Four Proposals for Reversing the Housing Crisis

Somewhere in the middle of all the talk about skytrain-and-towers we stopped talking about building affordable housing, livable streets and walkable neighborhoods. Then came the bad news: housing in Greater Vancouver is 12x over the median household income. What are our governments going to do fix it?

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SKYTRAIN-N-TOWERS, Webbimage—LNV, 2018

When the Land Commission Act was introduced on February 22, 1973 it included provisions that would help us deal with the circumstances we find ourselves in today. However, these measures were removed when governments changed in December 1975. Among the lost provisions we find elements in good urbanism:

The preservation of greenbelt land, landbank land and parkland. Continue reading “Four Proposals for Reversing the Housing Crisis”

The ‘Sprawl’ Fallacy

Beginning in the 1980s Greater Vancouver regional plans posited ‘sprawl’ as an evil consuming farms and open space, increasing our dependence on automobiles and threatening life as we know it by releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere where they caused ‘Global Warming’. In order to end ‘sprawl’ regional plans discouraged automobile use, guided building towers-and-skytrain, took 25% of urban footprint ‘off the table’ as either farm land or ‘open space’ and—in our view—triggered the Great Vancouver Housing Crisis.

WHAT IS URBAN S-P-R-A-W-L-?-?-?-?-?-?-?

Three planners walked into a bar in Vancouver and bumped into an old class mate from the School of Architecture. She greeted them by holding up a page from a transportation report (pictured above) and proposing a contest: A free round of cocktails if anyone in the group can satisfy all the others with a concrete and measurable definition of ‘sprawl’.

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The Great Vancouver Housing Crisis

This just in: The Greater Vancovuer Livable Region Strategic Plan (RGS) Triggers the Great Housing Crisis! Prices now 12-times greater than median incomes. Affordability tops out at 3-times.

A FOOL’S ERRAND: BUILD TOWERS TO PUT AN END TO SPRAWL, BUILD SKYTRAIN TO LURE PEOPLE OUT OF THEIR CARS AND RESTRICT LAND SUPPLY 25%.

Runaway inflation in land values have put Vancouver in a Housing Crisis. Housing in the city and in the surrounding Regional District (GVRD—also known as Metro) has been pushed into the stratosphere. Median family incomes are up about 1% over the last 11 years. But housing prices have risen a whopping 400% over the same period. The Canadian dream of owning a home has been put beyond the reach of the middle and working classes. So much so that their survival is now at stake. The crisis exposes major flaws in government planning at the most senior levels. The Livable Region Strategic Plan prescription of ‘building skytrain-and-towers while restricting land supply’ to jump start the economy after the 1980s recession got us here. Now nobody is sure what will get us out.

Continue reading “The Great Vancouver Housing Crisis”

Electric Cars Expose Major Flaws in Vancouver’s Regional Plans

The Livable Regions Strategic Plan could be ushering us to a 66% reduction in GHGs by 2040. Instead it has been the instrument driving our housing prices to the unsustainable level of 12-times median household incomes. Anything above 3x is considered unaffordable.

Tesla Kills the Plann

ELECTRIC CARS DELIVER WHERE VANCOUVER’S 22 YEAR OLD REGIONAL PLAN FAILED: ENDING AIR POLLUTION

The new electric cars with the 300-mile range batteries and a global super charing network, have precipitated an unexpected result here on the far western shores of Canada. They have turned the tables on the regional plans calling into question their base assumptions and putting a laser-like focus on what in fact has been delivered: A housing price increase of 1,167% (over the 30 years, adjusted for inflation, starting in 1987). The Greater Vancouver regional plans have lifted land prices 12-times over the median household incomes. Affordability tops out at a price-income ratio of 3.0.

Continue reading “Electric Cars Expose Major Flaws in Vancouver’s Regional Plans”

The Economics of High Rise Buildings

In the City of London government mega projects combine with private sector towers to keep real estate prices beyond the reach of the average citizen.

london-2026

NEW LONDON SKYLINE 2026: Architectural rendering as advertisement—paid by The London City Corporation

Have you wondered—as I have—where the half-million-plus daily passengers expected to travel London’s much touted, brand new, cross rail Elizabeth Subway Line will land? Well, now we know. What we call ‘towers-and-skytrain’ in Vancouver is called ‘towers-and-underground’ in London. It sounds different, yet it is the very same thing. Only names and locations have changed. The first western city to reach 1 million inhabitants since the times of ancient Rome is headed the way of Wall Street. Greed will triumph there over good urbanism. We will see this process taking shape in concrete form as we examine the ‘profit curve’ informing decisions made by developers about how high to build. We shall see them piling typical floor upon typical floor until the economies of scale reach the tipping point and adding more floors threatens the profit margin.

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Vancouver ‘Broadway Subway’ Exposed: The BS Line

After 30 years of building Skytrain-and-Towers in Vancouver there can only be ONE reason to build a subway under Broadway: Build more towers!

Vancouver NOT-TOD verso

JOYCE STATION—TRANSLINK AND ‘GOOD URBANISM’ DON’T MIX

Provincial Governments can be accused of hiding the truth about Skytrain for 40 Years: we built skytrain to attract foreign capital to build residential condos on station sites and beyond. The truth is we don’t need more subways or streetcars or skytrains in Vancouver. Our governments now have a bigger problem to fix—DELIVERING AFFORDABLE HOUSING.

Continue reading “Vancouver ‘Broadway Subway’ Exposed: The BS Line”

Vancouver to Calfornia …in a Tesla

A new era is dawning fuelled by electric cars, exuding clean air, beating back the threat of Global Warming and promising to deliver affordable housing along new electric super highways. Paradoxically the way to avoid standing-still traffic jams filled with Teslas as far as the eye can see will be to build walkable neighborhoods and livable streets.

Easter Island Company

SUPER CHARGING AT A TESLA DEALERSHIP NEAR GRANTS PASS, OREGON

What about this: drive my car to California, electric ‘super’ charging TOTALLY free… That was the proposition I accepted from a very good friend when my family was planning one of our favorite spring getaways: Vancouver to Carlsbad Beach, California in a two-day drive.

Continue reading “Vancouver to Calfornia …in a Tesla”