Monday, March 12, 2018

Auckland, the Great Leap Backwards.

Auckland has a silly problem.  Distance.

For the last 10 years Auckland Council has added distance into Auckland, building remote small cities isolated and apart.  Urban areas now being separated from each other by gaps of 5, 10 or 50 km.  This distance adding mode of development is incongruous with how cities work and causes problems. 

Throughout modern history people moved to cities to live in closer proximity.  It is a fundamental underpinning of modernity that cities can build faster, as they are places where biggest economies of scale exist.

Today in Auckland we have problems, because we are splitting our city apart.  High priced Auckland property mirrors homelessness.  Infrastructure costs have been forecast as crippling.  New taxes and government intervention are being advanced as the only solution. Auckland is the biggest and richest city in NZ, none of this should have happened.

Auckland is failing.

Environmental Failure - by splitting future suburbs apart Auckland Council adds about 3,000,000 kilometres per day of pointless travel. 

Economic Failure - splitting a city into small urban areas degrades the economy of scale a city can create.  Reducing the economy of scale inflates the cost of building, creating homelessness.

Homelessness - the cost of building rises as the cost of land increases, with the Council removing land supply from urban Auckland the cost of land has soared.

Destruction of Farms - the planned exurban developments are very big, their total area consumes about twice the amount of sprawl a normal city could use.

Congestion - urban dwellers use cars less than suburbanites; suburbanites use cars less than exurban residents.  Auckland favours exurban development and blocks suburban development.  Urban development reduces as land costs are inflated.  All things that result in a lot more cars.

Wastage of Infrastructure - in Swanson, Greenhithe, Albany and Ardmore there is existing transportation infrastructure to allow easy suburban growth.  Auckland Council has blocked this development from occurring.

Pointless Infrastructure - Auckland Council has decided that exurbs must expand at Pukekohe, Dairy Flat, Huapai and Warkworth.  Aside from being much further away these areas are all in need of massive infrastructure spends.

Costs - as the distances increase, so does the cost of infrastructure covering those distances.

There is no good reason for this plan to exist.  And there no positives to take as a result.

Auckland has a housing crisis, entirely due to Auckland Council. 

Monday, May 01, 2017

Auckland Urban Design

How can we describe the Auckland Planning Process:

Step Zero: Take bribes.

Step One: impose a restrictive urban growth limit around Auckland which saves money by eliminating this suburban sprawl, but elevates land prices in the city.

Step Two: plan sprawl around a succession of exurban towns that is cumulatively to be larger than the sprawl eliminated from Auckland.

Step Three: find the building of sprawl in Step Two means money to subsidise intensification as required by "Smart Growth" is difficult to achieve.

Step Four: eliminate restrictions on building in the City, but find that a high land cost and lack of subsidies makes Auckland an uncompetitive regional location for intensification. 

Step Five: realise the transportation costs of connecting the large area exurban sprawl to the City and other exurban sprawl will be very high. 

Step Six: watch as the price of property in Auckland soars to record after record, eclipsing the rate of growth in other regional markets

Step Seven: the Serious Fraud Office gains information regarding Step Zero. 

Step Eight: ask the NZ government to subsidise the transportation budget of Auckland as required to cope with the large sprawl over the wide area.

Step Nine: the NZ government notices the high land cost in Auckland and asks for more land to be opened up, but delegates the job to Nick Smith. 

Step Ten: the mayor wins re-election mostly on the basis of Step Seven, but is soon caught in bed with one of his underlings thus eliminating most mayoral oversight for the next 3 years.

Step Eleven: a tentative agreement is reached with the NZ government whereby Auckland plans will be reviewed to make more land available and tax-payers will pay for some large parts of urban growth subsidies.

Step Twelve: corruption charges are laid against 2 Auckland Transport officials (one of whom pleads guilty) and one company director - a trial commences against the two remaining defendants.

Step Thirteen: changes are made allowing foreign students to apply for residency and the Australian economy slows dramatically - immigration ramps up.

Step Fourteen: the agreement with the government is formalised.  Much more sprawl is to be added to all the exurbs and the government will pay for half the rail loop costs.

Step Fifteen: forecast costs of the new elevated levels of exurban sprawl are now higher again and subsidies for even existing planned urban development are at risk - shelving plans for multiple light rail lines. 

Step Sixteen: ask government for ability to charge congestion charges or a regional fuel tax to pay for subsidies for urban development that Auckland cannot afford, because Auckland is spending so much on exurban sprawl.

Step Seventeen: Nick Smith appears supportive, but the wider cabinet declines Step Sixteen requests.

Step Eighteen: the two corruption defendants are found guilty and imprisoned.  SFO evidence of wider possible corruption handed over to Auckland Council for further investigation.  Auckland Council delegates investigation to Auckland Transport which finds no further evidence of corruption - some low level officials leave their jobs. 

