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Speaker: Generation Zero: Let's Grow Up

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  • Stephen Close,

    I believe that this is a well thought-out response to urban sprawl in our largest city. It is imperative that action is taken now to limit further sprawl. The cost to the country through lost hours commuting in dead-locked traffic must be astronomical. I too have thought that living in an inner-city apartment (shoebox if you like) would be very pleasant and mean that owning a car is no longer necessary saving money and the environment.

    Palmerston North • Since May 2013 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking,

    The link to the unitary plan doesnae work.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 830 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rob Hosking,

    The link to the unitary plan doesnae work.

    Oops. My bad. Fixed now.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Nicola Eccleton,

    Totally applies to Chch as well (except the traffic part!). Down here we have a blank canvas, and planners need to realise that some of us want to live in vibrant, buzzing communities, not 20kms away behind a white picket fence. From a post-grad student mum who will probably move to Melbourne.

    Christchurch • Since May 2013 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Connelly,

    A great article. The only bit I disagree with is that Auckland is a beautiful city. It has some nice parts but as a city it is a mess and large parts of its retail areas are almost slum like. And part of the problem with getting some sort of area wider agreement, I suspect, is that people in one part of Auckland have little in common (and little sympathy for) people in other parts because the different shires that make up Auckland barely know each other

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2012 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • Jim Welch, in reply to Martin Connelly,

    Great post. I am very impressed with Generation Zero. Agree with pretty much everything you say. The only thing I'm a bit uneasy about is the idea that the main dividing line between supporters and opponents of change is age. I think the real division is not generational, but the widening gulf between rich and poor. I appreciate that it is harder to get into the Auckland property market than it was a generation ago, but somehow I think young doctors will be fine. Kids from poor families who leave school with no qualifications, though, not so much....

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Jim Welch,

    I appreciate that it is harder to get into the Auckland property market than it was a generation ago, but somehow I think young doctors will be fine.

    Young doctors have six figures of student loan hanging over them, with mandatory repayments consuming 12 cents in every dollar they earn above about $20k. Servicing an inner-Auckland-sized mortgage as they try to think about starting a family while also paying off their education? Yeah, nah.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    On the topic of the age gap, one of the things that really makes me furious is that those of us in our 20s and 30s who're trying to get onto the property ladder are being told to moderate our aims by those already on it. Those people saying that are, largely, middle-aged, and got on the ladder when it was completely affordable to buy a first home within a 20-minute peak-hour drive of the CBD. Now affordable means looking an hour out, or leaving home at sparrow's fart to avoid the ever-earlier-starting peak hour crawl. Or it means buying a home so scungy that no self-respecting squatter would touch it when faced with freezing to death.
    We don't even get the option of affordable new homes, because those on the ladder want McMansions whose mortgages they're servicing with the rental income from their five investment properties; so the developers are building McMansions, because that's where the real money is.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Jim Welch, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Young doctors have six figures of student loan hanging over them, with mandatory repayments consuming 12 cents in every dollar they earn above about $20k.

    This is all true. Luckily for med school graduates, they are on a career path which will see them earning in the hundreds of thousands annually. These are not the people who are most disadvantaged by Auckland's crazy property prices.

    I hope that the Unitary Plan leads to higher density good quality mixed housing in the desirable inner suburbs so that in the future they are not just affordable for doctors, bankers and lawyers.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • Nathaniel Wilson, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Not to post-jack, but really?

    1) As a general rule, med school loans only get massive (i.e., 6 figures) when the students get suckered into other loans (e.g., MAS loans). I lived with med students during my time accruing $50k worth of loan myself (over 10 years, and includes 2 degrees, an MSc and a PhD), and it's really hard to have any sympathy for them at all (regarding loans).

    2) Doctors, even junior doctors, earn heaps relative to most folk, even with the 12c per dollar thing.

    3) The loans do get paid off, so they're not permanent. Furthermore, historically I think you'll find that doctors don't tend to buy houses until a little later in life anyway (i.e. 30s), because there's a lot else to do.

