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Responding to future housing needs : residential intensification in single-family neighbourhoods Lee, Janet Mai-Lan 1989

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RESPONDING TO FUTURE HOUSING NEEDS: RESIDENTIAL INTENSIFICATION IN SINGLE-FAMILY NEIGHBOURHOODS by JANET MAI-LAN LEE Bachelor of Arts (University of British Columbia), 1985 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES School of Community and Regional Planning We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA 23 January 1989 ® Janet Mai-Lan Lee, 1989 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at The University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. School of Community and Regional Planning The University of British Columbia 2075 Wesbrook Place Vancouver, Canada V6T 1W5 Date: 25 March 1989 ABSTRACT Intensification is the process of creating new housing units within the housing stock. This has become an important issue in recent years as housing costs have risen considerably. Higher densities are theoretically desirable because land and services will be used more efficiently and more housing options can be available to the public. In reality, however, many residents in single-family districts oppose any plans to increase densities in their neighbourhoods. This thesis explores Greater Vancouver's experience with intensification in a broad context. Intensification is viewed as having occurred in two ways: (1) planned, in which local governments have actively promoted and facilitated residential development; and (2) unplanned, where intensification in single-family areas has occurred naturally in response to certain economic and demographic conditions. By examining these two types, a better understanding of the opportunities for and constraints upon intensification can be obtained. Planned initiatives that have been undertaken in the past have resulted in new, large-scale housing developments on vacant or underutilized land. However, attempts to plan for the intensification of low-density, developed residential neighbourhoods have been less successful as people are more resistant to perceived change. Two types of unplanned intensification that have become city-wide issues are illegal secondary suites and extremely large, "monster" houses. Despite the efforts by some residents to preserve the state of their neighbourhoods, many single-family areas are showing signs of change. ii Some general observations may be drawn from Greater Vancouver's experience. There are competing interests within the community, each with a particular set of views. For instance, new homeowners, tenants and developers would be expected to have economically-motivated reasons for encouraging intensification and variation in housing choice. Established homeowners may have sentimental reasons for opposing change. Politicians, who are sensitive to public opinion, are concerned with preserving the status quo without introducing actions that will draw criticism. The planner, therefore, has the task of reconciling these divergent views. The difficulty is in raising public awareness of the arguments both for and against intensification and the need for additional housing opportunities in the city. Without resident acceptance of the creation of more housing choices in their single-family neighbourhoods, very little political will is generated to take any action. The issue of intensification challenges traditional notions of community, neighbourhood and stability. Public education and a planned approach to dealing with intensification is a slow process while changes created by market forces occur rapidly. In the future, intensification will likely remain controversial. The neighbourhood approach employed in Vancouver to address some of the issues is a method of involving the community in decisions that will affect their neighbourhoods. Continued public participation should be encouraged as it is through the exchange of information that social learning takes place and preconceived ideas are questioned. Higher densities, perhaps, will have to be marketed to iii neighbourhoods with a substantial commitment by planners to minimize negative impacts and encourage small-scale, incremental change. Planners should, therefore, be familiar with the various aspects of intensification, its past experiences and the groups involved, to arrive at their own personal position on intensification and to make informed, appropriate decisions. iv T A B L E OF CONTENTS Abstract ii Table of Contents v List of Tables vii List of Figures viii Acknowledgement ix Chapter 1. INTRODUCTION 1 1.1. Problem Statement 1 1.2. Objectives of Study 2 1.3. Definition of Intensification 2 1.4. Significance of Study 3 1.5. Assumptions 4 1.6. Organization of Thesis 5 Chapter 2. THE CONCEPT OF INTENSIFICATION .. 7 2.1. Reasons for the Consideration of Intensification 7 2.1.1. Factors Contributing to Intensification 7 2.1.2. The Advantages of Intensification 18 2.2. Reasons for the Rejection of Intensification 20 2.2.1. Theoretical Rejection: The Violation of Principles 21 2.2.2. Emotional Rejection: The Fear of Unintended Consequences 24 2.2.3. The Disadvantages of Intensification 27 2.3. Implications to Planners 29 Chapter 3. INTENSIFICATION INITIATIVES: A LITERATURE REVIEW 32 3.1. Private Sector Initiatives 32 3.1.1. Types of Intensification 32 3.1.2. Barriers to Intensification Activities 35 3.1.3. Suggested Strategies for Encouraging Intensification Activities 38 3.2. Public Sector Initiatives 40 3.2.1. Ontario: A Search for Housing Alternatives 42 3.2.2. California: A Reaction Against Sprawl 46 3.3. Implications to Vancouver 53 Chapter 4. PLANNED INTENSIFICATION: ATTEMPTS IN GREATER VANCOUVER 57 4.1. Intensification as a Response to Externalities 57 4.1.1. Greater Vancouver Regional District Initiatives 58 4.1.2. The Fairview Slopes Neighbourhood 64 4.1.3. ALRT Station Area Planning ..' 66 4.2. Comprehensive Intensification Plans 73 4.2.1. The Burnaby Compaction Plan 73 v 4.2.2. The Vancouver Plan 81 4.3. Observations and Conclusions 85 Chapter 5. UNPLANNED INTENSIFICATION: THE OCCURRENCE IN GREATER VANCOUVER 87 5.1. Increases in Building Site Coverage 87 5.1.1. Types 88 5.1.2. Neighbourhood Concerns 92 5.1.3. Local Government Response 98 5.2. The Unauthorized Creation of Additional Dwelling Units 101 5.2.1. The "Illegal Suite" Issue 102 5.2.2. Neighbourhood Concerns 104 5.2.3. Local Government Response 105 5.3. Observations and Conclusions 109 Chapter 6. CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS 112 6.1. A Myriad of Views 112 6.2. The Task of the Planner 116 6.3. The Future of Intensification for Planners 118 BIBLIOGRAPHY 121 VI LIST OF TABLES Table 1: Total Population, Private Households and Families 11 Table 2: Number and Percentage of Family and Non-Family Households 11 Table 3: Percentage of One-Person Households 13 Table 4: Lone-Parent and Husband-Wife Families 13 Table 5: Average Number of Persons per Household 14 Table 6: Neighbourhood Environment Classifications Proposed for Burnaby 75 vii LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1: The Location of Regional Town Centres 60 Figure 2: The Location of the Fairview Slopes Neighbourhood 65 Figure 3: Development Opportunities around the Nanaimo/29th Ave. Stations . 69 Figure 4: Present Zoning around the Nanaimo/29th Ave. Stations 70 Figure 5: Sketches of Development Possibilities Near A.L.R.T 71 Figure 6: Existing Land-Use in Burnaby 77 Figure 7: Proposed Land-Use Concept for Burnaby 78 Figure 8: Proposed Area Designations for Burnaby 79 Figure 9: A Recently-Built Thin House in Vancouver 89 Figure 10: Examples of Large Houses in Vancouver 91 Figure 11: The Controversial Thin House 95 Figure 12: Examples of Vancouver Specials 96 Figure 13: Percentage of Single-Family Homes with Suites in Vancouver 103 viii ACKNOWLEDGEMENT I wish to thank my advisors, Professors David Hulchanski and Brahm Wiesman, for their helpful guidance and advice throughout the preparation of this thesis. I also thank the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation for their generous financial support during my final year of studies. I would like to thank the people interviewed who took the time to share their experiences and insights into this topic. Finally, I wish to thank my parents for their patience and encouragement over the years. ix CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION "Intensification", "densification", or "compaction" are several different expressions describing an increasingly common occurrence in urban single-family neighbourhoods. These terms refer to the process by which more dwelling units are added to existing neighbourhoods. Infill, conversion and redevelopment are just several ways that housing additions are being made. In theory, this more intensive use of the land is desirable for reasons relating to efficient use of underutilized land, infrastructure and residential services. In reality, residents often regard intensification as undesirable and as a threat to the stability, character and composition of their neighbourhood. 1.1. PROBLEM STATEMENT Planners have great difficulty dealing with the issue of intensification. Attempts at encouraging higher densities and disseminating information on the benefits have met with' much public resistance. Single-family neighbourhoods, however, have not remained at constant densities over the years and new housing units are being created. Intensification is, therefore, occurring in neighbourhoods despite public opposition and often outside the regular municipal planning and building regulations. This study explores the planning issues, political problems and overall dynamics of residential land-use intensification using metropolitan Vancouver as a case study. It focuses on the realities of recent experience rather than abstract 1 2 theories. Two types of intensification are considered: (1) planned, government initiatives to implement intensification, and (2) unplanned, private activities that result from market forces. 1.2. OBJECTIVES OF STUDY The primary objectives of this study are: a. to determine the factors that have contributed to the relative inability of governments to arrive at a policy of residential intensification; b. to gain a better understanding of the occurrence of residential intensification and the arguments for and against it; c. to identify the opportunities for and constraints upon planned and unplanned intensification; and d. to examine individual aspects of residential intensification in a broader context. 1.3. DEFINITION OF INTENSIFICATION "Residential intensification" has been defined as: increasing the number of households accommodated in existing buildings and/or on existing serviced land in already built-up parts of urban areas through conversion of existing structures and through additions to existing structures and the building of new structures on vacant or near-vacant land. Intensification...is achieved with little or no demolition of existing buildings (Klein & Sears, 1983, v.3, p.xi). Other terms that have been used to express a similar meaning are 3 "densification" and "compaction". These two terms, however, conjure images of high-density buildings or squeezed-in lots. Intensification can occur through: (i) infill, which is the development of vacant parcels of land in developed neighbourhoods; (ii) conversion, which is the addition of extra living quarters within a residential dwelling unit; and (iii) small-scale redevelopment, which may replace single-family houses or underutilized buildings with low-rise, medium-density, multiple-family buildings. In light of the need for more housing in cities, municipal planners have been promoting intensification as a "generally...positive form of neighbourhood change in response to the changing needs of urban areas as it matures and responds to new forces and demands" (Klein & Sears, 1983, v.7, p.4). The incremental nature of intensification is viewed as the least disruptive form of neighbourhood change because it can result in a scale of building which is smaller and more in keeping with a single-family neighbourhood (Klein & Sears, 1983, v.7, p.3). 1.4. SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY Literature related to the subject rarely refers to intensification as a whole and focuses, instead, on particular forms such as infill or secondary suites. This study proposes to explore intensification in a broader context with reference to its planned and unplanned aspects. There are planned initiatives that have led to the redevelopment of large tracts of vacant and underutilized land in the Greater Vancouver region. These developments have the potential to house many more 4 people in the region. In addition to the planned efforts, there is also currently much interest in the impact of illegal secondary suites and extremely large single-family houses on neighbourhoods. Both are widespread forms of unplanned intensification that result from high land and housing costs. The scarcity of affordable housing, whether rental or ownership, has compounded the pressure for housing in existing urban neighbourhoods. Local planning efforts have generally not had much success at controlling or regulating the conversion of houses in single-family neighbourhoods. A better understanding of the issues, groups involved, and the nature of intensification will help planners formulate appropriate responses. 1.5. ASSUMPTIONS In pursuing this topic, there are several assumptions that should be made explicit. It is assumed that there are problems with the housing market preventing it from producing more affordable housing. Land, housing costs and rents have been rising at rates greater than the net increase in real incomes. Although some politicians may deny that there is a housing shortage, there is a mismatch between the types of housing available and the types of households searching for adequate housing. There is, in particular, a shortage of housing appropriate for the hard-to-house - people with special needs, low-income households, single-parents and the elderly. Despite the popular opposition to higher densities in single-family neighbourhoods, it is assumed here that residential intensification can be desirable in lower-density 5 areas with single-family, detached housing stock. It is also assumed, therefore, that municipal governments should pursue initiatives at planning for higher densities. Finally, it is assumed that the population of Vancouver will continue to grow at a steady rate, thereby applying increasing pressure on the single-family neighbourhoods to house more people. In anticipation of these conditions, this topic is therefore relevant and important to planners. 1.6. ORGANIZATION OF THESIS Chapter 2 of this thesis documents the major demographic, economic, geographic and historical conditions that have led to the trend towards intensification in urban areas. It also outlines some of the perceived advantages and disadvantages of intensification. Chapter 3 presents a brief overview of the extent of literature on the subject of intensification, emphasizing studies outside of the Vancouver area. The body of Canadian literature comes mainly from Ontario, while American literature stems from studies commissioned by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and work conducted in the state of California. A case study of Vancouver's current situation provides the focus for the next two chapters. Chapter 4 will outline Vancouver's initiatives at planned intensification from the 1970's to the present. It will look at plans that have been introduced, the public planning process and the general response towards such plans. Chapter 5 will study the extent to which intensification is occurring 6 in single-family neighbourhoods without any encouragement from formal planning efforts. Finally, Chapter 6 will conclude with observations that the case study has revealed about intensification in the Vancouver area. It will summarize the issue, and provide some additional insight into the planning process that was used. C H A P T E R 2. T H E C O N C E P T O F I N T E N S I F I C A T I O N 2.1. REASONS FOR THE CONSIDERATION OF INTENSIFICATION Intensification of low-density residential neighbourhoods is a phase in the continual evolution of North American cities. The form of cities has changed drastically since the turn of the century as urban development responds to the particular demographic, economic, social, ideological or technological conditions of the time. This section briefly examines some of the historic and geographic trends in the post-World War II era, and some of the demographic and economic changes that have occurred over the last two decades. These trends are a key to understanding the reasons behind the renewed interest in coping with higher densities. 2.1.1. Factors Contributing to Intensification Historic and Demographic Trends. During the 1920's, the streetcar facilitated urban expansion at the city's periphery. It was the widespread use of the automobile, however, in the post-World War II era that escalated the suburbanization process. The automobile gave people lateral mobility in contrast with the radial mobility of the streetcar (Goldfield and Brownell, 1979, p.343). Previously-compact North American cities became transformed by the addition of sprawling single-family suburbs in the fringe areas. The flight to the suburbs occurred mainly as the middle and upper-class sought 7 8 to live in less crowded neighbourhoods. In the United States during the two decades following World War II, a variety of factors combined to direct migration to the suburbs....First, there were the conditions in the cities: the rising taxes, declining services, increasing numbers of minorities, and a declining quality of life. Second, the suburbs appeared to offer everything the cities were coming to lack: space, racial and economic homogeneity, home ownership, low taxes, and quality education. It was like finding Eden on a quarter-acre plot (Goldfield and Brownell, 1979, p.350). Some of these forces also influenced suburbanization patterns in Canada. In general, the 1950's and 1960's were characterized by economic prosperity and high rates of family formation. Suburbs were perceived as the ideal environment in which to raise a family. The post-World War II era was also a time of massive urban renewal and redevelopment. Federal governments in both Canada and the United States tried to combat the problem of inadequate housing and slums by demolishing low-rent, deteriorating buildings and replacing them with massive public housing projects that, in many cases, were sterile and institutional in appearance. Canadian examples of public housing, which reflect government attitudes towards low-income persons at that time, include Regent Park in Toronto and Raymur Park in Vancouver. Following twenty years of sprawl and renewal, the 1970's ushered in a brief period of reflection upon and re-evaluation of post-World War II urban activities. The idyllic suburban image was tarnished by the increasing problems associated with it. The reality of the suburbs fell short of the expectations: 9 The escapees to the suburbs have found many of the things they were looking for: the grass, the trees, the cleaner air, and so on. But they have also found other things which they did not bargain for. They have found spiralling taxes, soaring real estate prices, schools that often seem less than satisfactory. They have found drugs, and crime and dirt and noise from the freeways. They have watched the encroachment of industry, of high rises, of tract developers, and of shopping centres set amid acres of asphalt. They have...cursed at suburban rush-hour traffic jams. They have discovered the values of the spite fence, and they have discovered boredom. Most of all, they have also discovered the curious anomie, that sense of disorientation, that indefinable "feeling of separation", which living in suburbia so often seems to convey (Birmingham, 1978, p. viii). The energy crisis of the early 1970's also focussed criticisms on the suburbs. Inefficient public transit links often meant greater use of the car, a major consumer of petroleum products. Additional costs of sprawl also .included: (i) the extension of servicing into new subdivisions, (ii) the creation of freeways and roads, and (iii) the loss of agricultural land and natural open spaces at the urban periphery. Therefore, the attitudes towards the 1950's and 1960's pattern of urban development began to shift as a result of a group of emerging forces - rising land prices, rising construction costs, slower approval processes, and a disenchantment with both urban renewal and sprawl, [which] occurred at about the same time as the...rise in energy costs in 1974. The result was a sudden and very dramatic focus of the need to at least consider, if not diligently pursue, the idea of compacting urban areas and reducing the cost of urban sprawl (Real Estate Research Corp., 1982, p.vi). The change in attitude has focussed much attention on the tracts of low-density, urban single-family districts as a potential source of more housing. 10 Demographic Trends. The whole notion of intensification also arises partly from the demographic changes in the Canadian population. Over the last twenty years, significant shifts in household and family size and type have occurred. A brief examination of several prevalent trends provides a sense of the changing Canadian population and the marketplace to which intensification responds. The importance of studying the population in terms of its organization into household and family groups is that these formations influence and are influenced by basic demographic processes (i.e. fertility, nuptiality, migration and mortality) as well as social, cultural, and economic factors and events. Each type of household, whether it is a couple with or without children, or a single person, is a decision unit where behaviour-determining decisions are made about such things such as education, migration, consumer consumption, and housing (Wargon, 1979, p.13). Several prominent trends emerge from studying Canada's demographic situation (Hulchanski, 1982, p. 10, and Verrips, 1983, p.6): a. An increase in the total number of households which has far outstripped the growth of population and of family units. Table 1 shows that up until 1981 in Canada, the rate of household formation has been faster than the rate of family formation or population growth. b. The increase in non-family households (e.g. roommates, unmarried couples) relative to family households. Along with the increase in the 11 Table 1: Total Population, Private Households and Families (Percentage Change, Intercensal Periods, Canada, 1966-86) Population Percent Households Percent Families Percent Change Change Change 1986 25,309,331 8,991,672 6,734,978 4.0 8.6 6.5 1981 24,343.181 8,281,531 6,324,976 5.9 15.6 10.4 1976 22,992,604 7,166,095 5,727,895 6.6 18.6 13.0 1971 21,568,311 6,041,302 5,070,682 7.8 16.6 12.0 1966 20,014,880 5,180,473 4,526,266 Source: Based on Wargon, 1979, p.33; and 1986 Census of Canada (Cat. 93-104 ) Table 2: (Out of Total Number of Households, Canada, 1966-86) • Non-Family Households Percent Famlly Households Percent Total Households 1986 2,356,675 26.2 6,634,995 73.8 8,991,675 1981 2,050,045 24.8 6,231,490 75.2 8,281,530 1976 1,532,150 21.4 5,633,940 78.6 7,166,095 1971 1,107,855 18.3 4,933,445 81.7 6,041,305 1966 804,064 15.5 4,376,409 84.5 5,180,473 Source: Based on Census of Canada, 1966-86. 