Design & Development
December 14, 2018

One Good Podcast Deserves Each Other

We at Price Tags are having a great time with our new podcast, PriceTalks.  So we appreciate the opportunity to be invited to other podcasts that are exploring our city and its issues – like that time on Cambie Reports with Sandy James, Gord Price and the three Cambie Reporters.

When Adam and Matt Scalena asked Gord to appear on their Vancouver Real Estate News podcast, the answer was an immediate yes.  The results have just been posted:

Vancouver Price Tags with Gordon Price

Has 2018 been a good year for Vancouver? The time to take stock is now. Former City Councillor & Founder of the influential “Price Tags” website Gordon Price sits down with Adam & Matt to discuss the present, the past, and the future of Vancouver in one of the most wide-reaching conversations to date. Tune in to hear Gordon’s take on all things Vancouver, including his unique insider account of local politics, why building permits ought to take as long as they do, and his surprising predictions for the next neighborhoods set for redevelopment. Oh, yeah, and we also cover the coming apocalypse.  This is not to be missed!

 

One of the great features of their blog is the Episode Summary – a detailed encapsulation of the conversation.  Though it must take a lot of time to do, it’s a great way to get a sense of the content before tuning in, or to find a particular topic right away.  Great work, guys.

(As per the post below, Gordon guarantees that the Price is not always right.)  Click here for podcast.

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This fall, we launched Price Talks, our new podcast series. Price Talks are conversations with past, current, and emerging leaders in urbanist thought across Vancouver and BC’s South Coast — in academia, advocacy, business, media, politics, and urban planning and development.

You can subscribe to Price Talks via Apple Podcasts, Google PlaySpotify or Stitcher – scroll down to see an episode listing and descriptions below.

We’re having fun with some fascinating guests, and we’ll close out 2018 with a dozen long-form conversations on the year’s top issues, and looking ahead to the new year.

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Bob Ransford posted this:

When the Canada Line was being planned more than 15 years ago, the public was shown ridership models that said 70 percent of the ridership would be in the portion of the corridor between Waterfront Station and Oakridge Station.

Reality today is crush loads during rush hour from Richmond Brighouse all the way to Waterfront with lines at many Vancouver stations where crush-filled trains can’t accept more riders and near full loads at all hours just within Richmond alone. They got it wrong.

Transit drives housing development. So much for empty condos. Empty condos don’t drive this kind of heavy ridership.

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As reported in the Zero Hedge, the tightening of money in China is impacting North American real estate, with the Wall Street Journal estimating that more than 1 billion dollars of property has been dumped in the United States as Beijing moves investors into debt-reduction regulations.

In the third quarter of 2018 “Chinese investors dumped $1.05 billion worth of prime US real estate in the third quarter while purchasing only $231 million of property, according to data firm Real Capital Analytics. This marks the second consecutive quarter where investors were net sellers of US commercial real estate, and the first time investors sold more US property than they bought since the 2008 crash.”

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Back to Delta, which unfortunately still advocates for through vehicular traffic befitting a 20th century suburb and does not champion safe walking and cycling design as a first priority on their streets.

Residents in Tsawwassen on Upland Drive, Beach Grove, and now at 16th Avenue at 53A Street have separately asked the City of Delta to ameliorate traffic problems and to slow traffic down to make it easier for local residents to walk and live safely and comfortably. The response for Upland Drive which is used as a shortcut and carries three times the volume of the surrounding streets was a set of speed bumps which keep vehicle movement on the speed  bump to 50 km/h. However this does not slow speed on the rest of this curving street with no sidewalks, and does nothing to stop the commuter shortcutting.

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Housing issues are a real concern for young people trying to work in Vancouver and attempting to find a place to live that does not eat up everything they earn. But there is the other side of the population cohort experiencing similar pressures, seniors who are retired and on fixed income with housing that because of the real estate market is often insecure and unstable.

Dan Fumano touches on this in his article on the Grey Tsunami and the challenges seniors have when being asked to leave rental accommodations they have lived in sometimes for decades. Duke of Data and Simon Fraser University Director of the City Program Andy Yan observes that renters in Vancouver that are seniors “are more likely than younger renters to face what Statistics Canada calls “core housing need.

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In planning for growth, there’s at least one generally agreed-on idea that most cities are trying out: Densifying along the major streets.  The arterials, boulevards and avenues, the wider ones, where the streetcars went, where transit does now.

Portland has a lot of them, radiating out from the river and downtown.  Here’s one of those streets – Division.  As you’d expect, it bisects the 19th-century suburbs:

 

Once it was a streetcar route, with a mix of bungalow housing and one-or two-storey commercial frontage – surprisingly narrow for a major corridor of activity.  It went into decline as Motordom prevailed, and became heavily auto-oriented.  Division, it was said, was where you went to get your car repaired.

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The first major motion has passed Vancouver City Council – unanimously!

 

A unanimous vote on an ideological issue is a significant indicator – and Jean Swanson’s motion on renter protection was the first big test for the new council.  The way amendments and process were so skillfully handled among the various parties and interests suggests effective communication and negotiation.  (How much of that, I wonder, was done by the Mayor’s office?)

I would not underestimate the emotional impact of the more than 50 delegations organized effectively by the year-old Vancouver Tenants Union who, hour after hour, over two days, told personal stories of their experiences and anxieties.  Regardless of where any individual councillor stands politically, the emotional effect is substantial.  It wears away intellectual resistance, leaving the need to respond in some way.

Jean Swanson called the amended motion mush.  But the Tenants Union, having achieved a recognition of legitimacy, recognized it as a victory, regardless of the fact that not much actual protection is afforded those subject to a determined renovictor.

In the end, the NPA aligned itself with a vote on an issue coming from the far left; the amendments they supported came from the parties of the near left.  The result is a solid wall of political support for intervention in the rental housing market – another indicator of how much this election has changed the status quo.

What will property and development interests do in the face of this? Watch Jon Stovell and Berkeley Tower.

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While New York City real estate experts have suggested that anywhere between 10 and 20 percent of Manhattan’s retail space is vacant, that figure in itself may not be an indicator of good retail health of an area. A successful retail area may be more about the uses.

The writer Derek Thompson in the New York Times had a real estate broker walk 18 prime retail blocks. Out of 246 storefronts, only 13 had for rent signs in vacant storefronts, suggesting a vacancy rate in the manageable  5 percent range. But there is a change of use in retail. Food and drink categories have been the main businesses leasing retail spaces in New York City in the last three years, with what is termed as “fast casual” eateries multiplying  over 100 percent in ten years.

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Arno Schortinghuis has passed away, and many people feel deep sadness today. He’s gone now, but his kindness, even disposition, dedication, lack of pretention, twinkle-eyed sense of humour, his open nature and deep knowledge — all live on in us, our memories and the things we’ve learned.

He was a champion for expanding choices in transportation, and in particular the creation of safe and effective infrastructure for those who choose to travel by bicycle.  He could be found in boardrooms, meeting rooms, open house events and online — taking on the issues and providing cogent, well-thought-out opinion.

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