Thursday, March 27, 2008

grab bag #



I heard on CBC today that Councilor TimStevenson is introducing a motion to tax empty (read; speculator/flipper) houses at a higher rate. It will probably get shot down in Council, but quelle idee. There are other aspects to the motion as well - such as mandatory inspections (for health and safety) for all rental properties. Also not a bad idea.
- An anti-vacancy by-law, which would increase the levels of taxation on vacant properties being held for the purposes of speculation;

- The consideration of past compliance with building standards and owner history when granting new development permits;

- A publicly accessible database to monitor evictions throughout the city as well as conversions to student housing, and would provide a list of buildings protected under the SRA regulations; and

- A downtown eastside planning office, whose sole responsibility would be to inform local residents of planned developments, and facilitate meaningful community participation in neighbourhood development..

I found a link to this on Vision Vancouver's website


Some of the usual suspects (whoever they are) said that it is ridiculous and unworkable. I guess most things that are for the good of society tend to be seen that way. Let's face it, it was rampant greed and speculation that drove the market up - to the detriment of this city and its citizens. Not just those that can't, or won't pay such ludicrous prices to rent from the bank, but those that would/could, and shackled themselves with a lifetime of debt. Sorry about all the restaurants and retail when there is no disposable income left. Sorry about the city.

26 comments:

Drachen said...

Ok, normally I don't get involved in city politics but on this occasion I have to say I'd vote for any councillor supporting those measures and against anyone opposed.

Embot said...

Word.

Anonymous said...

Interesting idea.

They must have been hearing from a lot of pizzed off would be buyers about the price run-ups. OR hey novel idea, maybe THEY can't afford houses anymore? I can't think of anything that would motivate public servants more to change something. How much do councillors make? Not as much as the guy selling houses in his neighbourhood...

On another note but not really..speaking of sorry about the city...today I noticed that I hated the direction this city was taking. I mean, I've lived here 43of my 47 years and it hit me today that I felt it was no longer my city.

That bit.

solipsist said...

Ok, normally I don't get involved in city politics but

I vote, but don't get too wrapped up in it either.

Tim Stevenson was charged with impaired driving, so his moral compass may be a bit skewed, but...

I would wager that Vision votes for it, NPA against it, and Cope may go either way.

Drachen said...

Mayor $126,278 per year
Councillor $55,629 per year
Deputy Mayor $2,315 per month served

Anonymous said...

Solipsist,

Always like the creative photo touch. I learned a new F/X off the internet and if it works I will pass on the trick for your creative touches too.

Coco

solipsist said...

Thanks coco

Anonymous said...

Yeah. Word.

And anon at 5:32, I hear you there. There's been a lot of grumbling - lived here forever, city's changing too fast - totally unrelated to housing.

Anonymous said...

I'd have to say taxing the empty houses at a higher rate is a bit out there. The last time I checked they weren't using anywhere near the services that a occupied home would use. They might water the lawn, but they don't cook, shower, put out their garbage ect.....

As a renter I don't think I would like an inspector coming to my personal residence and seeing how i live. I have owned and will own again, but Tim is trying to punish the renter a bit here. If they inspected every suite half would more than likely be illegal. They would need a warrant to get into my place.

markoz said...

Yo anonymous at 5:32, 47 years?! I'm 50 and thought everyone else on these blogs was 32! Further to my posts on a couple of other RE blogs I'd have to say that all levels of government are pretty dedicated to doing whatever it takes to keep the price of RE up. I seem to remember reading somewhere that the ownership rate is 63 or 68%. Of the 30-40% left there is probably only a small percentage that will ever own. Most government (any level) members probably own. We're in a minority (even if we're the only rational ones) : ) What HASN'T government done to keep up prices? They let down payments drop from 25% to 5% and lower. They let you raid your RRSPs. They set the interest rates to 30 year lows. They probably have other tricks up their sleeve too. I remember from my under-grad days that Sun-Yat Sen's government in China tried to outlaw real estate speculation in the early 1900s. It didn't really work out though his heart was in the right place! Of course, they ended up with a communist revolution. And now in the new millennium... they have real estate speculation. It all gets rather tiresome.

Drachen said...

"all levels of government are pretty dedicated to doing whatever it takes to keep the price of RE up."

Of course they are, it is exceedingly rare that a government gets re-elected after a major financial disaster happens while they were in office.

patriotz said...

Bill Bennett's government did it in 1983.

Shows what you can pull off with the right spin meisters.

Tony Danza said...

Mayor $126,278 per year
Councillor $55,629 per year
Deputy Mayor $2,315 per month served


Politicians are rarely in it for the pay, they are either already financially set or will be set when they collect on favours done for their donors.

