Month: February 2012

The Draft Auckland Plan (Series) – A Possible Solution to Auckland’s Housing Woes?

Is there an easier way to assist restoring housing affordability and choice in Auckland?

There has been much debate around housing affordability since the Auckland Unleashed Document was released in 2010 and The Draft Auckland Plan last year (which is now in the progress of being finalised by Auckland Council). All sorts of things have been thrown around to address this very critical issue where a the Housing Multiple for Auckland is around 6.4 (severely unaffordable) with the New Zealand median at 5.2 (also severely unaffordable). The 8th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey: 2012 Ratings for Metropolitan Markets provides 54 pages of critical insight to the housing (un)affordability situation. The survey goes into depth of the issues and possible solutions so no need to repeat that here. What I will write on here is my idea on getting housing affordability back on track.

Last year I wrote a submission to the Draft Auckland Plan – in it a comprehensive piece was written on land use in Auckland. More to the point the submission was trying to answer this question come goal:

To accommodate employment and economic activity in supporting a healthy social and physical environment for over two million residents by 2040. In doing so The Plan has to follow the objective of being: Simple, Efficient, Thrifty, and restoring Affordability to residents and businesses while still making Auckland ‘The Most Liveable City.’

So a this is where I went – taken from the Introduction of the Land Use section:

How does Auckland best allocate and utilise its land efficiently and optimally so that the goal of being the “Most Liveable (and affordable) City” can be realised.

Options suggested (but are not limited to) are the (Centralised) Master (Community) Plans where development follows a strict centralised prescription and land users then follow a strict usage covenant, to a Neo Liberalistic deregulated market approach where the Council allows the market to allocate and utilise the land per market forces (as seen in Huston, Texas). In this submission I advocate more a mix model of land allocation and utilisation to accommodate jobs, residents and support systems for Auckland.

By mixed model I mean utilising systems from various urban development and management options and using them for Auckland. This is due to the belief that a single option one size fits all would utterly fail to respond to Auckland’s current and future land use needs. In essence both the (Centralised) Master (Community) Plan and to an extent a more liberal option of land use have their place in Auckland providing some simple guidelines are followed.

So a mixed model approach is what I advocated for. I also set out some very basic urban design guidelines to “guide” the urban development processes without stifling housing type choices by potential home owners. These design principles were:

○    Would you and your family live here happily?

○    Would you work here happily?

○    Would you and your family use this recreational space while feeling safe?

○    Would it be something you would allow your next generation to inherit?

○    Not contravene the principles of the Resource Management Act 1991 (i.e. the land allocation/development/utilisation will not create severe adverse effects – or simply put, lower the amenity of the surrounding existing physical and social environment)

So with that in mind I set out a plan that allowed flexibility in land use but has some “restraints” to prevent willy nilly developments that have the potential to hurt the city. It was called the Semi Liberal Planned District and you can read on what it is and how it would potentially work in the embedded excerpt below. The Semi-Liberal Planned District Land Allocation/Development/Utilisation (SLPD_LADU) is designed to work with the 60:40 Brownfield:Greenfield development ratio SOON TO BE ADOPTED BY AUCKLAND COUNCIL in both urban AND rural Auckland. For the full submission click HERE.

The Semi-Liberal Planned District

However as time has drawn on since I drew up the original submission and gave the presentation to the Auckland Plan Committee (former Auckland Future Vision Committee) I continue to learn more about Auckland’s housing (un)affordability situation and the comprehensive package to address the issue – mainly reforms to the Local Government Acts 2002 and 2009 and the Resource Management Act 1991. However the Semi Liberal Planned District is a start and will be used in submissions in the Draft Long Term Plan and the upcoming reforms to the Local Government Act (they better be meaningful too) as part of a comprehensive package to restore housing affordability and effectively one’s property rights.

So onwards with fighting to good fight in restoring housing affordability. Questions and comments can be asked here in the dedicated feedback box below.

Oh and if I were to run for an “office” position – the SLPD-LADU would be pitch I would run with.

Your Feedback 

Refining the Focus

The Focus of View of Auckland

After some discussion, the holiday, more discussion and a nice think I am altering what will be presented at View of Auckland.

At the beginning I started VOAKL to look at planning issues in Auckland as The Draft Auckland Plan began calling for submissions. Post the Rugby World Cup VOAKL began running commentary on transport issues including periodically an overstep to the operational side (up until last month),  with this year running commentary on politics in Auckland as I began questioning Auckland Council decisions on some issues like Port of Auckland. Well I have had that think after some down time and talks and decided to refocus VOAKL back to her roots.

VOAKL will continue to comment, debate and offer alternatives to planning issues in Auckland. Planning issues such as land use both urban and rural in Auckland, transport planning (that is building new infrastructure like the Eastern Highway) or repositioning current infrastructure (such as a railway station) but not transport operations, and the politics around our planning that stems from The Resource Manage Act 1991, The Local Government Act 2002, and Local Government Act (Auckland Governance) 2009. From time to time, central government politics will come into play if it is deemed of high influence to an Auckland issue such as the City Rail Link.

