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  #81  
Old Posted Dec 22, 2010, 8:34 PM
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Newly built density, to the point of diminishing returns is plenty efficient - that is however not what is typically being built. Introducing and maintaining and continually developing density in intensely developed urban areas is catastrophically expensive.
Although I understand what you are saying, I could raise the counterpoint that density through intensification would still have lower maintenance costs especially when it comes to services. In addition, if the infrastructure replacement/upgrades were completed according to a master plan instead of in an ad hoc fashion it would still be cheaper than providing the same sort of infrastructure in a greenfield setting.

Also, I think your point helps the argument for more density in suburban developments.
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  #82  
Old Posted Dec 22, 2010, 8:37 PM
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Most if not all low income families don't pay property taxes at all in a city like Calgary. They can't conceivably even think of affording a mortgage. If anything, it's the rental system itself that is incredibly regressive. When they can, the old "3x your income" rule applies to them as much as it does anyone. Now, they typically spend a greater proportion of their *disposable* income, sure. But that applies to just about everything else in their lives, too.

I'm sure we can find a few millionaires to skew the mean here (which is why medians should always be used), but damn near everyone I know that's ever bought property has spent in proportion to their income.

Anyway, the point was that for almost every tax that exists, those who can pay more typically do. So it's not much of an argument to say "I pay more than I use in services" - yeah, welcome to the real world, friend.
Low income families pay rent, and property taxes are included in that rent. This is the same ridiculous argument that renters should have as much a say in City government, as they don't pay property taxes.

Your entire point about those who can pay more usually do does not apply in this case, because those who cannot pay more are the ones that are.
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  #83  
Old Posted Dec 22, 2010, 8:39 PM
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Interesting idea, but I don't know that that would change much. Property values tend to have a fairly strong correlation to income, at least in our current low interest rate world - "get as big of a mortgage as you can afford" is the watchword of the day.
And property values do not have a strong correlation to income. Seniors being the biggest counter example.
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  #84  
Old Posted Dec 22, 2010, 8:45 PM
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And property values do not have a strong correlation to income. Seniors being the biggest counter example.
Seniors in this city are such a small fraction of the population that if anything, they're the exception that proves the rule. Plus, seniors tend to downsize as they age so I'm not entirely sure where all these low income seniors living in McMansions are.

Obviously there are exceptions, which is why I said *correlation* - not *1:1 relationship*. You can't seriously be arguing that property values and income levels aren't pretty heavily related in the majority of cases.

Anyway, semantics and specifics aside, all I was responding to was the comment of "X is unfair because I pay more, but get less". Yes, that's how much of our system works in this country (when looked at shallowly). I haven't seen a convincing argument as to why that should be applied to infrastructure planning as opposed to all the other realms where we accept it as a given. In and of itself, it's not really an argument to change taxation methods, unless you run in the WRA party. There are plenty of other, better arguments here.
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  #85  
Old Posted Dec 22, 2010, 11:30 PM
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Seniors in this city are such a small fraction of the population .
Can you provide some census data to back this up? You have made some claims that have been thoroughly debunked recently (percentage of multi-family units in this city for instance) so it really makes you hard to believe when you say something like this. Depending on how you classify senior I bet they would represent a majority of people in this city (if you classify it as 55 and older for instance).
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  #86  
Old Posted Dec 22, 2010, 11:53 PM
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Seniors in this city are such a small fraction of the population that if anything, they're the exception that proves the rule. Plus, seniors tend to downsize as they age so I'm not entirely sure where all these low income seniors living in McMansions are.
It's the inner-city land these seniors live on that's valuable, not the houses. The houses are the same little modest houses they've lived in for decades.

You obviously haven't been to neighbourhoods like Lower Mount Royal, Sunnyside, Sunalta, Bankview and Altadore if you haven't noticed seniors getting squeezed out.
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  #87  
Old Posted Dec 23, 2010, 12:38 AM
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Although I understand what you are saying, I could raise the counterpoint that density through intensification would still have lower maintenance costs especially when it comes to services. In addition, if the infrastructure replacement/upgrades were completed according to a master plan instead of in an ad hoc fashion it would still be cheaper than providing the same sort of infrastructure in a greenfield setting.

Also, I think your point helps the argument for more density in suburban developments.
That only works occasionally, large patches of land suitable for redevelopment in cities where there is a market for the redevelopment that will actually result in tangible economies of scale of the sort we speak of. It makes me physically ill to think about it - but this would apply when the Edmonton airport is redeveloped. When you are dealing with redevelopment on a lot-by-lot basis over a decade or more it is a really jagged pill.

