Effective April 30, 2014, the city’s Bureau of Development Services has thrown out a long-standing demolition policy that allowed developers to avoid notifying neighbors when a targetted home was to be replaced by two new houses. Under the new rules, a 30-day notification of demolition sign must be posted on the property within 7 days of the application for demolition, during which time the corresponding neighborhood organization could request additional delays up to 120 days.
Notification of neighbors has been a very thorny issue with older, established neighborhoods, whose residents sometimes wake up to the sight of bulldozers razing a property before neighbors can verify that proper asbestos and lead paint abatement procedures have been completed. A demolition delay also allows for deconstruction of the home so usable features like mouldings and French doors can be recycled.
The infamous “K-1” exemption that developers have been using since 1990 to avoid neighborhood notification stated that, as long as a builder bought a building permit at the same time as he applied for a demolition permit, notification was unnecessary regardless of how many new houses he planned to build. Today’s announcement means the common practice of tearing down one smaller home and replacing it with two larger ones will be subject to demolition delay rules, giving neighbors a much louder voice in the outcome.
The “K-1” exemption was first discovered by the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association which has lobbied tenaciously for its removal from city code. Developers may still tear down a single family dwelling and not notify neighbors if only one new house is built on the property. But the vast majority of demolitions in established neighborhoods have been examples of the one-house-for-two demolition scenario.