12 total number of households, Table 2 shows that non-family households as a proportion of total households has been increasing over the last twenty years while family households have been decreasing. The growth in single-person households. The one-person household appears to be a growing portion of the population, as demonstrated in Table 3. This may be related to an increasing number of young people moving out of their family homes sooner. The increase in single-parent (also lone-parent) families. As Table 4 shows, single-parent families have been a steadily increasing proportion of the total number of families, while the proportion of traditional husband-wife families has been decreasing. The decline in the number of persons per household. Over the last two decades, as Table 5 shows, the average number of persons per family and number of persons per household have been declining gradually. The shrinking size of households and families can be attributed to couples choosing to have fewer children nowadays than in the past, and the rising number of small, non-traditional households (e.g. one-person and non-family households). Another contributing factor may be the "empty-nester" households, "...that generation of parents who spawned the baby boom from about 1946 to 1962 and are now thought to be living alone in the same dwellings in which they raised their families" (Hulchanski, 1982, p.25). 13 1986 1981 1976 1971 1966 Table 3: Percentage of One-Person Households (Canada, 1966-86) One-Person Households 1,935,000 1,691,000 1,205,000 812,000 590,000 One-Person Households as a Percentage of Population 15+ Years 10.0 8.9 7.0 5.3 4 . 4 One-Person Households as a Percentage of Al l Households 21.5 20.3 16.8 13. 4 11. 4 Source: Based on Statistics Canada, Cat. 99-934; and 1986 Census of Canada. Table 4: Lone -Parent and Husband-wife Faml1les (Canada, 1966-86) Lone-Parent Families Percent Husband-Wife Families Percent Total Families 1986 802,905 12.3 5, 734, 975 87. 7 6,537,880 1981 714,010 11.3 5,610,970 88.7 6,324,975 1976 559,335 9.8 5,168,560 90.2 5,727,895 1971 478,748 9.4 4,591,940 90.6 5,070,680 1966 371,885 8.2 4,154,381 91.8 4,526,266 Source: Based on Statistics Canada, Cat. 99-933; and 1986 Census of Canada. 14 Table 5: Average Number of Persons per Household (Canada, 1966-86) Number 1986 2.8 1981 2.9 1976 3.1 1971 3.5 1966 3.7 Source: Based on Census of Canada, 1966-86. 15 The prevailing trends in Canadian demographics, therefore, have been the shrinking household size and growth of non-traditional households. These changing characteristics may have a significant impact on future housing needs. The smaller households due to smaller families, empty-nesters or non-family arrangements indicate that some of the existing housing stock within cities may currently be underutilized. At the same time, a greater number of households must be housed. Therefore, there is pressure on the housing market to provide appropriate housing for these emerging household and family types which are affordable and adequate to their needs and preferences. Economic Factors. Perhaps the most relevant impact of changing economic factors over the last decade that is leading to the need and desire for intensification is the present state of the rental housing market and the lack of affordable rental accommodation. During the 1960's and 1970's, general economic prosperity meant rising incomes, low real interest rates, and government support programs which led to an abundance of rental housing and increased access to homeownership (Klein & Sears, 1983, v.2, p.8). From mid-1979 onwards, the economic climate changed abruptly to a period of inflation, high interest rates, cutbacks in government expenditures, rising housing costs, and rising rents. It is these conditions, combined with the demographic changes, that form a driving force behind intensification in existing urban neighbourhoods. The effect of the economic changes has been quite severe on the rental housing market. Current conditions are such that there is high demand for new rental housing with no new supply being 16 produced. Meanwhile, rental vacancy rates continue to hover around historical low points, further evidence of a very tight market (Verrips, 1983, p.8). A shortage of new rental housing construction has been brought about by high construction and material costs. Developers or landlords cannot afford to build and maintain new rental projects at today's interest rates and still make a profit at today's market rents. Likewise, many tenants have insufficient incomes to afford today's rents (Klein & Sears, 1983, v.2, p.9). The macro-economic conditions work against lower-income households, especially those who are not currently owners. Over the last ten to twenty years, there has been a "...very significant trend toward the increasing polarization of income groups by tenure....The rental sector is increasingly becoming a residual one, containing virtually all lower-income Canadians and very few higher-income Canadians" (Hulchanski, 1985, p.6). With the abolition of government assistance in the form of building subsidies, the private market has been unable to respond to the needs of lower-income households by providing affordable rental accommodation. The growth in the condominium form of tenure has also had an effect on the rental market by attracting the attention of developers and affluent renters. Those renters who can afford today's high market rents may not necessarily be able to afford or want the maintenance associated with a single-family detached home on a lot. For them, the condominium is an attractive option because they can have ownership status. The tendency of affluent renters to convert to the condominium ownership tenure is further contributing to the residual character of 17 the rental housing sector. Fuelled by the demand for condominiums and better financial returns to the developers, most new multiple-family buildings that have been constructed in the last decade are largely of the condominium tenure. A further the loss of rental accommodation has occurred as many rental apartment buildings, including those built under federal subsidy programs in the 1970's such as the Multiple-Unit Residential Building (MURB) and Canada Rental Supply Progam (CRSP) have been converted to condominiums. Summary of Factors. The historic, geographic and demographic trends, and economic factors cited interact in such a way to create the movement towards the intensification of urban single-family neighbourhoods. Intensification represents a reaction against urban planning attitudes and trends of the past that promoted suburbanization. In addition, the market demand for housing has been shifting in response to changing demographics. The emerging types of households are empty nesters, elderly singles and couples, single-parent families, students and young professional couples. The low-density detached housing in outlying suburbs may not be appropriate in location, size, type or cost for many of these groups. Many of them are turning to the housing stock of older neighbourhoods (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 1982, p.6). With the expansion of service sector employment in the urban core, some of the more affluent, white-collar workers who do not wish to commute daily from the suburbs are returning to the city. A marked reduction in affordable rental accommodation is evident. Very low rental vacancy rates in major cities indicate a demand for rental housing. However, few new multiple-family buildings now constructed are of the rental tenure. Competition for existing rental units is 18 applying upward pressure on rents, further complicating the rental housing problem. As demographics indicate, more and smaller households will need to find accommodation. Some of these groups (e.g. single-parent families) traditionally fall into the lower-income groups that need affordable rental housing. Evidence also shows that renters have, over the years, become a group with a generally low-income profile. 2.1.2. The Advantages of Intensification To alleviate the affordable housing shortage and meet the housing demand by emerging household types, intensification is actively being considered by planners and other housing officials. It offers a way of creating more alternative types of housing in existing neighbourhoods. A number of arguments have been advanced in favour of intensification as the concept is being promoted to neighbourhood residents. Benefits to the Community. There are a number of perceived benefits that may accrue to the community if intensification is encouraged. Some of the arguments are as follows: a. Efficient Use of Land and Services. Communities have made a substantial public investment in urban services such as water and sewer lines, roads, public transit, schools and libraries. In many areas, "...these [services] are not being used to capacity: a much larger population could be served with little or no increase in municipal expenditure or reduction in the quality of service" (Archer, 19 1982, p. 15). This more efficient utilization of infrastructure and public services would lower the per capita costs of services. There would also be less need to extend new servicing further into fringe areas if growth is focussed more on city neighbourhoods than in the suburbs (Thunder Bay, 1981, p.53). Greater Housing Opportunities. Different types of housing created in the community through infill, secondary suites, or redevelopment results in a wider selection of housing for the public and provides much-needed rental accommodation. In this era of high mobility, a stable community where a person is raised and can grow old is still valued by many people (Greater Vancouver Regional District, 1974, p. 11). A greater mix of housing types in a neighbourhood could enable elderly people to move out of their family homes without leaving their community. Young families and single persons would also be provided with housing opportunities in the city close to places of work. Maintain the Neighbourhood's Population Base. The increase in population through intensification would reduce the risk that a neighbourhood might decline or lose a viable population for community services, schools, recreational facilities and transit. In addition, neighbourhood commercial areas will also benefit from the larger population. A mix of families, single persons and seniors, and the increased purchasing power resulting from higher densities can attract new and varied retail outlets to the neighbourhood (Klein & Sears, 1983, v.7, p.3). 20 Benefits to Homeowners and Renters. Renters would benefit from the creation of new units within the exisiting housing stock as a result of conversion or the addition of suites. This would produce greater selection and a possible stock of more affordable housing. Greater diversity in a neighbourhood could also create more opportunities for renters to find suitable accommodation in a community they might not otherwise be able to live in (Verrips, 1983, p. 14). For homeowners, there are also benefits when an additional housing unit is created in their homes. In today's era of high house prices and high mortgage payments, renting a portion of the home is a source of income to offset payments. This may be an important consideration for the first-time homebuyer or young family trying to make ends meet. For an elderly homeowner, renting to one or two additional persons might provide them with companionship, assistance, and security. 2.2. REASONS FOR THE REJECTION OF INTENSIFICATION Despite the changing social and economic conditions and the various benefits to be derived, intensification has not gained wide acceptance or popularity. Given the advantages to a neighbourhood through the process of intensification, planners must consider at this point whether it is worth pursuing. Should planners advocate it or should they maintain the status quo? The reasons for the rejection of intensification can be roughly classified as theoretical and emotional. 21 2.2.1. Theoretical Rejection: The Violation of Principles Rejection of residential intensification on theoretical grounds is based on certain principles. Some people, for instance, are adamant about preserving single-family neighbourhoods and maintaining neighbourhood stability. Intensification is a sensitive matter in many single-family neighbourhoods because the residents fear that too many changes will occur and that the quality of life will therefore deteriorate. Much of the opposition to changes such as intensification in single-family neighbourhoods is likely to be expressed by single-family resident homeowners who have lived in the neighbourhood for some length of time. Established homeowners are committed to the "ideal" of the single-family neighbourhood in which nuclear families live in individual detached homes. The concept of single-family zoning itself originated in the nineteenth century and was based on the assumption that households of a certain socioeconomic level and family type had the desire to reside with people of similar background and status. A further rationale for exclusive single-family zoning was to promote and protect a family lifestyle and encourage homeownership. Single-family housing represents an arrangement of indoor and outdoor space especially suited for private family living. The promotion of exclusive single-family home districts through zoning is to create a "favourable" environment for this style of living and to encourage families with children to own their own homes (Gellen, 1985, p . l l l ) . The main problem with this rationale is that zoning has failed to recognize the changes that have taken place over time in family structure. The concept of 22 "family" has changed and can no longer be assumed to consist of mother, father and children. Today, lifestyle and economics have determined family structures that range from unmarried couples, to single parents and their children, to extended families which include grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all living with the primary household (Gellen, 1985, p. 123). A common view of single-family neighbourhoods is that they represent stable family environments. Consequently, changes to the structure or composition of single-family dwellings and their residents are perceived as altering the stability of and lowering the quality of life in a neighbourhood. Stability is a sensitive notion which differs from one person to another. However, it encompasses a very definite set of characteristics. Anthony Downs (1981), for instance, views neighbourhood stability as a very dynamic concept. He emphasizes that neighbourhood stability never means lack of movement, especially of population. Rather, it requires constant inflows of people with certain character and of investments in money or in-kind services. If such inflows do not occur but normal outflows continue, any area will gradualty lose population and sink into physical decay. In well-maintained neighbourhoods that remain stable for years, the balancing of outflows and inflows seems almost automatic. But the real estate market is simply performing successfully. Hence most residents do not even realize that stability is a dynamic condition until these flows are no longer in balance and the neighbourhood begins to change (Downs, 1981, p.26). Therefore, the key to a stable neighbourhood is a balance between inflows and outflows of people, money and materials so that the overall physical and economic characteristics do not change very much. 23 Rolf Goetze et al. (1977) share a similar view that the tenor of [a] neighbourhood — what people mean by declining, revitalizing, gentrifying, or stable ~ is set by the interplay between indigenous residents and newcomers, in particular, by the way they perceive each other's status. When vacancies are replenished by "more of the same households", likely younger but from the same roots, residents generally regard this as "normal" or "stable". However, as different lifestyles enter, even in very small numbers, reactions occur - and the more threatening this difference is perceived by the residents, the more extreme their reaction (Goetze et al., 1977, p.21). In a later book, Goetze goes as far as to suggest that public intervention by governments is a major cause of neighbourhood instability (Goetze, 1979, p.xv). Another rational argument that may be made against illegal secondary suites, which are a form of unplanned intensification, is that they violate the zoning provisions in single-family areas. Municipal officials are obligated to ensure that the Zoning By-Law and appropriate Building, Fire, and Safety Codes are upheld for the welfare of the citizens. By allowing illegal suites, officials are condoning a type of accommodation that is potentially hazardous as it is not inspected for building code compliance. Despite the apparent need for secondary suites, there is much pressure placed on local governments to close them (Pettit, 1988). A further rational argument made against homeowners with illegal suites is that they do not pay their fair share of taxes. The revenues may not be subject to income tax as the suite does not "officially exist." There are also concerns that homeowners with suites pay the same property tax rates as other homeowners while their tenants use the neighbourhood facilities and services. 24 Intensification, therefore, can be rejected for violating the principles behind single-family exclusive zoning or the preservation of neighbourhood stability in order to maintain a certain quality of life. By introducing more housing types that would serve a larger variety of household types within a neighbourhood, the balance is upset. 2.2.2. Emotional Rejection: The Fear of Unintended Consequences The theoretical reasons for rejecting intensification derive from a reasoned, logical view of the single-family neighbourhood and what it offers to the residents. At the opposite extreme is the rejection of intensification based on unclear arguments formulated more by neighbourhood paranoia and the threat of change than by a concern for the theoretical integrity of single-family zoning and neighbourhood stability. For many single-family homeowners, "...any change in zoning regulations provokes fear in both quality of life and finances. Accordingly, reasons will be found to oppose change that does not come with almost absolute assurance that it will be change for the better" (Hare et al., 1981, p.3). These are often strong feelings that are difficult for advocates of intensification to overcome. Emotional rejection is exemplified by the irrational nature of the objections by single-family homeowners to neighbourhood change. In 1980, the Tri-State Regional Planning Commission representing the states of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, conducted a survey of single-family homeowners on their opinions of conversion, or the addition of a suite to a home. When 25 asked how they located conversions, only 1 out of 186 respondents replied that increased cars and traffic indicated the location of houses that had been converted. Nevertheless, the second most frequent complaint reported against conversion in the survey was that they increased traffic. This apparent discrepancy indicates that homeowners who are anxious about accessory apartments will find reasons to oppose them even if they are not borne out by the facts. (Hare et al.,' 1981, p.3) Another common unfounded reason cited by homeowners for resisting change and the introduction of new housing types into their neighbourhoods is the perception that their property values will fall. Studies conducted in Ontario, however, show that this is not the case. In certain areas of Toronto where there were secondary suite conversions, data revealed that average property values in zones with accessory apartment conversions tended to increase by 1 percent after adjusting for overall housing price fluctuations. At the same time, average property values in zones without conversions actually decreased by 3.6 percent. (Graves and Dowler, 1987, p.32) Another finding of that study was that areas with conversions tended to have much higher volumes of sales activity. This could mean that many residents were "bailing out" and leaving the neighbourhood after conversions were introduced, or it could reflect increased economic vitality stimulated in part by the conversion of underutilized homes into accessory apartments. Researchers support the latter notion because selling prices in areas with conversions were relatively strong, which would not be the case in areas where people were anxious to move out. Also, a survey administered to residents in areas with secondary suites and areas without suites found that there was no difference in the perceived level of neighbourhood quality (Graves and Dowler, 1987, p.33). 