Step Nineteen: house prices continue to elevate and building remains slow - the term Auckland Housing Crisis gains wide public usage. 

Step Twenty: Auckland house prices peak and house price in surrounding areas surge.

Step Twenty One: surrounding regions have a building boom with much lower land prices and build homes up to twice as fast per capita as Auckland.  Labour costs increase in Auckland.

Step Twenty Two:  wrongly blaming immigrants and foreign capital in Auckland for the housing crisis, measures to reduce demand are sought.

Step Twenty Three: burdened with elevated spending requirements of a plan with approximately 70-100% larger than previously conceivable levels of sprawl, the credit rating of Auckland Council suffers a downgrade. 

Step Twenty Four: a new mayor is elected and proceeds to reissue the demands of Step Sixteen.  Commitment to the unprecedented levels of sprawl is retained, nothing changes as debt increases. 

Step Twenty Five: 2017 elections for NZ government are to be fought, Winston Peters will be central and rhetoric around immigration reaches new lows. 

Auckland Design is Neither Smart or Expansive

Two-Step Design.

The predominant schools of urban design - Smart or Expansive - are simple affordable modes of development that are used to grow cities across the world.   These are essentially both 2 step processes, that spend public funds:

Smart Design: private intensive growth exploits direct public subsidies.
Step 1 - spend less money on sprawl, which makes land costs escalate.
Step 2 - use the public money saved to subsidise upward growth of the city centre, mitigating the high land costs.

Expansive Design: private intensive growth exploits the indirectly subsidised lower land costs. 
Step A - spend more public money on subsidising sprawl to lower the cost of land.
Step B - eliminate planning restrictions from the central city and the low land costs make intensive development profitable.

Auckland does neither Smart nor Expansive Growth.   Auckland does the opposite of both systems. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Living with Len & Pen - Sprawland Auckland

Auckland Region is commencing an era of record breaking sprawl.  Expensive, wasteful, polluting, value destroying sprawl is being foisted upon Auckland by our council, 

Never in a 100 years did anyone expect Warkworth to triple in size - we are making it happen in 30 years.

We didn't expect Kumeu to quadruple in size before next century - our  council will make it happen before 2050. 

Silverdale is to double in size, Pukekohe is to grow 100%, Clarks Beach is to increase by 120%, Kingseat is to increase by 90%, Helensville is to spawl 20%.

Auckland meanwhile is to be restricted to 9%. 

Taken as a whole an additional 25% of urban area is to be added to the Auckland region.

If we did not follow the plans of this Lenny Penny council, if we didn't have their environmentally destructive RUB, Auckland would spread outwards by a mere 20%. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Auckland and the Opposion - now I'm more positive

Phil Twyford, well done sir.

Best news I've seen in a while.  Ending Len Brown's RUB is much better than keeping it.

Update: Unfortunately Phil Twyford (Lab) seems to be incapable of communicating his policy's merit to Phil Goff (Lab).  Phil Goff (Lab) is in favour of the sprawlfest, high rent, urban growth killing policies of Len Brown (Lab). 

Update: Phil Twyford has now broached the policy as part of the new government.  Expect Phil Goff to strenuously object and demand more money. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Auckland and the Government - a pessimistic prediction.

Nick Smith, Minister for Housing has just signaled that he is going to force council to open up more long-term land for housing supply.  On the face of it this should be great news for Auckland.

However I am a pessimist and a cynic.   Cynical zero sum politics say the Nats and the Council politics align around keeping land costs high. 

I believe Nick Smith is going to "force" our Lenny Penny council to open up even more exurbia.  

More exurban land is more sprawl and more cost.  It will suit both their cynical politics and screw over Auckland.  More exurban sprawl will not help Auckland. 

What is required is more land added to Auckland City.  Auckland City is the biggest city in NZ, it should be possible for our politicians to work out where it is and where it isn't.

Update - Called it. Nick Smith will make the restrictions on Auckland permanent and make the sprawl happen.  Only he wants this screwed up plan to occur even faster.

National Party - Cynical Party.

Monday, May 09, 2016

A Tale of Four Cities

As a million plus city it is interesting to see how Auckland is doing and where it stands against comparable places.  Auckland is in the Australasian region and the three closest million plus cities are Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.

In the post-GFC construction boom differing policies have caused these cities, which all suffered from housing shortages pre-boom, to start building faster. Auckland Council has decided to make Auckland the most expensive place to build and we can see the results. 

Auckland - housing shortage forecast to extend until 2028*
Sydney - housing shortage may to extend until 2023*
Brisbane - housing shortage forecast to extend until 2018
Melbourne - housing shortage may to extend until 2018

* optimists are expecting a downturn by 2025, pessimists by 2022.  In the event of these predictions being true, Auckland faces a structural housing shortage and rent rises for a generation.