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Speaker: The plan against the rebuild

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  • Philip Hayward, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    the very cheapest houses in America also happen to be areas of industrial decline and high crime rates, such as Detroit.

    But if Detroit had a UGB/green belt around it, it could be more like Liverpool - industrial decline, high unemployment and crime rates, loss of population (very similar), STILL-HIGH urban density, AND unaffordable house prices!!!!!!

    It is impossible to be too strong about how diabolical UGB's are in their effect. Enemy agents could hardly devise a better economic and socio-economic WMD to insinuate into a nation by way of subversives in Academia and bureaucracy and media.

    Few people realise that "Detroit", the bankrupt municipality, is surrounded by fiscally viable and economically sound suburban municipalities. It is untrue that inter-jurisdictional competition like this, is the "cause" of net overall decline; it is a means of "keeping municipalities honest". It is better to have an occasional Detroit, than to have 100% sclerotic, groupthink-run cities like the UK has. The UK has a productivity gap relative to most comparable nations, and one of the world's smartest urban economists, Alan W. Evans (University of Reading) says that the failure to identify the Town and Country Planning system as the CAUSE, is a classic case of the mainstream "looking under the lamp-post where the light is good, instead of in the dark alley where they actually lost the wallet".

    New Zealand • Since Sep 2014 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Philip Hayward, in reply to Moz,

    Despite Paveltich's optimism, I predict that if they were built they'd be yet more enclaves of overpriced, covenanted mcmansions.

    Pavletich has been pointing out all along, and numerous people obviously have a comprehension problem, that there are cities that are systemically affordable, i.e. a median multiple of 3; because they allow conversion of land beyond the fringe, to housing developments, with the development indeed paying its own way for the local infrastructure. And no matter how much of the urban area has ended up covenanted low density, the median multiple remains at around 3.

    The price of land per square foot is an extremely flexible variable that fluctuates according to the "rationing" of land in the urban economy. The real world evidence is that there are cities with an average section size in new developments of 2/3 of an acre, and an overall density of 800 people per square km, with a median multiple of 3, and cities with an average section size in new developments of 1/20 of an acre, and an overall density of 5000+ people per square km, and a median multiple of 7+.

    See also my reply to DeepRed, just posted. Glaeser, Ward and Schuetz (2006) did manage to calculate that every additional 1/4 acre of lot size mandated, increased the end price of the housing by 4%, at least in the city of Boston, which is growth-contained. In non-growth-contained cities the percentage is probably lower.

    New Zealand • Since Sep 2014 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Philip Hayward,

    Pavletich has been pointing out all along, and numerous people obviously have a comprehension problem, that there are cities that are systemically affordable

    If you'd rather not address my points it would be better if you didn't post, rather than resorting to snide remarks. I appreciate that you don't have much to say so you're just repeating what you have. I've read the source material you're using, and I don't buy the assumptions he makes. Unconstrained areal growth doesn't work over the long term, and even in the short term (less than 50 years) it only works in specific circumstances.

    Many New Zealanders want to avoid those circumstances (mostly the wealth inequality, but also the legal inequality). To make it work we'd probably also need US-style mortgage laws and corporate citizenship, both of which are, again, contentious. Even in the US they're contentious. But they do work very well for rich people like Paveltich.

    Few people realise that "Detroit", the bankrupt municipality, is surrounded by fiscally viable and economically sound suburban municipalities.

    Much as few people realise that you can make a lot of money breeding unicorns, that's because it's not true. Considering Detroit as an urban area rather than a collection of independent fiefdoms, it's not working very well. If you live in one of the rich enclaves it's great, you can rely on the broader city for supply of labour and jobs as well as utilities, while not having to pay any price for them. It's a win/win/ lose big, situation, where you only get the win side.

    Any enclave can work if it can assert legal independence from its hinterland. Singapore is amazing, Monaco is brilliant, Switzerland works damn well. Palestine... not so much. But none of them are successful independent of the areas adjacent to them. Singapore imports food and cheap labour in huge quantities, Monaco is a tax and gambling haven, Switzerland is a coven of bankers. "successful" US municipalities reproduce many of those characteristics - they're full of disproportionately wealthy people who draw their wealth from the surrounding areas. Cut them off and they die. Make them pay taxes and they buy a more compliant government (in the US anyway, less so in Palestine).

    In Christchurch we could apply the Paveltich system and it would work really well. Make Ilam a municipality with its own council and tax system. Do the same to Hornsbay and Rolleston etc. Get central government to agree that the regional council (oh, wait, that is run by central government) will not impose regional taxes to fund anything, and let the various new councils run their own water, sewage and public transport systems. I'm sure they'd all happily come to commercial arrangements with whichever council ended up owning the sewerage plant :)

    I'm sure the new residents of Rolleston would love their cheap houses and reasonable commute to their jobs in the city. Until there were 50,000 of them and suddenly that single, one lane each way road into the city became a parking lot. And they had to negotiate with the Independent City of Ilam for permission to widen the road.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1014 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Philip Hayward,

    But if Detroit had a UGB/green belt around it, it could be more like Liverpool – industrial decline, high unemployment and crime rates, loss of population (very similar), STILL-HIGH urban density, AND unaffordable house prices!!!!!!

