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.

Bartholomew's dot destiny

Bartholomew made projections of what a Central Vancouver penninsula (UBC, Musqueam 2, Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster) with 1 million people would look like. We no just about hit that number time to compare how his projections stock up.

Jens von Bergmann Nathan Lauster

6 minute read

(Joint with Nathan Lauster and cross-posted at HomeFreeSociology) How did early planners envision Vancouver’s future growth? Fortunately for us, they left a prediction in dot-density map form! Here we compare their prediction to a dot-density map from today. Let’s check out how our dot destiny unfolded! Vancouver grew rapidly from its incorporation in 1886 right up to the great crash of 1913, followed by WWI and a raging influenza epidemic (which we all know way too much about now).

Low income vs new dwellings

Does adding homes decrease the low income population? A look at the Canadian data.

Jens von Bergmann

13 minute read

Canada’s metropolitan areas are growing, which means we need to add housing. But adding housing often faces stiff oppositions. There are many reasons people don’t like to add housing, this post is trying to look at one particular one. That adding housing causes displacement of the low-income population. Adding new housing to a neighbourhood has two opposing effects. The gentrification effect starts from the observation that new housing is more expensive than old housing (all else being equal).

Census custom timelines

Playing with fine geography custom tabulation back to 1971.

Jens von Bergmann

5 minute read

After our recent posts on multi-census comparisons I was pointed to a semi-custom tabulation for census timelines back to 1971 for Vancouver and Toronto. That’s data for the 1971, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006 and 2011 censuses on a common 2016 DA geography for the two CMAs. This is really cool, not just that it eliminates the need to tongfen the geographies, but in particular because Statistics Canada does not even haven publicly available geographic boundary files for censuses before 2001.

Vancouver population density over time

A detailed look at growth in the City of Vancouver

Stuart Smith Jens von Bergmann

6 minute read

Clustered growth map

Canadian census data is freely available, alas not in a very convenient format for older data. Census data back to 1991 are available from Statistics Canada with an open data licence, digital geographic data is only available back to 2001. Older census data is available in digital format via paid subscription services from private entities with restrictive licences. But all data is available for free as open data in paper format.