Monday, 13 July 2015

Hugh Pavletich blames the incompetent council. But who’s really to blame?

Exorbitant rates rises are only part of the severe imposition on Auckland home-owners. Housing commentator Hugh Pavletich blames the incompetent council:

If Auckland was a normal housing market, like most in North America, house prices would be at or below $300,000 for those on $100,000-a-year household incomes.
    Thanks to the incompetent Auckland Council, an Auckland family with a household income of $100,000 is forced to pay $820,000 for a house.
    The council is forcing them to pay an extra $520,000 for the house and this new study calling for more apartments in the suburbs is no solution to the crisis.
    That money for an Auckland house must come from a grossly excessive mortgage, crippling the city's residents for the remainder of their working life.
    Add the interest over the life of this inflated mortgage and this $100,000-a-year household is forced to pay over $1 million in excessive mortgage costs, and all because the Auckland Council is incompetent.
    The council is being deliberately misleading because it has lost control of its costs and has lost the capacity to meet its infrastructure responsibilities to its community.
    Land supply, infrastructure financing and processing for new housing are issues councils must tackle - and no council more than Auckland needs to deal with this.

But council aren’t the only ones to blame, are they.

Q: What gives Auckland Council power to blow out its costs, ignore infrastructure responsibilities, and lock up housing like this?
A: The Local Government reforms of 2002, that removed restrictions on how councils could waste ratepayers money, and the Resource Management Act, that grants council’s “planners” complete authority over your land.

Q: So who passed and introduced these?
A: The Alliance’s Sandra Lee under Helen Clark’s Labour Government passed the Local Government Act reforms, and National have adamantly refused to reverse them. Labour’s Geoffrey Palmer wrote the Resource Management Act, National’s Simon Upton introduced it, and fro many years Nick Smith administered it.

Q: So how come they got away with it?
A: Because NZ has no constitutional and little institutional protection for property rights. Because over many years folk have forgotten why property rights are important. And because all of you bastards keep voting for it all to happen.

So, in the end, you’ve only got yourselves to blame.

Suck it up.

PS: Auckland has been “wedded to a 1950s vision of uncontrolled sprawl,” say politicians.

“Auckland's mayor is standing firm against urban sprawl,” say commentators.

“Auckland’s sprawl is unsustainable and must stop,” says virtually every planner everywhere.

And yet … what uncontrolled sprawl?

Here’s Auckland just over thirty years ago, in 1984:

image

And here’s Auckland in 2012:

image

Can you spot all that “uncontrollable sprawl” after thirty years?

Fact is, New Zealanders’ fear of urban sprawl is wholly misplaced.

[NB:  The pictures above come from a really neat Time Lapse visualisation of the world here.  Use any of the pre-programmed settings—click on Las Vegas or Shanghai if you really want to see sprawl!—or just click on “Explore the World” and play.]

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