26 Residents are usually anxious about the consequences of particular proposals and actions that will affect their neighbourhoods. Since residents can be quick to assume the worst, their fears of change may be compounded by a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of a proposal. For example, in Burnaby, a municipality within the Greater Vancouver area, attempts were made by municipal staff to introduce a strategy for "compaction", which would allow homeowners in certain zones to add a suite to their homes. Many neighbourhood residents, however, sensed that such a strategy could lead to overcrowding and a doubling of densities. The main intent of the proposal, though, was to enable additional housing to be created within the existing housing stock. Change would be gradual and the quality of the neighbourhoods would not be expected to deteriorate. Before staff had the opportunity to further explain the merits of the strategy, widespread neighbourhood opposition forced the abandonment of the plan. A similar form of neighbourhood reaction has been dubbed the "Not-In-My-Backyard", or "NIMBY", syndrome. Residents will accept the desirability of certain types of change such as expanding housing choice, but will resist any such initiatives in or near their own neighbourhoods. These fears often emerge in vocal opposition to local city councils. To defuse a controversial situation and maintain their popularity among the voting public, local politicians have little choice but to reject initiatives that evoke negative reactions. The NIMBY syndrome is, once again, based on a misconception of the impact of change. If all neighbourhoods had this attitude, it would be virtually impossible to promote any type of change in any area of the city. 27 Change such as intensification can therefore evoke strong emotions and sentiments about a traditional single-family neighbourhood. Studies show that some of the residents' fears such as parking problems or property devaluation do not necessarily occur. However, since residents cannot be certain that intensification will not disrupt their investments and way of life, it may seem more attractive to simply resist change. 2.2.3. The Disadvantages of Intensification Neighbourhood opposition to allowing the creation of more dwelling units within single-family neighbourhoods stems from perceptions of the change in neighbourhood stability. In neighbourhoods with established, long-time homeowners, there are several reasons for resistance to intensification: a. Increased traffic and parking problems. The major inconvenience associated with the increased number of residents in a neighbourhood is the increased competition for street parking and the greater volumes of traffic present on local streets (Klein & Sears, 1983, v.7, p.4). Although a legitimate concern, this cannot be solely attributed to the effects of intensification. There is no limit to the number of cars that a household may own. A single family may have several cars while tenants of suites, for instance, who might be single persons, students or elderly persons, may have fewer cars on average. b. Changes to the Quality of Life in a Neighbourhood. Neighbourhoods are often regarded as homogeneous in social status and housing type. If more choice is available in housing type, people of different 28 economic status or lifestyle may be attracted to the neighbourhood (District of North Vancouver, 1975, p.30). These types of visible changes are perceived by long-time homeowners as detrimental to the stability of the neighbourhood (Verrips, 1983, p.57) and resulting in a diminished quality of life. Stress on Existing Services. With more people living in a neighbourhood, there are concerns among residents that pressure will be exerted on local services such as schools or recreational facilities (Thunder Bay, 1981, p.58). Loss of Open Space. Another consequence of intensification is the loss of open space. As homes get larger or as more single-family homes are replaced by small-scale, multiple-family developments, more land is consumed by development or pavement to fulfill building and parking requirements. Drop in Property Values. Established residents in a neighbourhood fear that their property values will drop if their area is perceived to be unstable. However, some evidence shows that property values do not necessarily drop if intensification occurs. Loss of Privacy. Existing residents also fear that the influx of more people into their neighbourhoods will result in overcrowding and therefore, a loss of privacy. Physical Changes in Building Character. Intensification, at times, will involve the demolition of old buildings and replacement with new, small-scale, multi-family developments or larger single-family homes that can accommodate an additional household. Depending on the site 29 size and configuration, the new buildings may result in an intensity of land-use greater than what is typical in the area and a higher-density building form. Residents are fearful that such new development may not respect the form, character, and scale of their neighbourhood (Archer, 1982, p. 16). g. Inability to Resist Future Upzoning - Residents are fearful, too, that once they accept several new developments or the presence of more tenants, they will be unable to resist future rezonings that allow higher-density apartment and condominium complexes. 2.3. IMPLICATIONS TO PLANNERS Planners are faced with having to decide whether intensification is an initiative worth pursuing in their own municipalities. It is evident that a number of reasons exist for supporting or opposing intensification. In formulating recommendations, planners must consider the arguments presented by all sides, balance competing interests, and address the reality of what is happening to neighbourhoods. In Vancouver, the city is continuing to grow so that more housing will be needed, preferably in the city. With a lack of developable land, the planner's long-term view will undoubtedly have to focus on intensifying single-family neighbourhoods. There are advantages to intensifying, yet there is much resistance. From actions being taken in Ontario and B.C., which will be discussed further in forthcoming chapters, intensification is generally regarded as a desirable form of 30 change. Planners, however, should not assume that this is the case. They should study and evaluate their own local situations before arriving at their own conclusions. One difficulty of choosing a position on the issue of intensification is that it may be construed as a contradiction of planning principles. The concept of neighbourhood stability and attitudes towards change was studied in a Master's planning thesis written in 1985 by Robin Coote. Planners were interviewed about their views on stability and the roles that they could play. Coote found that the majority of planners share [the] belief that it is desirable to maintain stable neighbourhoods. Furthermore, ...there is a consensus that planners have a role in maintaining stable neighbourhoods....Consequently, it appears that planners see the maintenance of neighbourhood stability as within their capability and the confines of community planning. (Coote, 1985, pp.39-40) As planners feel that they should preserve neighbourhood stability, it is ironic that intensification should even be considered. Intensification can be viewed as a contradiction of a planner's goal to maintain stability. In Richard Sennett's book, The Uses of Disorder, he argues that there is benefit to promoting change and causing temporary instability within the community. He claims that present-day city planning is conformist and unwilling to risk change: It is rare that city planning... should even contemplate, much less encourage, the development of social situations that might lead to communal tension through the encouragement of human differences. Conflict is conceived as a threat to some "better", conflict-free city 31 life. And when conflict in the cities comes, no conception even exists among the professional planners as to how conflicts can be expressed fully without leading to violence (Sennett, 1970, p.97). Sennett argues that cities are still in an "adolescent" state if change is not allowed to occur. Through the experience of confusion, instability, and tension,' society will become exposed to more people and ideas. In this process, it is believed that society will become richer and more mature, and will progress to "adulthood" (Sennett, 1970, p. 108). Planners, therefore, will need to assess their own personal position as well as those that predominate in their communities. If change is deemed as necessary and inevitable, the problem for the planner will be to find a way of promoting change in an environment that rejects it. Under no circumstances must the planner assume that the type of change proposed for a neighbourhood is good for its residents. Instead, the planner must strive to reach an informed personal position, educate the public about an issue fully and honestly, and learn from the residents who perceive themselves to be affected. CHAPTER 3. INTENSIFICATION INITIATIVES: A LITERATURE REVIEW This chapter explores the literature related to intensification and highlights innovative ideas for implementation. "Intensification" is not a widely-used term. The literature search, therefore, focussed on the components of intensification such as secondary suites and infill housing. 3.1. PRIVATE SECTOR INITIATIVES Intensification that occurs in the form of infill, the addition of secondary suites, and redevelopment to higher densities, is mostly taking place through the private market. It is responding to housing demand that has resulted in recent years from the various factors that were discussed in the previous chapter. The merits of these forms of market activities have been documented in literature written by lobby groups for higher densities, real estate and builders' associations, private research agencies and government housing agencies. Infill and secondary suites are the two forms receiving much attention. Although these two types of development are different in nature, many of the constraints upon and opportunities for them are similar. 3.1.1. Types of Intensification Infill Housing. The image and perception of infill housing is shaped by the way that one defines it. There are several definitions of infill, representing a range of scale and meaning: 32 a. The Real Estate Research Corporation (RERC) defines infill as the process of developing "...vacant, skipped-over parcels of land in otherwise built-up areas" (RERC, 1982, p.l). It is seen as a method of preserving land while accommodating growth, and of protecting, enhancing, and revitalizing older neighbourhoods. b. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) regards infill as a renewal strategy and "...new housing development which adds to the stock of housing in mature residential neighbourhoods" (CMHC, 1982, p.2). Infill is also viewed as a design challenge because it must be innovative and offer enhanced livability in order to compete with other housing forms. c. At an Infill Housing Seminar held at the University of Winnipeg in 1982, a characteristic of infill housing that emerged from the sessions was that "...infill housing is found anywhere there is new construction and that new construction neither alters, neither detracts, nor adds to the infrastructure that is already there" (Institute of Urban Studies, 1982, p.2). d. Peter Barnard Associates, a group of private consultants for CMHC, coined the term "sensitive infill" for "...low rise development on small scale sites requiring little or no demolition of residential units and capable of being built by small builders. Such development conforms in all other respects with the existing scale and character of the neighbourhood" (Peter Barnard Associates, 1981, p.I-1). generalize, therefore, infill housing has the following characteristics: 34 a. no major visual impact or detriment to the neighbourhood; b. demolition of buildings kept to a minimum; c. placement on sites that were by-passed in the course of normal urban development; d. more intensive and efficient use of vacant land; and e. maintainence or enhancement of older neighbourhoods. Secondary Suites. A variety of terms are used by different communities to refer to the concept of secondary suites: accessory apartments, in-law apartments (because they are often built for elderly relatives), single-family conversions, companion units, bachelorette apartments, and kangaroo apartments. Each of these reflects the ancillary nature and relatively small size of these dwellings. A secondary suite is a separate suite of rooms in a single-family house used for occupancy by one or two persons. Its presence usually does not prevent the intended use of the primary unit as a single-family house (Gellen, 1985, p.5). There is much controversy with regard to secondary suites because they are often installed illegally in single-family dwellings. Homeowners without suites feel that those homes with suites violate the local single-family zoning by-law, which will usually not permit a separate household to live with the primary household. There is also resentment among homeowners without suites towards those with suites who are earning extra income which may not" be taxed. A drawback of illegal suites is that since their existence is not formally recognized by most single-family zoning ordinances, they are not subject to municipal regulations and building standards. Consequently, there are some seriously substandard suites. 35 Furthermore, the tenants of these suites are not protected by tenants' rights legislation since their living quarters are illegal and unregistered. Despite the risks of living in an illegally-created suite and attempts by homeowners without suites to outlaw them in their neighbourhoods, the number of illegal suites continues to grow. In the U.S., data from the 1980 Census [indicated] that between 1970 and 1980 there may have been as many as 2.5 million conversions of single-family houses to create accessory apartments. Although other estimates may be lower, it is evident that substantial numbers of people are benefiting from the creation of accessory apartments. (Hare et al., 1981, p.l) The proliferation of suites is widely regarded as a response to the economic realities of the day in which recent home purchasers need the extra income to meet mortgage and other household expenses, and in which tenants are being priced out of legal accommodation in the private rental housing market. A publication issued by the State of Connecticut Department on Aging had the following observation in defence of secondary suites: "A phenomenon which spreads almost entirely on the strength of private initiative must be meeting perceived needs; and accessory apartments can be seen as a rational response to the current housing market." (State of Connecticut Department on Aging, 1982) 3.1.2. Barriers to Intensification Activities Intensification activities have had to overcome much resistance in order to become a reality. Aside from neighbourhood opposition, constraints are also imposed upon the developer through local regulations. 36 Neighbourhood Opposition. This is the strongest barrier for advocates of intensification to overcome. Neighbourhood residents generally have an aversion to and fear of change for the reasons cited in the previous chapter. Therefore, "...new development may...be seen as a threat by the existing community which may be motivated to take political action to prevent further change" (Archer, 1982, p.15). Risks to the Developer. For the developer, the battles for innovation are long and hard. Even after managing to persuade local authorities to accept...new housing concepts, there is usually a strong protest raised by the local residents in the area of development. Political red-tape, [and] lack of flexible zoning by-laws ...make innovation difficult and costly. (Thompson et al., 1976, p.4) New housing through intensification, mostly in the form of infill or medium-density developments (in rezoned single-family areas), are risky propositions for a developer to undertake due to resident attitudes, the approval process, difficulties with development standards, a questionable market demand, and high costs (Peter Barnard Associates, 1981, p.III-15). Certain economic conditions must be favourable for a developer to embark on innovative projects. Regulatory Constraints. The process of intensification by infill, conversion, or redevelopment is generally a positive response to the changing needs and demands of an urban area. While "...it is appropriate to encourage this type of 37 change, ...it is also essential to ensure that the most critical physical aspects of change will be adequately controlled" (Klein & Sears, 1983, vol.7, p.4). However, the regulations are often cited by developers as major obstacles to higher-density housing production. Available lots for infill may be subject to constrained physical circumstances that make it difficult for the builder or designer to meet municipal standards (Archer, 1982, p. 17). The relaxation of certain standards may therefore be required. However, the rigid zoning by-law specifications require that any deviation needs to pass through a lengthy development permit approval process. The time and cost of waiting for the necessary approvals discourage developers from infill production (Peter Barnard Associates, 1981, p.III-16). Similarly, with rezoning for higher-density, multiple-family residential use, the process is a long and costly one for developers. Illegalitj' is the main regulatory barrier faced by proponents of secondary suites. To legalize them in single-family areas is a contradiction of single-family zoning, while ignoring them shrouds them in secrecy and resentment. However, some jurisdictions prefer to keep secondary units illegal, "...because self-policing succeeds in maintaining single-family neighbourhood character, without the bother of having to administer an ordinance created for the same purpose" (Verrips, 1983, p.40). 38 3.1.3. Suggested Strategies for Encouraging Intensification Activities Many authors have offered suggestions that may help remove the barriers to intensification. These strategies are aimed at increasing the opportunities for and encouraging more innovative types of housing in city neighbourhoods. For many of these suggestions to become viable, they must have the co-operation of the public sector. Remove Obstacles Created By Government. The form, location and cost of development such as infill or medium-density housing is affected by the regulations, standards and procedures adopted by municipalities (Thompson et al., 1976, p.34). More opportunities could be created for the private sector by streamlining the approval process so there would be less delays for the developer. There could be a comprehensive zoning review to improve the zoning balance (i.e. create more zones allowing multi-family uses). There could also be guidelines in place for new development and some degree of flexibility for certain standards and code requirements (Peter Barnard, 1981, p.III-17; and RERC, 1982, pp. 12-13). This has been suggested for secondary suites since many conversions cannot take place legally because the space to be used is not physically or economically capable of meeting building code requirements. Building code relaxations, however, would have to take place at a senior level of government since local jurisdictions cannot adopt less stringent standards (Verrips, 1983, p.94). One can also argue that if a dwelling unit or suite cannot conform to building code requirements, then it should not be permitted as the health and safety of the occupant is at risk. 39 Provide Financial Incentives. Governments could also have a role in providing incentives so that intensification activities are financially more attractive and feasible for prospective builders. These could include: a. the elimination of front end costs such as servicing costs, processing fees, impost and other fees; b. the upgrading and correction of infrastructure problems on infill sites so that developers will not have to bear those costs; c. land writedowns, in the case of infill or redevelopment, in which the city acquires land and sells it to developers at reduced prices; d. advantageous financing for builders of infill, or provision of government funds for the purpose of conversion or upgrading of a secondary suite; and e. tax incentives to encourage builders to experiment with innovative housing ideas (Verrips, 1983, pp.93-94; and Thompson et al., 1976, pp.79-80). Increase Land Availability. In the case of infill and redevelopment, efforts could be directed at promoting the development of vacant lands. Two possible approaches that could be used are: a. Taxing vacant land at higher rates. This approach would make it less profitable for landowners to hold and speculate on land. It would encourage the development of vacant land (Thompson et al., 1973, p.32). b. Land assembly. This could be undertaken by local governments as a means of sustaining a long-term rehabilitation and infill housing 40 program (Institute of Urban Studies, 1982, p. 11). Stimulate Developer Awareness. Generating awareness of opportunities is a step towards more activity in the field of intensification. In some U.S. cities, civic officials inform builders annually about shifting development trends, infill opportunities, changes to local legislation and regulations, and available incentives. Design competitions are also used to increase awareness among architects and builders of the development potential of infill or to launch "prototypical" ideas about creating more urban housing (RERC, 1982, p.43). Create Neighbourhood Support for Intensification. There is a public education challenge facing city officials to encourage greater acceptance of new housing forms in established neighbourhoods. Although this will take time, it can be facilitated through more direct dialogue between development interests and community residents. Infill proposals should also be reviewed carefully (but promptly) to identify potential problems before they meet neighbourhood opposition (RERC, 1982, p.62). 3.2. PUBLIC SECTOR INITIATIVES Given the range of ideas and suggestions offered by various authors, it is ultimately up to government officials to formulate policies and programs deemed appropriate to the needs of their communities. In Canada, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is undertaking research into alternative housing options. Recognizing the changes occurring in Canada's housing market and demographics, it is actively encouraging provincial and local governments to pursue ways of increasing the supply of housing. In a recent study entitled New  Made-to-Convert Housing, CMHC explores the potential for designing and building new residential units with the capability to accommodate a self-contained rental suite. A number of different housing types, representing suburban and downtown, detached and semi-detached housing, are illustrated to show the physical modifications and costs associated with conversion. The "...study clearly demonstrates that new 'made-to-convert' housing can be both physically and economically attractive" (CMHC, 1988c, p.l). As statistics indicate an ever-increasing number of older Canadians, CMHC is also addressing the housing needs of senior citizens. Forms of housing related to intensification such as accessory apartments or granny flats are being explored as future housing choices for seniors. CMHC is seeking methods of creating appropriate and affordable housing within the existing housing stock to accommodate those seniors who wish to remain in their neighbourhoods or retain the security of homeownership. However, it is recognized that for many innovative housing options, municipal regulations are acting as barriers to development (CMHC, 1988a,b). CMHC, through its studies, hopes to increase awareness of these otions so that provinces and municipalities will consider reviewing and amending local ordinances to meet the changing housing needs of the population. As the federal government's housing agency, CMHC is heavily involved in the research and promotion of new housing ideas. In order to realize these ideas, 42 however, new regulations must be implemented at the lower levels of government. From a review of the literature, it was determined that Ontario and California have well-documented accounts of public sector activities to produce more housing. Studying the experiences of other places, both in and out of Canada, can provide planners with insight into particular policy approaches and programs, and the problems encountered. Although the experiences of both places have been quite different, their initiatives may inspire planners to consider programs that could be adapted to their communities. 