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Speaker: Generation Zero: Let's Grow Up

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  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    Big difference between buying your home and land-banking the rural-urban fringe.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19667 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Interesting discovery that Auckland has one of the lowest car ownership rates in NZ: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10888174

    I suspect that it's distorted by all the places in NZ where the average is a home that's mobile and five cars that aren't.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    or just maybe that for some Aucklanders, getting a home with parking space means you don’t have money left over for a car?

    (Full disclosure: I have family members who fit the “5 non-mobile car” description, though none also with mobile homes.)

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1885 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    The car-ownership figure will also be distorted by how poor the public transport is in most places in NZ. At least the larger urban centres with some decent provision of public transport can allow people to dispense with car-ownership. Not so easy in almost any rural setting.

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Interesting discovery that Auckland has one of the lowest car ownership rates in NZ

    I do wonder how much that is affected by cars that are no longer registered because the owners cannot afford to and/or don't want to. It will be an issue everywhere, but Auckland is home to some of the poorest people in the country who also have few realistic alternatives for transport than the private car.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    Car ownership rates are more likely dominated by the lack of alternatives I think. My parents live near Nelson and it's only retirement that has allowed them to drop to a single car. In a regional city the choice is hourly buses that stop running at inconvenient times, or driving. Outside the cities, it's driving or ... driving.

    Friends did the numbers in Melbourne a few years ago and it was cheaper to live in the CBD fringe without a car than out in suburbia. They also saved a lot of time by being able to give their high school age kids public transport passes and let them transport themselves. Which is a win for everyone. Owning a car in the CBD is an expensive hobby - in Sydney CBD renting a carpark alone can easily run over $100/wk or add the same to the cost of an apartment.

    I live in Sydney, slowly being pushed further out in the "inner west" as rental prices keep rising. It really takes two professional incomes to buy a house near the inner city (say 20 minutes by train from the near side of the CBD), and even then you'd better be willing to really work at it (not owning a car or most other luxuries). You can buy an apartment on one income, but you'd be right on the edge of habitability.

    Also, my experience of decentralisation was poor. I worked in Paramatta, 45 minutes by train from the CBD and roughly at the geographic centre of the city. But working there meant almost any meeting I had to go to required a 45 minute train trip with trains at 30-45 minute intervals during the day. With the 10 minute walk each end that's over 2.5 hours travel time per meeting compared to well under an hour if we were in the CBD. That and a couple of other factors (clients refusing to visit us, mostly) persuaded my boss to pay the extra to get an office in the CBD after all. You can't even "zone" it - put the IT companies all together and who are they going to use for clients? Cities get better non-linearly with size, which is why you always have one big one and a few much smaller ones. Can't fight that, especially in NZ where the competition is not Hamilton or Christchurch, it's Sydney and London.

    Seeing a decent plan for Auckland put in place would be wonderful. And it really should be based on something like the Sydney ideal where they build mixed use towers on CBD railways stations (Chatswood, for example) rather than some sort of "oh noes, apartment blocks" longing for the day when Auckland had less than a hundred thousand people in it. Either that or a plan to kill off the extra inhabitants...

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1177 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Stewart,

    At least the larger urban centres with some decent provision of public transport can allow people to dispense with car-ownership. Not so easy in almost any rural setting.

    Especially those where you literally cant really live unless you
    a)have a vehicle or
    b)have a kind neighbour with a vehicle.
    There arnt direct deliveries of any kind (I drive 30 mins each way for mail or perishable groceries) and the locality I’ll be leaving isnt suitable – unless you’ve got a lot of spare time & a really good greenhouse- for growing much…good fishing but-
    vehicles aint all bad eh?

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Sacha,

    Big difference between buying your home and land-banking the rural-urban fringe.

    Given that I haven't substantially developed what I bought, the same principle is at work. The main difference is the scale, and the risk. Buying rural land can be hugely risky. If it's not zoned for development, it's a bunch of paddocks with grass, hogging capital without any particular return.

    I'm not shedding any tears that developing another 29 hectares of suburbs has been made costly by opportunist speculators. I'd way rather that the whining developers put their efforts into more intensive urban development. The reason that they won't is because they are "greedy" too. It is their "greed" that has made the other kind of greed that they are lamenting even possible.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10629 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Re: The low ownership of cars in Auckland, isn't the reason obvious? It's densely populated and has public transport options. The same goes for every big city (Wellington is even better than Auckland on this score). The only reason it seems bad in Auckland is because commuting in a car is probably more onerous here than in most other places, in terms of having to drive slowly. There's more cars per km of lanes, in other words. Which feels like more cars per person subjectively. In fact, we just have less road each. Given that, it's hardly surprising that pressure would be to actually have less cars each.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10629 posts Report Reply

  • Ramon Lewis, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Ummm 20 minutes would get you to Te Atatu or Henderson out west, I know I did it everyday for way too long!