Services is complicated because the greatest cost isn't associated with the physical plant but human salaries. And there are only so many savings to be realized - you can't have a class of 60 students. You can't have thirty police serving 100,000 people.

And suburban density has been rising for the last thirty years, multifamily developments have been built in suburban areas for decades. There isn't really a conflict there or even anything that has to change.
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  #88  
Old Posted Dec 23, 2010, 2:31 AM
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Can you provide some census data to back this up? You have made some claims that have been thoroughly debunked recently (percentage of multi-family units in this city for instance) so it really makes you hard to believe when you say something like this. Depending on how you classify senior I bet they would represent a majority of people in this city (if you classify it as 55 and older for instance).
No, I made a comment that I freely admitted came out of my ass. But thanks for pretending this is a journal-cited research forum instead of a chat board.

No idea if this is from actual census data or just estimates. Yes, if we classify senior as 30, the majority of people here are seniors. However, I'd be inclined to go with the usual definition of 65. While it would seem nice to think we're all going to retire and stop earning income at 55, it just ain't a reality for most people.

From those numbers, 65 and older is about 10% of the city. 55 and older would be 20%. Now, good luck finding numbers on how many people 55-65 work in this city proportionally (who tracks this sort of thing?). Either way, seniors are a small minority here, unless you go with 55 (which makes half of my cow-orkers suddenly "low income").

Anyway, instead of pedantically picking apart a single comment, I'd really like one of you to make a convincing argument that Calgary's demographics somehow completely go against the trend on this continent that more income generally means higher property values, all things being equal. Is Dover full of millionaires that I'm not aware of? Is Mount Royal full of single moms and university students working part time? Again - seriously, someone is going to try to make that argument?

With a few exceptions I've seen demographics generated on this city that show almost a straight-line correspondence between average income in a neighbourhood and property values. No, I do not have official peer-reviewed data from the census bureau on this, but I'm astounded that this is not common sense. People with more money tend to spend more money, and vice-versa. This is not rocket science.

Fun Wikipedia article. Presuming the numbers have been accurately transcribed from their original sources, and presuming that between 2000 and today these sort of figures haven't radically changed - look at the table near the bottom, and sort by average income. Now look at the far-right column (% renting). Once again, yes there are exceptions - but there's a pretty strong inverse correlation between renting and income. I'm too lazy to graph it but it would be pretty close to a straight line once you exclude the few outliers. Now, unless rental properties on average are worth more than owned properties in this city (which would make little sense if most rental are multi-family and land is in fact the more expensive part of property values)...

Last edited by freeweed; Dec 23, 2010 at 2:58 AM.
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  #89  
Old Posted Dec 23, 2010, 2:35 AM
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It's the inner-city land these seniors live on that's valuable, not the houses. The houses are the same little modest houses they've lived in for decades.

You obviously haven't been to neighbourhoods like Lower Mount Royal, Sunnyside, Sunalta, Bankview and Altadore if you haven't noticed seniors getting squeezed out.
Those are the majority of people in Calgary? And how can I "obviously not have been there"? Seeing a handful of examples in no way changes the reality when generalizing over a city of a million people.

How many times does the word "exception" have to be used? I AM NOT CLAIMING THAT EVERY SINGLE SENIOR CITIZEN LIVES IN A CHEAP HOUSE. Yeesh. Of COURSE some seniors are living in very expensive places compared to their income, and of course some get forced out due to cost increases. Which, of course, leads to them downsizing (hint: downsizing isn't just about physical space reduction).

Regardless, out of a city of a million+ people, how many of them are currently low income seniors living in Mount Royal and these other areas? Unless it's in the hundreds of thousands, it's not enough to change a general trend, or to use other words, a correlation.

Lower Mount Royal, incidentally, is close to 90% apartment/condos (according to something I dug up on the City's website) - these are not exactly seniors being squeezed out of their ancestral mansions here. While again there are exceptions, most apartments and condos will have lower property values *per unit* than the equivalent SFH, in any given area. Because, as you point out, the land is what's valuable - and SFH has more land per unit than anything (again, with very few exceptions - otherwise what's the point of this entire discussion on paying your fair share of taxes...).

Last edited by freeweed; Dec 23, 2010 at 3:00 AM.
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  #90  
Old Posted Dec 23, 2010, 3:27 AM
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Regardless, out of a city of a million+ people, how many of them are currently low income seniors living in Mount Royal and these other areas? Unless it's in the hundreds of thousands, it's not enough to change a general trend, or to use other words, a correlation.

