Learning from Shaughnessy: The role of design guidelines in adjudicating community conflicts

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Alexander, Don
This report reviews the recent controversy involving "monster houses" in the affluent Vancouver neighbourhood of Shaughnessy, and the evolution of the "character zoning" known as RS-5. It evaluates the usefulness of this zoning, and the process that led to its creation, from the vantage point of addressing community design conflicts and compares it with other available options, such as standard RS-1 zoning, RS-6, and neighbourhood design panels. The report suggests that RS-5 has been quite successful in its goals, and that the collaborative approach that produced it should be seen as a potential model for resolving community conflicts. It offers further recommendations for protecting the heritage and "sense of place" in existing neighbourhoods, and for extending neighbourhood participation and strengthening pluralism. The report also attempts to apply the lessons from this experience to the task of reducing the "ecological footprint" of residential neighbourhoods. It makes a number of recommendations regarding how this could occur, and suggests that the full ecological impacts of residential neighbourhoods - along with the issue of affordable housing - have largely been neglected in the debate over design controls and yet are of equal, if not greater, importance.
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