    Auckland • Since Jun 2013 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner,

    Auckland already has housing rated as "severely un-affordable" with the median house costing around 7 times the median salary, and under the proposed Unitary plan, as supported by Gen Zero, house prices and the ratio of median house to median salary is only going to keep going up. Dr Singh, how high is too high? A ratio of 9 times like Vancouver has? A median house price of $1m?

    Surely any responsible plan or framework for Auckland and any city should START with how to ensure affordable housing. Housing is typically the largest cost of living for people and along with food and water, a roof over ones and ones family's head is the most critical physiological need, the basic level of need in Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
    Every day there are articles in media about the struggles of the less well off and how paying rent doesn't leave enough to buy food, so now we need food in schools. Yet the focus of the Unitary plan and Gen Zero seems to be on the highest level of need in Maslow’s hierarchy, self actualizing. Don’t get me wrong, I want all that good cultural stuff too, but surely you should get the basics right before worrying about the self- actualizing stuff?

    By restricting the supply of land, something NZ has lots of, land, we drive its price up to the point where housing takes a completely unnecessarily large portion of peoples wages, to a point where it places real stress on a significant portion of the population. Even for relatively well off people, just think what they could do and how much better their quality if life would be if they had to pay significantly less for a house in rent or mortgage payment.

    It is a reverse Robin Hood situation. By driving up land prices, the land supply restriction policy and the costs and burdens of the RMA etc, both supported by the left, take from the poor and give to the rich. The poor struggle to get ahead, or fall behind, while those that already own property or have enough capital to land bank and speculate on property laugh all the way to the bank. Aren't lefties supposed to take from the rich and give to the poor? How did they get this one so wrong?

    Auckland is on a narrow isthmus that spreads out to the north and south. Due to this geography you wouldn’t have to expand that far to the north to double the size of Auckland, so why the need to play sardines?

    By being restricted in size, compact cities will always be expensive; there is no way of getting around that. But I think the basic premise that non-compact cities are bad or cultural wastelands is wrong. I lived in Houston for 9 months and liked it very much, but don’t believe me, take a look at this article where the New York Times amongst others sings Houston’s cultural praises: http://read.bi/10Of9WP It’s a great place to live (summer heat excepted).

    Houston has a number of work centers, so everybody is not trying to get into and out of the CBD. Auckland should aim for the same. I lived and worked on the west side of the city, less than 5 mins from my work, the shortest commute I have ever had. I had everything I needed and there was a lot to see and do within an easy drive of where I was. When I looked out my office window, all I could see were trees; there are parks and cycle ways all over the place. There is no smog or pollution, not that I ever saw anyway. And the cost of living is very low. In Houston you can buy a perfectly nice starter house for $100k or less and $300k will buy you all the house most people will ever need, with perfectly good public schools, services, roads etc.

    Due to not restricting land supply, the cost of housing and living in Houston is very low and this attracts a lot of companies so you have the best combination of low costs of living and very high job growth. Isn’t that what NZ needs to help its people have a better life? The Unitary Plan and Gen Zero will take NZ in the opposite direction, high costs of living and lower job growth.

    I would like to read how Dr Singh and Gen Zero propose to address housing affordability.

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 353 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Ramon Lewis,

    Ummm 20 minutes would get you to Te Atatu or Henderson out west, I know I did it everyday for way too long!

    Not in any morning or evening peak I’ve ever seen. Again, peak. I know that 20 minutes gets you a good, long way off-peak, but our peak traffic is pretty ghastly. I do Ellerslie-Parnell and it is a pretty consistent 25 minutes early in the morning peak (I normally leave in about 20 minutes’ time). ETA: I also live and work quite close to the motorway, only having to go through two sets of traffic lights (plus ramp signals) on the whole journey.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to James Bremner,

    I lived in Houston for four years. WE DO NOT WANT TO BE LIKE HOUSTON.

    (It actually *is* pretty cool culturally, I'll admit that, but the driving distances are *immense*. I caught public transport regularly there and it was terrible. The entire city is bisected by giant 12 lane freeways and rush hour is still nightmarish. I visit relatives in the exurbs regularly and the amount of driving you have to do just to get to a corner shop is ludicrous. There are some fun inner-city pedestrian-friendly suburbs but they're expensive. There is no zoning to speak of. It's basically everything you don't want in urban planning in one giant city of four million plus.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    go through two sets of traffic lights (plus ramp signals)

    Sorry, three sets. I forgot about one that is nearly always green for the left-turn I have to make.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to James Bremner,

    Where is Houston in Mercer's 2012 infrastructure (Auckland is 43rd) and quality-of-life (Auckland is 3rd) rankings? Oh, it's not there? Why the hell would Auckland want to do anything like Houston when we're already a better city in which to live and better-served for infrastructure (despite not having 12-lane freeways)?

