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Suburban-style front garages coming to mature Edmonton neighbourhoods?

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  • #31
    Just how the hell are people supposed to get on board with reducing urban sprawl when they're stopped every time they actually try to live more centrally?

    Some people actually want a front attached garage. These are apparently the same people who are buying houses in this city (see: Windermere, Allard, Rutherford, etc.)

    You can't reasonably expect people to say "screw my own personal preferences...I'm going to buy central and live in a house that I don't like just because it's the right thing to do!"

    **EDIT** I agree with EveB though...some things are (and should continue to be) protected by zoning and the Development Officer, such as boulevards.

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    • #32
      ^Not even close. There was a few decades where virtually all new homes built were front garage, and yet now developers have made a clear change and about half of all new homes are laned with rear detached garages in new neighbourhoods, and they're selling just as fast as garages with attached homes. Factor in the massive spike in condo and multi-family housing over the last decade and it's clear that the demand isn't entirely for front garages, and aren't necessary in mature areas for revitalization or new investment.

      In my opinion, the only thing we'll miss out on by not allowing front garage homes in mature areas is oil workers with jacked up rigs and motorsports toys clogging up our mature areas, and I'm fine with that. Let them live on the fringe.
      Last edited by Chmilz; 26-10-2012, 11:57 AM.
      "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction" - Blaise Pascal

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      • #33
        Multi-family...hmm...you mean like duplexes with single or double front attached garages? Which are easily the most affordable starter homes in Edmonton right now?

        Yeah I agree.

        And when you say that 50% of new houses in new neighborhoods are built with lanes...where exactly are you looking? I mean, yeah, there are some...but the majority of new builds South of the Henday (Clearly Edmonton's biggest growth area) are attached garage. I know this because I was in the market for the last two years.

        I'm not sure if I said it here or on the Journal comments section...but this is all just an exercise in not liking change.

        It's not as if a developer is going to come in, raze all the houses in Ritchie, force driveways over boulevards between trees, and encourage people to speed out of their garages putting the safety of pedestrians at risk. The sky is not falling, and this change in regulation is not going to ruin your neighborhood.

        Once again, I'm not advocating for everybody to have free reign over their property, but if someone wants a front attached garage in a mature neighborhood they should have to apply for a permit, and the granting of that permit should be equally dependent upon having x number of signatures from their neighbors and whether or not the driveway actually makes sense in that location.

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        • #34
          Originally posted by Alex.L View Post
          Just how the hell are people supposed to get on board with reducing urban sprawl when they're stopped every time they actually try to live more centrally?

          Some people actually want a front attached garage. These are apparently the same people who are buying houses in this city (see: Windermere, Allard, Rutherford, etc.)

          You can't reasonably expect people to say "screw my own personal preferences...I'm going to buy central and live in a house that I don't like just because it's the right thing to do!"

          **EDIT** I agree with EveB though...some things are (and should continue to be) protected by zoning and the Development Officer, such as boulevards.
          Those who want to live in a front garage subdivision have plenty of choices - there are new builds in new suburbs, there are thousands in late 20th century mature neighborhoods without alleys, and there are a few redevelopment opportunities in those laneless neighborhoods . New builds on older front garage streets will have front garages or carports because it is the only way to provide the required parking when there is no alley. With the city struggling to meet its goal of just 25% of new housing in existing neighborhoods, there is not likely to be a shortage of new RSL subdivisions anytime soon.

          On the other hand, allowing front garages in neighborhoods with alleys is counterproductive if we are trying to increase density. Driveways kill street parking, but street parking becomes progressively more valuable with every new dwelling added. Furthermore, many of the people who have chosen to buy in neighborhoods without front garages have done so because they hate front garages and want to stay away from them. Allowing front garages everywhere takes away that choice.

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          • #35
            Although I don't think any neighbourhood should be dominated by front garage style houses I do think a healthy variety of housing in mature neighbourhoods might help attract people to those areas. Young families and other people who may otherwise choose the suburbs for this type of house. As long as there is some sort of control for this type of housing in the mature areas.

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            • #36
              I used to be just like all you naysayers until I give it a try.