Remember all I post here is of my opinion and nothing else. Although research is carried out and scouring the public domain for pieces of information to help assist what I am saying when required. I do not make informed statements – that is for the proper people and institutions to do. Also to take it from Whale Oil:

A blog (a portmanteau of the term web log)[1] is a personal journal published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete entries (“posts”) typically displayed in reverse chronological order so the most recent post appears first. Blogs are usually the work of a single individual, occasionally of a small group, and often are themed on a single subject.

So stick around folks, got heaps to write on and not enough time to do it – but one thing is for sure: I love my home – Auckland despite her shortcomings, and I took up this drive to do my bit to make Auckland a better place.

Round Two of Public Hearings

Here I go again – this time City Centre Master Plan

 

Right I have just confirmed that I will be at the Auckland Future Vision Committee Hearing Panel on March 12 at 3:10pm. There I will be giving a short sharp presentation on my views, concerns and alternatives to City Centre Master Plan. In particular with only 10 minutes – well five if I want some questions thrown in, I will look at pages 164-177 of the City Centre Master Plan that deals with the Waterfront. I am choosing the Waterfront as has two places I have done work on earlier and have strong places in my heart. Those two places being Wynyard Quarter and Port of Auckland.

So better brush up and get some stuff assembled for my second hearing as the continuation the battle to:

To accommodate employment and economic activity in supporting a healthy social and physical environment for over two million residents by 2040. In doing so The Plan has to follow the objective of being: Simple, Efficient, Thrifty, and restoring Affordability to residents and businesses while still making Auckland ‘The Most Liveable City.’

Local Government Duties up for Reforms?

Auckland transport plans hit new funding bump – National – NZ Herald News.

Auckland‘s inner-city rail loop is at risk of being completely shunted off track by a lack of funding as the Government moves to curb council rates increases and borrowing, Local Government New Zealand says.

And

The prospect has been raised in a war of words between Local Government NZ and Local Government Minister Nick Smith, who says councils’ rates and borrowing have increased too quickly over the past decade and are reaching unsustainable levels.

In recent weeks Dr Smith has publicly voiced concerns about sharply rising council rates and debt ahead of a major reform package for the sector he expects to launch in the next month.

Oh dear I see the Left Right Cock fight is still in full flight especially over the City Rail Link. For heavens sake even your average “Rightie” supports the CRL and/or uses Public Transport. Unfortunately the article for is brevity misses the point of the situation.

The core of the problem that has led to this war of words and threats of derailing the City Rail Link is actually the Local Government Act 2002 which defines the powers of Councils in New Zealand.

Quoting from a comment I made in Facebook about the same linked article:

One word – well three and a number actually. Local Government Act 2002. Since 2002 rates and debt have soared since the previous Labour administration broadened the powers of Local Government to include a heck of a lot of “social” “stuff” that was previously in the domain of central government and NGOs. Looking at the Southern Initiative in the Draft Auckland Plan is a prime example of social that Central Govt should be doing OVER core activities (Rates Roads Rubbish as some of you call it). Labour through that Act fobbed off a lot of responsibility to Councils and they (Councils) still struggle due to lack of funding. As with Planning Powers – a rant in its own right. Solution: Scale back the Local Government Act 2002 and you might find rates going down.

The best way to look at it is look at the finances outlined in the current Auckland Draft Long Term Plan. How much money is raised from where, and where does it go. How much is on that CORE stuff, how much on the social stuff, and how much is luxury spending? Simply put is our money being used wisely and efficiently? I will run commentary on it as I draw up my submission to The Draft Long Term Plan.

As with planning powers Councils have, my comment to another matter in that was posted in Facebook.

Local Government Act (Auckland Governance) 2009 last I looked. The Auckland Plan was “mandated” by central government last I looked with the Long Term Plan coming from the Local Government Act 2002 I believe. That might of just stated something some might know but it is what Auckland go lumbered with. In a few hours we should hear which way land use went – that is any where but where it should have gone. Lay the zone for maximum density of class (say medium residential), place some urban design principles to try to avoid the horrors since 1996 and away we go – market can decide if a house or medium rise apartment goes there depending on actual demand. Then again I did cover this in length in my submission

That was in a response to the results of the deliberations of Chapter 8 – Urban Auckland in The Draft Long Term Plan.

Yes I said we had a strategic victory with Chapter 8 and a Tactical Victory with Chapter 7 (and Section B I think), however as I mentioned yesterday we still have a long way to go to realise this:

To accommodate employment and economic activity in supporting a healthy social and physical environment for over two million residents by 2040. In doing so The Plan has to follow the objective of being: Simple, Efficient, Thrifty, and restoring Affordability to residents and businesses while still making Auckland ‘The Most Liveable City.’

