Back in the Air Again

The Antiplanner is headed to Vancouver BC this morning for a debate on whether smart growth and light rail should be applied in Vancouver suburbs south of the Fraser River. The other side of the question will be represented by Todd Litman. The debate will take place at 7:00 pm tonight at the Langley Municipal Hall. If you are in Vancouver, I hope to see you there.

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28 thoughts on “Back in the Air Again

  1. C. P. Zilliacus

    What is the average price of a home in Vancouver, B.C. these days?

    I recall watching one of those real estate shows on cable (probably HGTV) recently and being astounded at how expensive condominium and single-family attached (townhome) units were.

    The Antiplanner Reply:

    According to Coldwell Banker, a 2200-square-foot home in the city of Vancouver is $1.5 million, or roughly ten times as much as Houston. Some of Vancouver’s suburbs are in the mid-500,000s. According to Demographia, the median home price in the metro area is about $678,000.

    In short, still very high–the bubble hasn’t really burst yet. My debate opponent, Todd Litman, contends prices are high only because planners have made this such a great place to live that there is a high demand.

    the highwayman Reply:

    That isn’t so, look at the area on a map. Ocean to the west, mountains to the north and the USA to the south. The only direction the city can expand is along the river to the east.

    Dan Reply:

    Which means limited land supply and huge demand. Like other high-demand topography-limited left coast large cities like San Francisco and Seattle that are in high demand and great places to live.

    DS

    Sandy Teal Reply:

    Watch out, highwayman. Last time someone asserted that any city in the world was next to the “ocean”, Dan had a huge hissy fit and spent 10-20 postings re-imagining a thousand years of nautical terminology.

    http://ti.org/antiplanner/?p=5221

    The Antiplanner Reply:

    Nobody has ever been able to build on mountains? (Which are mostly really hills.) Even must of the flat land in the Vancouver area is off-limits to development.

    Dan Reply:

    Nobody has ever been able to build on mountains? (Which are mostly really hills.) Even must of the flat land in the Vancouver area is off-limits to development.

    If you want to build on the side of a mountain or on soil subject to liquefaction, go right ahead Randal , if you can get a public safety and public infra variance.

    DS

    C. P. Zilliacus Reply:

    Dan wrote:

    If you want to build on the side of a mountain or on soil subject to liquefaction, go right ahead Randal , if you can get a public safety and public infra variance.

    Dan (and Randal), my bigger concern about Vancouver (and probably Seattle and other low-lying places near saltwater in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia) is the threat of a tsunami.

    The current issue of the National Geographic has an interesting and alarming discussion of tsunamis (influenced in part because of the massive one that struck parts of Japan last year).

    Bottom line – no amount of Smart Growth and anti-highway ideology will lessen the threat from one or more massive waves (apparently a real threat in part because of the Cascadia Subduction Zone).

    And headed east, away from the Pacific Ocean, several of the high peaks in the Cascades are volcanoes, which could come back to life, as Mount St. Helens did back in 1980.

    Dan Reply:

    What is the average price of a home in Vancouver, B.C. these days?

    Expensive, because Van is so highly valued and in such high demand. That’s what is a major driver of prices, you know: demand. Location, location, location. And Van has a plethora of fantastic amenties (albeit not plentiful sunshine). Few places have stroller congestion, but Van does.

    DS

  2. Dave Brough

    Since you’ll be in Vancouver, suggest that you also explore Personal Rapid Transit as a Smart alternative to light rail, surface or elevated (Canada Line). The socialists (aka Translink) won’t even acknowledge that PRT exists.

    bennett Reply:

    How can PRT exist without massive subsidy or prices that would make it uncompetitive with other modes? If PRT is not “socialized” to some extent is it even feasible?

    FrancisKing Reply:

    PRT exists at Heathrow, London.

    It was built and remains a private scheme, owned by the people who own the airport.

    bennett Reply:

    Do you think the Heathrow model would work in other contexts where separate non-contiguous properties were connected?

  3. C. P. Zilliacus

    Thank you, Randal.

    I do not believe that land use planning and transit had much to do with the high housing prices in Vancouver (and note that I have never set foot in British Columbia).

    From remote observation, I believe there are other factors at work, including:

    (1) Restrictions on suburban and urban “sprawl.”

    (2) A lot of immigrants to Canada have chosen to settle in and around Vancouver.

    (3) It has a relatively mild climate (and probably the mildest climate on the Canadian mainland).

    (4) It is the major Canadian Pacific Ocean deepwater seaport.

  4. Sandy Teal

    There are hundreds or thousands of square kilometers of flat undeveloped rural land between Vancouver BC and the US border.

    The city itself has many high buildings of condos, but the central city does not seem otherwise as dense as even SF or central Seattle.

    It also seems that many recent Vancouver residents are used to dense Asian cities and are not from the Alberta prairie.

  5. Dan

    spent 10-20 postings re-imagining a thousand years of nautical terminology.

    Mean ol’ bully stalking me aside*, I like it how the usual addled suspects must continue post facto to make sh– up to hand-flap away from the fact they were making sh– up to avoid admitting not knowing what they were talking about.

    If they were capable of being embarrassed, I’d point out it is embarrassing. Anything to keep the cognitive dissonance at bay, I guess.

    DS

    Frank Reply:

    I’ve been thinking about this one since June as I’ve grown to know Seattle better. Technically, I think one could argue that Seattle is indeed “somewhat of a peninsula.” Or two peninsulas, actually. Seattle is surrounded on three sides by water, if you include the ship canal, Lake Union, and the Montlake cut. You have to go over one of six bridges to go from North to South or S to N.

