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The Santa Cruz laneway experience

Vancouver city council passed a laneway housing bylaw in July 2009, allowing old garages and carriage houses to be converted…

By Shannon Dooling , in City , on November 25, 2010

Vancouver city council passed a laneway housing bylaw in July 2009, allowing old garages and carriage houses to be converted into small homes. The initiative is part of the city’s EcoDensity program which pursues sustainable, livable, affordable development.

Residents, though, have criticized the bylaw’s hasty implementation. The city council is reassessing the process.

The city of Santa Cruz, California, adopted an Accessory Dwelling Unit program in 2002. The ADU program shares many of the same goals of Vancouver’s laneway housing bylaw:

  • Implement the development of well-designed ADUs in Santa Cruz
  • Help minimize the impact of population growth by providing more rental housing in the city’s core
  • Promote infill development to help preserve the surrounding natural greenbelt
  • Support public transit

Carol Berg, Santa Cruz’ housing and community development manager, said ADUs have been “an incredible success.”

The city involved residents in discussions around the ADU program before changing the single-family lot zoning ordinance, which affected more than 18,000 homeowners.

Berg attributed a great deal of the program’s success to a housing crisis that has gripped the city since 2002.

She said the lack of affordable rental units was “hitting home” with residents and the ADUs have been welcomed as an effective option.

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