              Now I'm sold, houses with front attached garages function very well, even better than the standard bungalow.

              I've come to realize that houses with front attached garages are very desirable to live in. They are more practicable to live in than houses with alleys. I used to live in a bungalow in Inglewood so I know what I'm talking about. I've been living in the Hamptons for 3 years and have come to realize that the residential streets that have houses with front facing garages are more vibrant than residential streets that have houses facing an alley. They are more vibrant because all traffic is concentrated on one street instead of being split into two. There are new houses with alleys in the Hamptons but the alleys get no love from the residents, the are filled with with rusty cars with flat tires, tall grass, unfinished garages rotting away. The alleys are garbage dumps with a lot of opportunity for crime. This is in a neighbourhood that is barely 10 years old! To date, I have never seen a crime ridden, run down residential street that has houses with front attached garages anywhere in Edmonton.

              Some of you bemoan over the lack of parking that houses with front attached garages supposedly create but forget to realize that you can park 4 vehicles on a standard front facing double car garage home and still have 1 or two parking spaces on the side of the road. There aren't any parking problems in the suburbs and the households own more cars per-capita than households near downtown.


              http://www.homeplans.com/plan-detail...ot-opportunity

              Does this look ugly? The house I live in is vaguely like this except it's more narrow. My house has the 2 car garage, bonus room above, entrance with bathroom window above, perfect for narrow lots.
              Keep in mind that the average bungalow built from 1955 to 1965 aren't that great either. Some of them are approaching the end of their lifespan.

              The alley was designed in North Amercica solely for the automobile. There are no alleys in great cities like London, Amsterdam, Shanghai, Taipei, Tokyo, Manila, Mumbai, Paris, Istanbul, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Cape Town etc. Check them out on google earth if you don't believe me. Some of those cities have very narrow streets that look like alleys but aren't because buildings face them. Only in North America will you see 2 roads serving one house.

              All you naysayers need to take a walk in the suburbs to see what I'm talking about.
              I still want to live in a mature neighbourhood because I'm jealous of all the amenities available but I also love the house I live in right now. This is a dilemma many suburbanites face. Downtown needs to be able to compete with the suburbs, the development of houses with front attached garages should not be discouraged.
              Edmonton first, everything else second.

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              • #37
                Downtown and Oliver and old strathcona predate the automobile ( at least, the proliferation of the automobile) and they have alleys. So that's clearly false.

                I have friends who live in a house vaguely like that, that had a rash of midday B&E s lately where the thief had no fear of getting caught because no one in the neighbourhood can see out the front of their homes. There are lots of neighbourhoods like that, with nothing on the front except a big garage door and a dark, narrow passage to the front door. I don't know how parents let kids play out on the street in neighbourhoods like that.

                Downtown absolutely does not meet to compete with the suburbs for front garages. That's just silly. Mature neighbourhoods need to add density to compensate for shrinking family sizes, but everything that takes more space for parking ( including front garages) is counterproductive.

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by ThomasH View Post
                  I've come to realize that houses with front attached garages are very desirable to live in. They are more practicable to live in than houses with alleys. I used to live in a bungalow in Inglewood so I know what I'm talking about. I've been living in the Hamptons for 3 years and have come to realize that the residential streets that have houses with front facing garages are more vibrant than residential streets that have houses facing an alley. They are more vibrant because all traffic is concentrated on one street instead of being split into two. There are new houses with alleys in the Hamptons but the alleys get no love from the residents, the are filled with with rusty cars with flat tires, tall grass, unfinished garages rotting away. The alleys are garbage dumps with a lot of opportunity for crime. This is in a neighbourhood that is barely 10 years old! To date, I have never seen a crime ridden, run down residential street that has houses with front attached garages anywhere in Edmonton.
                  I'm glad you like your house, but:
                  1. It's not automobile traffic that makes a street vibrant, it's pedestrian traffic. How many kids walk by your house on their way to school? How often do people pass your house while out for a stroll to get a little exercise and fresh air?
                  2. Yes, alleys can be ugly at times - that's where the garage doors and garbage storage areas are. Your garage doors have just been moved around to the front. What does your street look like on garbage day? Where do you store your garbage between pickups?