    I'm someone who is still paying off their annoying large loan, and I've got little sympathy for folk like myself earning way about average and still bleating about the inconveniences along the way. Some sympathy for those in the 90s who initially had the loans forced on them, but for younger folk? It's not like the need for a loan (and the requirement to pay it back) was hidden in the fine print. It's the product of us heading to Uni straight from school, when the sensible thing would be to go work first, but that's getting waaaaay off topic.

    Sorry, rant over....

    To get back on point, I'm with Jim on this. The big issue is rich v poor, and young doctors, like other relatively young working professionals (such as myself) are unlikely to be the truly big losers if the status quo is maintained.

    Auckland, New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 35 posts Report Reply

  • Nathaniel Wilson, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    20 minutes from the CBD a generation ago was a long way out though. Don't get me wrong, I struggle to understand how there are enough folk earning enough money that we have 17 suburbs worth more than $1 mill, but Auckland has always been relatively unaffordable from the perspective of everyone else (i.e. anyone without a house close to the city).

    Auckland, New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 35 posts Report Reply

  • Sudhvir Singh, in reply to Nathaniel Wilson,

    I'm not suggesting we shed tears about junior doctor salaries.
    More that, in addition to the problems you've identified due to entrenched inequality, as a result of the sprawling nature of our city with poor housing and transport options we're losing capable kiwis offshore. No matter what job you do or commitments you have, if you're working long hours you don't want to spend your valuable time outside of work stuck in traffic.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2013 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Nathaniel Wilson,

    As a general rule, med school loans only get massive (i.e., 6 figures) when the students get suckered into other loans

    Six-year degree before specialisation. At this year's rates that's $6,344 (average of the range) for the first year of BHS plus a further five years at $13,274 (total $66,370), coming to $72,714. They're also ineligible for a student allowance for at least years five and six (fuck you very much, Steven Joyce!), meaning living costs that will probably add on another $12k for those two years. Add in course-related costs at a maximum of $1k/year for things like text books and you're already at $90k. They don't need to get "suckered into other loans" to end up with massive figures hanging over them.

    You're showing how long ago it was if it only came to $50k for you to get that much education. A bog-standard Bachelor of Arts from U.Auckland runs to over $15k these days, and that's just for tuition.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Sudhvir Singh,

    Thanks for writing this so well, sir. Can you comment more on this concern which I very much share, but do not know enough about yet:

    How does the Unitary Plan ensure good quality urban design?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19683 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Sudhvir Singh,

    No matter what job you do or commitments you have, if you're working long hours you don't want to spend your valuable time outside of work stuck in traffic.

    So true. Takes family time away from far too many people.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19683 posts Report Reply

  • Jim Welch, in reply to Jim Welch,

    The only other thing I'd quibble with is the example of Sydney as somewhere people would go to enjoy a quality of life not available in sprawly Auckland.

    I recently moved back to Auckland after five years in Sydney and my opinion is that Sydney is in many ways what Auckland doesn't want to become. Talk about suburban sprawl! Sure it has some really nice neighborhoods close to the CBD but those are far out of reach for most people on normal incomes. Like Auckland, Sydney is blessed to be located on a beautiful harbour, its natural assets often obscuring the fact that away from the water it is ugly and badly planned. Unlike Auckland, Sydney is still a squabbling collection of little local council fiefdoms. Hopefully the Super City and Unitary Plan will enable us to make Auckland into a city which is way more liveable than much of Sydney.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Jim Welch,

    I think the real division is not generational, but the widening gulf between rich and poor.

    Older people tend to have accumulated more wealth, so yes. Interesting to see which suburbs are making the most noise.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19683 posts Report Reply

  • Sudhvir Singh, in reply to Jim Welch,

    Good point - I'm not talking Penrith or Wollongong though, emphasis on inner suburbs. I'm talking friends who have moved to Darlinghurst and Surrey Hills and walk to St Vincents Hospital and enjoy all the vibrancy in that area after work.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2013 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Nathaniel Wilson,

    20 minutes from the CBD a generation ago was a long way out though.

