“Housing affordability – Rush to Zone”: Elizabeth Murphy shreds Grandview Woodland draft community plan and myth of rezoning for affordability

2016-land-use-map Grandview-WoodlandAn article by Elizabeth Murphy entitled “Housing affordability – Rush to Zone” is published in the July 2016 issue of Common Ground.

Below are a few excerpts and points. Please visit the source for the full article: http://commonground.ca/2016/07/housing-affordability-rush-to-zone/

See also Draft Grandview-Woodland Plan Open Houses – Initial Analysis by Elizabeth Murphy (29-June-2016).

Grandview-Woodland slated for rezoning under the draft community plan is being rushed through for approval by City of Vancouver council before the end of July 2016, only four weeks after public release. Every part of the neighbourhood will be affected.

The Vancouver housing affordability crisis is being addressed by a rush to zone, on the false premise that unaffordability is being caused by a lack of zoning supply. This is like the former Bush administration’s rush to war with Iraq, based on false information about Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction.” Vancouver’s rushed actions, based on false information, are causing enormous damage to our city.

Rampant rezoning to add zoned capacity is driving speculative land inflation, which is further exacerbated by unregulated foreign capital flows. The fact there already is ample zoned capacity to meet future growth must be considered before going further down this road.

Governments are reluctant to address the real causes of unaffordability, such as foreign capital flowing into real estate and selling citizenship through Quebec’s foreign investor program, whose investors land in Vancouver. These are disconnecting residential prices from the local economy. Instead, the government points to simple supply and demand economics, despite the fact that is no longer working. Those industries that promote this status quo are primary contributors to campaign funding that elected parties rely on. Increasing zoning to allow more housing supply will not make prices drop, especially not when the demand side is coming from outside of our local economy.

Increased zoning often inflates land values, making the housing crisis worse

…. Regardless of whether or not a property is developed, the new development potential gets priced into the land

New rental apartment development is often twice as expensive and a fraction of the size of existing affordable units. New houses are usually twice as expensive to buy and much larger in size. …Since development pressure adds increased inflation, which means more expensive housing, rezoning is generally not in the public interest.

Existing rental buildings are often bought on speculation that the City will be removing its decades-long Rate of Change requirements of one-to-one replacement of rentals. …

Existing zoned capacity can already meet future population growth

… The city’s consultant report from June 2014 confirmed, “The City has sufficient capacity in existing zoning and approved community plans to accommodate over 20 years of supply at the recent pace of residential development.”



.. So if there is already so much zoned capacity, why rezone more affordable neighbourhoods like Grandview-Woodland (the Drive)? This is a good question, especially when the Drive already has so many existing affordable rentals, co-ops, social housing units and multi-suited heritage houses.

The proposed draft community plan for Grandview needlessly puts existing affordability at risk

… The plan proposes increasing most of the apartment zones, currently 3.5 storeys, up to six storeys – Hastings St. increases range from 10-18 storeys (Clark to Commercial) and 4-10 storeys (Commercial to Nanaimo). Increases around Broadway are 10-24 storeys. Every area in the neighbourhood would be affected.

At the community-packed Grandview-Woodland Area Council (GWAC) meeting on July 11, many concerns were raised. Long-term renters were in tears over the potential redevelopment of their homes. Shane Simpson, MLA, said clearly there needed to be a delay in passing the plan until into the fall, perhaps to November. …

The priorities should be incentives for retention and adaptive reuse of existing heritage and character buildings. As heritage advocate Michael Kluckner says, “You don’t build affordable housing, you retain it.” This is an important principle that should be applied across the city.
And be warned, the city is working on their cookie-cutter zonings to continue carving up the rest of Vancouver, including Kitsilano and the Westside next.

See full text here: http://commonground.ca/2016/07/housing-affordability-rush-to-zone/

Elizabeth Murphy is a private sector project manager and was formerly a Property Development Officer for the City of Vancouver’s Housing & Properties Department and for BC Housing. info@elizabethmurphy.ca

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