3.2.1. Ontario: A Search for Housing Alternatives In recent years, the province of Ontario has led the way in Canada in studying the phenomenon of intensification. ' High housing costs in Southern Ontario buoyed by employment growth and low vacancy rates have, like Vancouver, created a critical shortage of affordable housing. The provincial government, having recognized the economic and demographic changes, has embarked on an active consideration of intensification as a possible solution to housing problems. The Residential Intensification Study. In 1982, an extensive study on residential intensification and rental housing conservation was commissioned jointly by the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. Six consultants prepared twelve reports which examined the opportunities and constraints that exist for meeting future housing needs through intensification, and which examined major forces that could threaten the conservation of existing rental housing (Klein & Sears, 1983, vol.2, 43 p.v). The main reason for commissioning the study was that [the] Government of Ontario and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario are concerned about how these additional and somewhat different housing needs of the 80's and 90's will be met, particularly in light of the downturn in the construction of new private rental housing; the economic prospects for the 80's and 90's and the likely restraints on public expenditures related to new facilities and services and socially assisted housing; and the increasing difficulty of providing new housing through large scale redevelopment and/or a further expansion outwards of Ontario's urban fabric. (Klein & Sears, 1983, vol.2, p.v) The series of reports expresses support for intensification. Conversion and infill are considered as ways of providing additional rental stock in ground-oriented buildings rather than in towering, high-density apartment buildings. Ground-oriented housing is acknowledged as an important component of the total housing stock which is preferred by many people, especially families with children. Alternatives to highrise apartment buildings would offer a wider variety of unit size and designs which would suit a range of tenants. Greater numbers of infill and conversion units would also provide opportunities to access neighbourhoods which would otherwise be inaccessible to moderate-income households due to inappropriate unit size or prohibitive costs (Klein & Sears, 1983, vol.7, p.2). Secondary Suites in Ontario. In response to the consultants' findings, the Government of Ontario has recently introduced a Convert-to-Rent Program, which provides interest-free loans to homeowners who wish to create a secondary suite in their homes, or to groups which can convert vacant factories, schools, warehouses or other non-commercial properties into rental accommodation. 44 Individuals or groups are eligible to receive a $7,000 loan per unit to assist in the costs of conversion, interest-free for fifteen years. An additional $5,000 per unit is available if they are designed for access by people in wheelchairs (Ontario Ministry of Housing, 1987). Despite support at the provincial level for secondary suites, concern for illegal suites that do not conform to zoning and building codes is still prevalent in local jurisdictions. For instance, the City of Toronto has mounted a program to eradicate a particular form of illegal suite known as the "bachelorette". These are illegally-created, self-contained dwelling units that are usually small, one-room apartments in larger, older homes. More of this type of intensification took place in Toronto's South Parkdale neighbourhood than in any other City neighbourhood. Developed at the turn of the century, South Parkdale was an upper middle-class lakefront suburb west of downtown Toronto. Construction of the Gardiner Expressway in the 1950's cut off the lakefront from South Parkdale. Since that time, many of the older homes were acquired by developers who demolished them and built large apartment buildings. During the 1970's, an estimated 1,200 bachelorette apartments were created illegally in remaining large houses. The opportunities for families to live in the neighbourhood diminished as more and more single-person apartments were created. Pressure mounted to prosecute bachelorette owners and to stop the dramatic shifts in the make-up of the area's housing stock and population. (Young, 1987, p. 16) Toronto City Council responded in 1979 by creating the Bachelorette Clean-Up Team, which was given the task of inspecting buildings suspected of containing 45 bachelorettes. It had the power to lay charges against owners who violated zoning and building regulations. As of 1987, the cases against 65 of 120 suspected buildings remain unresolved, indicating a lengthy and long-term clean-up process. The Granny Flats Demonstration Project. In Canada, Ontario is the only province experimenting with granny flats, also known as "back-lot infill" in the 1983 study on intensification. Granny flats are temporary dwelling units that are placed in the backyard of a single-family house to be occupied by elderly relatives of the homeowner. The rationale for this concept is to allow elderly persons to remain close to their families, while retaining privacy and independence. Servicing hookups are made from the main house to the granny flat. When no longer needed, the flat may be removed or given to another household. Granny flats have been successfully pioneered in Australia, where there are some 4,500 government-owned, self-contained units for one or two people. The cost of the unit is borne by the government and recovered through rent, while the occupants would also cover the cost of their own utilities (Lilley, 1985, p.63). In Ontario, the granny flat demonstration project is sponsored by the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. There are eight granny flats being tested in three municipalities. As municipal zoning in most Canadian cities prohibit extra living quarters on a single-family lot, the experiment has produced a model temporary-use by-law to be implemented by local governments. The by-law would allow extra units on specific lots for renewable three-year time 46 periods. This, however, would necessitate a zoning change for every lot that wished to add a granny flat. Some problems that have been encountered include: a. Legality Concerns. The flats are intended only for elderly parents of the resident homeowner. There are concerns that limiting the flats to specific groups could be considered discriminatory and in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights. b. Questionable Popularity. In promoting the granny flat concept, the Ontario government found that the elderly were far less enthusiastic about the flats than the homeowners. The elderly equated granny flats to living "...in a dog kennel in [their] kid's back yard" (Vancouver Sun, August 15, 1985). Neighbourhood opposition is also an issue that must be dealt with as some neighbours may perceive an increase in density and a drop in their own property values. c. High Costs. The flats in Ontario turned out to be more expensive to build than anticipated due to modifications for Canada's harsh winter climate. The Ontario government would have to subsidize the program heavily in order to keep the flats affordable. 3.2.2. California: A Reaction Against Sprawl The San Francisco Bay Area in California has been experiencing rising housing prices due to a number of forces affecting the market, including strong employment growth, a greater number of people seeking housing in the area, 47 smaller households, and speculation. In fringe areas outside of the urban core where there is vacant land, the general direction of development has been low-density sprawl. However, suburban land conversion is no longer easy. Most of the easily developable land has been urbanized, and a new mood has emerged in the suburbs. There is growing awareness of the environmental impact of development. Continued suburban land conversion is now viewed as being undesirable. Efforts to limit residential growth are well organized and increasingly effective. And in a climate of mounting financial strain, most communities view new housing as a financial liability. (Dowall, 1984, p.20) A great concern is the loss of Bay Area farmland. A non-profit, citizen membership organization called People for Open Space (POS) strongly advocates the creation of a greenbelt around San Francisco to protect the remaining agricultural land. POS has published a number of background and technical reports outlining housing demand, market trends, and feasibility studies for higher-density housing. Its members are strongly in favour of compact housing and seek ways to promote compact growth in Bay Area communities. It has identified five main strategies which are regarded as practical and feasible for exploration at a public policy level. Hopefully, government officials would then be persuaded to respond to the reality of Bay Area housing needs. The strategies identified are: a. Use Vacant Land More Effectively b. Build More Housing Along Major Streets c. Bring Homes and People Downtown d. Add Second Units on Existing Homesites e. Recycle Lands No Longer Needed for Industry 48 (POS, 1983, pp.35-42) The need for a more intensive and efficient use of Bay Area land for housing has long been acknowledged by public officials. In the Residence Element of the Comprehensive Plan for San Francisco, which was prepared by the Planning staff in 1971, a Basic Housing Strategy outlined a five-year plan for creating more housing. The strategy would emphasize neighbourhood maintenance and rehabilitation. Among its recommendations was the encouragement of infill housing of appropriate scale and character. This could be achieved by the redirection of urban renewal funds from large-scale clearance to spot acquisition of vacant parcels for new small-scale development, the enactment of zoning changes to ensure neighbourhood compatibility, and the use of surplus or underused public land. Another major concern was also the preservation of low-and moderate-income housing, which was perceived to be diminishing in supply. The strategy outlined in the Residence Element was endorsed by the City Planning Commission in 1971 (S.F. City Planning Dept., 1973, p.24). The Mello Bill and Secondary Suites. Although the specific issue of secondary suites was not mentioned in the Residence Element in the early 1970's, it gained considerable attention by the 1980's. The first sign of legislative encouragement and endorsement came in 1981 when a bill, SB 1160, sponsored by Democratic Senator Henry Mello, was passed in the California State Legislature. The effect of the bill was to "...[liberalize] requirements for the construction of secondary units in existing single-family zones for units, totaling less than 640 square feet and intended for occupancy by individuals aged 60 or 49 over" (Verrips, 1983, p.42). This law was permissive (i.e. it did not require localities to allow secondary units) and provided for the approval of secondary units without local enabling ordinances. In 1981, the state legislature passed a second Mello bill, SB 1534, which outlined stronger measures to encourage secondary units. In passing the bill, the California State Legislature made the following comments: "The Legislature finds and declares that California's existing housing resources are vastly underutilized due in large part to changes in social patterns. The improved utilization of this state's existing housing resources offers an innovative and cost-effective solution to California's housing crisis" (Gellen, 1985, p. 133). SB 1534 is the enabling legislation which sets guidelines for local government regulation of secondary units in all residential zoning districts in California, including exclusive single-family districts. Under this law, a local jurisdiction cannot prohibit secondary unit conversions in single-family zones unless it can present sufficient evidence to show that conversions would endanger the public health, safety or welfare of residents in the community. If such evidence cannot be presented, Bill 1534 stipulates that a local jurisdiction must adopt zoning regulations and procedures for approving applications by property owners who wish to install secondary units in their homes. The legislation also includes a set of guidelines for secondarj' suite regulation that illustrates the most restrictive form for local ordinances permitted by the state. Cities could establish requirements that were less restrictive if they wished (Gellen, 1985, pp. 133-134). POS has reported that some local ordinances enacted under Bill 1534 have been 50 quite restrictive. They range from imposing excessive size and building restrictions, to permitting conversions on corner lots only, to limiting occupancy of suites by age or familial relationships. From the experiences of some eastern U.S. and California communities, POS has concluded that if the intention...is to encourage and facilitate some conversion activity as a means to relieve the critical shortage of affordable rental housing, many local second unit ordinances are not likely to work. Indeed, these local ordinances seem to be having a chilling effect on the production of legal secondary units. The many complex and cumbersome requirements imposed at the local level, in addition to existing planning and building requirements act as a disincentive to legal conversion. There may be a greater incentive to convert illegally, even in the absence of added requirements imposed on legal conversion. In the face of this low level of legal conversion activity, the objectives of promoting conversion must be carefully weighed against the values sought to be protected by secondary unit ordinance provisions. Stimulated by the acute rental housing demand and insufficient supply, ...secondary units will continue to be created, legally or illegally. But the production of significant numbers of decent, comfortable and safe units, requires effective legalization at the local level and will probably demand additional incentives as well. (Verrips, 1983, p.45) Inclusionary Zoning. The U.S. has also been pioneering the concept of inclusionary zoning and inclusionary housing programs. In contrast to exclusionary zoning, the concept is to ensure that housing for lower-income households is provided in the community. Although inclusionary zoning is not aimed at specifically encouraging intensification activities, its underlying principle may affect such policies. Inclusionary housing programs make development of lower-income housing an integral part of other development taking place in the community, by setting forth either mandatory conditions or voluntary objectives for the inclusion of low-and moderate-income housing in prospective market-rate development, 51 coupled with incentives designed to facilitate the achievement of these conditions and objectives. (Mallach, 1984, pp. 11-12) Inclusionary programs fall under two main categories: voluntary and mandatory inclusion. Under voluntary inclusion, the provision of low- and moderate-income units "...is a voluntary option, for which some incentive is offered by which a developer is free to accept or reject" (Mallach, 1984, p. 13). The types of incentives offered may include state and federal programs which subsidize the cost of constructing housing to meet the needs of targeted groups, and locally-administered incentives such as density bonuses, fee waivers, and fast track development application processing. In California, it was found that [no] planning official...was aware of a situation in which [voluntary] incentives were sufficient inducement to produce low- or moderate-cost housing in the absence of other programs and policies. Although a firm conclusion may be premature, it seems reasonable to regard incentives as a necessary accompaniment to...mandatory inclusionary programs. (Schwartz et al., 1981, p. 12) Under mandatory inclusionary programs, the burden is on the developer to provide affordable housing units, regardless of whether incentives or subsidies are available. Communities may simply mandate that for developments above a certain size, a specified percentage of housing units must be in an affordable price range. Developers whose proposals fail to meet the required percentage will be denied a development permit. In implementing mandatory programs, most communities provide some incentives used for voluntary programs (Schwartz et al., 1981, p.6). California has had considerable experience with inclusionary housing programs. 52 Of seventy-two separate programs identified in the U.S., thirty-eight were in California, or more than half of all inclusionary programs in the U.S. (Mallach, 1984, p. 197). Observers who have reviewed several California programs found that to be feasible and effective, inclusionary programs must possess the following factors: a. Local Government Commitment. This was identified as the most important factor as one program in Petaluma, which had poor support by Council, was judged to be a failure. b. Minimization of Builders' Profit Reduction. In places where the programs have been successful, the subsidies to affordable units and the profit reduction are small and therefore do not draw strong opposition from developers. c. Flexibility in the Number and Location of Units. In Orange County, the success of its program has been the flexibility of the program in allowing developers to cluster affordable units and to accumulate credits for providing more than the specified amount of affordable housing. d. Screening of Buyers and Resale Controls. These measures were judged to be essential in ensuring that the affordable units being produced were being rented or sold to low- and moderate-income groups. (Schwartz, et al., 1981, pp.39-41) Although inclusionary zoning does not specifically facilitate intensification, its underlying philosophy is important to planners who advocate intensification for the 53 purpose of creating more affordable housing. The central concept of inclusionary zoning is the legislation or means introduced to ensure that affordable housing is available in all areas of a city. Taken to the extreme, this principle, if embraced by civic officials and the public, would make a case for retaining secondary suites when they are deemed to be meeting a housing need. New developments could also be encouraged to set aside some of their units for affordable housing. There could theoretically be no more discrimination or exclusion of groups from any city neighbourhood on the basis of income. 