    20 minutes at peak was still not terribly far. Onehunga or Avondale, maybe.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Jim Welch, in reply to Sacha,

    Older people tend to have accumulated more wealth, so yes. Interesting to see which suburbs are making the most noise.

    Wealth also gets passed on, so a twenty-something who grew up in Remuera is likely to reap the benefits of their parents' wealth in a way that someone who grew up in Mangere probably isn't. My point is that all older people are not wealthy and all younger people are not poor and it is perhaps unhelpful to obscure the fact that socio-economic differences cut across generations.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    My parents live in Titirangi, right up on the scenic drive. I live in the heart of Mt Roskill. While my father was alive and now with my mother it is almost impossible to make them understand that the fact that my father could drive from home to federal street in 25 minutes 30 years ago does not mean that driving up to visit them now is a trivial trip.

    I found it fascinating that his perception of distances and times in Auckland city were locked into his 30 yr old experience.

    To some degree I think that might be why we see such a different perception of Auckland's traffic problems now and in the future between the various age groups. For some of us the hell that is Auckland traffic is day to day yet others genuinely believe traffic is the same as they experienced decades ago.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    And while I'm relating personal experience.

    I live on a street made up of one fifth acre blocks, many with bungalows (mostly rotten), others with slightly more modern homes. My own home is on one tenth acre (410 sq m) with a shared driveway. Next door we have had two infill houses built also on ~400 sq m sections. At the end of our street is a 55 apartment block!

    We already live in the kind of mixed housing that is so much a part of the UP. You know what - it hasn't destroyed our neighbourhood.

    The sky has not been blocked out, we still see the sun (although there is one tree I would love to chop down that shades our garden).

    We can still drive out of our street onto the main road.

    If anything the only problem is that there is not another two 55 apartment blocks across the main road to build up the use of the local shops. I can see the value of having enough people in our area to support a good coffee shop or a butcher. I can see the value of using the main arterial route at the end of our street to transport more people by public transport.

    It just isn't that scary ... in my experience. I've been here 20 yrs, I've lived through the changes, I really don't think its all bad.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    No matter what job you do or commitments you have, if you’re working long hours you don’t want to spend your valuable time outside of work stuck in traffic.

    So true. Takes family time away from far too many people.

    When I briefly worked in an office in the 1990s, the amount of deadweight time involved in getting to and from work drove me nuts. There are drawbacks to working from home, but it's bloody efficient.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Russell Brown,

    the amount of deadweight time involved in getting to and from work drove me nuts.

    These days that's no longer the case for people who use public transport, what with smart-this and mobile-that. Drivers, however, are stuck with the grind, though I do at least use my commute to listen to RNZ podcasts.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Jim Welch, in reply to Sudhvir Singh,

    I'm not talking Penrith or Wollongong though, emphasis on inner suburbs. I'm talking friends who have moved to Darlinghurst and Surrey Hills and walk to St Vincents Hospital and enjoy all the vibrancy in that area after work.

    Yes, but my point is that while those places are nice, they are similar to, and equally unaffordable as, Auckland's own funky inner city suburbs like Ponsonby and Grey Lynn. So it seems unlikely that the existence of that kind of lifestyle is the main thing which is drawing young doctors to Sydney, as they can pretty much get that here. The fact that they'll probably earn twice as much in Sydney is probably the clincher.

    The question of doctor's lifestyles and salaries is really a red herring in this discussion (sorry, I shouldn't have harped on it in the first place!)--what good urban planning needs to do is make desirable central suburbs more accessible to those who don't have the financial advantage that doctors and other highly paid professionals do. In my experience it's pretty easy to have a good lifestyle just about anywhere if you're well off. It's what a place is like to live for the average person which is a real test of its 'livability'.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 43 posts Report Reply

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