Lower Mount Royal, incidentally, is close to 90% apartment/condos (according to something I dug up on the City's website) - these are not exactly seniors being squeezed out of their ancestral mansions here. While again there are exceptions, most apartments and condos will have lower property values *per unit* than the equivalent SFH, in any given area. Because, as you point out, the land is what's valuable - and SFH has more land per unit than anything (again, with very few exceptions - otherwise what's the point of this entire discussion on paying your fair share of taxes...).
When did Mount Royal become the mean?
I think we can all agree that there's few if any seniors in Mount Royal having to subside on Alpo because they can't afford their property taxes.

However, there are plenty of seniors and others, living in numerous areas where property values have increased drastically.


A smarter way of doing property taxes would be taking in consideration when a property was purchased and what it is worth now. So if Grandma bought her place for $5000k back in the day she gets a bit of a break.

This wouldn't apply to just bed shitters though. Plenty of folks have bought in areas such as Bridgeland, Inglewood and Ramsay in the 7+ years ago, before the boom and before innercity was desirable, who have some their property increase in value significantly.
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  #91  
Old Posted Dec 23, 2010, 4:19 AM
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A smarter way of doing property taxes would be taking in consideration when a property was purchased and what it is worth now. So if Grandma bought her place for $5000k back in the day she gets a bit of a break.

This wouldn't apply to just bed shitters though. Plenty of folks have bought in areas such as Bridgeland, Inglewood and Ramsay in the 7+ years ago, before the boom and before innercity was desirable, who have some their property increase in value significantly.
Yeah, this seems like a great idea in theory until you end up like California. From what I understand, they're not allowed to increase property taxes for existing residents, something akin to rent control in NYC. Obviously there's *some* increase but it's very minor. And half of California is currently running massive deficits as a result. I won't claim to understand the whole story here, but it's been tried and has all sorts of unintended consequences - again like rent control in Manhattan.
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  #92  
Old Posted Dec 23, 2010, 4:32 AM
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Freeweed, the point I was making wasn't that somehow lower income people are living in higher valued property than average or higher income households. What I was saying, and something supported by census after census, is that low income families spend a higher percentage of their income on housing than average income households. When you go from low income to high income the rate on income increase is greater than the rate of increase of percentage of income spent on housing. Very low income groups spend upwards of 40% of their income on housing. That is why property taxes are regressive, they are taxing a good that lower income households spend more money on. A progressive tax, like our income tax, would assign a higher percentage of tax rate to a higher level of income, not the reverse.
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  #93  
Old Posted Dec 23, 2010, 4:33 AM
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Generally less if we are considering a stacked building. Especially on the heating side of the equation, since what heat might normally escape from the roof instead is trapped in the building (of course except the top floor). Though for most multi-unit type buildings, especially condos, the heating costs are built into your condo fees at a set rate, typically leaving only power (and sometimes its even included, depending on the building). Multi-unit buildings also traditionally employ a radiant type of heating system (in floor or baseboard) rather then a forced air or gravity heating system, mainly as the costs of scaling a forced air type system to multi-units gets quite expensive in terms of the space needed.
Of course, single family homes do not have to heat common areas such as hallways and the like. My home - 1200sf on the main level + equal sized basement runs about $50/month for heating (gas and distribution).
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  #94  
Old Posted Dec 23, 2010, 4:34 AM
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OK, I challenge you to find anywhere to as many shops within a 5 minute walk that I have anywhere in the city:

Coffee Shops: Bumpys, Beano, Chiasso, Kawa, Good Earth, Steeps, 2 Starbucks, Tim Hortons, Second Cup, Cafe Espresso, new Coffee shop on 17th and 9A (forgot the name)
Breakfast Places: Nellies (2), Red's, Galaxy Diner, new Grill place by MEC
Fast Food: Dairy Queen, Big John's Pizza, Opa, Pizza 73, Dominos, Kim Ahn, Thai Tai, Tarboosh, Bite Me, Edo, Subway, Quiznos, Fat Tonis, Mirchi (awesome)
Grocery/Drug Stores: Shoppers, Safeway, London Drugs (Co-op is just outside a 5 min walk), Kalamata
Liquor/Wine Stores: Ferocious Grape, Liquor Depot, Liquor Barn, new wine store in Mount Royal (Co-op again just outside a 5 minute walk)
Restaurants: Where to start? BPs, Golden Bell, Kings Chinese, Coop, Sushi places (2), Farm, King and I, Gnoccis, Bonterra, Buon Giorno, Manies, Brava, Living Room, Fiore, Una, Palace of Eats (I am forgetting several)
Bars/Pubs: Classic Jacks, Met, Melrose, Ship and Anchor, Mercury, Local 510, Brewsters, Yardhouse
Hairdressers: At least 5.
Clothing Stores: More than 20
Ski shops: 4.

