Your Comments

Pro or Con, Share Your LWH Stories, Opinions, Pics and Vids

What is your laneway house experience? Has a laneway house affected you or your neighbourhood in any way?

This forum welcomes all Vancouverites to share their laneway housing stories, opinions, pictures, and videos. Just send your material to the webmaster for consideration.

And yes, we welcome pro- as well as con-LWH material. This forum was initiated by people who are not against laneway housing per se, but many of whom are against the callous and manipulative way the Mayor and City Council re-zoned Vancouver without due process, and how cavalier City Hall continues to be toward citizens under siege by real estate speculators.

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18 Responses to Your Comments

  1. jane Ingman Baker says:

    Congratulations on your new site. ! I drove down Blanca yesterday with my husband to show him the second storey on the laneway houses on the corner.We left quickly as the site was so depressing.
    Good luck and keep up the documentation, it may be very important at the next review stage.

    Jane Ingman Baker.

  2. larry says:

    What an incredibly biased and unfair treatment of a great City of Vancouver initiative. Vancouver needs increased density. Why should a homeowner have to consult their neighbours? They are not required to do so when the tear their main house down and build a new one. Do you want to be “consulted” on that too? These laneway houses will also help keep some families together by allowing aging parents or young adult children to continue to live “at home”.

    • Webmaster says:

      @larry: The vast majority of these laneway houses are being built by developers as rental units, so family unity has nothing to do with it. I wish it did, and I wish the City would see to it.

      As for replacing an existing house, that’s fine; a laneway house is an additional house on the same property, destroying trees and grass, blocking scenery, invading privacy, increasing traffic, and lowering the property value of neighbouring houses.

      As for increased density, it’s pretty much a proven fact that adding more and more lab rats in a box is increasingly detrimental to all the rats. Overpopulation and crowding will turn a once scenic and placid Vancouver into another Hong Kong.

  3. Brian says:

    “Vancouver needs increased density”? Well, it certainly has enough of that in its politicians, but as a general philosophy, it’s arguable. Where do you stop, Larry? Another 1 million people in Greater Vancouver? Another 2 million?? 5 million??? Or do we just keep on growing until nature imposes its own drastic limits, as it is already starting to indicate it will do? For all its vaunted green-ness, Vancouver risks becoming just another galloping megalopolis, controlled by the usual unholy alliance of developers and politicians.

  4. Limits Togrowth says:

    It’s great that the city wants to get everyone on bikes but the fact is that many people own cars. So, if there’s a property (or 5 on a block!) with a laneway house there’s the potential for that home to have 6 cars associated with it. Our neighbours have a suite and they have 4 cars among them. Where will all these cars be parked? They won’t be in the one-car garage attached to the laneway house. Everyone seems to use those for storage. Backing up streets when cars meet nose to nose does not make a city more liveable. There’s more to consider than just people density. Thank you.

  5. Pingback: 2010 in review | Vancouver Laneway Housing

  6. limner says:

    Remember how mother used to say be careful what you wish for. Magical thinking? Or the ‘mother-may-I’ school of land-use legislation. In Vancouver it has turned every RS site into, ‘spot-zoning’, opportunity for design-builders. The City’s eco-density applied to RS is a ruse. We would have been better offering 2-for-one, duplex where inadequate houses on large lots are replaced with duplexes, or single-family houses on smaller lots. The skinny lot, ecodensity for it’s time, at least offered home owners home ownership and a private backyard. Instead, push back from the City, the planners had enough complaining from the nimby’s, so they came up with imby, in my back yard please, small ‘carrots’, to intice land speculation. Social planners used ‘goodness’ & giving back, to hijack land-use legislation. Where they should have been supporting more fee-simple home ownership, and building social housing with ‘stash’ of City owned land reserves. The lane house as rental is just evidence of more regulatory incompetence, systematically developing Disney’esque gingerbread, 3/4 scale school of prescriptive zoning. The City has a lot of nerve, calling it land-use legislation. Laneway rental just makes backyards look slummy & congested. Planning in an ideal world should alleviate the experience of congestion not increase it. What about the cardinal rule of planning, ‘don’t make it worse’. Lack of imagination, where real-estate concepts rule in lieu of actual planning.

    Secondly, the City should never have used Community Planning, citizens, as astanding-reserve to over regulate to secure their employment by making every single-family lot an opportunity to spot zone. Planning should not encourage aesthetic speculation at the expence of pragmatic planning solutions. The City is stuck in the picturesque, the past, at it’s citizen’s expence . Or perpetuate the 50 year old ‘garden city’, streetscape approach to land use legislation, where ecclecticism rules over pragmatism, and pretty drives out the vernacular, pragmatic, buildable, and wise rresponse to land-use legislation. With the exception of a few shabby-chic and the ultra-mod laneway ‘out-builidngs’, most slummy looking and create the feeling of congestion often associated with slums. Prescribing built form reflects the bankrupt tired old ways. Codifying form is just more, I-hate-to-design, rules.