The Battle continues – with me assisting in the good fight.

And So it is with 60:40

A Strategic Win at Auckland Council Today

 

I know I was coming back Wednesday but news like the one below could not wait 😀

Today the Auckland Council Future Vision Committee was deliberating on Chapter 8 – Urban Auckland. In the deliberations the all important Rural Urban Boundary that will ring-fence urban growth to a line in the grass and the ratio split between Brownfield and Greenfield urban development were discussed. There has been a lot of “discussion” about which ratio split would be ideal for Auckland. The four main options were the original 75:25 as original Auckland Unleashed and Draft Auckland Plan (as well as the pro-smart growth lobby), the 60:40 split that I (and some others) had called for, the 50:50 split the centre-right of Auckland Council had called for, and the no ratio call that others had called for (numbers are Brownfield:Greenfield).

There was also some hot discussion to urban land use and intensification issues after a report by Studio D4and JASMAX outlined concerns of planned intensification in urban Auckland if the 75:25 and strict RUB policy went ahead. I also followed up with my Is the Draft Auckland Plan a Lemon post – providing commentary and numbers on the ratios. In that post I was initially sceptical even about my 60:40 split but knew it with some jiggling around with Port of Auckland that it would be the ratio (along with a soft RUB) that would offer the best of both worlds and the goal of restoring housing choice and affordability (although still got lots of work there).

Today I was told by Councillor George Wood that:

The 60/40 split remains after a strong speech by Cr Dick Quax. An amendment to reduce the numbers in the non metropolitan area by Councillor Richard Northey was rejected.

I await the speech transcript or video from Cllr Quax. But the 60:40 split remaining and now 95% certain of being written into the Final Auckland Plan – our vision document for the next 30 years held on. To me it is a strategic victory that built on the tactical victory of the Rural Urban Boundary being soften in Chapter 7 – Rural Auckland. The softening allows the RUB to be moved more easily to accommodate growth on the fringes and allow land to be released in a controlled manner – enough to stop land banking if all of it was opened up at once.

However despite the strategic victory today in restoring some common sense into our urban affairs and beginning the long road back to affordability, we (Auckland) still have a long way to go before final victory is reached. The final victory being when Auckland realises and sees: the ultimate goal of housing affordability, and a market flexible enough to handle urban change/growth (land use) without excess Stalinist central planning (as we do now). My ideal of Semi-Liberal Planned Districts was an alternative in progressing down the road to the final victory mentioned above and can be read about in the embedded document below.

So with a victory today – we continue to march on in the pursuit of:

…accommodating employment and economic activity in supporting a healthy social and physical environment for over two million residents by 2040. In doing so The Plan has to follow the objective of being: Simple, Efficient, Thrifty, and restoring Affordability to residents and businesses while still making Auckland ‘The Most Liveable City.’

 

Click Here to see the Agenda and Deliberations prior to discussion on Chapter 8 – Urban Auckland.

My Original Submission to The Draft Auckland Plan

Back Wednesday

HOLIDAY OVER

RIGHT – HOLIDAY AT VOAKL IS OVER – I SHALL BE BACK THIS COMING WEDNESDAY.

After a nice small break the issues that had put the brakes on VOAKL have been dealt with (or will be by the end of tomorrow). Thus I shall be back blogging on Views of Auckland such as The Draft Long Term Plan which is now out for consultation and feedback.

It will be good to be back – after some “feedback” from some readers it seems that despite the small readership, VOAKL is doing well providing commentary on planning and other issues concerning Auckland.

There are a range of issues that VOAKL will be covering through until July and as always comments are welcome

SO

Coming Soon at VOAKL

Continuation of ‘The Auckland Plan Series.’ VOAKL  continues in the series by looking at Chapter Eight – Urban Auckland of The Draft Auckland Plan and my alternative to land use in seeking out an affordable Auckland

Part Three into the Alternative Auckland Transport Plan Mini Series. In Part Three VOAKL continues too look at Section Two of my submission to the Draft Auckland Plan – through listing the two very different ideas between myself and Auckland Council on how to get Auckland moving.

Port of Auckland. VOAKL continues work on draft “drawings” on a relocated Auckland – this time incorporating the relocated port with the surrounding proposed SLPD-LADU developments. Effectively how it could look by 2041.

The Draft Long Term Plan. The Draft Plan is out and rates are going up for some – VOAKL will be running the ruler through this document and putting forward an alternative.

The Regional Transport Program. Also up for submissions as authorities begin rolling out transport programs in Auckland over the next few years. This includes: road, rail, bus, trains, ferries and integrated ticketing which seems to be coping the wraith of average Aucklander‘s left, right and centre.

The Office – should I or not. VOAKL takes a forward look at 2013 and the Local Government Elections and why I give a damn about Auckland

All coming soon here at View of Auckland