    Housing might become more affordable if Auckland sprawls from Whangarei to Hamilton, but it will become wildly more unaffordable to live here because transport will be drastically more expensive. Sprawl is very, very costly, and someone has to pay. It's also much more expensive to serve well with public transport (Houston's is, as Danielle observes, notoriously awful), so people are forced to own multiple cars per household with all the fixed and operating costs thus attendant.

    ETA: There appears to be concern from within Houston about its degrading quality of life, too. It has lower-than-national-average incomes to go with the lower-than-national-median house prices, and features poorly for health outcomes.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to James Bremner,

    Those pro-sprawl lines have been around in nutbar neolib circles for some time, including the Act 'productivity commission' whose plans the current govt is pushing. Here's one post that might be useful.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19667 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to James Bremner,

    Surely any responsible plan or framework for Auckland and any city should START with how to ensure affordable housing.

    Increased density closer to existing amenities means more housing available where people want to buy. At present all we're getting is 300-plus-square metre mansions that occupy 75% or more of the sections on which they sit and are priced north of $700k. There's nothing affordable about sprawl, and when developers are having to recoup the higher costs associated with opening up greenfield land (the Council sure as hell shouldn't be paying to construct new roads and reticulated services, but is going to be forced to subsidise these things if National gets its way) they want to build for the highest possible price-point. Brownfield land is much cheaper to develop, so it's more feasible to build for lower price points thus offering choice to people who are currently locked out of the housing market.

    Contrary to your assertion that intensification will raise costs of purchase, those costs should come down if the development industry actually plays ball instead of running off bleating to their pet National Party poli-puppets to get developer levies capped and thus make it more attractive to sprawl ever further into our productive hinterland.
    Houston isn't surrounded by agricultural land that contributes to the national and regional economy, so sprawl there doesn't have an impact on food production. Just to raise one point of significant difference between Auckland and your favourite sprawling wasteland of exurban hell.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    their pet National Party poli-puppets

    Awesome example in interview with delusional Housing minister Nick Smith on RadioNZ this morning (34mins, listening options)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19667 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner, in reply to Danielle,

    Danielle, so how does Auckland get affordable housing?

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 353 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to James Bremner,

    I'm not against sprawl entirely. I just don't think it should be the only option. As for the math you're doing on the cost of sprawl development vs intensification, it's broken. Auckland already is a sprawl and it already has property costs that are far beyond what they should be. You don't have to be a lefty to see that intensification is a good. You just have to be strangely blinkered to think that it's an all or nothing thing, organized along lines of political belief, and that the suburban castle is the last line of defense against the socialist overthrow of all that is decent in this world. Newsflash, many cities in right wing countries are intensively developed. Many right wing people like to live in cities. It's not a left-right issue at all. It's about people getting the right to live that way if they want it. In Auckland, it's not much of an option. We can fix this.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10629 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to James Bremner,

    Danielle, so how does Auckland get affordable housing?

    I have no idea (which is why I never have anything to say in these threads). But since you brought up Houston - a city I know reasonably well - as an example of urban awesomeness, I had to note that your argument was, to put it mildly, kind of full of shit. (Also? Texas is teeming with flying cockroaches. GIANT FLYING COCKROACHES.)

    (I don't really have anything against big houses in exurbs, because I basically live in the Auckland equivalent of one myself for various family reasons. I just don't think they should be the default option.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to James Bremner,

    so how does Auckland get affordable housing?

    You could start by instituting a capital gains tax which would discourage people from owning 5 houses and never improving them because the capital gains make any improvement stupid. This would have the effect of putting more properties onto the market. That in itself has no effect on housing density in the first instance but it allows many of those investment properties (frequently low density shitholes) to be replaced by medium density modern housing.

    Next as has been pointed out numerous times, so you of course know this already and are merely trolling, you make sure a significant proportion of new housing is medium density 2-6 story apartments, semi-detached housing, higher density detached housing (infill). In some areas that is inappropriate, yes in my backyard. In many areas it it entirely reasonable and would act to increase population density, improving the functionality of public transport and providing the density needed for local bars/restaurants etc. But most importantly the increase in the number of housing options reduces the buying demand and the overinflated prices will fall. But you knew all that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4449 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    A possible explanation for why Houston is so affordable: at least a quarter of the housing stock on the market is under foreclosure sale.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    features poorly for health outcomes

    Particularly if you are poor/black/hispanic. Oh yeah we really want to be like Houston. We drove through Houston a few times while we lived in Texas and living in a concrete grey city - except for the burnt out black bits where the poor folks live - is not an ideal to which we should aspire.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4449 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    James is a resident of New Orleans, so I'm not overly surprised he considers Houston to be some kind of nirvana.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

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