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May 7, 2018

Daily Durning: Bridges Come to Life (video)

Thanks to Tom Durning of the Daily Durning who shares this collection of bridge engineering whimsy. Imagine a whole generation of children, growing up thinking of bridges as functional AND cool.
As translated from the French: “9 unusual and creative bridges whose architecture comes to life.”

Courtesy of French group Creapills, whose Twitter profile reads: “We detect creative ideas. We share emotions.

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From the Daily Tom Durning, this article from  Better Dwelling describes how rampant real estate speculation has  created “artificial shortages” of housing as global capitals have thousands of  vacant homes sitting empty. While this “artificial shortage” does transform local home owners into cash kings, it turns cities inside out with no liveliness.
Paris in response to this vacant house epidemic implemented a tax in 2015 and is tripling it this year to 60 per cent. While trying to deal with vacant property owners over time, there are now “107,000 vacant homes, representing 7.5% of all residential dwellings in the city according to France’s INSEE. Deputy Mayor Ian Brossat told Le Monde that 40,000 of those vacant homes aren’t even connected to the electrical grid.”
Here is the interesting part-just like in Vancouver, local developers argue that more new construction is the answer. But Brossat notes “In a city as dense as Paris, where it is very difficult to build, controlling the occupancy of housing is strategic.” It appears the city believes they have 107,000 reasons more construction is not the solution”. Paris sees occupancy as being more important than adding to housing stock. The vacant housing tax did not work to reduce speculation and encourage renting, which is why the tax has increased 60 per cent. So how many empty homes are there in global cities?
“Paris’ 107,000 empty homes might seem like a lot, but it’s becoming strangely normal around the world. New York City had a whopping 318,831 vacant units in 2015. It’s a hot topic in Sydney, where 118,499 vacant units were counted in 2013. Heck, London considers it a critical issue, and they “only” have 22,000 empty homes. There’s a massive numbers of vacant homes across the globe, but only Paris has decided to take aggressive action to tackle it.” 
While the amount of speculation has been scaling with demand, it suggests that the issue is s more complex than just a basic supply and demand problem. Will Paris’ high tax be enough to curb speculation and encourage rental stock?

 

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From My Modern Met:
“Millennials of New York” Hilariously Parodies the Melodramas of Generation Y

“My therapist told me it was important to start being nicer to myself. I realized she was right. Now I make sure to like all my Instagram posts the second they hit 11.”

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“There is no such thing as white privilege. Look, I’ve had more than a few run-ins with the police, and they’re not very nice to me either. I mean just last weekend I drunkenly grabbed a cop’s gun, and even though I was obviously joking, he called me ‘incredibly irresponsible,’ and was, like, super stern and passive aggressive the entire time he was giving me a ride home.”

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“The Internet has had a profound effect on our way of life, and our laws should keep pace with the rapid changes in culture and technology. For example, you should be allowed to press charges against anyone who tries to hold your phone when you go to show them something on it. Like, I’m just trying to share this picture of Joe Biden eating ice cream, not explain why I have 183 toilet selfies saved to my camera roll.”

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“The Trump campaign has a lot in common with the tattoo of Tila Tequila I got in college – at first it was supposed to be ironic, but everyone stopped finding it funny after a couple of weeks, and now there is nothing I can do to get rid of it.”
More here.

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Says Durning:

I hope the idea for a gondola up Burnaby Mountain is revived – this time pursued with more vigour. It could also be an urban tourist attraction and perhaps SFU could ‘cash’ in on it.

From NextCity:

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A Swiss-Canadian company unveiled a proposal over the weekend to build a privately funded cable car system across Toronto’s Don Valley, connecting downtown with the urban greenery surrounding the Evergreen Brick Works, a former quarry and industrial site turned environmental community center. …

Each car would be equipped with bike racks and be fully accessible for those with mobility challenges. Dale estimates it could attract between 500 and 1,000 riders a day, and between 220,000 and 515,000 a year.

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Durning: “I think your younger readers would appreciate this one.”

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Watching house prices and the overheating housing market in the UK, it’s difficult not to feel the same wilful refusal to accept the facts is at play here. Unless wages are rising too, house prices leaping tens of thousands of pounds every year mean mortgages are unsustainable and increasingly unobtainable.
The government realises this, hence the sticking plasters of help-to-buy and starter homes, to try to help a few households onto the housing ladder without affecting house prices and profits from housing. The Bank of England knows this, hence Mark Carney’s repeated warnings about the state of the market, and refusal to raise interest rates – a move that would imperil people just about meeting their mortgage obligations now.
The tension in The Big Short comes when the viewer realises that for the heroes – those betting against the housing market and exposing the lie at the centre of the subprime bubble – to win, people will suffer. They’ll lose their houses as they default on their mortgages, or their landlords have their homes repossessed.
The same is true in the UK: there is no possibility that the housing crisis has any solution that is casualty-free. If house prices continue to rise, fewer people can afford homes. If the bubble bursts, more people become homeless after being saddled with huge mortgages. Even if the market remains static, homelessness remains a problem, and lack of access to social housing puts many households in financial precarity.
 
Full column here.

