in today’s problems of housing affordability in the Metro Vancouver region.  A lot of people are frustrated and angry. Many are suspicious of others’ motives. Public discussion and dialogue are crucial processes to search for solutions.

(All of this is a topic for further coverage in the future. To be updated and continued.)

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A tip from @Lidsville

When people you know are doxxing someone, do you correct some of the inflated lies in the doxxing, thinking you’re defending the target of the attack? No. You tell your doxxing “friends” to knock it off immediately, and distance yourself…

 

Residents write Council on flawed process, opposing rezoning in Grandview Woodland (Nanaimo Street C-1 & C-2): Council decision July 10 (Tues)

[Updated July 10, with additional background info at the bottom. We include them here for others’ reference, as the City’s bad habits and problems with community consultation are evident in a large number of rezonings and developments we have followed over the past ten years. Will things improve with a new regime at City Hall?]

We have received this group letter from 29 concerned residents, with a request to post online for others to see. It is a follow-up to the Public Hearing that concluded on June 26 (2. REZONING: Increasing Housing Choice in Grandview-Woodland – Proposed Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law). City Council is now set for their final discussion and voting at a Regular Council meeting tomorrow, on Tuesday, July 10 (Unfinished Business, Item 1).

They are not happy with the City’s process. Stated concerns include insufficient community consultation, data manipulation and unclear communication. “This decision has too many negative ramifications for our community and should not be rushed. In light of recent changes made in the Policy Report, more time is required for further community consultation and information gathering before a final decision for redevelopment is made.” 

As CityHallWatch, we note that their observations regarding the City’s rezoning, consultation, and Public Hearing processes seem to be a recurrent theme of at least the past ten years, time after time.

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July 8, 2018

Mayor and Council

Cc: Andrew Pask, Chani Joseph

Re: Proposed Nanaimo Street C-1 & C-2 Re-zonings [note: part of the so-called “REZONING: Increasing Housing Choice in Grandview-Woodland – Proposed Amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law”]

This letter speaks of the concerns of numerous members of the community as listed below.

We are vehemently opposed to the proposed to the rezoning changes affecting Nanaimo Street and 2400 block Kitchener Street and Charles Street.

We stress that Council vote against the proposed rezoning changes on July 10, 2018. We feel that there is insufficient community consultation, data manipulation and unclear communication. This decision has too many negative ramifications for our community and should not be rushed. In light of recent changes made in the Policy Report, more time is required for further community consultation and information gathering before a final decision for redevelopment is made. Continue reading