Wednesday 29 June 2016

Auckland housing

The Spinoff knows how to frame things:




My piece there summarises a few things on Auckland's housing affordability crisis. Ultimately, it comes down to incentives.

A snippet:
Over the past four years or so, we’ve achieved a generalised political consensus in Wellington, across parties and agencies, that the bulk of the problem comes down to statutes and council regulations that make it too hard to build out or up.

So far, it might sound like I am blaming Auckland Council for the entirety of this mess. But that would be far too simplistic. Would you blame the birds for flying, the children for laughing, or the sharks for biting? No. Or, at least you shouldn’t – even if some people lodge objections to new playgrounds because of the potential for loud laughing children.

Councils operate within financial and legislative constraints. The problem is that what is best from the perspective of council or any councillor can differ from what is best for the country.

But just as it is too simplistic to just blame Council for this, so too is it too simplistic to just blame the Resource Management Act.

The RMA lets councils set whatever district plan that councils want to set. It doesn’t force councils to be very restrictive, though it doesn’t make it easy to subdivide. What the RMA does do is make it very hard to amend a district plan once one is set.

There are reasons that Auckland Council has taken years to produce the unitary plan. And, there’s also a reason that local objections have had so much sway.

Just look at the mess in Auckland where a developer wanting to build housing for 1500 households in an old gravel pit at Three Kings, turning much of it into parks and open spaces, has bought almost a decade’s worth of objections and processes and hearings. How can anybody build anything to scale under those conditions? In the middle of a housing crisis, with daily news stories about the number of children having to live in cars with their parents because there are not enough houses to go round, NIMBY activists block new construction.

Every time a NIMBY cries, an angel has to sleep in a car, or in a garage.

It follows on from my chat last week on housing affordability with Bryan Crump on Nights at Radio New Zealand.


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