  7. MTB says:

    There’s no question that Vancouver will grow and must densify, given its climate, location, outdoor scenic beauty and desirability, and proper planning & public consultation are needed. However, the way the City has been going about densification & “Eco-Density” throughout neighborhoods is not only deceptive, it is negatively affecting the neighborhoods & those who live in the communities. The City should have focused on densification strictly on main streets where there is existing transit routes, and NOT allowed the largely unregulated spread of “Eco-density” developments & LWH within neighborhoods.

    Sorry, Larry, but neighborhoods are “communities” and these homes & LWH on small lots are negatively affecting the residents within them & the quality of life and daily living.

    First, the “public consults” have been nothing more than cursory, perfunctory & for purely for show, and with no consideration for parking nor improving & increasing services within areas. I have been to some “consults” and given my comments, and its well publicized that the Mayor & City Council, have blown off other neighbors’ concerns in favour of developers. Allowing densification with new legal suites PLUS Laneway houses on 33′ lots is just ill-conceived, and examples already demonstrate the lack of privacy for adjacent properties and strain of parking congestion. We have more and more traffic congestion & strain on resources in the neighborhoods, and the main people benefiting are speculative developers & investors ( NOT local families and people in the communities).

    I live in Dunbar and bought in the area 20 years ago because it was a quiet, single family area within Vancouver that was NOT dense, and the neighborhood & my street had lots of charm and character. Like other residents in the area, I paid a premium for this and chose this area because I did not want neighbours’ homes, 3-5 feet away from my windows ( eg. like in areas of multiple family properties like Kits). The character of the neighborhood was also important to us – Had we wanted density or ugly monster homes, we would have had many other areas & main streets to choose from, that were far cheaper.

    I the can attest that there are several homes within a stone’s throw & 1-2 block radius of my home, that have been or are being demolished by developer/ speculators and NOT homeowner-residents, and some of them fairly new homes ( read: Landfill waste & not “eco”).
    The word itself is a “spin” and “Eco” is completely incorrect, given the amount of land waste demolitions are causing.

    These new spec homes & LWH have so far varied greatly in quality & character, some of which are very poor and akin to the “Monster Homes” of the 80’s from off-shore investors; and some of which are well made & fit in well within the character & charm of the Dunbar neighborhood.

    As an example – One Monster Home + LWH on my street is an ugly abomination and eyesore – built to max size on a 33′ lot, towering well over all other homes on the street. It is constructed very poorly, with little landscaping, and has a LWH that towers 2 stories over the adjacent properties. The builder/ speculators are asking 2.7MM. This house has not only dramatically diminished the adjacent neighbours privacy but also for other nearby properties, and its ‘character’ is completely out of sync with neighboring properties. If sold and inhabited by 3 families, the street can expect at minimum 3-6 cars for this 33′ lot, on an already crowded side street.

    There’s a huge discrepancy here between builders and these elements, the City Planners and Permit Depts. which obviously have few restrictions or regulations, and the local residents of the area. The real estate prices are also escalating by an additional minimum of $1-2MM or more for these new developments, depending upon whether there is a LWH or not.

    I’d like to see LWH killed in neighborhoods, especially on 33′ lots. If they’re here to stay, the bylaws, permits, and legislation need to change dramatically to better control and restrict the building placement and numbers of LWHs with more stringent requirements, and concern for both existing property owners, and environment (landfill waste). A hefty non-resident tax as well as a requirement to live in the residence & hold it for 3 years would discourage some of the developer / investor speculation that’s so prevalent; and so that the neighborhoods retain a quality “community” with actual residents, adequate services & amenities, & not just empty investments that add little to the community.

    • MTB says:

      P.S. – I forgot to mention that LWH also affect the quality of sunlight one gets in their homes and their yards, which also affects quality of life both inside & out. If you’re a gardener as many are, including vegetable gardener, less sunlight is NOT conducive nor is it “Eco”.

  8. brent babcock says:

    After all the sacrifice, saving and borrowing money, so that you might own a house in a nice neighbourhood, only now to see this horrible monstrosity 20 feet high now engulfing our back yard. Goodbye to privacy, sunlight and a nice garden, and accessible parking. Would we have made the sarifice if we had known that we were to be subjected to these monstrosities. There is no environment, no sense of community or neighbourhood, just a hodgepog of people inhabiting a space. Point Gray and Dunbar have to bear the brunt of this; the area where people have paid the most for a neighbourhood of space, beauty, and contentment.