                  Originally posted by ThomasH View Post
                  Some of you bemoan over the lack of parking that houses with front attached garages supposedly create but forget to realize that you can park 4 vehicles on a standard front facing double car garage home and still have 1 or two parking spaces on the side of the road. There aren't any parking problems in the suburbs and the households own more cars per-capita than households near downtown.
                  Yes, there are parking problems in the suburbs. I encounter them every time I go to visit someone there. It's inevitable when half the street parking is blocked by driveways. For a house to accommodate a 2 car driveway and still leave room for even one street parking spot it needs to be on a rather wide lot. I believe this is the origin of the 10.4 m lot minimum in the RSL zone, which is substantially wider than the 7.6 m minimum currently proposed for areas with alleys.

                  Originally posted by ThomasH View Post

                  http://www.homeplans.com/plan-detail...ot-opportunity
                  Does this look ugly? The house I live in is vaguely like this except it's more narrow. My house has the 2 car garage, bonus room above, entrance with bathroom window above, perfect for narrow lots.
                  Keep in mind that the average bungalow built from 1955 to 1965 aren't that great either. Some of them are approaching the end of their lifespan.
                  Yes, it is ugly (at least to me anyways). It's sideways, with the roof ridge parallel to the street (just like those mid 20th century bungalows). Despite the "bonus room", the garage still sticks out like a sore thumb. Rotating the roof ridge and moving the front door forward to match the garage door (with the veranda even further forward) would help, but I would still prefer a living room window (without the ugly bars) and full-width veranda to the driveway and garage door. It is definitely not "perfect for a narrow lot" - a doublewide driveway will take up at least 2/3 of a narrow lot, not leaving much room for landscaping or street parking.
                  I agree that the bungalows from the last half of the 20th century are equally ugly though. Aesthetically, I much prefer the 1910s and 1920s 2.5 storeys.

                  Originally posted by ThomasH View Post
                  The alley was designed in North Amercica solely for the automobile. There are no alleys in great cities like London, Amsterdam, Shanghai, Taipei, Tokyo, Manila, Mumbai, Paris, Istanbul, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Cape Town etc. Check them out on google earth if you don't believe me. Some of those cities have very narrow streets that look like alleys but aren't because buildings face them. Only in North America will you see 2 roads serving one house.
                  As I posted in the middle (post 36) of the "narrow homes" thread, assuming equal lot areas, using alleys means that slightly less land is devoted to the automobile, despite an increase in parking capacity.

                  Originally posted by ThomasH View Post
                  All you naysayers need to take a walk in the suburbs to see what I'm talking about.
                  I still want to live in a mature neighbourhood because I'm jealous of all the amenities available but I also love the house I live in right now. This is a dilemma many suburbanites face. Downtown needs to be able to compete with the suburbs, the development of houses with front attached garages should not be discouraged.
                  Lot depths in mature neighborhoods are fixed - unlike a new subdivision you cannot decrease the street pitch to compensate for the need for wider lots to accommodate both driveways and street parking. The slight space advantage of rear garages then becomes a huge space advantage. Increasing density in mature neighborhoods means using narrower lots, and that is not compatible with front garages.
                  Last edited by Titanium48; 27-10-2012, 03:40 PM.

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                  • #39
                    I don't think the ThomasH house is ugly but I also don't think it is typical of a new neighbourhood either. Typically the garage sticks out almost the whole depth of the garage and there is only room for a front door beside the garage (20 feet back of the garage doors). The configuration of the garages in the area allow for one car to park in front of two houses on the street. The driveways are 6 meters long and trucks and big cars will protrude onto the sidewalk.

                    There is less street interaction since only the kids use the front door. The adults go from the house to the car out the garage door and vise versa on the way home. Unless of course the garage gets so full of crap that they can't park in it anymore.

                    I don't see how having front drive garages in the old areas where there is an alley is going to improve the neighbourhood in any way. If there is an alley people shouldn't be permitted to cross the public boulevard to get to their garage. It is a public space not private property and the city has already provided an vehicle access to it out back.