3.3. IMPLICATIONS TO VANCOUVER This section has reviewed several types of intensification and a range of options that have been suggested or implemented. It is important for planners to be aware of different actions that could be used. However, it is also the responsibility of planners to understand the implications of their actions and to determine the methods that might work in their communities. Some of the programs and legislation enacted in other jurisdictions would not work in Vancouver because there are differences in development patterns, attitudes of government, and regulatory mechanisms. From private sector sources, it is apparent that government regulations are barriers to the construction of more innovative types of housing. Consequently, many of the suggestions offered to promote more intensified housing options would require the co-operation of various levels of government. Government action would include the relaxation of local zoning and building regulations as 54 well as provision of financial incentives to developers. The brief review of activities taking place in Ontario and California shows that the provincial and state governments are deeply involved. Much emphasis is placed on creating opportunities for individual homeowners or developers and investors to undertake intensification activities. The Ontario government acknowledged the likely restraints on public expenditures for socially-assisted housing throughout the 1980's and 1990's (Klein & Sears, 1983, vol.2, p.v). Intensification, if pursued, would create more housing units privately within the existing housing stock to reduce overall demand for social housing. With intensification, less expenditures would also be needed for extensions of infrastructure into new subdivisions. Therefore, the provincial agenda for favouring intensification is likely to be cost considerations as well as the concern for meeting housing needs. From the examples in Ontario and California, it is apparent that provincial or state participation is necessary to create a favourable climate in which to promote intensification. In B.C., financial incentives offered by the provincial government to facilitate conversions and infill are unlikely as revenues are directed towards other projects of greater priority than towards housing. The historical development of cities such as Toronto or San Francisco is also vastly different from Vancouver. The inner cities of Toronto and San Francisco are much older than Vancouver's and they have been developed in a much denser pattern. For a major city, Vancouver is unique in that it resembles a single-family suburb, with approximately 70% of the City's urban land area zoned 55 for single-family housing. In Toronto and San Francisco, there are more multi-family zoned neighbourhoods close to the downtown employment core which are characterized by attached, medium- or high-density housing. Hence, intensification activities in those cities are more likely to occur in suburban single-family districts. The pressures for intensifying in the urban single-family districts of Vancouver, therefore, are great as they are convenient to downtown workplaces and amenities. In the U.S., intensification is not a widely-considered issue. More attention on intensifying low-density, urban neighbourhoods has occurred in Canadian cities because they tend to be relatively more compact. The urban form of American cities is far more decentralized as a strong desire has been expressed by Americans for suburban and quasi-rural living' (Goldberg and Mercer, 1985, p. 147). American development, therefore, has seen the inner-city neighbourhoods of many major urban centres decline and become ghettoes for low-income households, minorities, the unemployed, and the homeless. Middle-income households fled to the suburban areas during the 1960's to 1970's, a phenomenon that occurred to a far lesser extent in Canada. As a result, Canadian inner-city neighbourhoods are much more livable and pleasant than many American counterparts. There is much more pressure to preserve and accommodate the housing demand in these areas. The review of literature in search of programs for intensification activities has presented a range of suggestions. The experiences of Ontario are difficult to evaluate as it is still too early to gauge the impact of the intensification study 56 and subsequent programs. Planners should, however, be aware of these activities in other places and the problems and successes that have been documented in their experiences. It must also be recognized that programs undertaken in other jurisdictions may not be readily adaptable to local situations due to different legal structures, and differing opinions and attitudes of the residents. Factors such as these must be taken into consideration in the formulation of locally-sensitive policies and programs. CHAPTER 4. PLANNED INTENSIFICATION: ATTEMPTS IN GREATER VANCOUVER There has been increasing pressure to intensify the low-density residential areas of the City of Vancouver as the population increases and as the costs of housing rise. Suburban areas, which are expected to contain large proportions of single-family dwellings, are also feeling similar pressures to intensify. Zoning, however, has not reflected the economic and demographic changes that are occurring in Greater Vancouver. The City of Vancouver and its surrounding municipalities offer the opportunity to study both intensification that has occurred naturally in lower-density neighbourhoods and as a result of direct planning initiatives. This chapter discusses planned intensification, which is the conscious effort by planners to manage growth and change by identifying areas deemed as suitable for higher-density development. Two types of planned intensification in Greater Vancouver are identified: (i) intensification as a response to externalities; and (ii) comprehensive intensification plans. 4.1. INTENSIFICATION AS A RESPONSE TO EXTERNALITIES Often, intensification may be planned in response to some non-residential use or amenity in a particular area. In Greater Vancouver, there are several examples that can be cited to illustrate this type of intensification. The Livable Region Plan proposed in the mid-1970's supports the creation of concentrated residential 57 58 and commercial centres in the suburbs. The Greater Vancouver Regional District's work with compact housing at that time was also an attempt at promoting awareness of options to single-family detached housing. The development of Fairview Slopes in Vancouver in the late-1970's through the 1980's is also a visible product of the planned intensification of an old residential neighbourhood. More recently with the alignment of the Advanced Light Rapid Transit (ALRT) route through single-family neighbourhoods in East Vancouver and Burnaby, planners are advocating higher-density residential development close to the stations. 4.1.1. Greater Vancouver Regional District Initiatives The Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) is a federation, or partnership, of the 15 municipalities and 3 electoral areas that comprise Greater Vancouver. Having been formed in 1967, its purpose is to provide region-wide services including water, regional hospital planning, pollution control, and management of non-profit housing. During the 1970's, there was a deep concern by GVRD and municipal planners and officials for the future livability of the region. Much research conducted by the GVRD at that time focussed on its Livable Region Plan and the exploration of different forms of compact housing. The Livable Region Plan. The Livable Region Plan (LRP) was proposed in 1975 in response to rapid regional growth and the prospect of the doubling of the region's population by the year 2000. The Plan addressed the need to manage and direct growth and set goals for the region for issues such as 59 pollution, transportation, and community services. A plan is needed due to the limited amount of land left in the region for urban expansion and the speculative pressures on this land which are driving up land values (GVRD, 1975, pp.8-9). The main thrust of the LRP was in creating regional town centres in the suburbs in order to decentralize population and jobs. These centres would include a number of employment, cultural, entertainment, and education facilities. To support such a town centre, the "...surrounding population must [also] be large enough to contain a diverse labour force and be a sound market for [the] ... facilities" (GVRD, 1975, p. 19). Intensification around these centres is therefore needed in order to create and maintain their viabilitj'. Outside of downtown Vancouver, two regional town centres which were given top priority for development were located in Burnaby and New Westminster. They are discussed to determine the extent to which residential intensification has occurred as a result of the LRP. Figure 1 shows their location along with other proposed regional town centres. B u r n a b y . Burnaby's Metrotown has, over the last several years, become the commercial focus of the municipality. It was first proposed in the late-1960's, prior to the Livable Region Plan. Municipal officials had planned for Metrotown to become the "downtown" of Burnaby. It has since fit conveniently into the LRP's scheme of regional town centres. Prior to new development, Metrotown and its surrounding areas have always been a district of commercial uses, light industries, and low-rise apartments. Source: Greater Vancouver R e g i o n a l D i s t r i c t P l a n n i n g Department, 1975. Figure 1: The Location of Regional Town Centres With the Metrotown core under construction, a lot of new development has taken place over the last four to five years. Metrotown's boundaries have been identified for planning purposes. It stretches from Boundary Road on the west to Royal Oak Avenue on the east and from Grange Street on the north to Imperial Street on the south. The 1987 population within these boundaries was approximately 17,500 people in 9,447 residential units. By 2001, it is projected that there will be a population of 27,000 in 15,200 residential units. The bulk of new residential construction has been in the form of high-rise buildings. Since 1979, 2,272 units in 61 high-rises have been added around Metrotown with another 600 units in the development approval stages. In contrast, only 500 units of new low-rise construction has been built since 1977 (Burnaby Planning Dept., 1988, p.6). The Burnaby Planning Department indicates that the defined boundaries of Metrotown will protect adjacent areas from immediate pressures to upzone to higher densitites. There has been very little speculation in the single-family zoned areas outside of Metrotown's boundaries. Only several rented properties are owned by developers who are holding the land in anticipation of future growth. There are, however, concerns about the many older, three-storey, walk-up apartments next to the Metrotown commercial core. They have always been a source of affordable rental housing. In recent years, two landlords have raised the rents in their buildings and planning staff fear that others will follow suit. In addition, there are also concerns that these apartments will eventually become replaced by luxury condominiums (Grieve, 1988). New Westminster. The City of New Westminster, adjacent to Burnaby, is another high priority regional town centre for the GVRD. It is already the second largest commercial centre in the Lower Mainland and has the potential for attracting additional social, cultural and economic facilities. Much of the new construction and redevelopment is concentrated in the downtown area close to the waterfront and along the shores of the Fraser River. The planning department in New Westminster feels that the establishment of the downtown area as a regional town centre has encouraged residential intensification 62 in the form of new neighbourhoods. New Westminster is fortunate in having a vast amount of vacant land formerly occupied by railyards and heavy industry. The B.C. Penetentiary was also recently closed and its large site is now being subdivided for residential uses. Planned residential development has, therefore, taken place on old industrial and institutional lands. The revitalization of the downtown core and promotion of the regional town centre has served as a catalyst for and facilitator of this new development (Scheving, 1988). The community plan for downtown New Westminster indicates that more than 500 new housing units have been built in the downtown and waterfront areas since 1978. Over the next twenty years, as many as 2,700 new housing units are projected for these areas (City of New Westminster, 1987, p. 7). The planners feel that with the capacity of the vacant lands for residential development, the developed single-family areas of New Westminster will be protected from pressures to upzone to higher densities for some time to come (Scheving, 1988). The Compact Housing Program. The GVRD, during the 1970's, was also interested in Finding housing alternatives that would house more people in less space. It was generally regarded that single-family housing is an inefficient user of land; usually so dispersed that it is inconvenient to stores, recreation and transit, and so expensive that it is becoming a luxury reserved for the comparatively rich or for those fortunate enough to own one already. At the other end of the scale, apartments can provide modern comfortable accommodation for some people but their small dwelling unit size...makes them far from ideal for a large proportion....In addition, apartments will remain inappropriate for young families with children....(GVRD, 1974, p.l) 63 The Compact Housing Program, therefore, was aimed at finding medium-density, ground-oriented forms of housing. The GVRD felt that "...to increase the residential densities at that stage when land is fully developed in high-density apartments and low-density single-family housing is next to impossible" (GVRD, 1974, p.6). The introduction of compact housing into the region was seen as a way of preserving vacant land in usable-sized pieces, and allowing more flexibilty to accommodate future growth. Among the forms of housing explored as compact housing were: clustered zero-lot line homes (where one side of a home is set on a lot line to allow for greater side yard space on the opposite side); duplex or semi-detached homes; four-plexes; townhouses; and garden apartments (usually four units with access from a common court). Several demonstration projects were built in various municipalities, including Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, North Vancouver, and Surrey. Additional goals of the Compact Housing Program were to promote good-quality design and home features, and to increase public awareness of the housing types (Burgess, 1976, p.3). From the GVRD's perspective, the Compact Housing Program succeeded in raising the profile of higher-density housing. While the projects were being planned in the different municipalities, new sets of development controls for compact housing were also created. The GVRD feels that more demonstration projects are not presently needed as developers, over the last decade, have become much more sophisticated and aware of compact housing possibilities. New opportunities for experimenting with intensification, however, are seen as emerging with the recent 64 concern for more diversified forms of seniors' housing in residential neighbourhoods (Kellas, 1988). 4.1.2. The Fairview Slopes Neighbourhood The neighbourhood known as Fairview Slopes is situated close to the south side of False Creek between the Cambie and Granville Street bridges (see Fig. 2). Its location is ideal: within walking distance of downtown; unobstructed views of the city skyline with a mountain backdrop; and proximity to public amenities such as False Creek and Granville Island. The area, however, was not always a desirable place in which to live. Fairview Slopes was first developed in the late 1800's as a modest, working-class neighbourhood, housing people who worked in the heavy industrial factories and sawmills at False Creek. Throughout the 1950's and 1960's, new zoning regulations permitted more commercial and light industrial uses in the area, thus replacing some of the older homes. The status of Fairview Slopes declined with the encroachment of these non-residential uses. Many of the remaining older homes deteriorated or became converted to rooming houses (Lum, 1984, p. 16). In the early 1970's, the south side of False Creek was being redeveloped from an industrial zone to a medium-density residential area. Granville Island was also transformed from an industrial area into a vibrant mix of markets, arts and crafts studios, hotels, restaurants, and live-act theatres. With the advent of these changes, impacts on nearby Fairview Slopes was inevitable. In 1976, a new zoning schedule which permitted medium-density housing was adopted for 65 fi u i 1300 ! 1200 1100 1000 , 1 • 3 - 700 I \ s 600 \ >> Source: Lum, 1984. Figure 2: The Location of the Fairview Slopes Neighbourhood 1C Fairview Slopes. Under this schedule, considerable discretion has been given to the Development Permit Board in approving development applications. Relaxations to the zoning by-laws could be granted to allow architects to design more innovative buildings that take better advantage of topography and location. Significant changes to the housing stock in Fairview Slopes resulted from the zoning changes. Between 1976 and 1981, the number of dwelling units increased by 54.6 66 percent, from 430 to 665....However, the proportion of rental units is declining as the majority of newly-constructed townhouses and apartments are owner-occupied units. Since the mid-1970's, the residential character of the Slopes has been changing from an area of single-detached houses into a medium density neighbourhood of townhouses and apartments. (Lum, 1984, p. 19) Population characteristics have also changed with the housing stock. Fairview Slopes has become an attractive alternative to single-family homes and high-rise apartments for many small, affluent households. The innovatively-designed buildings and proximity to amenities has attracted higher-status households and increased neighbourhood prestige. Fairview Slopes is an example of the effect that rezoning for higher densities can have on a lower-density area. In this case, the popularity of Fairview Slopes and the speed with which it became developed was also fuelled by positive externalities such as False Creek, Granville Island, views, and convenience to downtown. The conscious effort by City officials to rezone for a new type of development has created a market opportunity that developers and buyers have seized with enthusiasm. 4.1.3. A L R T Stat ion A r e a P l a n n i n g In the early 1980's, Advanced Light Rapid Transit was constructed in Vancouver linking the downtown to New Westminster. ALRT was introduced to relieve commuting pressures on local highways and arterials. It represents an 67 opportunity to "...help solve Vancouver's transportation and growth problems by increasing the accessibility of the neighbourhoods around the stations to the downtown employment core" (Nanaimo/29th Avenue, 1987, p.5). A segment of ALRT runs through working-class neighbourhoods on the east side of Vancouver. Four stations are located in primarily single-family residential neighbourhoods. To accentuate the impact of rapid transit, the guideway for the vehicles is elevated in many areas, posing additional visual and noise problems for nearby residents. V a n c o u v e r . Recognizing the dramatic effects that ALRT could have on future development, station area plans were developed for sites around stations and along the guideway. The primary aims for developing the plans were to identify ways of mitigating ALRT's negative impacts and enhancing its opportunities. Neighbourhood residents were invited to numerous public information meetings and invited to join planning advisory committees created for each station area. The advisory committees worked with the guidance of planning staff to address specific local concerns. Periodic progress reports were presented to the rest of the community in order to gain feedback. The plans for all four stations emphasize the desirability of higher-density housing near the stations or adjacent to the guideway. The goals of the plans are clearly oriented towards residential intensification: Joyce Station Area Plan: "To recognize unique opportunities arising from ALRT to allow development of alternative forms of housing, and to encourage additional, affordable housing to suit a diversified and enlarged 68 population." (Joyce, 1987, p.43) Nanaimo/29th Avenue Station Areas Plan: "To encourage new medium density residential development on sites near the stations, providing more housing for families and potential ALRT riders." (Nanaimo/29th Avenue, 1987, p.25) Broadway Station Area Plan: "To encourage more intensive residential development within walking distance of the Broadway Station to attract peak period transit riders." (Broadway, 1987, p.27) The rationale for focussing new housing around station areas is to decrease dependence on cars, build transit ridership, and concentrate development at nodes. As part of the station area plans, specific sites that offered development opportunities were identified. For example, 18 sites near the Nanaimo and 29th Avenue stations (shown in Figure 3) were identified as having redevelopment potential. The accompanying zoning map (Figure 4) shows that the majority of the land in this planning area is zoned RS-1 (single-family dwellings). The station area plan recommends that 12 of these 18 sites be rezoned to permit multiple-family development. The massing sketches that accompany the discussion about specific properties (see Figs. 5a and 5b) illustrate the type of development being sought for these sites. Intensification around station areas is also meant to mitigate some of the problems created by ALRT. Existing housing is unable to shield itself, from the 69 j 1 • i Boundary of Study Source: Nanaimo/29th Ave. Station Areas Planning Advisory Committee, 1987. Figure 3: Development Opportunities around the Nanaimo/29th Ave. Stations 70 B C - 2 - J \ 1 CD-I Comprehensive Development M-2 industrial Source: Nanaimo/29th Ave. Station Areas Planning Advisory Committee, 1987. Figure 4: Present Zoning around the Nanaimo/29th Ave. Stations 71 Source: Nanaimo/29th Ave. S t a t i o n Areas P l a n n i n g A d v i s o r y Committee, 1987. 72 negative visual impact of the guideway, noise impacts and overlook problems. New housing, however, can be designed so that residents can be insulated from noise and loss of privacy. Higher-density housing is also seen as a buffer between the guideway and existing RS-1 areas further away (Joyce, 1987, p.42). Planners want to ensure that changing "...land-uses and densification in station areas shall generally not be allowed on an ad hoc basis and shall occur primarily through implementation of Station Area Plans and related rezonings" (Nanaimo/29th Avenue, 1987, p. 10). To date, a number of RS-1 sites around the Joyce, Nanaimo, and 29th Avenue stations have been rezoned to CD-I (comprehensive development) to allow for the approval of new housing and other appropriate uses at the discretion of the planning department. It is hoped that as many as 3,500 new housing units will be created near Vancouver ALRT stations (Winsor, 1988). B u r n a b y . Planning staff at Burnaby have also drafted area plans for two of the four stations in the municipality. Like Vancouver, the proposals include the rezoning of underutilized, light industrial lands and selected single-family properties to allow high-rises or medium-density townhouses. The planners indicate that aside from the occasional individual complaint, the plans have generally been well-received by the public (Grieve, 1988). It is still too early to assess the impacts of the station area plans in both Vancouver and Burnaby. The plans, however, represent clear examples of planned intensification that directs change in a certain pattern agreed upon by 73 the neighbourhood residents themselves. What still remains to be seen is whether developers can deliver well-designed projects, whether people will want to live in those units, and whether the anticipated spin-off effects from intensification occur. 4.2. COMPREHENSIVE INTENSIFICATION PLANS Another type of planned intensification is one that takes a more comprehensive view towards increasing densities in many areas of the city. Rather than identifying precise nodes or sites for higher densities, intensification is presented as a policy goal. Plans are illustrated in a more abstract form to express a desired vision for the city. Both Burnaby and Vancouver City have tried this form of planned intensification with little success. 