A plan for Day 1

MIRZA, Raza - September 26, 2018

Over the last few weeks of candidate forums and debates, it has become very clear what everyone wants to do. It’s making permitting faster, building more Purpose Built Rentals and Equity Co-Ops, and offering leasehold land for affordable housing. Yet nobody seems to know or care to explain “How?”. So let me tell you ProVancouver's plan right now.

Unlike other parties\candidates all of this can be put in motion on Day 1. We don’t need help (new funding and better enforcement on speculation and real estate crime is needed and welcomed) or advocate to Provincial or Federal government for new powers or taxes. Here is our why and how.

Traditionally, when children moved out of their parent’s home they rented. I’m met many proud homeowner who start from there. This is still true, as according to CMHC 59% of new household in Metro Vancouver and 75% of new household in City of Vancouver are renters. Yet over the last 4 decade Vancouver primarily focused on ownership, i.e. building condos. This has resulted in privatization of entry level housing. With pool of new renters entering marketing every day, they are looking at private providers, so people buy condos as investments and put renters in there. This cycle repeat over decades (with influence of foreign capital) has created our housing mess. We must change that, break this cycle and get vacancy rate back up to a healthy at least 3%. Now to how.

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For immediate relief, we will enforce AirBnb bylaws (my colleague, Rohana Rezel, has already created a software for finding illegal units, which city refuses to use). We are going to enforce with audits to find out where about 22,000 Empty Home went, as city collected tax about 3,000.

For increasing rental apartments supply, we must address four complains from industry. Land cost, financing cost, clarity on architectural & building code, and permitting delays.

And here is how:
1) Land values can be addressed by using Bill 23 to rezone Cambie Corridor and other areas which are primarily zoned for condos to Rental-only. Taking out land from condo to rental-only can suppress land value by as much $200-$300 per buildable sqft according to Metro Vancouver study on transit oriented development.

2) Financing cost can be reduced by collecting city fees (DCLs and CACs) over multiple years after completion. This is major issue as PBRs cannot so pre-sales and have major disadvantage.

3) City-wide plan, with neighbourhood input, which addresses 4 questions: how much, when, where and who we will build for. This addresses uncertainly and spot zoning process. This also allows city to build infrastructure in advance.

4) Use technology. Modern tools like electronic underwriting and spot audit to capture bad actors have been used in other industries (particularly insurance) for a decade now. Fast track developers who regularly meet the requirements and penalize who don’t to cut permit times to 6 months. Do all of the above for Purpose Built Rentals, and they become a more viable option compared to condos.