Thursday, June 14, 2012

Oak Bay NIMBYs

 There is a new group in existence call Oak Bay Watch which is getting press about their opposition to some of the new houses being built in Oak Bay.   They seem to mainly want to argue that the new houses are too large for the lots, which they are not within the current by-laws, but when looking at their website this is clearly not as much a focus as their hatred of the design of the houses.

The Oak Bay News has recently been full of letters both against new houses and for new houses.

I want to look at a few of the houses they are complaining about:

2277 Central Ave
The old house at 2277 Central Ave on the left

Design of the new house
2277 Central Ave was a very plan and bland 2010 square foot house on a 5520 square foot lot.   The garage seems to have been made into part of house as is very common for older homes.  I suspect the basement was not really properly finished space with decent light.

The house was for sale for $599,000 earlier this year and obviously sold as it the old house is gone and a new one is going up in its place

pic from Oak Bay Watch website
The new house has been designed by Rodier and is being built by Seba Construction.  Other than the exterior colour, I think the design is a nice one. This house has a lot many more windows which should make it a brighter house.  The images of the interior of the old house were VERY white, I assume this has something to do with lack of good light coming into the house.  Do not forget the front of the house is north facing.

The height of the new house is no higher than the previous house and might actually be lower.   I do not have the measurements of the new house, but looking at the picture of it under construction, it is not going to be any larger than the old house was.
Overview of 2277 Central Ave

The property had no significant trees on it that I can see.

This house does not push any of the limits, all it is doing is replacing an old post war bland cookie cutter house (the sort that Malvina Reynolds referred to her song Little Boxes) with something interesting and new.   I see no reason anyone could oppose this house other than they do not like the look which I have trouble understanding because the previous house was ugly.

1058 Monterey Ave

This house was on the market for $685,000.   It is a 9000 square foot lot and had a 1987 square foot house on it.  The house 1987 square feet of house is a bit misleading because the house also has a basement of around 1300 square feet meaning it really is a 3300 square foot house.  The house was built in 1912 and was getting a bit tired, it needed some renovation work.  There seems to be a one car garage at the back of the lot on the lane.

A new house is being built on this lot but Method Built that they are calling Oak Lanes. The house seems like it will be between 3500 and 3800 square feet and a separate studio/garage at the back of the property.
I think this is very cool design

Since early May neighbours have been complaining about the new house that is being built.   Somehow the neighbours think they have a right to decide what someone else's house looks like.   The new house is well within what is allowed on such a large lot and obviously fits within all the set backs and height restrictions.  There is nothing here to compain about other than the look.   The Oak Bay News nicely pointed this out in an editorial.

Among other things, Oak Bay Watch is complaining about the loss of trees.   Three trees that seem to have been 40 or so years old were removed.  The trees were located between the two houses where there is only a ten foot space for the trees.  Two of the trees were going to a clear problem for both houses in the future and were going to have to come down.

Overview of 1059 Monterey Ave
I am sure that Oak Bay Watch really hates the design, it is long narrow house with a lot of large windows facing onto to the lane.   Method Built Homes' Rajinder Sahota recently defended this house in a letter to the Oak Bay News.

The neighbour to the south has a 700 to 750 square foot separate building at the back of the lot that is about the same size as the studio/garage at 1058 Monterey so the extra building at the back can not be an issue.

The design of the new house seems to be doing something innovative with the landscaping, they are getting away from having a lawn, something that most people should be doing since lawns are mono cultures that suck up water.  

Oak Bay Watch is the worst of NIMBYism that I have seen in this City for some time.   If they really do not want people to build new houses maybe they should go out and buy the properties.   If they do not want to spend the money to buy the properties, it is none of their business what people do on their land if they are within the already very restrictive by-laws of Oak Bay.
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