Lies, damned lies, and Prof. Pavlov’s “methodology”

Prof. Pavlov has finally published the “methodology”1)Prof. Pavlov’s methodology he used to arrive at the conclusion that “City of Vancouver currently has the highest property taxes in Canada”. Before we examine the methodology, let’s get something out of the way: Prof. Pavlov’s conclusion that “City of Vancouver currently has the highest property taxes in Canada” is a lie.

In his “methodology” he admits that, while he makes the claim that “City of Vancouver currently has the highest property taxes in Canada,” his data is only for single family homes. The only conclusion that can be drawn from Prof. Pavlov’s “methodology” is “City of Vancouver currently has the highest property taxes in Canada if we only consider single family homes.”

Would that conclusion be any more truthful?

No. That’s also a lie.

 

The City of Vancouver budget2)http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/vancouver-2018-budget.pdf shows that Vancouverites pay some of the lowest taxes even within the Lower Mainland. The A median single family home in Vancouver pays less tax and utilities than Surrey, Burnaby, New Westminster, Richmond and a whole host of other municipalities.

One would’ve expected a professor teaching at Simon Fraser University to be mildly curious about property taxes in Burnaby. But I digress.

Now let’s focus on Prof. Pavlov’s methodology. The good professor says “Using single-family homes is appropriate. About 80 percent of Canadian home owners live in single-family homes.”

Prof. Pavlov offers no source for his claim “About 80 percent of Canadian home owners live in single-family homes”. I did some digging, and the only statistics I can find about different dwelling types is from Statistics Canada. According to the 2011 census3)https://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/famil55a-eng.htm, there were 13,320,610 households in Canada, out which 7,329,150 are single family homes. That’s 55 percent. I have no idea how Prof. Pavlov went from 55 percent to 80 percent. Until Prof. Pavlov provides a reliable source for his data, I’m going to file that under Prof. Pavlov’s Alternative Facts.

Update 1
A kind reader has provided me with the exact numbers for owner occupied properties by dwelling types. In Canada, out of 9,541,320 owner-occupied dwellings in the 2016 census, 6,858,540 (71.8%) were Single-detached houses4)Structural Type of Dwelling (10), Tenure (4), Condominium Status (3), Household Size (8) and Number of Bedrooms (6) for Private Households of Canada, Provinces and Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2016 Census – 25% Sample Data . That’s definitely not “about 80 percent”. In Vancouver, out of 612,010 owner-occupied dwellings in the 2016 census, 249,850 (40.8%) were Single-detached houses5)Structural Type of Dwelling (10), Tenure (4), Condominium Status (3), Household Size (8) and Number of Bedrooms (6) for Private Households of Canada, Provinces and Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2016 Census – 25% Sample Data. So, if Prof. Pavlov is trying to show that “City of Vancouver currently has the highest property taxes in Canada,” he cannot conveniently ignore nearly 60 percent of the dwellings in the city.
End update

In conclusion, Prof. Pavlov’s original conclusion “City of Vancouver currently has the highest property taxes in Canada” is a lie. The only conclusion that can be derived from his “methodology”, that “City of Vancouver currently has the highest property taxes in Canada if we only consider single family homes,” is also a lie. The assertion of his methodology that “About 80 percent of Canadian home owners live in single-family homes.” has no basis in fact.

References   [ + ]

Prof Pavlov’s “City of Vancouver currently has the highest property taxes in Canada” graph is a lie

Update II: Prof. Pavlov has finally published his materials and methods, almost a month after his graph was published. In the words of great scientist Carl Sagan “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, and Prof. Pavlov’s original graph was an extraordinary claim with an extraordinary lack of evidence. But I’m happy that he has finally made his methodology public, and, as promised, I’m updating my post.

However, I stand by the statement that Prof. Pavlov’s claim “City of Vancouver currently has the highest property taxes in Canada” is a lie.

A graph produced by SFU Professor Andrey Pavlov that purports to show Vancouver as having the highest property taxes in Canada is doing the rounds on the Internet1)https://twitter.com/andrey_d_pavlov/status/996798250446286848. But as you can see from the tables below, Prof. Pavlov is comparing the property taxes for composite (all home types: detached, townhouses and condos) in Greater Toronto against the property taxes for single family homes in the City of Vancouver.

