A letter from UKRA (Upper Kitsilano Residents Association)on Kennedy Stewarts “Making Home” plan

Dear UKRA members: In a bid to make home ownership more affordable for middle-income earners, Mayor Kennedy Stewart will attempt to resurrect his failed Making Home plan at Vancouver City Council’s Tuesday, Jan. 25 meeting. If approved, homeowners would be allowed to build up to six units on their properties, some of which could be “permanently affordable.” Here is the motion:https://council.vancouver.ca/20220125/documents/b3.pdfThe Mayor’s motion is bereft of details but Stewart was eager to share his ideas with supporters in a zoom meeting held Wednesday, Jan. 19. He said Making Home: “Housing for all of us” would begin as a pilot project with 2,000 lots currently zoned for single-detached homes or duplexes throughout the city. The pilot alone would create as many as 12,000 new homes, he estimated, if all property owners erect the maximum six units. City housing pilot projects normally involve a far smaller number of participants, but the mayor took an aggressive stance at his meeting: not only has Making Home already garnered support from developers, the Vancouver District Labour Council, and the Real Estate Foundation of Vancouver, it [Making Home] is the only way forward,” he said, to provide more homes for the middle class. This is Stewart’s second attempt to rally support for this plan, and it explains why he is taking a more guarded approach by beginning with a pilot. In 2020 Stewart stole the limelight from Cllr. Lisa Dominato during a meeting to build more “missing middle” housing for families, pushed his Making Home plan on Council members before they had time to consider the proposal. Council voted to sent Making Home back to staff for more work and information.In an election year, mayoral candidates are quick to take credit for plans that seek to solve the city’s most urgent issues, and in Vancouver no issue burns as hot as housing. But the idea behind Making Home is not Stewart’s alone. The plan draws on Portland, Oregon’s 2020 Residential Infill Project that allows up to four units on residential lots, and six units if three of them are affordable to low-income families. At the Jan. 19 meeting, Stewart offered some insights into how Vancouver’s version of Portland’s plan would work: New housing created could be rented out as strata units or sold outright; Cost of individual units would sell in the $800,000 to $1 million range; Some of the units could be made permanently affordable (see below); Up to six parking spaces would be provided on each lot, which Stewart said would not impact neighbors  Would allow seniors to stay in their neighborhood longer with family living on the same lot. He acknowledged that adding more units to Vancouver properties, already priced among the highest in North America, would further inflate land value. But, the “beauty of Making Home,” he said, is that a portion of the funds generated by a land-value capture tax would be shared with the landowner and the City to create new affordable and permanent housing, infrastructure such as sewer systems, and public amenities including daycares, community centers, and schools. Once again, Stewart offered no data or specific details to support his idea. Attendees’ questions ranged from the potential loss of green space and how the plan would affect property taxes, to whether units could really be “permanently affordable.” Others worried that Making Home would lead to the loss of character housing. Stewart told listeners that Cllr. Adriane Carr shared similar concerns about the threat of character house demolition, and that she will be putting forth an amendment at Tuesday’s meeting to create protection for older homes. Kennedy said he supports Carr’s changes, but shared no details on what such a plan would involve. Like the last time he foisted Making Home on Council, Stewart’s plan raises more questions than answers. The council meeting begins Tuesday at 9:30 am, with Making Home the third item (B3) under Council Members’ Motions. CityHallWatch has provided an opinion on Making Home by retired architect and guest columnist, Brian Palmquist: https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/…/palmquist…/Share your thoughts about Making Home with Council:https://vancouver.ca/your-government/contact-council.aspxUKRA will send an update following Tuesday’s Council meeting. Regards from your UKRA directors https://upperkitsilano.ca