Lots of Opportunity: Estimating the Zoning Tax in Vancouver

Zoning bylaws restrict the size and frontage of lots, preventing lots from getting subdivided. The opportunity cost of freezing City of Vancouver land use in RS zoned areas in amber is enormous, it amounts to around $40 billion from preventing 2:1 lots splits, and an additional $100 billion from preventing further subdivision beyond that.

Jens von Bergmann Nathan Lauster

20 minute read

(Joint with Nathan Lauster and cross-posted at HomeFreeSociology) TLDR We estimate the land value lost by lot subdivision restrictions in the RS (single-family) zoned lands of Vancouver. These restrictions, also known as the zoning tax, subsidize hoarding of land for the wealthy at the cost of those who wouldn’t mind sharing. We conservatively estimate the overall cost of preventing splitting of lots at $43 billion, or an average of 37% of existing lot land value.

Basement Confidential: Vancouver's Informal Housing Stock

Basement suites are the Schrödinger's cat of dwelling units, they span the space betweem formal and informal housing, viewed by some as the problem of, and by others as the solution to Vancouver's housing woes.

Jens von Bergmann Nathan Lauster

12 minute read

(Joint with Nathan Lauster and cross-posted at HomeFreeSociology) Informal housing While housing is highly regulated via zoning bylaws, building code, and fire code, in situations of housing scarcity we often get informal housing that exists outside of - or only partially covered by - the existing regulatory framework. We often associate slums or shantytowns with the term informal housing, but it also applies to more organized settlements like Kowloon Walled City, or, in the context of subterranean Vancouver, a good portion of our secondary suite stock.

Forced Out in Canada: New Data from CHS

What industries are dominant in Vancouver? People throw around all kinds of crazy stories, time take a look at the data and put some zombies to rest. At least for a day or two before someone else digs them up again.

Jens von Bergmann Nathan Lauster

14 minute read

(Joint with Nathan Lauster and cross-posted at HomeFreeSociology) TL;DR The new data release from CHS 2018 enables us to return to looking at mobility, with a special focus on forced moves. We estimate and compare the risk of forced moves for renters across Canada. We also provide some evidence for its sharp decline in BC in 2018, following protections put in place by the NDP. Finally, we compare risk of “forced move” to risk of “choice move” for renters.

CHS Core Housing Need

A quick overview over the freshly released Canadian Housing Survey data

Jens von Bergmann

3 minute read

Today StatCan released four more tables of data from the Canadian Housing Survey, all around the concept of Core Housing Need. Core housing need aims to measure housing stress based on affordability, suitability (crowding) and adequacy (disrepair). It applies to all households with shelter-cost-to-income ratio less than 100%, excluding non-family student-lead households, that aren’t able to afford an adequate and suitable home in their region. We want to give a quick overview what’s in the new data release.

First-time buyer Lorenz curves

Taking a look at affordability for first-time buyers, and what useful metrics can be constructed to measure this.

Keith Stewart Jens von Bergmann

13 minute read

At the end of this odd COVID-19 summer we launched a reading group to bring together people interested in diving into papers and books looking at housing issues. Geoffrey Meen and Christine Whitehead’s recently released book Understanding Affordability: The Economics of Housing Markets has been the group’s first read. We highly recommend the book, it’s a good read for anyone looking for a practical understanding of how housing markets work and ways to think about supply and demand and what they mean for housing affordability.