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The Breithaupt Block Phase III | 12 fl | Proposed
#31
city of Kitchener council better support staffs recommendation to approve this vs the 3 or 4 upset neighbours...this is bigger than the 4 pissed off people
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#32
I don't know why I am defending these neighbours of mine, as again I am supportive of the development. But I don't like the frequent calling of them as just NIMBY's. Here is the letter from Dawn Parker a University of Waterloo Urban Planning Professor. I hope it better outlines the critique neighbours have. To be clear, everyone I have spoken too would be very happy with a 14m tall development, even if it meant taking more land. They are concerned about turning Residential into High Intensity Mixed Use Corridor zoning, with zero plans to do residential. To be clear, the PARTS plan was a lengthy process that clearly identified this side of the tracks should remain a maximum of 14m in height. I firmly believe that LPAT will follow whatever the city says here. Also there is a good chance neighbours could appeal to LPAT as the city is ignoring their years long consultation process because they like the look of this building. 

Again, to me this is going to provide the neighbourhood with an impetus to provide more urban housing for the 600-1000 workers who will be part of this office space. The design was also completed by a neighbour and frankly, it's brilliant.

Here is Dawn's letter to council:

Quote:Dear city councillors and mayor, 

I am writing to express my opposition to the planning staff’s recommendation for approval of an Official Plan Amendment and Zone Change for Breithaupt Block Phase 3. Specifically, I strongly oppose the rezoning of 26, 43, & 47 Wellington Street North out of low-­‐rise residential and into High Intensity Mixed Use Corridor. I believe that the zoning for these properties should follow the recommendations of the Parts Central plan, recently approved by council. 

I am writing as a neighbour and property owner, but many of my arguments are drawn from my expertise as Professor in the School of Planning, University of Waterloo, and my expertise on the economics of residential land markets. I am opposed to the zone change out of residential for the following reasons: 

• I believe the change to a use that is incompatible with low-­‐density residential will erode the integrity of that part of Wellington as a residential street. The project introduces a highly incompatible use that affects properties from three sides, on a corner with three existing heritage homes. These magnified negative effects will decrease the value of adjacent properties in residential use. 

• At the same time, the rezoning creates a very dangerous precedent, which will lead to an expectation by owners of other properties on Wellington between Moore and Waterloo that their future rezoning applications will be accepted. This creates incentives for purchase of these properties for land banking, where properties are allowed to deteriorate (as low-­‐quality rentals, or even empty buildings), until the perceived value of conversion is high enough to apply for a zone change. We have seen how “banked” properties negatively affect the neighbourhood already (Electrohome, Sacred Heart school, and 18 Guelph street). 

• These combined dynamics leave additional residential properties vulnerable to decay and conversion. In Pac Man fashion, as neighbouring properties convert, the contagion of property value decrease and conversion risk spreads further into the neighbourhood. This effect has been seen in the Northdale neighbourhood in Waterloo over the last decade, where conversion of single-­‐family homes to student rentals combined with construction of very high density residential has lead to the complete deterioration of a single-­‐family residential neighbourhood.

• These concerns are discussed in detail in the Parts central plan, page 21, section on “Conservation of Stable Established Neighbourhoods.” This part of Wellington is identified as part of a stable residential neighbourhood. The PARTS plan notes that the inclusion of the stable residential neighbourhoods in the plan “recognizes their contribution and importance to the station area plan and provides a clear message that these lands are not the focus for redevelopment and intensification.”

• The plan also highlights the importance of transitioning to protect low-­‐ density residential (p. 34) “Stepping back building mass should be used to ensure an appropriate built form transition between the higher density mixed use and the lower density residential.” 

• A block with a complete line of intact zoning, as recommended by PARTs is much more likely to be stable, as single-­‐family residential homes would only be negatively impacted on one of their borders (and buffered by the laneway). 
• Page 21 of the PARTS central plan also illustrates the maximum allowable height for its recommended zoning (14 meters for innovation employment and low density residential). The maximum heights recommended for approval exceed these by orders of magnitude. 

