The Vancouver Dream, The Vancouver Nightmare

Despite its reputation as a planner's dream, the city of Vancouver has incredibly high housing prices, which is part of the reason <em>New Geography</em>'s Steve Lafleur calls it a middle class nightmare.
August 20, 2010, 1pm PDT | Nate Berg
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Lafleur looks at the demand for housing and real estate in Vancouver, and how the city's urban planning policies have ushered in an era of compact urbanism. But with what some might see as gains, the city's housing stock has become increasingly unaffordable for most middle class workers.

"In addition to smart growth policies, Vancouver also has very stringent inclusionary zoning laws. Inclusionary zoning requires developers to provide a certain number of affordable housing units in any given development. This policy might seem to make the city more affordable, but it functions exactly like rent control. Those fortunate enough to find spaces in the affordable housing units pay less, but the subsidized rent is made up for by higher rent in adjacent units. In a study of inclusionary zoning in California cities, Benjamin Powell and Edward Stringham from the Department of Economics at San Jose State University found that inclusionary zoning imposes an additional $33,000-$66,000 cost on adjacent market rate units.

There have been some recent policy initiatives that may reduce the cost of housing marginally. In 2004, the city amended its zoning code to permit secondary suites throughout the city. Secondary suites are subdivided units of owner occupied homes that are used as rental units. This zoning change brought tens of thousands of relatively low cost units into the market. There are currently 120,000 secondary suites in the province."

Thanks to The Overhead Wire

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Published on Thursday, August 19, 2010 in New Geography
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