Michael Mehaffy and Suzanne Crowhurst Lennard’s recent opinion piece (“High-rises and livability: Do Portland planners have tower envy?” Sept. 29) made several references to my city of Vancouver, British Columbia, in its efforts to dissuade readers from the appropriateness of towers in Portland. Three erroneous claims were made about Vancouver in particular and tower construction in general.
Claim One: Tower construction in Vancouver is financed largely by wealthy Chinese part-time expatriates, contributing to making Vancouver one of the least affordable cities in the world. According to a recent article in The Globe and Mail, the best available data from our local real estate board suggests that just 1 to 4 percent of real estate sales in the Vancouver region involve foreign investors from any country. Most Chinese newcomers move here to settle permanently.
Although real estate in Vancouver can be expensive, simple economics suggests that the large supply of condos in towers has probably kept housing prices in this segment of the market lower than they otherwise would have been, since demand is more easily satisfied and scarcity prevented. Single-detached houses, particularly within city limits, are far more expensive than tower condominiums, so high-rise living provides a cheaper form of housing in a fast-growing but geographically constrained city.
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