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It can be done.
affordable-housing-is-a-moral-choice-and-the-numbers-prove-it
Canada is not too different.
the-fundamental-contradictions-of-us-housing-policy
You might be a NIMBY… love these …
you-might-be-a-nimby
House prices in San Francisco. Obviously it’s the price of land. But when developers in the Vancouver area are redeveloping older strata projects and buying out satisfied owners now that the province has reduced the consent to dissolve existing strata plans to 80% … and still make a profit.
Wooden-Shack-in-San-Francisco-Sells-For-408000
Like Seattle, San Francisco is also looking at ways to supply more affordable housing. The local Vancouver ‘push back’ blogs give the impression that Vancouver is disintegrating, being ruined, by towers and density. It’s going on in many metropolises around the world.
S-F-explores-housing-density-bonus
Check out the rents in San Francisco. Hopefully, our system of mild rent controls in British Columbia will stem some of this world-wide trend.
san-franciscos-november-rent-sets-yet-another-record
In New York:
as-new-york-rents-soar-public-housing-becomes-lifelong-refuge
Seattle just declared a ‘state of emergency’ around its homelessness problem.
mayor-county-executive-declare-homelessness-state-of-emergency
Are we far behind? We’ve been kicking the situational homeless problems for years. All but the City of Vancouver and a few other Metro Vancouver municipalities. But what will be do when confronted with increasing structural homelessness? The piece in the Langley Times is interesting.  There’s no mention of an iceberg … but ‘the man in the van’!
http://www.langleytimes.com/community
From Melbourne, Australia
melbournes-liveability–shows-divide-between-rich-and-notsorich
Australia again. A national perspective.
big-australias-date-with-density
Two views from the U.S. on gentrification:
death-gentrification-guilt-le-bok-fin
and
when-the-rich-took-over-our-neighborhood
Nice Vancouver blog:
kids-in-the-city-final-thoughts-on-family-life-in
Insightful article from The Stranger, a Seattle internet journal.
seattle-is-not-being-changed-by-amazon-but-by-financial-institutions?

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Good for The Globe for running this memory by Noreen Shanahan of one of the most loving and loved women in this city:

Ms. MacKenzie’s commitment to the Carnegie Centre was unquenchable.
Andrew remembers the boys helping out at Christmas dinners, always a good meal for visitors needing respite from the local slum hotels or a wet night on the street, and maybe a city dignitary would pop in for a photo op.
“She treated everyone exactly the same,” Mr. MacPherson said, “whether they were the mayor, the city manager, the security staff at Carnegie, the older patron who walked into the place or a refugee in the learning centre.” …
Late in her career she was asked by Philip Owen, who was then mayor of Vancouver, to open a second community centre for vulnerable populations along the south Granville Street strip.




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I wonder if Vancouverites would like an initiative like this?  From CityLab:

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 Then this from the Wonkblog at the Washington Post:

… from an economist’s point of view, there is no such thing as a full place. Especially not in America, where our neighborhoods, as urban planning professor Sonia Hirt puts it, are “astonishingly low density” compared to the rest of the industrialized world. Maybe your particular geology can’t handle the foundation of a mile-high skyscraper. But, for the most part, we can always make choices to make more room, to build taller and denser, to upgrade schools and rethink roads to let more people in.
That we don’t isn’t a limitation of physics. It’s a matter of politics disguised as physics.
“When people say a place is ‘full,’ to me it’s shorthand for they’re not willing to even entertain the challenges of what it would mean to redevelop the space,” says George McCarthy, the president of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
“One of the things about being ‘full’ — or saying you’re ‘full’ — is the conclusion that the quality of life in the place will never be better than it is right now,” he goes on. “That’s what people are really saying. They’re saying ‘any change you make is going to require a sacrifice of one sort or another that we’re not willing to make.'”
By this logic, the latest person to move to San Francisco, or Portland, or even Detroit is always, miraculously, the last one to squeeze in before the gates must slam shut.
Says McCarthy: “This is the American mantra: I’m here, all development can stop.”

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Full article here.

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A compilation from Tom Durning:

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Good article on Canada’s housing needs – rabble.ca/why-canada-needs-real-housing-policy
This maybe nearer to the truth, though –theglobeandmail.housing-a-crucial-but-ignored-federal-election-issue
Let’s see what will be done –thestar.affordable-housing-a-crippling-crisis-with-an-obvious-solution
Horgan promises to ‘partner’ with municipalities. Little else.  theglobeandmail/bc-ndp-leader-vows-to-be-genuine-partner-with-cities
From the BC Non-profit Housing Association –  2015-federal-election-toolkits
The language of victimization, from the U.S.  The language and tactics will become more familiar in B.C. – citylab.victimhood-language-and-the-fight-against-affordable-housing
England at it again. Pity. The comments at the end give more of a perspective – theguardian.com/housing-associations-agree-right-to-buy-deal-with-government
Toronto is crisis – thestar.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editors/affordable-housing-situation-even-worse
Seattle facing similar problems – crosscut-burden-of-building-low-income-housing
This is a lot higher than I thought. Where would we be without secondary suites. I’m sure many of your remember the NIMBY battles around them. Not surprisingly, the City of Burnaby only ‘legalized’ them last year – biv.com/more-40-vancouver-house-owners-rent-out-parts-thei/

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