    And from Wiki: “On the West Coast, Puget Sound, by contrast, is a deep arm of the ocean.”

    What else would we expect from a narcissistic gasbag like Dan? Name calling, nitpicking, trolling, and using some iteration of the phrase “making shit up” ad nauseum. Quality contributions, all.

    Dan Reply:

    What else would we expect from a narcissistic gasbag like Dan? Name calling, nitpicking, trolling, and using some iteration of the phrase “making shit up” ad nauseum. Quality contributions, all.

    You are bullying me again, hurting my fee-fees by calling me names and purposely mischaracterizing my comments. And scurrilously cherry-picking definitions in a vain attempt to further bully me by falsely and maliciously implying a sound is the ocean.

    Nevertheless, aside from unfamiliarity with the region and incorrect terminology leading to wrong conclusions being the original point, the actual overarching point remains that Seattle is restricted in its land availability.

    Combine that with abundant natural resources, city proper being built out and plethora of SFD buildings, and the area has high prices. The area is in demand. Demand is a strong driver of prices. Combine that with limited supply, and you have high Ricardian rent. Utterly basic stuff. Few places get more simple than that. Completely and utterly elementary. It can hardly get simpler.

    DS

    Andy Reply:

    “bullying me again, calling me names and purposely mischaracterizing my comments”

    You are looking the mirror, Danny Boy. Do you realize that you are staring at the man in the mirror? “Take a look at yourself and make a change.”

    http://youtu.be/F9Nh84lfvW0

    Frank Reply:

    I was watching NWIN this morning, and when an indigenous person said he loved the ocean (the Puget Sound), I couldn’t help but envision Dan schoolin’ him on semantics.

    “…actual overarching point remains that Seattle is restricted in its land availability. The area is in demand. Demand is a strong driver of prices. Combine that with limited supply, and you have high Ricardian rent.”

    Can’t argue with that.

    But that doesn’t take away from the fact that you’re a trolling, name calling, nitpicking, narcissistic gasbag.

  6. FrancisKing

    Bennett wrote about PRT:

    “Do you think the Heathrow model would work in other contexts where separate non-contiguous properties were connected?”

    Yes, I don’t see why not. It’s a horizontal elevator system. It works well on sites for connecting areas together, instead of providing a bus service (with the operation costs and delays). It might also connect scattered sites to a transit terminal.

    I’ve tried the PRT system at Heathrow. It works – that’s the first important point. But it has teething problems – the wheels are small, the suspension not up to scratch, the track not as smooth, and so the ride quality isn’t really there yet. When it reaches a corner, possibly because the turning radii have been set too tight, the pods slow down almost to a halt.

    Capacity is low, but not a problem at Heathrow – it is a replacement for the buses which currently link outlying business car parks to the main terminal building, and the trip profile of an airport is essentially flat.

    bennett Reply:

    Francis,

    Dave Brough said: “The socialists (aka Translink) won’t even acknowledge that PRT exists.”

    My question was not in reference to logistics. Of course it “can” be done, but in reference to the original PRT comment, can such a system work that connects non-contugious properties WITHOUT SOCIALIZING THE COSTS (or without fares that are not competitive). If it’s extremely hard to do with busses and impossible with trains, why would PRT be so different?

    I agree that privately funded PRT can work at an airport, but I’m skeptical that it would work in a traditional transit setting without public funds. I’m also skeptical that in an urban context it would be more cost effective than busses or trains. The cost savings would likely be marginal if at all.

    p.s. Airports have all sorts of buses, trams, trains, etc to shuffle people around. Do you understand how this context is vastly different (costs, logistics, jurisdictions, crossing property lines, politics, revenue) than shuffling people around an urban metropolis?

    FrancisKing Reply:

    I should have thought so, under certain circumstances. A general PRT system isn’t going to work. It has to deal with peak traffic all over town, and so is big and expensive. But a subset would work, e.g. connecting a business park (offices) with a transit stop. Like an elevator, it wouldn’t be chargeable. It would be part of the site, like an elevator.

    PRT runs at 20mph, so bicycles running on an elevated track can at the least keep pace, and yet can deliver door-to-door service. So PRT will work in places where people left their bicycles at home.

    Dan Reply:

    This may be a decent solution for the ‘last mile problem’, connecting homes to transit.

    DS

  7. Andy

    You know what would be the ultimate PRT? If each person had a transit mechanism whereby they could pilot the vehicle themselves, and steer it toward any destination they wanted. It would be very cool if they could play whatever music they wanted to listen to, and maybe have some room to carry other passengers or cargo. That would be SOOOO great!

    FrancisKing Reply:

    “You know what would be the ultimate PRT? If each person had a transit mechanism whereby they could pilot the vehicle themselves, and steer it toward any destination they wanted. It would be very cool if they could play whatever music they wanted to listen to, and maybe have some room to carry other passengers or cargo. That would be SOOOO great!”

    Yep. Bicycles.

  8. Scott

    That VTI guy is adept at false arguments, but short on substance.
    That was my 1st reaction years ago & it continues with his 1-sidedness.
    Is open space really a problem in Canada?
    In ANWAR it must be?

    If I had 20 hours with him, I could educate him, without force.
    Well, maybe I would knock him around repeatedly, & again, to knock cents [sic] into him.

    the highwayman Reply:

    Bullshit, it’s not hard to debunk O’Toole, you just have to look at the communist street in front of your house!

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