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                    • #40
                      I know none of this was directed at me...but I feel compelled to reply anyway.

                      Originally posted by Titanium48 View Post
                      I'm glad you like your house, but:
                      1. It's not automobile traffic that makes a street vibrant, it's pedestrian traffic. How many kids walk by your house on their way to school? How often do people pass your house while out for a stroll to get a little exercise and fresh air?
                      2. Yes, alleys can be ugly at times - that's where the garage doors and garbage storage areas are. Your garage doors have just been moved around to the front. What does your street look like on garbage day? Where do you store your garbage between pickups?
                      1. Kids walk by my house every day. I know this because I work from home in my bonus room overlooking the street. Think of it as an elevated living room. Many on my block use this room for a living room too...so there goes the earlier argument about no eyes on the streets. People are constantly walking past my house on the sidewalk...usually to get to the huge park in the middle of the neighborhood which we would not have if the area was built on a grid with alleys. Sidewalks are shovelled, dogs are walked, kids and adults alike walk to the bus stop (about 2 blocks away) in the morning and back in the afternoon.

                      2. Alleys are almost always ugly. Storing garbage outside is an invitation for stray animals to rip it open and spread it all over the neighborhood. I'm speaking from experience here, since I used to live in a central neighborhood. Every week after garbage pickup I'd have to go out and clean up the mess left behind after bags were ripped open by either stray animals or the human scavengers in the area. Speaking from the perspective of a Capital City Cleanup volunteer, this was definitely not an isolated incident...and the alleys were an absolute mess of discarded lumberm, broken appliances, garbage, uncut grass, and broken fences.

                      In my new neighborhood, garbage collection is on the street. This means storing your garbage in your garage (or backyard I guess) until collection day, and it makes for a nice clean neighborhood. It also makes people much more conscious about what they're throwing out vs what they're recycling and what they're hauling to the eco-station. Nobody leaves old couches on the curb for weeks on end (like in my former neighborhood), for instance. Oh, and on garbage day my street looks very neat and organized. Everybody puts their trash at the end of their driveway in the morning, and it's gone within a few hours. No time to have it ripped open and strewn about. The most unsightly thing that might occur is if a blue bin is tipped over from the wind, really.

                      Lot depths in mature neighborhoods are fixed - unlike a new subdivision you cannot decrease the street pitch to compensate for the need for wider lots to accommodate both driveways and street parking. The slight space advantage of rear garages then becomes a huge space advantage. Increasing density in mature neighborhoods means using narrower lots, and that is not compatible with front garages.
                      That's funny...because some of the most narrow lots on the market are being developed as duplexes outside of the Henday on which the property line bisects the house. Oh, and these have front garages...http://www.dolcevitahomes.ca/designs.aspx?myid=164

                      Space for 4 cars to park OFF of the road in front of 2 houses that are probably still on a lot smaller than most in more central areas. Crazy, right?

                      Imagine if these were on one side of the road, and there was a park on the other side of the road...meaning there is an entire street's worth of non-driveway parking available in your precious central neighborhood. A sidewalk unmolested by driveways on one side of the road, and one with driveways on the other side.

                      THE HORROR!!!

                      It's almost as if there are some scenarios in which this amendment or bylaw or whatever it is might actually work!
                      Last edited by Alex.L; 30-10-2012, 12:26 PM.

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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Alex.L View Post
                        That's funny...because some of the most narrow lots on the market are being developed as duplexes outside of the Henday on which the property line bisects the house. Oh, and these have front garages...http://www.dolcevitahomes.ca/designs.aspx?myid=164

                        Space for 4 cars to park OFF of the road in front of 2 houses that are probably still on a lot smaller than most in more central areas. Crazy, right?

                        Imagine if these were on one side of the road, and there was a park on the other side of the road...meaning there is an entire street's worth of non-driveway parking available in your precious central neighborhood. A sidewalk unmolested by driveways on one side of the road, and one with driveways on the other side.
                        But that's not what happens. They cram those duplexes in on both sides of a skinny road, sometimes with restrictions that you can't park on the road, and occasionally with no sidewalks. The driveways are usually quite short and anything longer than a corolla sticks out over the curb.