• A different approach is possible for development in this neighbourhood, creating different incentives. For example the Zehr’s groups Sixo proposal situates low-­‐density residential along the stretch of Wellington that abuts the area recommended to remain in residential in the PARTs plan. This planned low-­‐density residential has provided a signal to the neighbourhood that that section of Wellington will remain residential. Since that rezoning, several large heritage homes along Wellington and Walter have been undergoing renovation into high-­‐end multiple apartment rentals, a housing product that research from my group indicates is scarce in the current market. 

• The low-­‐density residential zoning provides space for a housing product that is highly scarce in the current market. Research from my group shows that while many residential developers are planning residential development in the core, they are targeting young singles and empty nesters, and not families. Our renter’s survey indicated high demand for medium-­‐sized 3-­‐4 high-­‐quality bedroom rentals, especially for households with children. Finally, our interviews with Realtors indicate that the short supply of housing coupled with increasing housing costs has increased demand for mid-­‐sized purchase options such as townhomes, row houses, and stacked townhomes. This location is perfect for such kinds of residential development, which are attractive to range of demographics. 

This decision is critical for council, as it occurs at the transition between the Ontario Municipal Board and the new Local Planning Appeal Tribunals. Under LPAT it will be much more difficult for a developer to contest a decision that follows a municipality’s codified planning and zoning. It will also be easier for neighbours to contest decisions under LPAT. However, if Council allows this rezoning, it will set a precedent that might diminish the ability of the City to make future decisions consistent with PARTs and other collaborative planning exercises, and for neighbours to contest decisions that harm the integrity of their historic neighbourhood. So far we have seen little explanation of why the planning department has approved a proposal that has substantial neighbourhood opposition and also contradicts its own collaborative planning process. Why would the city council approve a recommended plan, then turn around and almost immediately approve a proposal that contradicts this plan? And how can the city expect citizens to continue to participate in collaborative planning efforts, if the results of those efforts are ignored by Council? Please vote to oppose the current proposal and to support the planning for these parcels that is recommended in PARTs. 

Thanks very much, Dawn Parker 
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#33
@Welltoldtales

So I'll say straight up, I think they're wrong, this development is 250 meters from the central transit station, it is exactly where high density should be, and yes, that will affect their neighbourhood, but that's the reality of living 250 meters from a major transit station.

I don't think the "protecting low density residential" is a worthy goal. Why protect it? And are we protecting it by doing what we're doing. The author describes the problems with the protections these areas have. I argue we'd achieve what I think are the real goals (healthy, dense neighbourhoods, that are still residential and coheasive, and human scale) by rezoning the entire neighbourhood for medium density (say town homes, 3 story walkups, the like) and set parking requirements to make it feasible to build many small developments.

I don't think they'd support this either. Maybe the author would (the author suggests this as an alternative--but only for the land in question--that's not nearly enough density for the closeness of the transit station, and also, not nearly enough land devoted to medium density), but the majority of residents I don't think would. So the question for me is what are they actually trying to protect.
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#34
(04-09-2018, 09:11 AM)danbrotherston Wrote: @Welltoldtales

So I'll say straight up, I think they're wrong, this development is 250 meters from the central transit station, it is exactly where high density should be, and yes, that will affect their neighbourhood, but that's the reality of living 250 meters from a major transit station.

I don't think the "protecting low density residential" is a worthy goal.  Why protect it?  And are we protecting it by doing what we're doing.  The author describes the problems with the protections these areas have.  I argue we'd achieve what I think are the real goals (healthy, dense neighbourhoods, that are still residential and coheasive, and human scale) by rezoning the entire neighbourhood for medium density (say town homes, 3 story walkups, the like) and set parking requirements to make it feasible to build many small developments.

I don't think they'd support this either.  Maybe the author would (the author suggests this as an alternative--but only for the land in question--that's not nearly enough density for the closeness of the transit station, and also, not nearly enough land devoted to medium density), but the majority of residents I don't think would.  So the question for me is what are they actually trying to protect.

I can basically guarantee you that they would actually support three story walk ups. There are many in the neighbourhood. Did you hear complains about Victoria Commons? Or what about the Lancaster development? Even the Midtown lofts?

