Sunday, May 6, 2007

A little of this; A little of that

Just a couple of little issues I thought I'd write about tonight that have come up in blog posts and comments lately here and over on Victoria's Truth.

The issue of government incentives to attract workers:
I don't believe that the Pacific Leaders Program has anything to do with the current state of housing affordability in BC. This is a program that is designed to attract and retain post-secondary graduates into the public service. For a myriad of reasons, that I won't get into here, and that are mainly political in nature, the public service suffers from an acute shortage of qualified, younger professionals.

Let's just say that Universities aren't bustling with people training to become research and policy analysts these days. Business is booming and the private sector offers more opportunities and better pay. With 30%-50% of managers eligible to retire with pensions that make it very feasible to jump out at 55-60 years, the BC public service needs to do this before their workforce disappears.
Victoria looks to legalize secondary suites:
This is an action by the City of Victoria; which only includes James Bay, Fairfield, Rock Bay, Vic West, Mayfair, Hillside, Sears, Central Park and Fernwood if you're looking on MLS. So it's not CRD-wide. Although many other municipalities already provide for secondary suites being legal.

If you think this is about extending the bubble--think again. I don't believe that the city, as a corporate entity, benefits at all from increases in property value. In fact, during bubbles, building booms take place which create headaches--both financial and logistic--for municipal entities. Infrastructure is costly. Municipal corporations are not models of management efficiency--their political nature prevent this.

Legalizing secondary suites provides two political benefits for politicians looking for re-election. Firstly, it appears like action on the issue of housing affordability and homelessness. Make more suites available and the rent should go down right? And that should free up more of the current co-op suites available too, right? I'm not sure if this is the case in truth or not, and I highly doubt that politicians care if statistics back up these assertions; 30 second sound bites are enough for media politicians and apparently the electorate too.

Secondly, there is growing pressure by homeowners to make secondary suites legal, just so we can afford the mortgages these days. There are a ton of by-law restrictions that prevent suites, parking being the major one. The city ignores the bylaws by convention, but all it takes for enforcement is a single complaint from a NIMBY neighbour. When you spend $500-$600K counting on the $1000/month mortgage helper, eliminating the chance of a nasty neighbour calling you out on your own nasty-neighbour behavior can be a highly motivated voting behavior can't it?
As always, feel free to correct me in the comments. And again, those that have commented here, thanks. The discussion is what we enjoy the most about this endeavour.

5 comments:

olives said...

I just want to say that living in a neighbourhood with basement suites is a pain in the butt due to the parking problem it creates.

By allowing these suites to suddenly become legal could cause potential problems for the City in the future as most of these suites were likely built without permits.

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