Council in full on reverse ferret over Unitary Plan

Policy Parrot says:

Some of the more notorious members of the property development community and legal profession have been bagging Auckland Council for sometime around the issue of intensification and the compact city model.

It started in earnest when Council undertook the Auckland Plan process and quite understandably professional peeps wanted to know where the evidence was that the city could be compacted.

In a somewhat savvy but also cunning move the Property Council convinced the Auckland Council to complete a study (FGA) which singlehandedly undermined the compact city model by casting doubt over the veracity of available land capacity.

This Parrot was highly amused when reading that report once it was available because it said what we all thought – that it was certain the land for building a compact city didn’t exist and it it demonstrated what amount of zoning change was required to meet Auckland Plan targets which – to say the least – were preposterous.

The single biggest fact put forward by the report authors against the compact model (and targets being achieved) was that the Council lacked the ‘political will’ to carry out the necessary rezoning if local communities popped a vein or two.

One assumes Council scoffed at that and ignored the advice because the targets largely remained intact and the Draft Unitary Plan was released with wide scale rezoning proposed over the whole city.

Well blow me if Councillors aren’t back tracking right now.

And what is causing that? Community opposition. 

So it appears the generals and lieutenants of the property council were right. And as predicted by them the chickens are coming home to roost for Auckland Council.

Cock – a – doodle doo.

We can blame this demise on fear and miscommunication. Typically local communities imagine horrendous doom and gloom that really has no place anywhere except in a bad hallucinogenic session with a bunch of raving lunatics from a mental asylum.

And politicians should know this. Communities always think worse than worse.

We can also blame this on politicians with no gumption and lastly we can blame the meddling know it alls. This Parrot predicted months ago that Aukland 2040 would weasel a strong arm and they bloody well did.

Whether one agrees with the Property Council goons or not they appear to be able to read the future aptly and they certainly know how communities and politicians think.

Most of this was highly predictable anyway.

One doesn’t need to be a soothsayer or a Property Council peep to know some pollies can’t handle disgruntled constituents. Life outside of politics for bored 60 year old house wives and ‘has been’ conveyancing lawyers is pretty grim.

Interestingly the only counsellor to have questioned the aspirations was old Quax from Howick. This Parrot noted that he took a lot of lots of flack from his colleagues and yet he is right and those same colleagues are now U-turning.

Perhaps the rest of that motley crew will offer Dick an apology but I doubt it.

What we know now is the compact city dream is going. The $500,000 Auckland Plan brochure is now destined for the $1million dollar shelf where all failed plans end up.

So what is this Parrot’s point?

The point is we as Aucklanders have been led on a wild goose chase and dicked about with stupid ideas put to us by stupid people that had no chance of success if you gave them 10 seconds thought.

The plan has failed.

Councillors have been led astray by their feral officers and then when put to test found savage hoards of local zombies ready to kill for suggesting it might all happen close to their own homes.

Fearful of having no job in October they all shit their pants pulled their balls up tight and retreated like the soft sell-outs we always knew they were.

Auckland deserves better. Firstly it deserves to have a pool of quality Council officers who will listen to professionals and take their advice rather than propose utopia in a bubble.

Auckland also needs quality counsellors too – paid well and with expertise and at certain times the balls to smack and sack looney officials whilst standing up to communities if they are acting the goat and being self centered banana republicans.

What we don’t need is to have shifting lines in the sand, costly plans that get thwarted and last minute retreats from councillors who want to save their own bacon.

The right people would never have come up with such a plan in the first place. They would have known it was impossible and when advised as such the would have listened to those telling them.

This Parrot doesn’t know many of those who dwell in the strategy war room of the Property Council but this Parrot says they should have been listened too because they were right. What else are they right about?

This Parrot wants to hear what they have to say. And suggests perhaps its they who should be running our city.


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  • Quintin Hogg

    Good stuff as always PP.

  • NotLen

    When one scoffs at the Property council, remember that by and large they represent the organisations that are the investors of all of our retirement funds that have a property component.

    Whats good for them is what is good for us all (those of us that work and save).

    • philbest

      The reality is that there are three kinds of “income”. There is newly created wealth, which has to involve the use of resources. Then there is consumption, and thirdly, “economic rent”, which is zero-sum transfer of wealth already created.

      An economy in which policy is held hostage to the interests of zero-sum wealth transfers, eg increases in the price of land unrelated to rising production and real incomes; is like a cancer patient. The land price bubble is a cancer, pure and simple.

      It reduces productivity and discretionary income and investment in productive capital and shrinks the tradables sector, just as a cancer attacks a person’s vital organs. As long as we allow the interests in inflated land values to make policy, our economy is like a cancer victim with his vital organs being destroyed.

      Reserve Bank monetary policy is like chemotherapy. Big enough doses to kill the cancer, kill the host as well. What do businesses do when hit with interest rate hikes big enough to keep property prices down? The correct solution is “surgery”: and that means dealing with Councils and the “supply” of land for urban use.

    • Wallace

      Definitely. What is good for them is good for us. I agree. The Property Council isn’t representing some fringe idea. They are pretty mainstream and so are their members.

  • Shoreboy57

    Politicians driven by self-preservation. Never happened before surely? #whatisworldcomingto

    • Bert Root

      Ha ha. Never happened in Hastings.

      • Napster

        Yes it does.
        Nelson Park.
        Sold to those prize muppets who failed to develop it and then Council let them alter the plan that Council came up with.