4.2.1. The Burnaby Compaction Plan During the early 1980's, the municipality of Burnaby, which is adjacent to the City of Vancouver, undertook a comprehensive planning exercise called the Residential Neighbourhood Environment Study (commonly referred to as the "Compaction Plan"). Its overall aim was to promote the development of more compact housing and the intensification of the existing housing stock, as well as find ways to preserve and enhance existing neighbourhoods. The study was also initiated to address changes occurring in Burnaby's neighbourhoods. Pressures stemming from the demand for more ground oriented housing units, the diminishing supply of residential land, the location of the Municipality in the region and the underutilization of the 74 existing service infrastructure are beginning to change the nature of neighbourhoods....In addition, there have been demographic and lifestyle changes such that the families living in Burnaby's neighbourhoods today are quite different from those of 20 to 30 years ago....In general, families . are smaller, with fewer children and are more mobile. On the other hand, the housing and built environment in many of Burnaby's neighbourhoods is over 30 years old. It was built for households with another lifestyle and remains relatively unchanged to this day. (Burnaby Planning Dept., 1984, pp. 1-1 to 1-2) As part of the Compaction Plan, Burnaby's neigbourhoods were classified into neighbourhood environment categories which reflected zoning and density. Three categories represent Burnaby's lower-density residential neighbourhoods: suburban low-density, suburban medium-density, and urban medium-density. The Compaction Plan focussed on these areas in order to identify opportunities and potential for accommodating more housing and people. Multiple-family housing areas were not affected by any proposals in the study. Table 6 illustrates the lower-density neighbourhood environment classifications, the existing zoning categories, the new proposed zoning categories, and brief descriptions. Most of the new zoning categories created enable new opportunities at urban medium densities. The types of development that the new zoning is meant to encourage are as follows: a. Small lot development in single and two-family areas (R4A and R5A); b. Small lot development in single and two-family areas, fourplex conversions and small infill development (R4B and R5B); and c. Mix of housing opportunities in single and two-family areas tailored to Table 6: Neighbourhood Environment Classifications Proposed for Burnaby Zoning Category Sits Den-Slty-Eat i -mate U.P.A H 0 U S 1 N G OPTIONS Sngl. Del. Conversion Internal Suite Sngl. Del . Conversion Internal External Suite Conver-sion to 1riplex /4 plex Neighbourhood Environment Classification exis-ting Prop-osed Description Single Detached Semi Detached Duplex Smal 1 J - 8 Unit In-Fi l l Over 8 Unit ln-ril 1 Suburban Low Denaity Rl N1 <>.•> Single family targe lot • R2 R2 6 Single Family Standard lot • R J R J 7 Single family Average lot • Suburban Medium Denait y R9 R9 11 New subdivision Smal 1 lot R4 R9 R"> R4 R9 R*> 10 12 Site specific Smal 1 lot • • R2A 7-9 Single family with eulte, atandard lut • • RJA 8-10 Single family with aulie, average lot • • R4 R4 6-10 Single and two family Standard lot • • • • • Rb R"> 7-12 Single 1 two family, some diversity in hous-ing age type & lot site • • • • • RB R8 4. V 12 Site specific Croup Ixiuei'tg • • Urban Medium Density R4A 10-12 Single 6 two family Small lot, • • • • • RiA 12-14 Single 6 I wu fsml1r Small lot • • • • R4B 10-12 Single 4 t wo fami1y Smal1 lot , ln-r il1 • • • • • • • R->H I2-1S Single A twu family Small lot, I n f i l l • • e> • • • • R*>C 10- 16 . Single & two family Ml. of housing t ypea Average lot , ln-f i11 • • • • • • • • R6 R6 13- 17 Site specific Ruw ttunsing • • Source: Burnaby Planning Department, 1984. 76 its location (R5C). This category is meant to be used to create transitional areas on the periphery of commercial and higher density residential areas. (Burnaby Planning Dept., 1984, p.7-23) The new zoning categories of R2A and R3A created for suburban medium density neighbourhoods would allow single-family detached homes to have a secondary suite. The creation of these suites would involve no external expansion or additions so that the single-family appearance of the area in which they are located would be maintained. Furthermore, the registered owner of the property would have to live in the home to qualify to have a legal suite. Only homes built prior to 1984 would qualify for suite conversion in order "...to avoid the problem of people using this conversion regulation to create new duplexes" (Burnaby Planning Dept., 1984, p.7-19). As an overall planning approach, the Compaction Plan states that in order to plan under...uncertain and often changing circumstances, a sensitive and incremental approach is essential. The approach should be sensitive to the unique qualities and conditions which exist in each neighbourhood....The approach should be incremental to allow neighbourhoods and their residents the opportunity to grow and adjust to proposed changes....Using [this] approach, compaction can be viewed as natural neighbourhood evolution in appropriate areas. (Burnaby Planning Dept., 1984, pp. 1-2 to 1-3) Figure 6 shows the land-use patterns in Burnaby before compaction and Figure 7 shows the residential land-uses proposed under the Compaction Plan. Figure 8 further illustrates how the concept of Figure 7 is translated into the different neighbourhood environment and density classifications. The plan shows that many of the low-density residential areas in North Burnaby along Hastings Street 77 Source: Burnaby P l a n n i n g Department, 1984. Figure 6: Existing Land-Use in Burnaby 78 Town C e n t r e s M u l t i - f a m i l y / Commercial C e n t r e s Urban Neighbourhood Areas / / / / Suburban Neighbourhood /< < < \ Areas Source: Burnaby P l a n n i n g Department, 1984. Figure 7: Proposed Land-Use Concept for Burnaby v H L E T NORTH ( ] Town Centres A Group Housing Areas 88888 ^ban Med. Density ^ v ^ s Suburban Med. Density Suburban Low Density -j-r Rural Small Holdings *• ' 1 ALRT Line & Stations & ALRT Study Areas Source: Burnaby P l a n n i n g Department, 1984. Figure 8: Proposed Area Designations for Burnaby 80 and in South Burnaby along the Kingsway corridor are designated for the potential of achieving suburban and urban medium density development. When the plan was unveiled to the general public in June 1984, reaction was not favourable. Vocal opposition to compaction was heard at a series of public meetings held throughout the summer months. People voiced varying concerns: "the new 'compaction zone' will destroy the municipality's single-family neighbourhoods"; "where are the limits to growth in this thing?"; "you call this 'residential compaction and neighbourhood preservation' I call it residential crushing and neighbourhood destruction"; "residents have a 'feeling of tremendous lack of control'". (The  Vancouver Sun, June 25,1984) By August of 1984, Burnaby Council decided to abandon the Compaction Plan in light of excessive objection and receipt of a 4,000-name petition against the plan. The reaction to the Compaction Plan illustrates emotional rejection of planned intensification. The "feeling of...lack of control" places residents in defence of their neighbourhoods. No change is welcomed if residents perceive a deterioration in neighbourhood character. The presentation of the Compaction Plan, however, may not have conveyed the impression that change would occur incrementally. The study shows the concept plan at the end of the long-term without much reference to how the changes would be phased. People were afraid that densities would suddenty double overnight in their neighbourhoods while this was 81 not the intent. The comprehensiveness of the Compaction Plan was also a source of criticism because it left very few single-family neighbourhoods untouched. The plan was intended to be carried forward with receptive neighbourhoods over a longer period of time. Design guidelines were even prepared in draft form. However, neighbourhood reaction to the plan was so intense^ negative that it was not even given a chance to be implemented in part (Elligott, 1987). Although the Compaction Plan was abandoned, the present planners at Burnaby feel that it has not been forgotten by the public. Even now, any new proposals for the Official Community Plan or the Zoning By-Law that relate to housing are viewed with skepticism by the public at information meetings. It is felt that this suspicion among the public towards muncipal officials has hampered their efforts with other housing matters (Grieve, 1988). 4.2.2. The Vancouver Plan In the early 1980's, the City of Vancouver drafted the Coreplan, which outlined the broad directions and general actions required to deal with growth and change. The City felt that despite the intentions of the Livable Region Plan, not enough jobs and employment growth had been diverted to the suburban town centres. The bulk of regional growth was still occurring in Vancouver City. Coreplan was consequently used to identify policies to address the effects of employment growth on housing, transportation and other urban issues. In 1985, Coreplan was renamed The Vancouver Plan (City of Vancouver, 1986c, p.l). 82 One strategy recommended by the early Coreplan is to increase housing potential in the city. The plan recognizes that this involves a good deal of optimism about what can be accomplished under existing zoning. It involves pushing the status quo to its limits. Only the opening up of new areas for housing and of increasing densities in existing residential areas offer some realistic possibilities for accommodating significant increases in resident labour force....(City of Vancouver, 1983, p.37) Coreplan was received by City Council just as the general economy was heading into a recession. With high unemployment and vacant office buildings, there was no particular political interest in finding new sites for additional housing in the city. Coreplan, however, did result in three separate studies which were published soon after the program was renamed to the Vancouver Plan (McAfee, 1989). The first study was to define a set of criteria which could be used to locate potential areas for adding more housing. Some of the concerns that the planning department wanted to address were: (1) the costs of change; (2) the demolition of existing housing resulting in decreasing net additions to the city's housing stock; (3) community disruption caused by changes in zoning; and (4) the mismatch between housing stock and future housing needs. In response to these concerns, the criteria for determining the location of additional housing potential include areas: a. with surplus physical and social services, thereby minimizing the need for new investment in infrastructure; b. which are close to employment, shops or transit, thus minimizing the need for transportation investment; 83 c. which minimize demolitions and maximize net unit yield; d. where the existing community is receptive to change; e. where gradual intensification through conversions and infill can be phased to respond to the changing needs of area residents; and f. where it is possible to build multiple-housing near non-residential uses. (City of Vancouver, 1985, pp.4-6) A second study initiated under Coreplan was to determine the opinion of neighbours around several higher-density developments built in Vancouver's single-family areas. The planning department wanted to find out how the developments were perceived by their neighbours, whether pre-construction fears were realized, and whether the neighbourhood consultation process had been adequate. Six multiple-family projects were selected in various single-family neighbourhoods. Their immediate neighbours were interviewed in addition to a sampling of residents living from one to several blocks away. The impacts on the neighbours were probed through questions on design, landscaping, maintenance, privacy, parking, views, traffic, noise, people and property values. The stud;/, entitled New Neighbours, found that "...among adjacent residents, who lived in the area prior to the new development, the resentment generated by the proposal for redevelopment does not die down with the passage of time" (City of Vancouver, 1986b, p. 14). However, people living further away, who had pre-construction concerns, now report that the project has little or no effect on them. Additional findings were a lack of social contact between residents of the project and the neighbours, and no evidence that property values were being 84 negatively affected by a new project. The third study resulting from Coreplan was the development of a computer fiscal impact model. This enables the City to study the effect that projects of different densities would have on City revenues and expenditures. As basic input, the model requires key attributes of a proposed housing development such as location, size, density and population mix. Several test cases were run to obtain a better understanding of the way in which the four characteristics affect the overall fiscal impact of a development. The output indicates that new housing developments will often generate favourable fiscal impacts. The magnitude of these impacts, however, are sensitive to location, size, density and mix. The model, therefore, can be a useful planning tool in helping to identify those projects that would generate the most favourable impacts. By encouraging those types of development, the City may be able to realize significant savings in expenditure (City of Vancouver, 1986a, pp. 1-10). The Vancouver Plan, which is the Coreplan's new name, recommends the gradual intensification of densities in the city to provide more housing opportunities. Among the strategies considered were the addition of small-scale, scattered-site infill in single-family areas, the permission of conversions and the redevelopment of existing residential land to higher densities. The results of the work from Coreplan were to have been used for further studies to identify more specific sites appropriate for higher densities. The City of Vancouver Planning Department has not actively pursued many of the initiatives proposed in the Vancouver Plan Housing Program. Planners indicate a lack of support by City 85 Council, which has declared its intent to preserve and protect existing neighbourhoods. As the Plan recommends actions which might threaten single-family neighbourhoods, it has not been a priority for City Council. Although planners are disappointed at the lack of Council interest, the Vancouver Plan Housing Program will be re-introduced to Council with a shift in focus. Pacific Place on the north shore of False Creek, Coal Harbour, and declining industrial lands will be central subjects in future discussions about housing density. As these areas are currently vacant and slated for development, intensification will be considered in the form of new neighbourhoods. The Vancouver Plan also did not address the aging of the population. The re-introduction of the Vancouver Plan Housing Program will provide an opportunity for Council and the Planning Department to consider the future need for new housing alternatives for senior citizens (Winsor, 1988; McAfee, 1989). 4.3. OBSERVATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS The few examples that have been cited show that planners at the municipal and regional level are in favour of intensification and have attempted to promote it. It also appears that encouraging higher densities as a response to some external factor is more acceptable to the public and politicians than the comprehensive intensification plans which recommend general changes affecting many areas of a municipal^'. Intensification, therefore, has mostly resulted from the rezoning of underutilized lands or declining areas to allow for higher densities. Developers are in favour of this as market opportunities are" created for them. 86 Planners are wary of the fact that there are differences between supporting the principle and supporting the practice. The public seems to agree with the need for more housing opportunities within the city. However, support for rezonings to allow for higher densities are often opposed by neighbourhood residents (Winsor, 1988). This further illustrates the NIMBY-syndrome discussed earlier in Chapter 2. Neither of the comprehensive planning exercises carried out in Burnaby and Vancouver were highly successful. Neither generated enough political and public support to be implemented satisfactorily. Both plans attempted to recommend widespread changes that were perceived by residents as threats to the single-family nature and quality of their neighbourhoods. Politicians, therefore, are sensitive to the public's receptiveness of intensification. Despite planning efforts to direct politicians towards the consideration of higher densities in developed neighbourhoods, city councils will generally not endorse policies that may result in a period of change and adaptation. The Burnaby Compaction Plan, especially, illustrates the intense public opposition which will lead to the political rejection of an idea. CHAPTER 5. UNPLANNED INTENSIFICATION: THE OCCURRENCE IN GREATER VANCOUVER While planners identify specific areas suitable for more housing or direct development along certain paths, intensification is also occurring natural ly in low-density areas, free from any planning influences. Unplanned intensification is a product of market forces and is usual ly undertaken by individuals (e.g. homeowners) or small-scale interests rather than the major companies associated wi th the large-scale, residential development of planned intensification. This chapter discusses unplanned intensification and its impact on single-family residential zones. In recent years, much redevelopment has been occurring in the single-family neighbourhoods of Vancouver . In many areas, the new buildings being constructed are of a much different character and scale than their older, original neighbours. Two forms of unplanned intensification are considered here: (1) the more intensive use of a ci ty lot; and (2) the increase in single-family neighbourhood population density. Both of these subjects are evoking strong reactions from established neighbourhood residents who struggle to come to terms wi th unplanned intensification. 5.1. INCREASES IN BUILDING SITE COVERAGE Approximate ly 70 percent of the Ci ty of Vancouver is zoned for single-family residential uses. Aside from the spot-zoning of smal l areas at the fringe, there 87 88 has been no fundamental change to the size of the single-family zone. The existing housing stock varies in different areas from older, three-storey, wood-frame houses in the inner-city to bungalows and ranch-style houses throughout most of the City. Land in Vancouver is primarily single-family lots each with a single-family detached home. Most older houses, which do not cover a large proportion of their lots, have considerable front, side and rear yard space. Hence, Vancouver is a very "suburban" city in appearance. 5.1.1. Types The streetscapes of single-family neighbourhoods in Vancouver, however, are changing. With high land values, sites are being used more intensively for housing purposes. The consequences are larger homes, less open space, and the potential for housing more people than before. Two types of housing ' that have emerged in single-family areas over the last decade, thin houses (narrow-lot infill) and large houses (known as "monster houses" to neighbourhood opponents), are examined as they represent ways in which intensification can occur. Thin Houses. City lots in. single-family neighbourhoods are typically 33, 40, 50 or 60 feet wide. Early in Vancouver's history, however, narrow lots ranging from about 13 to 24 feet wide resulted from the creation of half-lots. These were sold to adjacent homeowners who wanted to enlarge their own normal-sized lots. Many were simply used as gardens. Since the mid-1960's, rising land-values have encouraged homeowners to either develop these narrow lots or sell them to owners who would. Development on these lots would usually take 89 Figure 9: A Recently-Built Thin House in Vancouver the form of a tall house around 13 feet wide as shown in Figure 9 (Winsor, 1982, p.76). These thin houses are not a widespread occurrence, but they are examples of intensification because they add an extra dwelling unit to the neighbourhood and consequently, more residents. There are 485 narrow lots in single-family neighbourhoods with concentrations on the west side of the city. Three-quarters of these lots are already occupied by a house that also sits on an adjacent lot. Of the remaining vacant lots, most are being used as gardens by owners who 90 also happen to live in an adjacent home. About twenty vacant narrow lots do not belong to residents of the neighbourhood. These have the highest potential for becoming developed with a thin house (Winsor, 1982, p.76). Large Houses. At the opposite end of the spectrum of size and bulk, large houses are currently much more prevalent issues in the single-family neighbourhoods of Vancouver. Most of the original housing stock in Vancouver was built far below the maximum allowable sizes specified in the Zoning By-Law. In many neighbourhoods, original homes are being demolished and replaced by new ones (Figure 10). However, the high land values in Vancouver have made it attractive to try and maximize profits. Builders are getting the most for their money by constructing as large a house as the Zoning By-Law will allow. It is debatable whether or not an excessively-large house (in comparison with its neighbours) is really a form of intensification. There is no doubt, however, that large houses are a more intensive use of a city lot. Aside from changing the appearance of a street, large houses have the capacity to accommodate more people. The problem of large houses is inextricably linked to the secondary suite issue, which will be discussed in greater detail later in this chapter. A recent review of new and large houses in Vancouver found that 60 percent of all new houses and 90 percent of houses over 3,500 square feet were...designed for conversion to multiple accommodation, and that the size of households was larger than in smaller homes. (City of New Westminster, 1988, p.41) It is for these reasons that large houses are examined in the context of intensification. Figure 10: Examples of Large Houses in Vancouver 92 5.1.2. Neighbourhood Concerns Many reasons exist for people to either condemn or support the thin and large houses that are being built. The arguments are quite similar despite the very different forms of the houses. Most of the objections relate to issues of neighbourliness. Thin Houses. The issue of thin houses was much more prevalent in the late 1970's to early 1980's than it is at present. Several cases became local news due to the furore surrounding them. One of the more bitter and longest-running sagas involved a thin house on the 4400-block West 14th Avenue in the Point Grey neighbourhood of Vancouver. The owner of the narrow lot, who is an architect, tried three times in 1980, 1983, and 1984 to obtain