After conducting pop-up information sessions in Lynn Valley, Parkdale, and Edgemont Village, District of North Vancouver community liaison staff were happy to report that only one person had been strongly opposed to coach houses. Two hundred plus other residents supported the idea, and the proposed loosening of regulations for property owners who meet minimum requirements.
The pop-up Info booths and an accompanying on-line survey are part of the public outreach approved by District council during their July 9th meeting. Since the existing coach house regulations were passed in 2014 only 14 have been built in the District. The staff hope that by relaxing the approval process the District will see many more second, smaller homes on the 1500 possible locations they they’ve identified.
The proposed changes would apply to property owners of lots that are at least 15m wide, with an area of 464 m2, and with open lane access. If owners meet those requirements they can avoid needing a full Council approval process and will deal only with District staff for Building permits (for a single story building) or both Development and Building permits (for two story structures).
Properties that don’t meet these conditions can still apply for a coach house, but would need Council approval for a development variance permit.
In an election year that has density and housing on people’s minds Council members seem to see coach houses as one solution for adding density without offending voters. As well as offering new rental housing, and homes for children or other family members, coach houses spread density to every corner of the District. Coach houses cannot be used fora short-term rentals like AirBnB.
The only issue of note, raised by outgoing council member Doug MacKay-Dunn, was whether these new residents would have a significant impact on traffic and “gridlock.”
Councillors Roger Bassam and Robin Hicks asked about the need for additional parking spaces, and staff explained that there is consideration for lowering that number for coach houses that are near the “frequent transit network.”
The staff is exploring several other ideas, including whether to require neighbour input for applications to build two story couch houses.
There is also a proposal that the District allow extra floor space for energy efficient construction – essentially adding more floor space to offset that lost to thicker walls. It is still undecided whether coach houses should be allowed to have basements or crawlspaces.
The on-line survey is available until October 14th at www.dnv.org/coachhouse