  • AngryTory

    We can blame this demise on fear and miscommunication

    Crap. We can and should blame it on communism. On the communist mayor “elected” by Auckland bludgers over the votes of actual homeowners, property owners and businesses; and the communist PM who set up the super shifty I. The first place – and he useful idiots who put that communist plan into place.

    Auckland – like any other enterprise – needs strong effective leadership – not popularise pandering!

    • andrew carrot

      As I keep harping on about, the “actual homeowners, property owners and businesses” (presumably their owners in this case) you refer to chose not to vote in the last Auckland Council election. In 2010, 50% of Aucklanders with the right to vote did not do so. Many of them came from the demographic you list above. I am very much of the view that if you don’t exercise this fundamental right, you don’t have grounds to complain about the consequential ethos of the elected body. The people who chose not to vote in 2010 (and it was a choice they made, no other excuses apply) at least have an opportunity to erase the effects of their mistake in two months time, at least to an extent that will assist Auckland to move out of Len’s clutches.

      • AngryTory

        Which just goes to show that elections with universal franchise are a stupid way to run a city. We have a thousand years of precedent on running a city via a city corporation – avoiding all these problems.

    • GazzW

      Are you classifying tenants as bludgers AT? Why should they be disenfranchised – they pay their rates in just the same way as property owners.The only difference is that they are paid to the council via the landlord’s bank account.

      • AngryTory

        Of course. Hell mortgagors too really – property is actuly owned by the mortgagee. A city – like anything else – belongs to those who actually own it. Plain & simple. Never to those who bludge off the actual owners’ kindness. If it weren’t for landlords (and banks) the bludgers would be back in the gutters from whence they came.

        • GazzW

          You’re nuts AT.

  • Patrick

    Bullshit they are in retreat. These commies always believe they are right, it is their way or the highway. They may appear to be in retreat but in reality they will back off & approach this from a different angle. Their version of Utopia is the ultimate goal & this is merely an inconvenience.

  • kehua

    Hallelujah and welldone PP, surely this must strike a chord with Voters, if only we had a credible Candidate to `take` it to Brown. Wait `til PhilBest wakes up and reads this. Whilst most of the Property Council no doubt will have self interest at heart it is imperative that we have checks and measures in place to adjudicate on prospective claims and changes and not Council Goons who will impose beauracracy just for the sake of it.

    • philbest

      Thanks, Kehua. I partly agree with Patrick, the “retreat” is nowhere near enough of a retreat yet. It needs to be a rout and a massacre. There is a whole house of cards of lies that needs to be blown over, and the MSM aren’t interested in doing it.

      One of the world’s most distinguished urban economists told me recently that he can’t even get a letter published in any UK newspaper pointing out that the UK is actually only 10% urbanised and there is plenty of room to do enough new development to make housing over there affordable. Well, it is impossible in NZ to get a letter published pointing out that NZ is 0.7 % urbanised.

      I presume the editors have investment properties, or are in the pocket of wealthy advertisers who are part of the FIRE sector rent-seekers.

      I agree that Dick Quax has been an honourable exception from day one and I wish he would run for Mayor. I am amazed that his status as a Kiwi legend has not counted for a lot more in his political career. He deserves to be ultimately thought of as a political legend as well as a sporting one.

    • JeremyWh

      The prop council guys are pretty legit. No agendas particularly but they loathe Auckland Council and they want the whole industry to be successful – a booming industry is good for everyone is the way they have out it to me.
      They are smart guys and get a little bored easily so a little fight from time to time is fair game. I reckon they’ve done us all a favour. Even if its only a slight wobble they’ve caused.

  • philbest

    There are a small number of basic lies that all this compact city rot is based on. These lies need to be exposed.

    The truth is that cities that are allowed to grow freely, have affordable housing with median prices at 3 times household income. The housing in this case is bigger and better, and sections are much bigger.

    These cities are of course a lot less dense, which correlates with LESS traffic congestion delays by a wide margin. Commute TIMES are generally slightly shorter, with distances traveled being greater, but at very much higher speeds.

    Petrol consumption per capita tends to be higher in these cities, NOT because their urban form per se is less efficient, but because it is MORE efficient and people can do a LOT more discretionary travel and can afford thirstier (safer, higher-performance, larger) vehicles.

    The additional discretionary income in the local economy after housing costs makes a massive difference in the local economy; it is not just petrol sales that are higher. It is “everything” except finance sector gouging. Of course the finance sector loves cities like these

    There is no proven correlation between fiscal sustainability and density. It is probably truer to say that growth-contained cities with heavy public transport investment are more likely to be in a state of fiscal crisis, than non-growth-contained, road-building cities. After all, the subsidy cost of roads is about 2 cents per person kilometer of travel on them, while public transport subsidy cost is between 20 cents and 1 dollar per person kilometer of travel.

    One authoritative study I trust, “The Costs of Sprawl 2000”, finds that the infrastructure cost of unrestrained sprawl is $80 per household per year. This is nothing compared to the inflated housing costs under growth containment. I would gladly pay another $80 per year in rates to get median house prices of around $180,000.

    And this study does not attempt to calculate the higher cost of infrastructure maintenance and renewal in conditions of high urban density – digging up congested roads, acquiring expensive land for expansion, de facto shutting busy businesses down for months, etc etc.

  • Observer

    Nice work PP. still don’t think it’s as big a back track as you believe but it is one in some measure.
    I personally believe the real slaying of the plan begins I earnest next month once notified.
    Watch and see.
    By the time this goes to hearing and if it is appealed on points of law it’s going to be like road kill.
    The RMA lawyers out there will have a field day.