What do town planners mean when they talk about things like “affordable housing” and “community”?
What they don’t mean is making houses affordable, or about anyone other than themselves.
The terms that planners use, and the way that planners use them, are nothing more than euphemisms for control. What they mean is nothing more than fog used to “transfer many of the most important decisions about the use of private property from the rightful owners to the political process, dominated by planners and the … most powerful and vocal special-interest groups.”
Michael Sanera of North Carolina’s John Locke Foundation has done us a favour by translating a few of the more arcane terms used by planners, all of which are used “to cover the reality that their recommendations reduce basic individual freedom.” Some of my favourites:
- affordable housing: An extortion scheme to force homebuilders to sell their houses at below market prices.
The political demand for affordable housing is created by restrictive land-use policies, such
as those recommended by town planners.
- auto-dependent: People who prefer to drive automobiles, and communities that fit their preferences.
- best practice: Whatever are the latest planning fads.
- compact development: Congested, crowed housing conditions.
- growth: City development the satifies to the whims of planners and special interests.
- incentives: Legal extortion systems operated by the city.
- mixed use: A combination of commercial, residential and other uses in the same area.
An example of mixed use would be retail shops on ground floor and apartments or condos
on upper floors. For most of the last century, this practice was prohibited by zoning “best
- open space: A requirement that homebuilders provide more land than homebuyers desire.
- public realm: Anything that can be seen from a street.
- stakeholders: Special-interest groups consulted in the development of land-use plans and
- subdivisions: The revealed consumer preferences in neighbourhoods, which planners therefore dislike intensely.
- sustainability: Absurd idea that without government planning, builders would create developments that fail to meet people’s needs.
- trees: A valuable natural resource that planners (1) assume benefits everyone, (2)
want planted and protected for everyone’s benefit, and (3) want the costs of
the forced planting and protecting borne solely by the affected landowners.
- walkability: Designed to discourage driving.
And bear in mind that town planners everywhere use these euphemisms for control—including here in Auckland, where Rodney Hide is about to give the scum more power over your property.
Sanera’s sign-off line from author C.S. Lewis is apposite:
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
The nannying never ends.