Friday, March 7, 2008

The Greatest Speech Ever Made to City Council

Jonathan Baker
Remarks to Vancouver City Council 4 March 08

Your worship and members of council.

I want to thank council for hearing from the public on this matter.

When these hearings are over, you will no doubt feel that you have done your duty by listening to everyone and that you have heard enough to take some sort of action.

It is my opinion that the draft ecodensity charter consists of nothing more than glittering generalities written on the wind so that no meaningful discussion can take place nor has it taken place.

I want to take you through one of the 21 initial actions to show what I mean.

“encourage projects that demonstrate an exceptional level of leadership in innovative green design and sustainable practices, by adopting in principle the concept of an interim ecodensity rezoning policy, that would allow projects that meet specified green criteria to be considered for site specific rezoning in advance of area planning. Projects would conform to vision directions about type, location and scale.”

What if anything does this mean? How can anyone know whether he or she should favour it or oppose it?

The initial action calls for the construction of “projects.”

I will be directly affected if my neighbor across the street or on either side of me is going to put one of these things up. What are they? To know the answer i need to know something about the specified “green criteria.”

So, what are the specified green criteria? How can anyone figure out the impact on their own house and their neighborhood if they do not know this?

Since you are proposing to “spot zone” parcels throughout the neighbourhood I need to know how you intend to reward the developer at my expense.

If for example, the house is to be powered entirely by solar batteries or wind, these sources of power are so expensive and inefficient that you will have to give a substantial bonus to the developer. Does that mean that the houses will be larger? Are you talking about inserting apartment blocks in the middle of neighborhoods. If so how large will they be?

If not, what are you talking about.

You say that it will conform to “neighborhood vision directions?” Vision directions, however, while more specific that this ecodensity charter are still very general. It will take a battalion of Talmudic scholars to determine whether two gaseous planning documents comply with each other. It is hard enough to find carpenters – where do you expect to find the Talmudists?

Did you present this draft to your law department? I’ll bet you didn’t.

Why not?

There are a few glaring legal problems.

Did you know that a council is not allowed to fetter its discretion when it comes to zoning?

Did you know that you can’t have a pre-existing policy that directs councilors how to vote on any particular rezoning? In this regard the proposal seems to be quite illegal and improper?

Did your law department have any input into the drafting of this document?

How big a building in lower density areas are you talking about? Is this about going from FSR .6 to .75, as at present or is it going from .6 to FSR 3 as in the West End? Are you talking about putting up Down Town scale high-rises in the middle of Cedar Cottage or Dunbar?

If you are talking about allowing truly large apartment buildings in low density areas then views and amenities are inevitably affected. My property value will go up substantially if I am the first one in to develop my lot with a super green apartment building. My neighbour’s lot will go down in value if I destroy or overshadow his garden or block his view.

The purpose of zoning by district is to ensure a uniformity of regulations. It is based on fundamental concepts of fairness. Houses have uniform set backs so they affect each other uniformly. Zoning exists in every single North American city – except one. ---------Houston.

Is Houston your model? Are developers now going to be allowed to move into any area zoned single family or even multiple family like Kits and put up large buildings because they are green? Do you seriously propose to do this automatically in compliance with a policy of undetermined nature.

Which brings me to your process? I have no doubt that your planners have preached to lots of people. Council has sat through up to 160 speakers. I don’t know if that is a record but it sure is better than average.

What kind of a process is it that engages in a discussion of glittering generalities and then claims to understand the wishes of the electorate?

You don’t know what the public wants and you will not know what the public wants until you present it with something that is sufficiently definite as to allow a meaningful discussion.

You and your planners are proceeding in the certain knowledge that you are doing Gods in that you are intent on correcting certain errors in Climate that he, the otherwise Perfect One, has allowed to happen. So In closing i would refer you to the Ultimate Long Range Plan by the Ultimate Long Range Planner: Jehovah in Genesis 1:1 -

1 in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 and the earth was without form, and void;
That’s about where you are. You have six days to go.

1 comment:

PelaLusa said...

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! We now have proof positive that the Emperor has no clothes. He has a wheelchair, but no clothes.