  9. elf says:

    Larry, give your head a shake! why does Vancouver need increased density; are you kidding. Vancouver definitely does NOT need increased density, actually the opposite. You want to keep your family together live in a bigger house together. Let’s get our city back to what it should be, lots of greenspace, trees, cats, dogs, nature and lets start being proud of our culture and stand up for it instead of letting everybody else come in and step on our toes and dictate to us; after all, it is because we have clean air and fresh water that everyone comes here and now they want to trash our way of life. You tell me where does this mentality come from. Laneways are a TERRIBLE TERRIBLE IDEA!!

    • Mike says:

      …lets start being proud of our culture and stand up for it instead of letting everybody else come in and step on our toes and dictate to us; after all, it is because we have clean air and fresh water that everyone comes here and now they want to trash our way of life.

      Are you kidding me!? When did YOU come to Vancouver? And if you were born here, when did your ancestors immigrate here?

      You know, there are many born and raised Vancouverites (like myself) that are in favour of the laneway housing programme and increasing density in single-family neighbourhoods.

      Don’t think for one minute that you speak for the majority of us when you talk about “our” culture, you ignorant old bigot!

  10. Brian says:

    Re Vancouver’s “public hearing” on Jun 11/13 regarding LWH
    I admire those who continue to do so as this council continues to make a mockery of “planning”. Why bother to show up and express any opinion contrary to what the current Vision council has already decided?

    On every issue regarding development in the city, public input has been shown to be a complete waste of time, given Vision’s consistent ignoring of “neighbourhood input” majority opinion at such events. Vision’s idea of democracy is limited to just voting every three years.

    LWH is anti-green, is an appalling intrusion onto neighbours privacy, can create a shadow effect on neighbours gardens and will over time create increased parking issues as the “parking” space proves impractical to use and/or is converted to living space.

    And in the end, it won’t do a damn thing for housing affordability in the city as unsustainable demand will continue to outstip unsustainable supply

    LWH will further degrade the quality of life in areas it blights and is yet another assault on neighbourhoods at the behest of the developers who fund Vision, who can do this because of the lack of controls on the funding of municipal politcs in BC.

    Since nothing is likely to happen in that regard, we’re left with “throwing the bastards out”.

  11. Nizar Assanie says:

    Hi there. I’ve been reading your blog and comments and wanted everyone to know that the city is planning a “Thin Street” pilot on Ash Street between 59th and 64th.

    Full disclosure: we own a corner lot on Ash.

    If you think ad hoc laneway homes are an issue, imagine five city blocks of laneway homes. This is a stupid idea and a stupid plan. It will destroy property values for neighbours, In addition to all of the issues that you have mentioned in this blog. We need to put a stop to this as this is a pilot and other neighbourhoods will be next.

    The open houses are on:
    Saturday, June 22, 11:00 am – 3 pm at 8138 Granville Street Storefront (at West 65th Avenue)
    Monday, June 24, 5 pm – 8:30 pm at Marpole Place Neighbourhood House, 1305 West 70th Ave.
    Wedensday, June 26, 5:00 pm – 8:30 pm at Marpole Oakridge Community Centre, 990 West 59th Avenue

    Hope to see everyone there!

    • Brian says:

      Nizar, I thought lack-of-Vision had backed off the thin streets idea, and were content to de-green the city one lot/laneway house at a time rather than entire blocks! 3 more faux neighbourhood input opportunities for Vision to ignore. ‘
      Tis better to laugh at these clowns running the city rather than cry however, and nobody skewers Gregor’s gang of ideologues better than Stephen Quinn in the Globe and Mail. His latest: “Viva la Robertson Revolution”
      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/try-it-now/?articleId=12433834

  12. Nizar Assanie says:

    Thanks Brian for the tip. I will contact Stephen Quinn.

    To be frank, this is the first time in my life that I have ever been engaged on any civic matters. I am usually very private and I am flabbergasted by the lack of consultation or vision.

    In speaking with the City Planner responsible, looks like they are doing these three consultations based on a couple of “sticky notes” they got from their previous consultations where “someone” suggested to them that the thin street idea may be a good idea for Ash Street….How ridiculous is that????

    I wonder if all it takes is a couple of sticky notes to launch a consultation, if it also takes two sticky notes to also shut down a consultation??? Maybe we can pass around sticky notes to make sure that our diligent staff at city hall can launch consultations on other issues affecting this city of ours…. but I digress.

    So, I went to the City’s website and nowhere in any of their prior consultations so far is there a hint of thin streets in Marpole. If you go to the so called “Marpole Community Plan” page on their website: http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/marpole-community-plan.aspx nowhere is there a hint of thin streets.

