WebStamp February 07, 2018
Tiny House Bylaw Amendment Movement Continues
In the last issue of WebStamp, we began explaining what the Tiny House Bylaw Amendment Movement (THBAM) is. We are using the current system used to amend Individual parcels of land to amend existing bylaws to allow the creation of affordable tiny lots. The current Calgary minimum lot size is 30% too wide and 50% deeper than needed for the settlement of tiny homes. Many of the options Calgary is looking at for affordable housing is with the rental market. This THBAM is another option that allows for affordable property ownership.
With the lots being so small in length, the need for the large building setbacks is unnecessary for emergency and utility access. Since there is a small side yard of 4 m which can provide access, the building setback from the side property line needs to be only a ½ meter instead of the current 1.2 m providing ample access between structures.
Having the side yard, the 7.5 meters setback from the rear property line is pointless and should be reduced to only 1 m, as we only need one yard. In the row-housing I lived in the Netherlands, we only had a front street sidewalk setback of only 1.5 m, which I felt was ample room. The current bylaw of 3 m setback for a laneless parcel, as many of these tiny lots would be, doesn’t fit. Let us also consider that many of the houses put on these tiny lots will most likely be trailerable, or mobile, structures and can be easily moved when needed.
Since many of these homes will be occupied by only 1 or 2 individuals, the required 2 parking stalls is overkill since only 1 parking stall per unit is essential. By placing units side-by-side allows for one additional guest street parking for every 2 lots in front of the buildings. Encouraging alternative transportation, such as transit or cycling, can help reduce the requirement for parking.
As we can see, the current minimum size and setbacks for a lot are out of date with the current social housing trend of living affordable and eco-friendly and need to be adjusted to keep up with the evolving trends and needs of the population. Since we are developing lots that don’t allow for much space and tiny houses, allowing secondary suites, and especially backyard suites, wouldn’t be feasible. Most of the other permitted and discretionary uses could be allowed.
While writing this article I discovered the city does have a land-use bylaw for cottage housing clusters. This is classified as a grouping of cottage buildings around an open space. Within this low density mixed housing district (R-G & R-Gm) cottage home clusters are allowed to be as small as 90 m². However, WebStamp’s amendment calls for a lot smaller than 70 m².
The front property setback with cottage house clusters of 1 m and the minimum property width of 5 m fit with a tiny lot designation. The side property setback and building separation are about twice of what is required. As we continue to formulate a presentation to City Council, we will continue to look into all our options. Next issue I would like to explore cottage housing bylaws. See you in 2 weeks.
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