In case you’ve got time for reading, here’s a batch of good (and relatively short) stuff that’s come across my desk lately.
1) From British Columbia, a fascinating series by Monte Paulsen in The Tyee on Vancouver’s affordable housing problem. Part 1 came out yesterday and Part 2 hit the web today.
Think the falling real estate market is going to solve B.C.’s housing affordability problems? Think again: Home prices would have to plunge 55 per cent before ordinary families will be able to buy homes in this market. And if real estate sinks that low, so will family incomes.
Think falling home prices will lead to lower rents? Think again: Kelowna, Victoria and Vancouver boast rental vacancy rates of roughly 0.3 per cent.
Think empty condos, more housing, or government programs are going to close the gap between what ordinary homes cost and what ordinary families can afford? Well, read on.
2) In The Atlantic Monthly, a good feature article by Richard Florida, How The Crash Will Reshape America.
No place in the United States is likely to escape a long and deep recession. Nonetheless, as the crisis continues to spread outward from New York, through industrial centers like Detroit, and into the Sun Belt, it will undoubtedly settle much more heavily on some places than on others. Some cities and regions will eventually spring back stronger than before. Others may never come back at all. As the crisis deepens, it will permanently and profoundly alter the country’s economic landscape. I believe it marks the end of a chapter in American economic history, and indeed, the end of a whole way of life.
3) And at Daily Kos, an encouraging post by chapter1 on energy conservation, Google, smart grid, and climate change. You’ll have to read it to see what I mean:
Its been months or years since I was last as hopeful about Global Warming as I was yesterday and today.
Yesterday, a new invention (that no one I know personally had anything to with) was announced. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that by the end of next year, it will reduce American CO2 emissions more than every single wind turbine and solar panel installed until then.
This diary is not snark and I am not drunk.
You do realize that the study being touted by the Tyee is from American anti-transit/anti-rail/anti-urban/anti-city/anti-everything hack Wendell Cox, who can’t get his work published by any peer reviewed publication because it is such heavily manipulated right wing claptrap?I’m not saying that the issue isn’t serious, or that Vancouver doesn’t have a housing affordability issue. But Cox is a serial torturer of statistics to make them say whatever he wants. I would expect Sightline to know this.
I didn’t see the name “Wendell Cox” in those Tyee articles. Assuming Cox is behind the study mentioned at the front end of Part 1 from Frontier Centre for Public Policy, cited as finding “Vancouver is the fourth most expensive place in the world in which to buy a house,” what’s the substance of Regular Reader’s gripe? That Vancouver is NOT the fourth most expensive place in the world to buy a house? Surely it’s in the top 10….
I just dug up the Demographia “study.” It only covered the predominantly anglo-speaking countries of the world: US, UK, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand. Cox would consider most of the rest of Europe as hideous socialist nightmares, so of course it makes sense that he would leave them out.You can find the study here.(PDF)This now puts things in perspective when you look at studies of the world’s most expensive cities and find Vancouver up in the 50s to 80s.My point here is again, not that Vancouver does not have a problem to deal with regarding housing affordability. It is that Wendell Cox’s work has a very specific function in this world- to attack contemporary urban planning in the US (and apparently now Canada and the UK) whenever it promotes things his funders (which he refuses to disclose) don’t like. His funders like two things: cars, and suburbs.The additional point for Vancouverites is that compared with other cities of international reputation (you’re hosting the Olympics, so has Moscow, so has Tokyo) your overall cost of living is considerably lower than some of these places, which means you must be doing something right in the non-housing categories compared to these other places.Read through the COx study. He ties the mess in the financial markets back to land use regulation in high-price markets. But that’s not even close to the key variable. Prices aren’t crashing in New York and Boston like they are in the exurbs, or in FL or CA where mortgage lending standards were much more lax and more speculative development was approved. Cox doesn’t care about housing affordability in Vancouver, or accurately diagnosing it on the world stage. He cares about painting a picture which help paves the way for more auto-dependent, low-density suburban sprawl in the US and Canada.