    Mind you, Liverpool's been around a whole lot longer than Detroit.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5283 posts Report Reply

  • Philip Hayward, in reply to Moz,

    I will endeavour to be completely civil and avoid the appearance of snideness. But I think advocates of housing affordability, like myself, have grounds to be somewhat testy with the obfuscators, given the real life evidence.

    You've read the source material and don't agree with its "assumptions"?

    What have "assumptions" got to do with a statistic like median house price divided by median household income, and what is more, a time series of this statistic that reveals the trend consequent on adopting a particular course of policy?

    On what grounds do you say that "unconstrained areal growth doesn't work over the long term" (and only works over the short term in specific circumstances)?

    Do the UK's cities, fringe-contained as they have been for 6 decades, with the result that they are the highest density in the OECD for a national data set of cities of their population levels, represent superior outcomes economically and socially and even environmentally?

    "Many New Zealanders want to avoid those circumstances - mostly the wealth inequality"

    Wherever do you get the idea that there is greater wealth inequality in a city with a median multiple of 3 and the median home is a 2000 sq ft McMansion on a 1/4 acre, compared to a city with a median multiple of 6 to 9 and a median home that is an 800 sq ft row-house with no section at all?

    This question of "rich enclaves" is an interesting one, given that the price of housing in "rich enclaves" in a median multiple 3 city, is still well below the median house price in a median multiple 9 city like Auckland is now (roughly in the company of Vancouver and Sydney and London). I really don't see the moral consistency in condemning the "rich enclaves" in the systemically affordable city and defending policies that make an entire city more expensive than those "rich enclaves". It is also rich seeing the same people as make the arguments you do (I am careful not to assume this is your position) often argue that the high price of housing in cities like Vancouver and London is evidence of how these cities policies turn them into hives of creativity and wealth, therefore all cities should emulate them. Now, how is this different to arguing that exclusionary suburbs policies should be emulated because they too have successful people living in them?

    I greatly appreciate your description of locales "full of disproportionately wealthy people who draw their wealth from the surrounding areas", as I use this frequently to describe the cities that advocates of public-transport oriented urban form love to use as their models, like London, Manhattan, and Hong Kong. Cities in the modern era that have high-density, high-income "industries" are almost invariably based on parasitic global capitalism. There are almost no examples of high-density, high-income urban "industries" that are true wealth creators like, say, manufacturing exporters are; the "industries" on which the model modern developed high-density city is based are virtually by definition, economic-rent-extractive, parasitic industries that the national and global economy would be better off without.

    Yes, Christchurch would work far better with Houston as its model, or any one of Nashville, Charlotte, Raleigh, or many other "opportunity urbanism" cities, rather than cities whose utopian "form" and transport systems are based on parasitism and lucky historical evolution, and which cities will always be a lucky minority anyway. Only one city in the UK is as successful as London, and the Planning system has nothing to do with this success and has everything to do with the many failures.

    There is no evidence that allowing free markets to work in urban land and location decisions by the myriads of actors in an urban economy, leads to everyone in every "automobile dependent" new development at and beyond the fringe, streaming down the road every day to their job in the region's primary centrally-located CBD. The modern direction of inevitable urban evolution and success for most cities, most of the time, involves continually-dispersing employment and increasing sorting into efficient co-locations.

    Given the facts outlined above about the UK's cities, why would you see their successful achievement of outlier-high urban densities as actually achieving any of the functional outcomes you seem to be assuming, given reports like this:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/3085647.stm

    “British commuters have the longest journeys to work in Europe with the average trip taking 45 minutes, according to a study. That is almost twice as long as the commute faced by Italians and seven minutes more than the European Union average (i.e. 38 minutes)…..”

    The US average is 26 minutes……

    http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/14/world-of-commuters/

    The correlation between urban densities and commuting efficiency runs the opposite way to that assumed by most people, who also mostly don't take the trouble to look for real-world evidence.

    I am glad that in this forum, I am unlikely to have evidence-based comments removed by a moderator who finds them distasteful on ideological grounds, as happens to me on "NZ Transport Forum". That forum's credibility can be judged accordingly.

    New Zealand • Since Sep 2014 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Philip Hayward, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Mind you, Liverpool's been around a whole lot longer than Detroit.

    Thanks for a constructive response, DeepRed.

    There is quite a correlation between how long a city has been around, and its likely overall density in the modern era.

    Is there any example of a high density city that has largely come into existence in the automobile era at a time when automobile ownership was an option to a significant proportion of the population? The level of economic development and real local incomes matters, hence third-world cities that are still de facto equivalents to Victorian-era "first world" cities.

    Even the few Anglo New World cities with a dense urban core, like New York and Philadelphia, have sufficient pre-automobile history to make this a decisive factor. And even NY and Philly have had so much low-density sprawl that their overall urban area density falls to below that of several other Anglo New World cities - the densest of which are actually Toronto, Auckland and Los Angeles, in that order - and as Alain Bertaud points out, these cities densities are a match for many European cities.

    And even the few relatively dense New World urban areas like those, do not manage to retrospectively recreate a "pre-automobile" city's urban core. There seems to be some inevitable forces of economic evolution at work in this. I would like to know if there is any counter-example. I don't say it can't be done, but it can't be done under current Anglo institutional frameworks.

    New Zealand • Since Sep 2014 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew R266,

    [Hi Andrew -- I had to delete your comment to stay within the election day media rules. I've kept a copy and can restore it later for you -- RB]

    Since Sep 2014 • 8 posts Report Reply

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