Comment 120268

By kevlahan (registered) | Posted October 13, 2016 at 10:32:17 in reply to Comment 120266

I agree with Ryan, that rather than giving explicit discounts to a certain area (or implicit discounts to greenfield development) the city should try to work out the actual cost of any net increase in services for a project and charge that actual cost. Obviously, some costs should be shared across the city, but many are clearly net new costs.

One of the big obstacles to higher density is that multi-resident buildings pay a per unit cost not much cheaper than individual houses whereas the actual increased service cost does not scale with the number of residences in a building.

https://d3fpllf1m7bbt3.cloudfront.net/si...

A 1 bedroom apartment pays $17.4k, a 2 bedroom apartment pays $24.1k, townhouses and other multi-unit developments pay $28.2 while a single detached house (usually on a greenfield development) pays only $36.1k. It is obviously not true that a detached house on a greenfield costs only $8k in additional services than a townhouse or condo in a dense infill building in the urban core.

So rationalizing DCs for multi-resident buildings, and setting DCs based on the type and location of development (e.g. single house in a greenfield should be much higher than an apartment in an urbanized area) is the way to go.

One flagrant example that we discovered in the Durand is that urban infill development have to pay a special parkland dedication fee which can only be spent on new parkland (not improving existing parks). That means this money can't even be spent to improve parks that the new residents would be likely to use. On the other hand, greenfield developments can donate land for parks. This donated land often works out to be much cheaper than the fees (since the land was often purchased when it was zoned agricultural) and is directly used by the new residents. There are lots of other examples of urban infill subsidizing greenfields.

I also went to Pamela Blais's talk and she has done excellent analysis showing how much more economical dense infill is for cities compared to greenfield development. We could be changing how we levy development charges right now.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2016-10-13 10:39:21

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