permission to build his 12 1/2-foot, two-storey house on a 16-foot wide lot. He was also the owner of one of the adjacent properties and did not wish to demolish or make an addition to the existing house. Each time plans were submitted, a development permit was issued by the Director of Planning because the house conformed to all building and zoning guidelines. Each time, however, resident neighbours appealed to the Board of Variance to have the decision of the Director overturned. The main concerns that residents had about the thin house are summarized in their various submissions to the Board of Variance: a. Not in keeping with the character of the neighbourhood and would devalue adjacent properties; 93 b. Spoils the character of the streetscape; c. Would significantly increase the housing density in the area; d. Extra required parking would aggravate an existing severe parking problem; e. Narrow sideyards and height restricts view, light and access for the adjoining houses and would affect their established amenities and would create a fire hazard: f. Townhouse character is incompatible with houses in the area. Proposal will be conspicuous in a neighbourhood of older homes. (Board of Variance minutes, 1980, 1983, 1984) Despite the negative reactions to the thin house, the owner-architect's argument for allowing the house to be built consisted of the following: a. House would be lower than the adjacent houses and consequently, the neighbours' views would not be obstructed; b. Floor space ratio was reduced from 0.6 to 0.45; c. Space of 6.8 and 9 feet were provided between adjoining houses; d. House would not be a fire hazard because it was designed without eaves; e. No statistical evidence that the value of neighbouring properties would be lowered by a thin house; f. Project would provide an additional house, which is critically needed in the City. (City of Vancouver Board of Variance minutes, 1980, 1983, 1984) 94 The owner views the thin house as ideal for families with two working parents: "It has the convenience of compact living at the same time it's suburbia with your own little bit of dirt" (Vancouver Sun, Feb.7, 1983). Neighbours, however, do not agree. Some of their comments are as follows: "We want to keep our neighbourhood the way it is. This thin house is in a very old conservative neighbourhood. It is totally out of context." (The Province, Feb.7, 1983) "Even if...a thin house [was built] underground with a lawn over it, it would still be objectionable from my point of view because it would add to the population density." (Vancouver Sun, Jan. 12, 1984) The owner-architect's persistence eventually paid off. In 1984, the Board of Variance decided to uphold the Director of Planning's decision and authorized construction of the house (Figure 11). Large Houses. Many of the themes expressed towards thin houses are the same sentiments directed at large houses. The issue of neighbourliness of new homes has gained much more prevalence now that construction is widespread and visible in many single-family neighbourhoods throughout the city. The predecessor of today's large house is the "Vancouver Special". In the late-1970's to mid-1980's, many were built throughout Vancouver, but they are more numerous on the east side of the city. They are two-storey residences at, or slightly below, ground level on a concrete slab and are designed to optimize the use of a 33-foot wide city lot under the RS-1 (Single-family) zoning schedule. The main living area of a Vancouver Special is on the second floor so that the lower floor is ideally suited for conversion into a secondary suite. The exterior of Vancouver Specials is characterized by a low-pitched roof, stucco and brick. Figure 11: The Controversial Thin House 96 They are all quite similar in appearance (Figure 12). Figure 12: Examples of Vancouver Specials In 1981, the Vancouver City Planning Department conducted a survey in two neighbourhoods to determine public attitudes towards the Specials, it was discovered that, overall, there was a strong negative feeling among survey respondents. The most unappealing characteristic is the uniformity of design ("they all look the same"), followed by the large size of the Special and its potential to be duplexed, the demolition of existing houses for new constuction, and the exterior appearance (City of Vancouver Planning Dept., 1981). 97 In the last few years, new construction has also increasingly spread to the west side of Vancouver where there are larger lots. Many new homes no longer resemble the Vancouver Specials. However, they are still being built to optimize their site areas and are, therefore, excessively large houses compared with adjacent, older homes. Irate neighbours complain about the blockage of views, the destruction of privacy with the lack of sidelots, and the overshadowing of their gardens. Long-time homeowners also fear that their tax assessments will rise due to development potential. Despite the imposing nature of large houses, they are all within the legal limits set out in the Zoning By-Law. One journalist has called the construction of large houses the "legal desecration of neighbourhoods" (McMartin, 1985). City Hall has received many letters from the general public protesting the homes. There are those who oppose: "It is our opinion that present development is destroying our residential districts through the maximization of profits without consideration for social costs and community values." (G. Wirth) "In the last 6 months, 3 more houses on my block alone have been torn down. The time it takes to erect these new massive houses has decreased dramatically. I feel very threatened by this! Real estate pamplets are consistent and there's been an increase of agents and builders knocking on doors wanting to know if the owner will sell. The older people are being harassed at a time in their life when they should feel secure...." (L. Slade) There is also support for the large houses: 98 "each and everyone has the right and freedom to choose whatever shape and style of housing he wants. It is, therefore, unfair and unjustified for them to take this as an excuse to complain about their neighbours' houses are [sic] over-sized, over-shadowing and over-looking into their property. This is a senseles and frivolous complaint without any logic whatsoever....The whole thing simply boils down to the simple fact that it is merely a case of jealousy between the 'have' and 'have-not'. Life is going this way -- it cannot be helped." (A. Sadhu) The range of attitudes towards large houses has made the issue a difficult and emotional one to resolve. 5.1.3. Local Government Response Due to the intense neighbourhood oposition to thin or large houses, the Vancouver City Planning Department has taken various steps to mitigate the problems. Thin Houses. A policy on thin houses was completed in October 1982 amidst neighbourhood outcry in Point Grey. Generally, the planning department argued that thin houses should not be encouraged as they are negatively perceived in neighbourhoods, have narrow sideyards that reduce daylight and privacy for adjacent homes, and usually have an inconvenient interior layout. However, it is legally inadvisable for city officials to prohibit the development of a narrow lot. Several recommendations were put forward as policies for regulation. Thin houses would continue to be permitted on existing narrow lots, but they would be subject to stricter controls. Three fundamental changes are listed here: a. Reduction of floor space ratio from 0.6 to 0.45 and reduction of 99 maximum site coverage from 45 to 35 percent; b. Establishment of appropriate design guidelines for thin houses to encourage compatible design, covering elements such as streetscape, privacy, treatment of entrances and landscaping; and c. Discussion of alternative development options with builder prior to approval of a thin house proposal. (Winsor, 1982, p.76) Large Houses. After the Vancouver Special Survey in 1981 and receipt of complaints, zoning changes were adopted in 1985 to improve the neighbourliness of new houses. The changes included: a. Reducing building heights; b. Increasing side yards on wider sites; c. Limiting the maximum building depth to 75 feet; d. Relating front yard setbacks of new houses to neighbouring buildings; and e. Discouraging front driveway access unless it was consistent with the existing pattern. (McAfee, 1986) In 1986, a study was commissioned by the City to find possible solutions to the RS-1 large house problem. Five architectural firms were hired to consult with resident groups, builders, planners, and others to determine the nature of the problem and propose changes to the Zoning By-Law. A number of subsequent changes were made to the By-Law and adopted in 1988. The main alterations as a result of the study were: a. To require garages to be detached from the main house. This would 100 ensure that some rear yard space is created and would eliminate the excessive length of a house; and b. To create a sliding scale to calculate floor space ratio. Homes on small lots could still have an FSR of 0.6 (most of which is above ground), but for larger lots, the allowable FSR above the basement would decrease. This would prevent an excessively large home with a 0.6 above ground FSR to be located on the city's larger lots. (Pettit, 1988) Other changes to the By-Law included controls on the location of parking and number of separate entrances into a house. Other Municipalities. Since the large house issue is also a growing concern in municipalities outside of the City of Vancouver, other planning departments were briefly surveyed to determine their local government's responses to the problem. In certain residential zones (R9) of Burnaby, owners are permitted to subdivide a single-family lot into two lots. This has resulted in the demolition of one old house and replacement with two large houses built to optimize usage of each lot. In response to public opposition to the subdivision, the Municipal Council adopted a new policy that a lot could be subdivided in those R9 zones only if more than 30 percent of the block also consisted of small lots. Other municipal initiatives that have been adopted are the reduction of floor space ratio and the reduction of the permitted height of new single-family buildings (Grieve, 1988). In New Westminster, there has been an increasing number of complaints from homeowners opposing large houses. A report completed in November 1988 101 proposes two possible courses of action. The first is a set of Zoning By-Law amendments which would include: a. lowering site coverage of the principal building from 40 percent to 30 percent; and b. increasing rear yard space from 20 percent to 30 percent of the depth of the site. The second course is the establishment of a hierarchy of one-family districts of varying densities in addition to the proposed zoning amendments. The new density specifications would be based on present neighbourhood characteristics in order to ensure that future development better conforms to existing surroundings (City of New Westminster, 1988, pp.53-54). The City and District o f North Vancouver have both lowered the maximum height of building in single-family districts and placed a maximum size on new houses that are built. The District also currently has a Task Force on Housing Issues that has been reviewing the present Zoning By-Law and evaluating its effectiveness in controlling new development. In Richmond, a zoning amendment for Council approval has been put forth that would reduce floor area ratio, limit site coverage, and limit the maximum, height of a building in single-family districts. 5.2. THE UNAUTHORIZED CREATION OF ADDITIONAL DWELLING UNITS A common complaint against thin and large houses is the perception by 102 neighbourhood residents that the area will become overcrowded. Many negative connotations are associated with higher density including increased traffic, crime, and lower quality of life. With large houses, there is certainly potential for the accommodation of larger households or subdivision into suites for more than one household. However, not every new large house will be occupied by several different, unrelated households. Although the illegal suite problem is associated with large houses, it is an issue affecting both old and new homes. 5.2.1. The "Illegal Suite" Issue Up to this point, the types of intensification that have been discussed (new high-rise construction, rezoning, thin and large homes) have been legitimate and legal. They illustrate development that would normally conform to the appropriate zoning and building requirements. Secondary suites, however, are not a permitted use in most single-family neighbourhoods, which are the areas where they tend to be located. Since secondary suites are illegal, there is much pressure on local government to take some form of action. Estimates indicate that ten to twenty percent of single-family dwellings in urban North America already contain illegal secondary suites. They are usually created through the conversion of older single-family houses. The construction of new Vancouver Specials and large homes which are, in effect, new illegal duplexes does seem to be unique to our city. One reason may be the low proportion of the city which is zoned for multiple residential use. Elsewhere, higher proportions of land within a short commute of downtown are zoned to permit multiple or duplex use. In the absence of duplex zones, it may be 103 that the demand for two-family dwellings is being met in our single-family areas. (McAfee, 1987, p. 17) It is estimated that there are approximately 26,000 illegal suites in the City of Vancouver. Figure 13 shows that the distribution of suites in single-family areas is not uniform. There are definite concentrations on the west side close to the University of British Columbia and in extensive areas on the east side. In recent years, public pressure over suites and large houses has led to increased efforts to determine a fair policy. 21% to 33% 34% to 59% Not S i n g l e - F a m i l y Area Source: McAfee, 1987. Figure 13: Percentage of Single-Family Homes with Suites in Vancouver 104 5.2.2. Neighbourhood Concerns The main barriers to resolving the illegal suites issue is the complexity and sensitivity of the problem. Neighbourhood residents are divided over the issue. On the one hand, suites are viewed as a negative impact on the quality of single-family neighbourhoods. Overflow parking is a common complaint as well as the increase in large houses built with the expectations of conversion. There are also concerns that owners with suites are earning non-taxed income and that renters are less committed to maintaining the neighbourhood. Proponents of suites see tham as a more efficient use of housing stock and public services. For many homeowners, a secondary suite is a necessity in order to meet the high cost of purchasing a home. There is also no contention that suites are a source of affordable housing for renters who have been squeezed out of a low-vacancj' rental market. In addition, suites offer the opportunity to enjoy the amenities of a single-family neighbourhood, a factor which may be considered by tenant families with children. Planners and city officials, therefore, are faced with a "no-win" situation. There is much pressure on Council to enforce the Zoning By-Law and close suites. Many suites created in the older housing stock may be substandard and in violation of building, health and safety codes. Occupants are, therefore, left unprotected and the City could be held "...liable for seeming to condone suites without requiring that zoning regulations and the usual building safety standards are met" (McAfee, 1987, p. 18). However, suites cannot be closed without 105 confidence that alternate housing can be found for displaced tenants. The current rental shortage cannot assure officials that tenants will be able to find affordable rental housing in the city. The other policy alternative, which might not be popular among neighbourhood residents, is the legalization of suites. This would mean increased density in single-family areas, and the requirement that suites conform to health, fire and safety codes. As a result of these conflicting choices, action on the illegal suites issue has generally been slow until recently. 5.2.3. Local Government Response City of Vancouver. The response of the City to illegal suites has been one of tolerance. There has never been any long-standing policj' on whether suites should be permitted or banned altogether. For over fifty years, the issue has been controversial in the Vancouver region. In the 1930's, suites were permitted in the City of Vancouver so that homeowners would be encouraged to maintain larger homes. During the 1940's, the federal government encouraged all Canadian cities to permit suites in order to relieve wartime housing shortages. Since the mid-1950's, the general attitude has shifted towards closing the illegal suites, but widespread closure and enforcement has not taken place. Until now, suites have only been inspected upon complaint by neighbours when the tenants make noise or create parking problems (McAfee, 1987, p. 16). The City has also recognized hardship cases from homeowners who plead financial difficulties, who need a suite for parents or a handicapped person, or who want to provide housing for university students (Vancouver Sun, Feb.20, 1987). 106 The Vancouver City Council elected in 1986 was acknowledged to have pro-development tendencies. However, in response to public pressure and outcry, it has declared support for the preservation of single-family neighbourhoods and has given top priority to resolving the illegal suites issue. One of the initiatives taken in 1987 was to amend the Zoning By-Law to prohibit a second kitchen in all new homes in single-family districts. This was meant to discourage illegal duplexing. Council has recognized that there is no clear solution that may be applied to all of the City's RS-1 zones. As Vancouver has had a long tradition of local area planning, the decision was to then initiate a series of neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood reviews of illegal suites. Basically, the solution would be the product of extensive input by neighbourhood residents. It was hoped that the reviews would help officials identify areas in which suites could be legalized. The first neighbourhood to be reviewed was the Joyce Station Area, the same neighbourhood which also recently formulated an ALRT Station Area Plan as discussed in Chapter 4. The participatory process began with a public meeting to present the dilemma facing residents and to encourage them to join a Citizen's Advisory Committee. This committee, which was comprised of strong proponents and opponents of suites, worked with planners, zoning officials, and City representatives. Its main task was to create policy options using citizen input and recommend a plan to City Council. Although the process took a year to complete, it resulted in the following significant changes: 107 a. Approximately half of the Joyce Station Area will be re-zoned under a new zoning class (RS-lS) that will permit one suite in single-family dwellings; b. Suites in the "legalized" zones will have to conform to strict regulations regarding size and safety standards; c. In the remaining single-family areas, no secondary suites will be permitted. Existing suites will be closed on a complaint basis and suites occupied by family members will be identified as low priority for closure action. In addition to appropriate amendments to the Zoning By-Law to reflect the above policies, an enforcement program will include the following: a. Owners will be required to apply for development and building permits for suites in the "legalized" zones; b. Secondary suites in areas that were not zoned to allow them will be phased out; c. Owners of suites which cannot be legalized or brought up to Building Code requirements will be given from one to ten years to close the suites; d. Fines will be imposed upon owners of suites that do not comply with the City by-laws. The Joyce Station Area review will become the model for future reviews (Gordon, 1988). The second neighbourhood to be selected for review is Riley Park, a centrally-located, ethnically-diverse neighbourhood. It is estimated that approximately 60 percent of the single-family homes in this neighbourhood contain 108 at least one suite. The experience here, however, has demonstrated the flaws with the participatory process. After only several months, it was recently reported that the Riley Park citizen's committee had become divided and "overtaken" by anti-suite advocates. At least eight members resigned from the committee, "...citing fractious debates involving physical threats, racist and sexist remarks" (Vancouver Sun, Nov. 15, 1988). Other Municipalities. In municipalities outside the City of Vancouver, actions against illegal suites vary from minimal to eventual phase-out. In New Westminster and Richmond, illegal suites are investigated upon complaint by neighbouring residents. Otherwise, they are generally ignored. In Burnaby's single-family houses and duplexes, family suites to be occupied by relatives of the homeowner are permitted. Other types of suites are also investigated upon complaint. As the present Burnaby Municipal Council supports secondary suites, there are no plans to phase them out. Family suites in single-family houses are also permitted in the City of North Vancouver. Once registered and issued a Family Suite Permit, they are subject to minimum size and parking requirements and to annual code and safety inspections. All other types of revenue suites are investigated upon complaint. If they are found to be substandard, the homeowners are given a period of time to upgrade their suites, if possible, to acceptable standards, or else they are ordered to close their suites. The only municipality to take a complete phase-out course of action is the District of North Vancouver. No suites, other than family suites, are to be permitted in single-family districts. All existing suites had to have been 109 registered before May 1988 in order to obtain a temporary use permit. The permit allows for continued use of the suite until 1995. After 1995, all suites other than family suites will be phased out. Such action has not been implemented without problems. In the planning process, planners sensed that the community became polarized over the issue as pro- and anti-suite factions are so entrenched in their views. It was also realized that the suites were only part of a larger, complex housing problem, for which solutions are beyond the ability or jurisdiction of the municipal government. Several months after the by-law was enacted, the District had to face a lawsuit on the grounds that it did not have the powers to enact it. The Supreme Court of B.C. quashed the by-law and the District appealed the decision (Jones, 1987). The B.C. Court of Appeal, though, has since upheld the District's by-law so that it may continue its program of phasing out illegal revenue suites (The Vancouver Sun, Feb. 12, 1988). 