If there were any doubt about how Victoria Crone sees the role of Auckland mayor it was removed forthwith this morning. She thinks the role of mayor is bully.
Either unable or unwilling to investigate the reasons for land banking – far and away the primary cause being the ring-fencing of the city by council’s planners, which motivates land-owners to simply sit and wait for planners’ progressive rezoning or the economic results thereof – Crone’s response is the response of big bullies everywhere: a “big stick.” (Her very words.)
What does her stick look like? It looks like a big rates gun.
To commercial property owners with empty property, she promises to double their rates. To land owners with vacant or only partially-developed land, the crone promises to double their rates to what they would be if their land were fully developed. And to people around greater Auckland with empty houses, ninety percent of which apear to be baches, she promises to double their rates too.
Asked this morning to justify firing her rates-gun at that ninety percent of bach owners, she says even if “there’s just ten percent in there, I”ll take that.” just to give her something to say about housing prices,
This all appears to be based what she calls her “anecdotal evidence.” In other words, her long experience since announcing for mayor of driving around the city and talking to her friends. And what she ignores in her rush to be noticed is detailed and rigorous evidence confirming that, for example, “if investors (or foreigners) are buying up properties and leaving them empty .. if this is happening at all, it seems to be on a very minor scale”; that planners’ Urban Growth Boundary essentially makes land just outside their ring-fence around ten times the price of the same land just inside, and makes the market for fringe land operate like the bullion market instead of the market for widgets; that cities severely regulated by planners as ours is are more severely unaffordable places in which to buy a house than those that aren’t; and that simply recognising property rights and allowing land-owners and buyers the choice in what they develop and buy makes a city both more liveable, and more affordable.
Victoria Crone may be “a woman in a hurry,” to quote just one of the execrable profiles of herself she is distributing, but that is no excuse for not knowing what you’re talking about, and bullying property owners just to have something to say.
I would recommend running a mile from her at election time.