Current zoning by the way allows three story walks up and apartments. It allows up to 14 meters in height. There were some initial complains about the destruction of homes but everyone I know who is involved suggested that wasn't an adequate reason. That densification was valued. I think if this was designed to cover the whole block like Victoria Commons you wouldn't see the same opposition. They could even add commerical and most would be excited for it.
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#35
There's also nothing wrong with being happy with the status quo and not wanting your neighbourhood to change. If I'm happy in my home and neighbourhood, why shouldn't I be concerned about these changes? NIMBY is really when people reject a change, but then suggest it's better off somewhere else. This is normally an issue with social services, the classics being halfway houses, needle exchanges, homeless shelters, soup kitchens etc. People don't want to appear unsympathetic, so instead of voicing their real concerns, they argue that it's better off somewhere else rather than near their homes. In this case, it seems that people aren't inherently opposed to density, they just disagree with the form.
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#36
(04-09-2018, 09:21 AM)welltoldtales Wrote:
(04-09-2018, 09:11 AM)danbrotherston Wrote: @Welltoldtales

So I'll say straight up, I think they're wrong, this development is 250 meters from the central transit station, it is exactly where high density should be, and yes, that will affect their neighbourhood, but that's the reality of living 250 meters from a major transit station.

I don't think the "protecting low density residential" is a worthy goal.  Why protect it?  And are we protecting it by doing what we're doing.  The author describes the problems with the protections these areas have.  I argue we'd achieve what I think are the real goals (healthy, dense neighbourhoods, that are still residential and coheasive, and human scale) by rezoning the entire neighbourhood for medium density (say town homes, 3 story walkups, the like) and set parking requirements to make it feasible to build many small developments.

I don't think they'd support this either.  Maybe the author would (the author suggests this as an alternative--but only for the land in question--that's not nearly enough density for the closeness of the transit station, and also, not nearly enough land devoted to medium density), but the majority of residents I don't think would.  So the question for me is what are they actually trying to protect.

I can basically guarantee you that they would actually support three story walk ups. There are many in the neighbourhood. Did you hear complains about Victoria Commons? Or what about the Lancaster development? Even the Midtown lofts?

Current zoning by the way allows three story walks up and apartments. It allows up to 14 meters in height. There were some initial complains about the destruction of homes but everyone I know who is involved suggested that wasn't an adequate reason. That densification was valued. I think if this was designed to cover the whole block like Victoria Commons you wouldn't see the same opposition. They could even add commerical and most would be excited for it.

I don't mean for the subject lands, I mean for the entire neighbourhood.
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#37
(04-09-2018, 09:54 AM)jamincan Wrote: There's also nothing wrong with being happy with the status quo and not wanting your neighbourhood to change. If I'm happy in my home and neighbourhood, why shouldn't I be concerned about these changes? NIMBY is really when people reject a change, but then suggest it's better off somewhere else. This is normally an issue with social services, the classics being halfway houses, needle exchanges, homeless shelters, soup kitchens etc. People don't want to appear unsympathetic, so instead of voicing their real concerns, they argue that it's better off somewhere else rather than near their homes. In this case, it seems that people aren't inherently opposed to density, they just disagree with the form.

You think these people oppose this building anywhere in the city?
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#38
(04-09-2018, 10:15 AM)danbrotherston Wrote: You think these people oppose this building anywhere in the city?

Is zoning NIMBYism then? Like because you think industrial buildings should go in industrial zoning you are being NIMBY?
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#39
(04-09-2018, 10:40 AM)welltoldtales Wrote:
(04-09-2018, 10:15 AM)danbrotherston Wrote: You think these people oppose this building anywhere in the city?

Is zoning NIMBYism then? Like because you think industrial buildings should go in industrial zoning you are being NIMBY?

These are reasonable questions.

I think it has more to do with whether the development actually is a good idea or not, mixing some types of industrial and residential probably isn't, but I argue this is.  But that's just my opinion.

People who we call NIMBYs rarely see themselves that way, even those who do as Jamincan says, and oppose social services in their area, usually have a "reason" that it would be better somewhere else...even if that reason doesn't hold weight.  But I'm not saying objectivity isn't possible, just....not so easy.

But that's one of the reasons I ask what exactly we're protecting here.  What will be lost, what will be gained.  Those are the things which will change my mind.  I'm sympathetic to the fact that humans generally hate change, but I rarely find it a compelling reason not to make changes.
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#40
There are some very good points brought up in the letter. I don't think the identified issues will be solved by council approving or rejecting this proposal tonight, but they are important issues, and they are exacerbated by piecemeal zoning and variances to existing zoning as a matter of course.

