Investing in Definitions and Framing

Co-authored with Jens von Bergmann and cross-posted at MountainMath

With last week’s CHSP release of data on the investment status of residential properties and the framing of the accompanying article there has been a lot of rather uninformed and misleading news coverage.

The misleading reporting, combined with sometimes plainly wrong statements by people quoted in the news coverage, on one hand highlights the poor understanding of housing in the public discourse. On the other hand it highlights the importance of providing careful framing with data releases. In general it is good practice to accompany a data release with a brief analysis to provide framing and context. Analysts close to the raw data will have a much better understanding of what the data is measuring and can properly frame the data. Unfortunately, StatCan fell short of doing so, and the overview analysis provided by StatCan itself contains a number of problems. Given the public attention this has gotten it’s probably worthwhile to take a look at what the data does and does not say, and to correct some of the misinterpretations that have been circulating.

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A Brief History of Vancouver Planning & Development Regimes

(co-authored with Jens von Bergmann and cross-posted at MountainMath)

Say you want to construct some multi-family housing in Vancouver. How long will it take? The answer is simple: it depends. There are many factors upon which it depends. Here we want to highlight one in particular: when you started.

As it turns out, it used to take a lot less time to build multi-family housing. There is reason to believe we could reduce that time again, but getting there involves gathering a better understanding of our current development regime, and placing it in historical perspective. We begin this process below, before diving deeper into two case studies of developments along Alma Street, located very near one another in space, but separated by some fifty years in start time. We’re going to look at the 14 storey rental building currently under construction at the intersection of Alma and Broadway, and the 12 storey rental building built in 1970 two blocks to the north at 3707 W 7th Ave.

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