Housing Bulk Update -- October 2016
The District of West Vancouver made a number of changes to its zoning bylaw related to housing bulk and neighbourhood character in sprnig 2016. Fencing regulations, site landscaping requirement, boulevard guidelines and limits to lot consolidation were all adjusted in aid of minimizing the impacts of development on existing streets and neighbourhoods. Staff is now monitoring the impact of these changes to ensure their effectiveness. Additionally, as directed by Council, staff is now focussed on the development of a permanent bylaw with regulations for the responsible management of trees on private property within the District, again to help with the changing character of West Vancouver’s neighbourhoods. Look to get involved in the upcoming Interim Tree Bylaw Working Group (to be advertised soon).
Background: Council resolutions
On Monday, February 23, 2015, a Special Council Meeting was held to consider a proposed process to engage the community regarding possible bylaw amendments for the control and mitigation of siting, form and character for single family dwellings. The meeting was an opportunity for residents, industry professionals, and other interested stakeholders to hear a presentation and provide their perspective to Council. After the presentation and discussion and feedback, the following resolutions were proposed to Council (read the full Report to Council here):
1. Council receive the report dated January 29, 2015 and titled “Single Family Housing – Siting, Form and Character Public Engagement Process – 2015” for information, discussion andconsideration;
2. The Council of The District of West Vancouver resolves that there are well documented and recognized issues related to the compatibility of new and renovated single unit residential dwellings within the District with respect to size, siting, massing, grading and landscaping and directs staff to engage the community and commence the preparation of bylaw amendments to address the issue;
3. Council direct that staff engage the community on these issues as outlined in the report dated January 29, 2015 and titled “Single Family Housing – Siting, Form and Character Public Engagement Process – 2015”;
4. Staff be instructed to prepare amendments to Zoning Bylaw No. 4662, 2010 to prevent the floor area of single family residential dwellings on lots in RS zones other than RS1, RS6 and RS8 from exceeding 150% of the floor area that would be permitted on a lot having the minimum lot area specified in the bylaw for the zone in which the dwelling is being constructed; and that,
5. Staff be instructed to report to Council with respect to any building permit application that is made more than 7 days after the date of this resolution and that staff consider conflicts with the bylaw amendments in preparation, to enable the Council to determine whether to direct that the permit withheld pursuant to s. 929 of the Local Government Act pending Council’s consideration of the zoning bylaw amendment.
Background: Siting, Form & Character of Single Family Housing
The changing neighbourhood character has been a concern in West Vancouver for 30 years.
Residents have consistently pointed to the ongoing construction of large replacement houses (particularly when accompanied by extensive site alteration and changes to abutting boulevards) as ‘character-altering’. The construction process can also be lengthy and impactful on neighbouring properties.
Over this period, a number of amendments have been made to District bylaws in an attempt to reduce ‘building bulk’ and lessen the negative impacts associated with new construction. Council has directed staff to review existing development regulations to determine where further improvements can be made.
In early 2013, Council endorsed ‘housing and neighbourhood character’ and, specifically, ‘housing bulk’ as priority work items during 2013-2014.
In mid-2013, CitySpaces Consulting was retained to prepare a discussion paper that addressed the concept of housing ‘bulk’, reviewed how ‘bulk’ is regulated in West Vancouver and other municipalities, and presented possible approaches to address the issue in West Vancouver.
Community engagement on ‘housing bulk’ was then undertaken through early 2014, and input from that process informed a second consultant’s report and the development of draft regulatory changes, which were presented to Council as a staff report on July 7, 2014. The report presented the results of community engagement on the siting, form and character of new houses in established neighbourhoods, undertaken through May 2014; and recommends proposed Zoning Bylaw amendments and further work on possible regulatory changes to address building bulk issues.
As directed by Council on July 7, 2014, a staff report and draft Zoning Bylaw amendment regarding single family housing siting, form, and character floor area exemptions went to Council on October 20, 2014. The report introduced a draft zoning bylaw amendment for public review and comment to help address identified issues of building bulk and neighbourhood character, specifically focusing on issues related to floor area exemptions for accessory buildings and garages. After discussion by Council and the public, Council directed staff to consult further with all interested parties on a the full range of regulatory options for addressing single family home siting, form and character contained in the June 2014 report titled “Single Family Housing – Siting, Form, and Character” and report back to Council with draft bylaw amendments to address those issues, which occurred on February 23, 2015.
Siting, Form & Character: West Vancouver Housing Study – October 2013 consultant report
Staff Report and Consultant Study- July 7, 2014, Report to Council