    So I asked this planner a simple question: “Where can I find the Marpole Community Plan?” and “Where can I find this idea of thin streets in your prior consultations?” Her response: “There is no plan yet… we are consulting with the community to make the plan.” So I asked her: “When can we see a draft of the plan?” to which her response was even more surprising: “We are going to reveal it at the consultations and have it on our website for 3 weeks after that!!!” [exclamation is mine]

    Now, I come from a country where everyone knows a kangaroo court, this one looks like a kangaroo consultation to me. Nowhere in their consultations so far do they have thin streets. Now all of a sudden they want a consultation on thin streets (based on two sticky notes) that they would like to put in the draft plan. So far, so good. But where is the draft plan? Oh…. the draft plan is only going to be revealed at the consultation????? What opportunity does the neighbourhood have to even shape a draft plan and give a considered response to a plan they have not yet seen?

    In reading the letter they sent to us yesterday, it does say the following: “We are particularly interested in hearing from you on this idea as the proposed site is beside your home. Please come out to one of our upcoming community plan open houses listed below to chat with staff about your thoughts on the Thin Street concept, and the draft Marpole Community Plan.”

    If you are going to reveal a draft Community Plan at a consultation, should’nt that be front and centre of your announcement as well?

    WHAT IS FRUSTRATING ABOUT THIS IS THAT THEY HAVE 20 DOCUMENTS UNDER THE DOCUMENTS TAB IN THE LINK ABOVE…. AND NONE OF THEM HAVE A THIN STREET ANYTHING IN IT. NOW ALL OF A SUDDEN THEY ARE GOING TO HAVE A THIN STREET PROPOSAL IN THE DRAFT PLAN? SHOULD THEY NOT HAVE THE PROPOSAL IN THE EARLIER CONSULTATIONS BEFORE IT GOES INTO THE DRAFT PLAN?

    • Brian says:

      Nizar,

      You should be aware that philosophically, Vision DOES NOT CARE about destroying what used to be called single (now triple) family property values and DOES NOT CARE about you as an individual home owner. This has come as a shock to a lot of people in Vancouver, though as time goes on, that is less and less the case.

      As a result, you’re not the only one who’s becoming engaged in civic politics for the first time. One of the good things I guess, about having terrible government like Vision

      Your frustration is understandable, given that you are discovering the “Vision” way of doing things after they’ve perfected their cynical game. There’s a long list of individuals such as yourself as well as neighbourhood community groups who’ve experienced the same shoddy, dishonest treatment when it comes to what passes for “public input” on what passes for “planning” in Vancouver. For good background on the other groups Vision has trampled, if you can take it, check out http://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/

      Here’s a crystal-clear example of Vision’s arrogant treatment of the public from Robertson’s early days as mayor:
      http://archive.citycaucus.com/2010/07/vision-vancouver-arrogance-exposed-in-off-guard-moment

      Democracy? Like Turkey’s Prime Minister, Gregor’s gang believe that, unless you’re a member of the elect, that’s something you only get to participate in at election time. In the meantime you’ll have to make do with tightly-scripted, no-questions-please, kangaroo-consultation meetings on decisions Vision has already made behind closed doors. It’s amazing that anyone bothers to show up for these sham exercises, other than the politicised city “planning” saps who have to go through the motions on behalf of their Vision masters. Real planners (by definition they don’t work for the city) wouldn’t dignify Vancouver’s ad-hockery with the word planning.

      Bottom line is Vision does one thing: massive, unsustainable overdevelopment and uses their bike-lane policy as greenwashing cover. That’s not going to change until one of two things happen. One is the province bringing in restrictions on civic political funding to stop the corrupting influence of developer money such as exists in provincial and federal politics. Christy? Yeah, right. That leaves the second, fallback choice, throwing the bastards out.

      Vision has finally angered enough people with their arrogant cynicism that there is another political group wanting to go up against them: http://www.straight.com/news/386321/team-intends-toss-vision-vancouver-out-city-hall

      My understanding is their next organizational meeting is Wed Jun 19, 7 pm at the Sunset Community Centre, Main St at 51st. I’m sure they would love to see you there. And at least you’ll meet a lot of sympathetic people who have already been through what you are just discovering.

      Remember, as Gandhi said, “First they laugh at you, then they ignore you, then they fight you, then you win.”

  13. anyone who is this against Laneway houseing has never had the poor luck of having to live a life of dignity from one of West Vancouver’s depressing basement suites. Pretty hard to find anything else affordable in the residential neighborhoods closest to UBC which is poor zoning plain and simple.

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