Friday, 16 January 2015

To expropriate or not to expropriate

Lemmie get this straight.

The government tells a bunch of property owners in Christchurch that it's likely going to use eminent domain to buy their land to make a big park on the south end of downtown; they need to start making arrangements to move elsewhere.

The businesses then make arrangements.

Then the goverment says, "Nah, it's going to be too expensive to buy your land now. Sorry for the hassle. We're not going to buy the whole thing. Just a strip down the middle that makes it unusable for your current purposes and makes it harder to sell the remaining bits. Thanks guys, hope you don't mind."

Did I read this story too quickly?

Christchurch is not the Outside of the Asylum.


  1. There is something a bit Escher about a plan that will have the obvious side-effect of propping up central city property values that then works so well it becomes too expensive to implement.

    But now that the plan has some kind of lurching momentum there will never come a point where someone has the courage to admit they should never have started in the first place.

  2. This is yet another manifestation of the tendency to 'legislate' in haste and then repent at leisure, something that was brought home to me earlier this week via a most interesting conversation with a local bureaucrat. This gentleman refused to provide my student with an updated version of a council cost-benefit analysis on the remarkable grounds that the final update would not occur until after the CCC had made a decision. When I suggested that it would make more sense to do things the other way round and allow the revised analysis to inform the decision, he claimed that this would be "too confusing" and detrimental to "the city's interests".

    Such a strategy was of course well known to Sir Humphrey Appleby. It's not exactly comforting to learn that his legacy lives on in Christchurch.

  3. What is most disappointing is how little this bureaucrat cares about complying with the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act. All information created in the course of business by a council is public information and that includes versions and drafts. He had no legal right to withhold the document.

  4. Well, I did try this line (although I couldn't remember the name of the relevant Act), but to no avail. Instead, I was treated to a series of "You should realise..." and "You need to be aware..."s. I may as well have been talking to the pie warmer.

    I've since taken the matter up with the Mayor's office. No response as of yet...

  5. Sadly there is a long queue at the Ombudsman's office trying to pry information out of supposedly transparent organisations that have the legal power to extract as much money from us as they like but who also don't feel any need to be accountable for that power.

    If you ever want to expand your knowledge of OIA and LGOIMA there is an excellent series of explanatory guides at

  6. Thanks. I'll bone up on these before the next round. 😄