5.3. OBSERVATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS This chapter has reviewed the various forms of intensification that are occurring in single-family neighbourhoods as a result of market forces. Despite opposition by some neighbourhood residents, large houses continue to be built and illegal suites continue to exist. Public pressure has forced city councils to address these issues in recent years. Consequently, unplanned intensification has been at the forefront of the public agenda because many neighbourhoods are experiencing direct impacts. Change is occurring at a quick and visible rate. Residents are uncertain of how this change will affect the future of their neighbourhoods. 110 Part of the reaction against large houses, for instance, may be due to the fact that Vancouver is both a sanctuary of the California bungalow and birthplace of the heavily landscaped, ground-hugging, patio'd postwar ranch house. In Toronto, at least they don't cut down trees. The fact that mature trees are often removed to make way for Big Houses only adds to their impact in neighbourhoods like Point Grey and Dunbar. (Rossiter, 1988, p.39) New houses are devoid of lush landscaping and hence, appear barren and overpowering. The fact that they may be duplexed or house extended families is a further reason for single-family homeowners to object to these houses. The actions taken by government in response to public concerns have generally been ad hoc and reactionary. Amendments to the Zoning By-Law were made in an effort to reduce the size of houses when people objected. When new design problems later emerged and newly-constructed houses under the amended by-law were still considered too large, further changes were adopted. With the illegal suites, an initial response was to amend the Zoning By-Law to preclude second kitchens. Since then, the area-by-area reviews have given citizens the chance to decide the future of their neighbourhoods. The reviews, however, have pitted neighbour against neighbour, and have been divisive in some instances rather than productive. By performing neighbourhood reviews, though, Council is somewhat relieved of the liability since the residents themselves have decided the areas in which there will or will not be suites. Although suite reviews can account for differences between neighbourhoods and allow local concerns to be better addressed, it is also a slow process. It may be several years before every single-family neighbourhood in Vancouver expresses its position on illegal suites. By that time, the City Council and administration could change and other factors could influence the suites situation. Unplanned intensification, therefore, has not been an easy subject for city officials to deal with. Zoning changes have been made to satisfy the wishes of the status quo. Policies advocated by the Vancouver Plan, which called for increased densities in single-family areas to provide more housing, have been ignored. Instead, houses have been cut in size, and revenue suites have been prohibited from selected areas of reviewed neighbourhoods. The rest of the single-family areas in the City awaiting review are without any other general city-wide policies on illegal suites. CHAPTER 6. CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS The concept of residential intensification is not new. Since the early 1970's, planning agencies in Greater Vancouver have conducted research on higher densities as an alternative to urban sprawl. In recent years, the heightened awareness of illegal secondary suites and the impact of monster houses on Vancouver's neighbourhoods have refuelled intensification debates. This thesis has considered two types of intensification: planned and unplanned. The examples from Vancouver show that both have occurred to some extent with varying responses by both public officials and neighbourhood residents. Intensification, which has always been a controversial topic, will likely continue as such in the future. 6.1. A MYRIAD OF VIEWS From the examples cited in this study, it is apparent that planning for intensification has not been particularly successful. It has been difficult to develop policies and plans addressing unplanned intensification that please everyone. The multiplicity of arguments both for and against intensification further complicates the issues. A summary of the various interests and their positions that have been discovered in the course of the research are as follows: a. Long-Time Homeowners. The strongest opposition to change generally comes from the established homeowners in single-family neighbourhoods. Those who bought their homes years ago do not wish to see their neighbourhoods drastically altered because they have an investment to 112 113 protect. They have fears about devalued properties, a change in neighbourhood character, parking and traffic congestion, and diminished quality of life. This view stems primarily from a fear of the unknown. Neighbourhoods are often regarded as homogeneous in social status and housing type. If more choice is available in housing types, people of different economic status or lifestyle may be attracted. Any visible changes that may result are perceived by long-time resident homeowners as detrimental to neighbourhood stability. The established homeowners are the strongest opponents to change and usually form the majority of residents in a single-family neighbourhood. Consequently, they can become well-organized in community, neighbourhood and ratepayers' associations. In Vancouver, recent controversy over suites and large houses has spawned several new neighbourhood associations, such as the Vancouver Neighbourhoods Association, the Westside Homeowners' Association, and the Kerrisdale Neighbourhood Association, whose main objectives are to lobby City Council for increased measures to preserve neighbourhoods (Pettit, 1988). b. New Homeowners. New homeowners are often comprised of young families (with or without children), or single persons. The established owners feel that since these new homeowners have no sentimental attachments to the neighbourhood, they may introduce undesirable change such as the creation of illegal secondary suites. For many new homeowners, though, it is financial necessity that leads to a 114 secondary suite. Many are faced with the high costs of a home and mortgage. If space is available, the owners will consider renting out part of their houses as a "mortgage helper". As the financial hardship decreases, the space can eventually be converted back to family use. Consequently, these new homeowners are likely to be more tolerant of secondary suites and of medium-density townhouses, which offer a more affordable alternative to the detached home. Tenant Households. The people who rent in single-family neighbourhoods are in favour of housing choice and opportunities. Costs of living are a main concern as well as a lack of housing alternatives for some. Tight vacancy rates and sluggishness in rental housing production in Vancouver City have created hardship for many households in finding affordable rental accommodation. Therefore, they would not like suites to be banned from single-family neighbourhoods. Some single-parent households, for instance, may also wish to live in a certain single-family neighbourhood or send their children to certain schools. For those who find homeownership in desirable districts out of their financial reach and a lack of legal rental housing in single-family neighbourhoods, suites are a viable option. Although tenants, therefore, favour policies that increase housing choices in neighbourhoods, their views are difficult to obtain. Many choose not to openly participate at public meetings over the illegal suite or large house issues because they are fearful of losing their homes or becoming stigmatized as renters by the community. Developers. In older, single-family neighbourhoods where many of the 115 homes are built well below allowable sizes, the developers see much potential for change. High land values coupled with market demand lead to the construction of larger houses or denser developments. Any anti-development actions taken by the City are decried as unfair and having adverse effects on the building industry (Vancouver Sun, Feb. 12, 1988). The developers seek profitable ventures and opportunities to stimulate the economy and create jobs, e. Politicians. The politicians are in the difficult position of ratifying any plans for a neighbourhood in response to intensification activities. They are sensitive to public opinion because they wish to maintain their elected positions. For instance, Vancouver's present City Council, despite its presumed pro-development tendencies, has chosen to side with the community by advocating the preservation and enhancement of existing neighbourhoods. They realize the risk to their political careers if developers are given a "free rein" in single-family districts. Part of the difficulty of Council's actions is that neighbourhood change and the effects of its policies occur over a long period of time while a politician's term in office is relatively short. For the most part, politicians are interested in maintaining the status quo and therefore do not favour major changes in single-family areas that might draw criticisms from the electorate. 116 6.2. THE TASK OF THE PLANNER The question of intensification has raised a number of issues for a community planner. It challenges traditional notions of communities and neighbourhoods. Many theories have been advanced in praise of variety, social mix and choice within a neighbourhood. However, opposition is so strong that perhaps people would rather remain in homogeneous neighbourhoods. The reactions of long-time resident homeowners towards thin houses, large houses, and illegal suites in their neighbourhoods is consistent with the concerns leading to the emotional rejection of intensification, or the fear of unknown consequences. Negative impacts are automatically perceived as changes become more visible in neighbourhoods. The provision of more housing alternatives creates tension among residents. Those with sentimental attachments to their neighbourhoods will fight for preservation. Those who are new to a neighbourhood, such as new homeowners and tenants, are more concerned with the economic and social realities of the day that are supporting the intensification process. Although it is difficult for a planner to participate in a process that divides a community, the main task will be one of reconciling divergent views. Theoretically, planners are aware of the need for more housing opportunities in the City during these times of high housing costs and tight rental markets. In reality, however, planners must also be sensitive to neighbourhood concerns and work to protect the quality of the city's residential areas. They must also respond to the conditions of the marketplace and adapt to the results of general economic changes. Part of the problems that planners face is that the market 117 works at a rapid rate, while the planning process is much slower. Educating people to accept changes to their traditional views of neighbourhoods and communities is even slower and more demanding. Planned intensification in Greater Vancouver has been able to take place through the redevelopment of large tracts of vacant or underutilized industrial land. This land supply, however, will not last infinitely. In addition, the types of units being produced are not all accommodation that will be viable alternatives for those people who are not already homeowners. Unplanned intensification, therefore, is likely to continue in single-family neighbourhoods until there are adequate housing alternatives. Experience has shown that a comprehensive plan, although desirable as a tool to monitor and guide overall development, may not always be well-received by the community. Efforts in Vancouver to increase housing opportunities in mature and well-developed areas have been met with disdain. There is a perceived conflict with zoning, which is intended to provide a sense of stability and exclusivity to a neighbourhood. Zoning reflects the desire for homogeneity in residential areas, a bias which has pervaded the history of urban development. Opposition to comprehensive plans generate little political will to implement them. Planning action in Vancouver is disjointed and reactionary in that ways are being sought to control and contain the large house and illegal suite problems. Zoning changes, which are being made to placate opposition, do not stem logically from long-range plans for neighbourhoods. 118 6.3. THE FUTURE OF INTENSIFICATION FOR PLANNERS Increasing the political will to effect change will be a challenge for planners who wish to establish a more comprehensive approach to planned and unplanned intensification. This will require educating the public and politicians on the societal changes taking place and their future housing needs. The area-bj'-area reviews under way in Vancouver, for instance, advocate a "bottom-up approach" to dealing with neighbourhood issues. Although the process can be divisive at times, it allows a range of opinions to be expressed and considered. As Sennett (1970) puts forth in The Uses of Disorder, there should be less hesitancy in encouraging instability and tension within the community. The belief is that through conflict and change, social learning takes place and preconceived notions are questioned. When neighbourhoods realize and accept change, their collective opinions may influence political will. In discussions with practising planners, the possibility was raised of experimenting with intensification using seniors' housing. Demographics indicate that the general population is aging so that their future housing needs are growing. Many will be people whose single-family detached homes are too much of a burden for them - to care for and support on fixed incomes. However, they have lived in their homes for a long period of time, raised their families there, and still wish to remain in familiar surroundings. There has been documentation of opposition by residents in single-family areas against rezoning to create more multi-family areas for seniors' housing (Vancouver Sun, Sept. 17, 1988). Despite the setbacks, planners are aware of the housing needs of seniors and intend to 119 pursue the issue. What may be needed is continued commitment by planners to residents of single-family neighbourhoods that if any areas are to be rezoned for higher densities, there will be close monitoring of the development and establishment of certain design guidelines to minimize negative impacts. The people of the neighbourhoods themselves must also realize that certain population groups are experiencing difficulties in Finding housing and that some single-family areas, where possible, ought to be considered for intensiFication in order to meet the needs. As planners for the future, intensiFication is a real issue that will need to continue to be addressed. As long as certain types of housing are scarce (e.g. affordable rental) and population continues to increase, intensiFication will have to be explored. However, certain factors cannot be controlled, while others are not within municipal jurisdiction. Continued participation and involvement by the public is mandatory as changes will directly affect the residents and the quality of their neighbourhoods. Small-scale, incremental change may be an important strategy as it can address distinctive differences between various neighbourhoods and give people time to adjust to the changes that will occur. The intensiFication issue, therefore, is far from being concluded. It is an increasingly common and widespread occurrence in developed urban single-family neighbourhoods with which planners will need to become familiar. Many reasons exist both for and against the process. A number of groups are also involved in the debate, each with its own motivations and concerns. As there is no coordination at the regional level to deal with intensiFication, municipalities have 120 begun their own initiatives. The examples cited illustrate the range of possibilities as well as the problems associated with each one. Only through greater interaction with the community and consideration of the different groups can intensification be better understood. B I B L I O G R A P H Y Archer, John (1982). "Planning for Infill Housing", Habitat. Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 14-19. Birmingham, Stephen (1978). The Golden Dream: Suburbia in the Seventies. New York: Harper and Row Publishers. 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Vancouver Plan Housing  Program: Summary Report. Report to Council. City of Vancouver Planning Department (1986a). Impacts of Additional Housing  on City Revenues and Expenditures. Report to the City Manager, January 22, 1981. City of Vancouver Planning Department (1986b). New Neighbours. Vancouver: City of Vancouver Planning Department. City of Vancouver Planning Department (1986c). The Vancouver Plan. Vancouver: City of Vancouver Planning Department. Coote, Robin Gale (1985). Neighbourhood Stability and Attitudes Toward Change. Unpublished M.A. Thesis, University of British Columbia. District of North Vancouver Planning Department (1975). The Study of Second  Suites. North Vancouver: The District of North Vancouver Planning Department. Dowall, David E. (1984). The Suburban Squeeze. Berkeley, Ca.: University of California Press. 123 Downs, Anthony (1981). Neighbourhoods and Urban Development. Washington, D.C: The Brookings Institution. Elligott, Rick (1987). Tax and Licence Director (formerly Senior Planner), Burnaby Planning Department. Presentation to Planning 540-1 class, U.B.C, March 6, 1987. Gellen, Martin (1985). Accessory Apartments in Single Family Housing. New Brunswick, N.J.: New Jersey Centre for Urban Policy Research. Goetze, Rolf, Kent W. Colton and Vincent F. O'Donnell (1977). Stabilizing  Neighbourhoods: A Fresh Approach to Housing Dynamics and Perceptions. Boston: Boston Redevelopment Authority and Public Systems Evaluation, Inc. Goetze, Rolf (1979). Understanding Neighbourhood Change. Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger Publishing Co. Goldberg, Michael and John Mercer (1985). The Myth of the North American  City. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. Goldfield, David R. and Blaine A. Brownell (1979). Urban America: From  Downtown to No Town. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. Gordon, Michael (1988). Senior Planner, City of Vancouver Planning Department. Personal Interview, January 29, 1988. 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Toronto: Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Hulchanski, J. David (1985). "Tax Costs of Housing", Policy Options. Vol. 6, No. 5 (June) pp. 4-7. Institute of Urban Studies (1982). Proceedings of the Infill Housing Seminar,  University of Winnipeg, Dec. 16, 1982. Winnipeg: Institute of Urban Studies. Jones, Lenna (1987). Planner, District of North Vancouver Planning Department. Presentation to U.B.C. Centre for Continuing Education Planning Program, October 23, 1987. Joyce Station Area Planning Advisory Committee (1987). Joyce Station Area  Plan. Vancouver: City of Vancouver Planning Department. Kellas, Hugh (1988). Planner, Greater Vancouver Regional District Development Services. Personal Interview, Dec. 1, 1988. Klein and Sears, et. al. (1983). Study of Residential Intensification and Rental  Housing Conservation, Vols. 1-11. Toronto: Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Lilley, Wayne (1985). "Coming Home to Roost: Granny Flats", The Financial Post Magazine, Oct.l, p. 63. Lum, Sophia (1984). Residential Redevelopment in the Inner City of Vancouver:  A Case Study of Fairview Slopes. Master's report; School of Urban and Regional Planning; Queen's University; Kingston, Ontario. 125 Mallach, Alan (1984). Inclusionary Housing Programs: Policies and Practices. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University. McAfee, Ann (1986). "Vancouver's Single-Family Areas", Quarterly Review. July 1986; in Housing Articles from the Quarterly Review . Vancouver: City of Vancouver Planning Department, 1987, pp. 107-110. McAfee, Ann (1987). "Secondary Suites: The Issues", Quarterly Review. April 1987, pp. 16-18. McAfee, Ann (1989). Associate Director of Planning, City of Vancouver. Telephone Interview, January 17, 1989. McMartin, Pete (1985). "Legal Desecration of Neighbourhoods", The Vancouver Sun, October 12, 1985. Nanaimo/29th Avenue Station Areas Planning Advisory Committee (1987). Nanaimo/29th Avenue Station Areas Plan. Vancouver: City of Vancouver Planning Department. National Association of Home Builders (1980). Planning for Housing. Washington, D.C: National Association of Home Builders of the United States. Ontario Ministry of Housing (1987). Housing for Ontario: Tomorrow's Needs,  Today's Housing. Brochure issued by Ontario Ministry of Housing, Toronto. People for Open Space (1983). Room Enough: Housing and Open Space in the  Bay Area. San Francisco, Ca.: People for Open Space. Peter Barnard Associates (1981). Sensitive Infill Housing: Summary Report. Ottawa: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Pettit, Barbara (1988). RS-1 Planner, City of Vancouver Planning Department. Personal Interview, Nov. 21, 1988. The Province. Selected articles. 126 Real Estate Research Corporation (1982). Infill Development Strategies. Washington, D.C: Urban Land Institute and the American Planning Association. Rossiter, Sean (1988). "Big Houses", Western Living. 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Canadian Households and Families. Ottawa: Statistics Canada (Cat. 99-753E). Winsor, John (1982). "Narrow Lots and 'Thin' Houses", Quarterly Review, October 1982; in Housing Articles from the Quarterly Review. Vancouver: City of Vancouver Planning Department, 1987, p. 76. Winsor, John (1988). Senior Planner, City of Vancouver Planning Department. Telephone Interview, Dec. 2, 1988. Young, Douglas (1987). "South Parkdale's Bachelorettes: Problems Remain Despite 'Deconversion' Clean-Up", City Planning. Vol. 5, Issue 1, Summer, pp. 15-17. 

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