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. 


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