                        On a typical lot in a mature neighbourhood, one can easily fit a 4 car garage across the back (my neighbour has one and could fit a 5 car across if the city would allow it). plus the driveway, and room for 3 more in front of the house. That's space for 13 vehicles if you're keeping count - a bit extreme of course.

                        But it doesn't really matter, if you want no alley and a front attached garage, you can get it. Many neighbourhoods offer it in all areas of the city. Some people don't and they have neighbourhoods that don't allow it. Everyone's happy.

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                        • #42
                          ^parking restrictions happen on streets with lane homes too. And I can't say I've ever seen a driveway so short that a corolla can't park on it...at least not in my house-hunting.

                          There are probably instances of this, but it's definitely not the norm.

                          As far as cramming houses in along a skinny road goes...take a drive through Terwillegar South and look at all of the lane homes crammed along the sides of some of those extremely narrow streets where vehicles line the streets on both sides, then tell me front driveways are bad.

                          Even worse when the snowplows come through. What a nightmare. I'd much rather have everybody parked in their front driveway and the street completely cleared.

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                          • #43
                            ^^^Large, central park areas are absolutely possible with a grid layout. Most of our mature neighborhoods have them. A classical Edmonton block is 100 m x 160 m, or 1.6 ha, or 4 acres - plenty of room for a nice sized park.

                            I'm glad I don't have to store garbage in my garage and keep track of the city's randomly changing pickup schedule. Yes, there is the occasional incident where a bag gets ripped open, but a few minutes with a rake and it is back in the garbage can. The human scavengers usually make lumber and scrap metal disappear quickly. They don't bother messing with my garbage because they can easily see there are no returnables in the blue bags and the weight of the black bags is a quick tip off that there are no low density returnables in them either. There are not many fences (broken or otherwise) parallel to my alley, as most of my neighbors use the entire rear of their lot for parking. The patches of uncut grass really don't bother me. I find the whole concept of a manicured lawn a little strange. I never water my lawn and I only cut it when it starts to fall over. Slow growing, drought tolerant grasses have taken over naturally.

                            The semi-detached in the link above is really not that narrow (6 m per side, requiring a 14.4 m site including side yards) and only has single garages. Put the garages in the back and move the houses forward and you can accomplish the same thing on a 12 m wide site, while providing double garages, twice the street parking and an equal size, more private back yard. If you are splitting a 15 m lot in a mature neighborhood, you can build 1800 ft^2 houses instead of 1370 ft^2.

                            Even if you are building a front garage house in an non-alley area, it can be done better than that. Move the front door forward to match the garage door, put the house-to-garage door in the resulting hallway, put the stairs behind the garage, extend the second floor to fully cover the garage and entrance. Now you have the same floorspace on a smaller footprint.

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                            • #44
                              We've gone on record as opposing the proposed changes to the MNO for the following reasons:

                              Lots in our neighborhood are typically 33' wide, some are 40' An attached front garage would take up almost all the street frontage of the lots.

                              Our narrow streets require that on-street parking can only happen on one side of the street. A front drive takes away one or two parking spaces that otherwise would be available to others.

                              Our character homes and Elm lined boulevards are often noted as one of the prime reasons people move into our neighborhood. Builders have been able to build new homes that suite the style of the neighborhood... we feel that front garages will detract for that feature of our neighborhood. There is also the potential for the trees to be damaged or destroyed.

                              All our blocks have mid block alleys. The alleys keep cars, garbage trucks and services off the main road.
                              Over promise and under deliver. It’s the most Edmonton thing you can do.

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                              • #45
                                The utopia of two cars parked in the garage and four on the pad of front drive garages rarely happens. I have noticed that when different family members leave the house at different times they are forever jockeying their vehicles. If there are teenagers in the house they are usually in and out all the time. What normally happens, to stop having to move cars constantly from the garage pad people start to park on the street. When there are front drive garages there is very little area of street to park on. Then what happens, people over the road who don't have front garages end up having people from over the road parking in front of their place. It's not against the law but sure can be annoying.
                                Gone............................and very quickly forgotten may I add.

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