Written By: - Date published: 11:00 am, May 8th, 2015 - 45 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, democracy under attack, national, public transport, same old national, supercity, sustainability, transport - Tags: mike hosking, nick smith, penny hulse
From the you have to be out of your freaking mind file comes this beauty from Mike Hosking. He is advocating for Nick Smith to roll Auckland Council.
The reason? The housing crisis is all Auckland Council’s fault and a central government takeover is the only thing that will resolve the problem.
Here is what he said:
The Auckland Council, in yet another display of its complete inability and ineptitude, has bought a fight with the Government over special housing sites by blocking three of them and holding the Government to ransom.
In a week in which we have discovered the average sale price in Auckland is now $800,000, in a week the Government’s bumped the affordable homes prices by about 50 grand a house, in a week in which Barfoot & Thompson tells us it has never sold so many homes, the last thing Nick Smith needs is a bunch of head-in-the-sanders telling him what they’re putting up with and what they’re not.
I think we’ve worked our way through the whole “housing crisis” enough to understand most of it has nothing to do with the Government.
Indirectly the Government is responsible for the conditions which exist, ie a strong economy, cheap money, booming migration … but these are broad-based market conditions and in many respects we should be welcoming them.
The bit that does have to do with the Government is supply.
You want to slow prices rising? Build more homes.
The special housing areas Hosking is talking about are located in the Kumeu-Huapai area in the north west of Auckland, well away from the urban area. Council decided to put the applications on hold while it talked to Central Government about transport issues. The North Western motorway is already congested and further development so far from the city centre will only make matters worse. The proposed North Western busway and a very sensible proposal to build up and enhance rail services using the Kumeu station would be required to make development manageable. Otherwise we are looking at more congestion.
Deputy mayor Penny Hulse confirmed the applications for the “reasonable sized” developments had been put on hold while Auckland Council worked out with the government the issues around transport to the region.
Local residents had told the council they were not opposed to the developments, but “they’re already trying to drive down a very congested norwest motorway to work every day, it’s one of the most congested motorways in Auckland”.
In addition the council was also grappling for funding for rail to that area.
“We were already sitting down with the Prime Minister, with local MPs and the council, who agree transport in that area is an issue.”
Auckland was feeling the gap in contributions from developers, which paid for the basic infrastructure needs around their developments such as pipes in the ground and local roads, but which didn’t cover the wider impacts on larger roads and public transport.
“The bottom line is for us, we’re not being difficult, we’re not being intransigent around this, we’re just saying we also need to manage the costs of growth for Auckland ratepayers,” Hulse said.
What was needed to improve transport links from the west was a dedicated busway along the northwestern motorway, similar to the one on the northern motorway from the North Shore, and electric trains all the way to Huapai.
Not only are the concerns utterly rational, they are also legal requirements. Under the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act 2013 a special housing area cannot be created unless the Minister is satisfied adequate infrastructure to service the development either exists or will exist. And “infrastructure” includes transport infrastructure.
How did the Government respond? In typical Nick Smith behaviour the Minister tried to blame the Council for Auckland’s housing problems. He claimed that Auckland is already getting more than its share of transport funding. Given it is the fastest growing area in the country this should not be considered an unusual phenomenon.
And in his typically belligerent style Smith has threatened to overrule Auckland Council’s decision.
“The Government also the power to create special housing areas without the approval of the Auckland Council, if they choose to overplay their cards and demands for money,” he said.
“The legislation makes plain that the Government’s strong preference is to work in co-operation with the Auckland Council, and to work on these issues together and those arrangements are still robust.
“If the Auckland Council overplays its card the legislation does make provision for the Government to approve SHAs without the approval of the Council.”
Of course Smith will have to reconcile approving the SHAs at a time where the transport infrastructure is clearly inadequate.
Getting back to Hosking’s rant the basic fallacy with his comments is that he thinks the solution is to allow more subdivision. Unchecked urban sprawl is the answer to Auckland’s housing problems as far as he is concerned. He then rails against increasing council rates despite the fact that urban sprawl is the most expensive form of development as far as a Council is concerned.
He finishes off by claiming there is no housing problem in Auckland.
There is no crisis, there is no bubble. Increased numbers of houses will come on to the market, interest rates will rise, migration will slow … market forces will meld their way into their own natural solution.
With his every utterance I am becoming more and more convinced that Mike Hosking is becoming the New Zealand equivalent of Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. Either that or the reality he occupies is not the same one that I occupy.