Compactness and Canadians

The May, 2016 New Geography feature, Are Compact Cities More Affordable? questioned whether the Vancouver region supplies evidence that Housing-Plus-Transportation (H+T) creates affordable living climates. Todd Litman responded with a critique; here's a partial response to Todd Litman’s comments, which are rich in assertions and advice but poor on science. Our full response can be viewed in the attached pdf. The central issue of whether there is evidence that the Vancouver Region as a whole offers the advantage of H+T affordability to its residents is bypassed. Hence, there is no research news.

Litman’s criticism centers on issues that undermine his thesis or on speculative data that would prove a point, if available, for example, bias in our data. Almost certainly, the data is “managed,” incomplete, erroneous and biased — but at the source: the Metro Vancouver report that advocates H+T affordability. A missed observation? The absence of figures on compactness makes it impossible to draw the sought-after correlation between affordability and density, the indispensable evidence for H+T. Yet the critique ventures to do exactly that.

Attempts to “prove” an association rest entirely on incidental observations of certain sub-regional districts based on personal “knowledge” of them without including density numbers, and by dismissing some as outliers or “special cases,” an unproductive attempt at science.

A track to demonstrate how alternative data could show that homeowners are not as well off as they seem leads to the unusual idea of limiting the sample to an improbable and undefinable set. Curiously, the source data is arbitrarily curtailed in a similar manner. Another missed observation?

Litman has previously cited as evidence the subject correlation for US metro-regions produced by scholars, a clear, scientific result. The sub-regional level correlation remains an open research task; incidental observations cannot fill that gap. New research windows open in our full response, which can be viewed in the attached pdf

The-Kind-of-Problem-Affordability-Is-Fanis-Grammanos.pdf643 KB