Look, I am not low balling. I like this much choice. Nowhere in the suburbs has anywhere close to as many amenities within walking distance as I currently have. And even then, I want more than I have already. It is not a myth. No suburb in Calgary, or anywhere else for that matter, would have this amount of stores, ever. Otherwise it wouldn't be a suburb.

So yes, nowhere outside of the inner city can have tons of shops within a 5 minute walk. Not even close.


EDIT- I forgot to mention Ric's Grill. And that is technically 0 metres from my place, because it is in the same building.
Also forgot to mention that all these amenities are within 600m of my condo. According to the map you provided earlier of your place, you have exactly zero amenities within 600m of your house.
Any residence within 5 minutes of chinook centre.
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  #95  
Old Posted Dec 23, 2010, 4:41 AM
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Any residence within 5 minutes of chinook centre.
Not quite- no grocery stores, no liquor stores, no ski shops (that sell actual boards). Those, to me, are necessities.
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  #96  
Old Posted Dec 23, 2010, 4:43 AM
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Freeweed, the point I was making wasn't that somehow lower income people are living in higher valued property than average or higher income households. What I was saying, and something supported by census after census, is that low income families spend a higher percentage of their income on housing than average income households. When you go from low income to high income the rate on income increase is greater than the rate of increase of percentage of income spent on housing. Very low income groups spend upwards of 40% of their income on housing. That is why property taxes are regressive, they are taxing a good that lower income households spend more money on. A progressive tax, like our income tax, would assign a higher percentage of tax rate to a higher level of income, not the reverse.
I think we can agree to split the difference and say that property taxes are "less progressive" than income taxes (which incidentally, aren't quite as progressive as the party line states - low income earners still end up with less disposable income as a result). Anyway, low income earners spend a higher proportion of income on every necessity, not just housing. It's just the life of being low income.

The biggest problem I have with replacing things like property and sales taxes with income taxes (both of which are proposed on a regular basis) is that it becomes trivial for a person to amass great wealth, and then never pay into the system that supports that wealth. I can't think of a single more regressive taxation structure than one that allows the ultra-wealthy to never pay a cent in taxes. Law of unintended consequences and all that.
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  #97  
Old Posted Dec 23, 2010, 4:44 AM
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Not quite- no grocery stores, no liquor stores, no ski shops (that sell actual boards). Those, to me, are necessities.
I'm saying this very tongue in cheek, but with a tiny sliver of seriousness - do you walk to the ski hill?
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  #98  
Old Posted Dec 23, 2010, 4:45 AM
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Yeah, this seems like a great idea in theory until you end up like California. From what I understand, they're not allowed to increase property taxes for existing residents, something akin to rent control in NYC. Obviously there's *some* increase but it's very minor. And half of California is currently running massive deficits as a result. I won't claim to understand the whole story here, but it's been tried and has all sorts of unintended consequences - again like rent control in Manhattan.
Not sure how what we're talking about relates to California or NYC rent control. Just because variations of said pland didn't work,can't we learn from other's mistakes and evolve and adapt such a plan? Besides, I doubt this is why California currently has a massive deficit.

No need to apologize for not having a understanding the whole story. You've proven that over and over here with the majority of your posts.

Edit>
For future reference, can you please let us know which posts are factual and which ones have been pulled from your ass. As they all smell the same from here.
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  #99  
Old Posted Dec 23, 2010, 4:51 AM
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No need to apologize for not having a understanding the whole story. You've proven that over and over here with the majority of your posts.

Edit>
For future reference, can you please let us know which posts are factual and which ones have been pulled from your ass. As they all smell the same from here.
Hey, at least I can admit it, unlike most people here who can't ever see past their own personal worldview of everything and think that that is how the world actually works.

Or who can't see parallels or analogies, ever.

But hey, feel free to pick apart any and all posts. Just remember that contrary to what you and most of the Internet believe, a different opinion than your own != incorrect. Sometimes we can learn from others.

Last edited by freeweed; Dec 23, 2010 at 5:01 AM.
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  #100  
Old Posted Dec 23, 2010, 5:02 AM
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I'm saying this very tongue in cheek, but with a tiny sliver of seriousness - do you walk to the ski hill?
I teleport.
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