Friday, May 20, 2011

Talk Vancouver: Have your say

The City of Vancouver has taken Peter Ladner's advice to heart, sort of, and opened up a discussion on affordable housing, albeit for low to modest income individuals only:

Go on over and have a perusal of the comments. One complaint I do have is that it isn't just low and modest income households who are facing problems, companies in the City are having trouble attracting highly-skilled workers who balk at the house prices.

You can see my response in the comments, and fellow blogger vreaa has made a good comment there too. In my view, the problem is high prices, and yes it's that simple.


me said...

How about raising residential property taxes and lowering business taxes? If property commands such a premium in this city then it should be taxed moderately to ensure productive use. Why are people allowed to sit in million dollar houses and pay less than 10k in taxes? That is obscene. At the same time, businesses are struggling and closing up shop. They need tax breaks.

The problem of affordability is really just a structural issue in the local economy. It can be addressed easily.

jesse said...

@me I don't think it's "easy" only because the owner-residents of Vancouver have some financial incentive to keep prices high.

I agree higher residential taxes are overdue (and the City has raised residential rates faster than commercial in recent years). But that has practical limits, especially for retirees or others of moderate income who would take a disproportionate hit compared to a well-heeled part-time resident.

I do not hold up much hope that the City will act swiftly to "do something", the NPA has loyalties that are likely split over imposing speculative restrictions.

On housing for moderate to low income families, cooperatives seem popular in the forum's comments section. If Vision wants to ape New York, co-ops would seem to be a model worth investigating.

patriotz said...

"If property commands such a premium in this city then it should be taxed moderately to ensure productive use"

You've got that backwards IMHO, high property taxes encourage the most productive use of land (residential or industrial) by making it more expensive for speculators to hold underutilized land.

Lowering property taxes for commercial RE would just result in increased rents since the market decides how much tenants are willing to pay in total.

I think commercial and industrial property is sitting empty because the owners are speculating on conversion to residential use which would gain them far greater returns, since condos owners are willing to pay prices completely detached from economic value.

The solution of course is to end the residential RE bubble, something that governmments won't even acknowledge, never mind do something about.

In the long run I think residential propery tases will go indeed up simply because senior governments will dump more costs onto munitipalities, but it will happen in a stealthy manner.