Anonymous said...

Page 9, Mar 28 Van 4 hours paper..

Full page ad by "Canada's king of real estate" Robert Allen...

Sickening really. Creating wealth by buying/selling real estate. Sure. Zero-down, no problem.

An investor bonanza in 2008, it says.

Tell me it's a sign of the top.

Anon 5:32

Anonymous said...

what an insightful bag :D
hope it isn't full of corruption money

solipsist said...

hope it isn't full of corruption money

I would be interested on an expansion of that remark!

Craig said...

Higher taxes? Check.

More regulation? Check.

Reference to "rampant greed?" Check.

Congratulations, you just gained entry to the socialist paradise.

Next stop, inspections and fines for people who take hot showers and don't chew their food properly.

Drachen said...

"Congratulations, you just gained entry to the socialist paradise."

Spoken like a true Fascist.

Craig said...

And to think I always thought fascism referred to the suppression of the individual for the good of the state -- you know, like excessive government control in the form taxes and regulation.

But, hey, it's actually defined as a sarcastic blog post against more government control.

Thanks for providing the Moronic Moment of the Day!

Drachen said...

Hmm, I always thought it meant, "a nationalistic and anti-Communist system of government like that of Italy 1922-43, where all aspects of society are controlled by the state and all criticism or opposition is suppressed". But that's just what it says in the dictionary, so I'm sure your version is correct.

solipsist said...

Next stop, inspections and fines for people who take hot showers and don't chew their food properly.

And I thought that I was over the top and hysterical...

And to think I always thought fascism referred to the suppression of the individual for the good of the state

That sounds a bit more like Communism.

To me, there is another, unrecognized, fascism - a kind of corporate fascism - where the corporation lobbies for laws that give its interests precedence over those of the citizens - you know, things like TILMA, FTA, NAU, SPP, MAI, etc.

Panda said...

On the idea of taxing vacant housing, what percentage of housing is vacant? How does that compare with other Canadian cities such as Toronto?

I have regularly heard the idea that owners of vacant housing subsidize others by using less schools, roads and utilities. But I'm less convinced since housing that is full normally helps generate income taxes, sales taxes and other economic spin offs that seem to me to far exceed the property tax. On the the hand, the inspections idea creeps me out a bit. Sounds expensive and I'd rather not have some strange person coming through like that.

Anonymous said...

Craig said:
"Higher taxes? Check.
More regulation? Check.
Reference to "rampant greed?" Check.
Congratulations, you just gained entry to the socialist paradise..."

You mean like Sweden?
I'd take Sweden over Canada any time.
At least I wouldn't have to worry what bridge I will be under after I can no longer work as a slave due to old age...
And last time I checked Sweden was neither communist or fascist.
If you guys poked your heads of this sh*thole a bit more often (and I do not just mean vacations Mexico or gambling binges in Vegas) you'd find out that there is whole new world out there...

jesse said...

"An anti-vacancy by-law, which would increase the levels of taxation on vacant properties being held for the purposes of speculation"

The logistics of this boggle the mind. How would one determine speculation over a "vacation" home? There were some cases a few years ago of offshore owners in Kerrisdale not maintaining their vacant properties. Being Kerrisdale it got a lot of media attention and I think the city stepped in and called out a bylaw about cleanliness and street appeal.

panda's point about using fewer facilities and infrastructure seems reasonable. As long as the property is maintained in reasonable condition I'm all for them subsidising my use of city facilities.

Drachen said...

Jesse:

But it's not about the taxes, those are just a penalty for sitting on vacant property and driving up the prices for housing in Vancouver. I think this councillor has caught on to the fact that Vancouver is in a horrendous bubble right now and the sooner it gets deflated the better. Also, such a bylaw would help prevent or dampen a future bubble.

It's like Taxes on cigarettes, it's been shown that smokers are less of a burden on the system (in spite of medical costs) because they simply die sooner. The tax is there only to discourage the behaviour.

jesse said...

"Also, such a bylaw would help prevent or dampen a future bubble."

I assume the ultimate goal of the bylaw is to do that and ensure the occupiers of the land are engaged in the community. It's an interesting point to look at some Spanish seaside towns, or even Whistler, filled with vacation homes and migratory expats to see what can happen to a community.

You've got me to at least re-consider. I still think the logistics of the law are unworkable as it stands. From a social justice perspective it would make sense to surtax all vacant properties; really only the upper classes take the hit. To me the justification for such a tax comes only to ensure proper engagement in the community but I severely doubt it will have a substantive effect on future house bubbles -- other forces that form bubbles are too strong.