City Mill Rate from Altus (Pavlov’s Source) 2)Altus Group: Canadian Property Tax Rate Benchmark Report 2017 https://www.altusgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Canadian-Property-Tax-Rate-Benchmark-Report.pdf Property Tax indicated in Pavlov’s graph MLS Benchmark required to get Pavlov’s property tax figure
City of Toronto 6.62 5,032 $760,120.85
City of Vancouver 2.55 6,378 $2,501,176.47

 

Area Composite MLS Benchmark MLS Single Family Detached Benchmark
City of Toronto $830,500 $1,109,700
Greater Toronto $766,300 $927,800
City of Vancouver (East) 3)CREA provides MLS Benchmark values for City of Vancouver, but REBGV East Vancouver and West Vancouver separately. $1,114,000 $1,544,100
City of Vancouver (West) 4)CREA provides MLS Benchmark values for City of Vancouver, but REBGV East Vancouver and West Vancouver separately. $1,372,500 $3,404,200
Greater Vancouver $1,092,000 $1,605,800

Not only is Prof Pavlov comparing apples to oranges, he is outright lying by passing off benchmark prices for Greater Toronto as ones for the City of Toronto.

Prof. Pavlov’s erroneous graph has been used as the basis for a Vancouver Sun article5)http://vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/elizabeth-murphy-b-c-taxes-need-a-second-look which, in turn is now being used by the opponent of BC NDP government’s housing reforms to attack those much needed reforms6)https://twitter.com/search?q=http%3A%2F%2Fvancouversun.com%2Fopinion%2Fop-ed%2Felizabeth-murphy-b-c-taxes-need-a-second-look&src=typd. Even the BC Liberals7)https://twitter.com/bcliberals/status/1000852543705006080 are tweeting Prof. Pavlov’s mendacious graph.

In the era of fake news, the public look up to academia in their search for truth. I find it disturbing and unacceptable that Prof. Pavlov has chosen to disseminate false information. Prof. Pavlov’s steadfast refusal to offer an apology and issue a correction even after being called8)https://mobile.twitter.com/1alexhemingway/status/1000246334975131648 out on his falsehoods further seek to not only diminish the credibility of Simon Fraser University, but it also undermines people’s trust in academia as a whole.

Update: Alex Hemingway, whom I cited earlier in the article, has kindly informed me that depending on how Prof. Pavlov calculated the Toronto four year average “current assessed value”, the figures used in the graph may indeed be for single family homes. Based on data obtained from sources Prof. Pavlov has mentioned, I’m unable to reproduce the good professor’s math.

If Prof. Pavlov were to reveal his materials and methods, I will be happy to update my post.

Even if Prof. Pavlov were doing an apples to apples comparison, his “City of Vancouver currently has the highest property taxes in Canada” graph is still a lie, as he does not mention anywhere on the graph that he is only using single family home benchmark values in his calculations. Even if all his numbers are correct, all that his graph shows is that “City of Vancouver may have the highest property taxes in Canada if you only consider the most expensive segment of the market.”

References   [ + ]

1. https://twitter.com/andrey_d_pavlov/status/996798250446286848
2. Altus Group: Canadian Property Tax Rate Benchmark Report 2017 https://www.altusgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Canadian-Property-Tax-Rate-Benchmark-Report.pdf
3, 4. CREA provides MLS Benchmark values for City of Vancouver, but REBGV East Vancouver and West Vancouver separately.
5. http://vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/elizabeth-murphy-b-c-taxes-need-a-second-look
6. https://twitter.com/search?q=http%3A%2F%2Fvancouversun.com%2Fopinion%2Fop-ed%2Felizabeth-murphy-b-c-taxes-need-a-second-look&src=typd
7. https://twitter.com/bcliberals/status/1000852543705006080
8. https://mobile.twitter.com/1alexhemingway/status/1000246334975131648

Complaint against Sutton West Coast over the disruption of AG David Eby’s town hall

I’ve just filed a complaint against Sutton West Coast over the part they played in disrupting BC Attorney General David Eby’s town hall.

Here’s the full text of my complaint:

  1. Sutton Group West Coast Realty (“Sutton West Coast”) took out a full page advertisement on Vancouver Courier newspaper published on or about 2018 April 28 urging supporters to disrupt Attorney General David Eby’s planned town hall with his constituents.
  2. This advertisement, and similar call by BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, forced Mr. Eby to cancel the event owing to security reasons.
  3. The wording of the call for action in Sutton West Coast’s advertisement was “Regardless of whether or not the Hall is full, demonstrate your opposition to these taxes and make your voice heard by attending:” followed by details of Mr. Eby’ town hall. The “Regardless of whether or not the Hall is full” was underlined in the original advertisement.
  4. Similarly, Mr. Wilkinson, urged his supporters to protest at Mr. Eby’s town hall “whether you have a ticket or not”.
  5. An elected MLA has a duty to meet with his or her constituents. In turn, the constituents have a right to meet their MLA. Sutton West Coast’s advertisement, singularly or in conjunction with Mr. Wilkinson’s letter, amounts to a deliberate disruption of the democratic process. It deprives the constituents of their democratic rights, and prevents an elected official from carrying out their democratic duties.
  6. Section 35(2) of the Real Estate Services Act states :
    A licensee commits conduct unbecoming a licensee if the licensee engages in conduct that, in the judgment of a discipline committee,
    (a) is contrary to the best interests of the public,

    (b) undermines public confidence in the real estate industry, or

    (c) brings the real estate industry into disrepute.
  7. It is plain and obvious that Sutton West Coast has violated Section 35(2) of the Real Estate Service Act as inciting mobs to sabotage a democratic process is contrary to the best interests of the public, undermines public confidence in the real estate industry, and brings the real estate industry into disrepute.
  8. Candice Dyer is named as the managing broker of Sutton West Coast.
  9. Section 6 (2) of the Act states:
    A managing broker licensed in relation to a brokerage acts for the brokerage for all purposes under this Act, and is responsible for

    (c) the control and conduct of the brokerage’s real estate business, including supervision of the associate brokers and representatives who are licensed in relation to the brokerage.
  10. Therefore, Ms. Dyer is named as the licensee against whom the complaint is made.

Airbnb has caused my rent to go up by $750. I want Airbnb to pay up.

A UCLA study has found that “that a 1% increase in Airbnb listings leads to a 0.018% increase in rents.”. Short term rentals have been illegal in Vancouver until April 18, 2018, but Airbnb listings have grown by over 270% between 2013 and 2018. Applying the UCLA model, Airbnb has lead to a 4.87% rent increase in Vancouver. That works out to $3,397.17, or, more than $750 extra annually for me. It’s time for Airbnb to compensate renters of Vancouver.

The following is my demand letter to Airbnb.

Airbnb, Inc.,
888 Brannan Street,
4th Floor, San Francisco,
CA 94103,
United States

April 28, 2018

Dear Sir or Madam,

Demand Letter

Facts

1. Between Jan 1, 2013 (or earlier) and April 18, 2018, Airbnb has operated or caused to operate illegal short term rentals in the City of Vancouver in violation of City of Vancouver Zoning & Development Bylaw 3575 as in force in that period, specifically:

Section 10.19.4: No person shall use or permit to be used any sleeping unit for a period of less than one month unless such unit forms part of a hotel.

Section 10.21.6: No person shall use or permit to be used any dwelling unit for a period of less than one month unless such unit forms part of a hotel or is used for bed and breakfast accommodation.

2. Based on data provided by Airbnb 1)https://2sqy5r1jf93u30kwzc1smfqt-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/VancouverReport_finalcopy_June-1.pdf and the City of Vancouver 2)http://council.vancouver.ca/documents/pspc7_000.pdf, the number of Airbnb units have increased from 1,800 in 2013 to 6,667 as of March 2018, and increase of 270.39%.

3. A UCLA study has found that “a 1% increase in Airbnb listings leads to a 0.018% increase in rents” 3)https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3006832.

4. Based on the UCLA study, Airbnb is responsible for a 4.87% rent increase.

5. I moved to Vancouver in November 2013. Between then and April 2018, I have paid $69,800 in rent.

6. Thus, applying UCLA model to Vancouver, $3,397.17 of my rents are an increase attributable to Airbnb’s illegal operations in Vancouver.

Demand

Based on the facts above, the I hereby demand the following from you:

Payment of $3,397.17 as restitution for damages suffered as a result of rent increases caused by Airbnb operating, or causing to operate, illegal short term rentals in Vancouver.

Please confirm in writing that you have complied with the above demands within thirty (30) days of this letter.

Please note that if I have to commence legal proceedings in order to require your performance of the above actions, this letter will be tendered in court as evidence of your failure to attempt to resolve this matter. Further, you may be liable for any court costs, attorney fees and damages, including punitive damages.

You might want to contact a lawyer to discuss your legal rights and responsibilities.

Yours sincerely,

Rohana Rezel

References   [ + ]

1. https://2sqy5r1jf93u30kwzc1smfqt-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/VancouverReport_finalcopy_June-1.pdf
2. http://council.vancouver.ca/documents/pspc7_000.pdf
3. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3006832