The "land banking" she identifies certainly is a growing issue in the neighbourhood- the letter-writer identifies 18 Guelph Street, which is zoned R6, so could accommodate a four- or six-plex within existing zoning, but has been boarded up and left to deteriorate. That has had accompanying issues- squatters, and attention from the police- and I think she's right when she assumes that the owner of the property is speculating on an eventual variance being approved for more density.
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#41
Colour me sceptical about the idea that this proposal would set a precedent that would put the neighbouring residential areas at risk of redevelopment. The only block at "risk", istm, would be the King/Wellington/Moore triangle, which should be redeveloped at higher density in any event.
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#42
(04-09-2018, 12:25 PM)MidTowner Wrote: The "land banking" she identifies certainly is a growing issue in the neighbourhood- the letter-writer identifies 18 Guelph Street, which is zoned R6, so could accommodate a four- or six-plex within existing zoning, but has been boarded up and left to deteriorate. That has had accompanying issues- squatters, and attention from the police- and I think she's right when she assumes that the owner of the property is speculating on an eventual variance being approved for more density.

I would argue (albeit without any evidence) that most of the "land banking" is simply waiting for someone to want to buy the land for enough money, and that most of those properties are not owned by people/companies who actually plan to develop them.

Here is a random sampling of long-term vacant properties from downtown; most of them are not lacking in terms of zoning:
  • King & Cameron (now Drewlo): deteriorating for decades
  • King & Madison: empty for decades
  • Charles across from Kent (former Canadian Tire): empty for decades
  • Charles at Borden: deteriorating for decades
  • Weber & Scott: empty, empty, empty
  • Duke & Young (now City Centre): empty for decades
  • King & Breithaupt (now Google): deteriorating for decades
None of these were vibrant buildings that were allowed to run down. They were either empty in the first place, or they had run-down industrial buildings with no rental demand. Few landlord would want functional buildings to just rot while they wait for the values to improve, they would want to be collecting rent to at least cover costs, and hopefully even make a profit. (132 Queen S is a great example, the new owner renovated the existing building, even though the long-term plan is to tear it down and develop it.)

P.S. I have suggested before, and I will suggest it again: we should NOT be taxing vacant land at a lower rate than developed land. Lower tax rates just make it easier for the owners to sit on vacant land for the long term.
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#43
In the case of 18 Guelph, the property was recently sold (within the last year). So it's a new owner who has acquired the property and not (yet?) pursued plans for redevelopment, and letting the building deteriorate. And it is not a lack of zoning: the site can be redeveloped as zoned with modest density, and I think Dawn has a point that part of it is speculation about more favourable zoning in the future. Her other examples (Sacred Heart, Electrohome) are different cases, of course.

But I agree with you about taxation of vacant land, vacant commercial units, etc.
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#44
(04-09-2018, 01:56 PM)MidTowner Wrote: In the case of 18 Guelph, the property was recently sold (within the last year). So it's a new owner who has acquired the property and not (yet?) pursued plans for redevelopment, and letting the building deteriorate. And it is not a lack of zoning: the site can be redeveloped as zoned with modest density, and I think Dawn has a point that part of it is speculation about more favourable zoning in the future. Her other examples (Sacred Heart, Electrohome) are different cases, of course.

But I agree with you about taxation of vacant land, vacant commercial units, etc.

Indeed, there's a three storey 12-plex (?) next door.
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#45
(04-09-2018, 09:54 AM)jamincan Wrote: There's also nothing wrong with being happy with the status quo and not wanting your neighbourhood to change. If I'm happy in my home and neighbourhood, why shouldn't I be concerned about these changes? NIMBY is really when people reject a change, but then suggest it's better off somewhere else. This is normally an issue with social services, the classics being halfway houses, needle exchanges, homeless shelters, soup kitchens etc. People don't want to appear unsympathetic, so instead of voicing their real concerns, they argue that it's better off somewhere else rather than near their homes. In this case, it seems that people aren't inherently opposed to density, they just disagree with the form.

But the problem with the "NIMBY" is that you'll find it in just about every neighbourhood.

In this particular case, this area is really ground zero for intensification. It doesn't make sense not to approve it. Though as I mentioned earlier, I really don't blame the home owners in that area, but it is what it is. The city needs to approve this.
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