Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Basement suite battle dogs family

with 8 comments


I am not going to comment on the rights and wrongs of this case. But most places in the region recognize that housing affordability and elder care are very big issues indeed. The building code and municipal regulations about secondary suites, not so much.  And yes I have a personal interest, because of the place I am renting while waiting for the house market to collapse.

But if you want to know what increased density looks like, take a gander at the houses we have been building, and realise that most of the larger ones either are occupied by extended families, or have “mortgage helpers”. And most municipalities have decided to turn a blind eye to them, or at least not been too agressive about enforcement. And some have done the right thing and made them legal.

If you want to scare people, talk about density. Because they will think of high rises. But what looks like the archetypal single family, ground oriented residence may be nothing of the kind.  And it poses very little threat at all. And has been there all the time we were talking about how density would destroy the area. And, of course, it didn’t.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 31, 2008 at 7:16 am

Posted in housing

8 Responses

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  1. Stephen, I’m a bit surprised about you not commenting on the rights and wrongs of this case!


    March 31, 2008 at 9:01 am

  2. Alright then – the family in question broke the law. But the law that they broke is silly. OK?

    Stephen Rees

    March 31, 2008 at 9:08 am

  3. One problem is parking for tenants in suites. In Vancouver, friends who own houses are often bullied by long standing neighbours who lay claim to curbside parking – one friend can’t even park along the curb in front of his house (corner lot) because the neighbour claims he’s parked there for 20 years, etc. etc. In the event of a party they have to scour the surrounding area with flyers asking neighbours not to call the City over someone parked in front of their house and guest have to put notices on their dashboards indicating which house they are visiting.

    Ron C.

    March 31, 2008 at 11:56 am

  4. Ron – have a look at my flickr site. Houses around my neighbourhood have loads of off street parking – and they still park on the street!

    The neighbour does not have any claim over an on street space. I know some people think they do, but they are wrong. Streets are provided so that people may “pass and repass” – not park. You may be allowed to stop if there is space, but you have no claim to ownership of that or any other space.

    If we had a good transit service and car co-ops extended into the ‘burbs, the parking argument would just wither away.

    Stephen Rees

    March 31, 2008 at 1:08 pm

  5. drinking and parking ? to have drinking guests over— they can`t drive period!—–I have always wondered why there is big parking lots at bars! even if you had only one drink , you have to lie — SIR HAVE YOU HAD ANY TO DRINK -“ONE” WELL i WILL HAVE TO GIVE YOU A 24 HOUR SUSPENSION!——back on topic –why should you or anybody be able to absorb all the parking for your “party” skytrain-designated pick-up—-taxi—–bus — …………………………………signed…………………….not in front of my house!

    grant g

    March 31, 2008 at 6:48 pm

  6. Yikes.

    My boyfriend and I are “mortgage helpers” for our landlords. This neighbourhood is pretty mixed as far as house sizes go, which is interesting, but we’re in one that’s a bit smaller so the block has higher density than most of the neighbourhood. It’s great for trick-or-treaters. I think they’re single-car garages but have room for 2 more in the driveway. Unfortunately, the sidewalk runs through every driveway and City by-law has it that one cannot park over the sidewalk. As a pedestrian it’s pretty annoying, but was it really necessary to situate the sidewalk through the driveways on such a quiet street? Where I grew up there is no sidewalk, and there are utility poles to watch out for. Anyway, we can only keep one car and the neighbour complains if my boyfriend’s carpool buddy keeps his vehicle parked in front of them… and yet we can’t legally put out a sign preventing people from parking in the only spot we have… understood but some people take advantage of it. Driveways/garages aren’t wide enough to keep two cars in the driveway side by side without blocking the exit for a garage-parked car… and all the houses are designed this way! It may explain the number of cars always parked on this street. In one of the coach-house articles I read, someone complained, “where are we going to put our cars?” Cars, shmars! What a waste of space! Too bad they’re not stackable! 😉

    I’m waiting for the housing market to collapse too.

    Erika Rathje

    March 31, 2008 at 6:58 pm

  7. The area in question in my friend’s case is Langara relatively close to Langara College – the City has posted signs that say “parking for residents of ___ block only”, or something to that effect. This isn’t the same as permit parking, but is intended to discourage college parkers and is supposed to allow visitors of residents on the block to park.
    I know that no one has a claim to the public street in front of their house, but from what I hear, try to tell that to angry neighbours!
    Another friend who lives near Main & 55th in Vancouver also says that neighbours complain if someone parks in front of their house (not to the extent of the Langara area though).

    Ron C.

    April 1, 2008 at 12:23 am

  8. Somehow it’s worse when we drive up and it’s an ugly old clunker that’s parked in our spot… and that’s usually what it is!

    Erika Rathje

    April 2, 2008 at 12:48 pm

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