In light of the recent debate over whether the Unitary Plan hearings process is sufficiently democratic, this is an appropriate time to revisit a post I wrote last year on the demographics of consultation feedback. Essentially, local governments don’t hear from all their citizens equally – submissions are weighted towards older, whiter, and probably wealthier people. This is a critical issue for local democracy. As the Productivity Commission wrote last year:

Some existing residents – especially homeowners – benefit from restrictions on the supply of new housing, as these help keep up house values. The Commission has identified a “democratic deficit”, where homeowners have a disproportionate influence in local council processes, including elections and consultation. This creates a “wedge” between local and national interests.

On with the post.

Auckland Council is currently [in March 2015] consulting with residents on its 2015-2025 Long Term Plan (LTP). This is an important document, as it sets out the Council’s budget over the next ten years. This is a period in which Auckland has to make some tough choices, including whether it should raise more money to pay for an expanded transport plan. (The City Rail Link, a key project for the city, is expected to start regardless, but it’s going to be harder to pay for other public transport infrastructure without additional money.)

If you haven’t yet submitted, I’d encourage you to do so via the Council’s online submission form. Or, if you want a more straightforward way to submit Generation Zero has released their submission guide following up their alternative LTP. You can read their plan at fixourcity.co.nz. [Note: submissions closed a year ago; don’t bother!]

The other week, Matt put up a post summarising the data on who had submitted on the LTP as of 19 February. (More data was published on 1 March.) He highlighted a few interesting aspects of the feedback, including what submitters were highlighting as priorities for spending. There is a big desire for more spending on public transport and cycling, which is great to see.

The most striking data was on the demographics of the submitters. Simply put: Council isn’t getting feedback from a representative set of Aucklanders. Some groups are systematically underrepresented, while others are massively overrepresented.

To illustrate this point, I compared the demographics of LTP submitters with Auckland’s actual demographics from the 2013 Census. Here’s the summary table:

LTP submitter demographics vs Auckland demographics

As you can see, there are some groups that show up in large numbers to have their say:

  • Men – 49% of Auckland’s population, but 62% of LTP submitters to date
  • NZ Europeans – overrepresented in LTP submissions by 50%
  • People aged 55 or older – overrepresented by 80% or more in LTP submissions

Other groups are underrepresented by comparable margins:

  • Maori, Pasifika and Asian people – underrepresented by 62%, 81%, and 73%, respectively
  • People aged under 25 – underrepresented by 70% or more.

In other words, Auckland is a young, multicultural city where young people and non-European people don’t have much of a say in Council feedback.

Here’s another view of the data on the age of submitters versus the age of Aucklanders as a whole. The age profile of LTP submitters is almost the inverse of the age profile for the whole population!

LTP submitters and Auckland age structure chart

This poses some serious challenges for Auckland Council (and other local governments, probably). Councils rely heavily upon submission and consultation processes to help inform their decisions about what to build and how to write urban planning rules. It’s not the sole input to decisions – which sometimes causes some people to kvetch that Auckland Council’s not listening to them – but it is an important one.

If the demographics of submitters are biased, we can’t necessarily rely upon consultation feedback as a guide to what the public wants. If half of Auckland is under the age of 35, and almost half are Maori, Pasifika and Asian, while most submitters are middle aged to retired and disproportionately white, should we trust the data? And what could we do instead to gather more representative data?

Fortunately, Auckland Council does seem to be using a few alternative approaches to getting feedback on the LTP. This includes an independent phone survey of 4,200 Aucklanders selected to be demographically representative. Depending upon how they ask the questions, this may be a more valuable source of insight into actual Aucklanders’ preferences than the standard consultation forms.

The Council is also running a series of meetings, recognising that some people prefer to talk about the issues rather than fill in an online form. In a comment on Matt’s post, Ben Ross reported back on the discussion at an LTP meeting in the Otara-Papatoetoe local board:

the Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board Have Your Say Sessions in which the Pacific (and Maori) people were VERY vocal in making their thoughts known.

I was the sole white person there at the Otara-Papatoetoe LB session last night (didnt bother me one bit) and their views were consistent:
Low UAGC
Better east west transport links especially from Otara to Wiri and the Airport
Upgrade of Otara Town Centre
And socio-economics was a big concern as well

It is definitely good that Auckland Council’s using a few different mechanisms to get feedback on the LTP – provided that it’s all weighted up and reported together. But even if it puts the effort into getting a meaningfully representative set of views on the LTP, it probably isn’t doing the same thing in the multifarious consultations it does on smaller issues.

I don’t have a good solution to this – although I have a few ideas. What are your thoughts?

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135 comments

  1. Whose fault is it – the Council, or the people who don’t respond?

    In my view if an organisation provides multiple mechanisms for submissions, that’s good enough.

    What’s more important, however, is:
    – that the Council actually modifies its plans based on submissions, and
    – that better-argued submissions are given greater weight

  2. The submitter demographic is likely the same demographic as those who own property and are most likely to be impacted by changes. Which is what you have in your tables.

    1. Sorry, are you saying that people who don’t own property aren’t affected by Council policy?

      We still live here, you know.

  3. I’m glad you didn’t put this down to a intergenerational power struggle. Although it has to be said, the recent debates stunk of “We know better than you young ones. Children must be seen and not heard. We know what happens if you give politicians a mile.” When we account for these attitudes it is no wonder some of the younger demographic don’t bother to participate in democracy, because they believe their opinions aren’t wanted, valued or will be vetoed.

    1. Yes, I’ve been ruminating on that possibility lately. While I’m not generally a big fan of “us vs them” narratives, I do get that “children should be seen and not heard” vibe from the audience at many public meetings.

      I went to a couple meetings on the Unitary Plan when it was being developed. One was run by Gen Zero, and largely attended by uni students, and the rest were run by local residents associations.

      At the Gen Zero meeting, the participants were split up into small groups and asked to discuss what they thought was good or bad about the plan. All groups reported back at the end. There was no heckling or attempts to shout down speakers. Everyone who wanted to be heard was heard.

      At the residents association meeting, it was run as a town hall format. A few people spoke – against housing supply – and then some people from the floor raised their hand to agree or disagree. All the young people who spoke got shouted at or heckled. One woman told me, in as many words, to “stop wasting time in cafes” and “come back when I had more money.” I’m not joking. The mood was adversarial, not respectful.

      Faced with attitudes like that, some people will respond by staying and speaking up louder, but most people will – very rationally – decide that they can’t make a difference and shouldn’t be bothered.

  4. The demographics of the consultation process should represent, as closely as possible the demographics of the city. Age, ethnicity, geographical location should all be a mirror of the city. How best to achieve that is a problem for the statisticians.

    1. I’d argue that it’s a problem for all of us. Without adequate representation of all sectors, we end with social ills that over shadow the issues that we discuss on this blog and are much harder to resolve.

  5. In a participatory democratic process like submissions on plans, there is no such thing as being ‘overrepresented’. Everyone has the opportunity to submit and those that choose not to submit have chosen not to have their opinions heard. The focus should be on encouraging more people from underrepresented groups (and the public as a whole) to submit on plans to try and make sure that the feedback is a true representation of what people believe. We should never try and devalue or ignore peoples’ feedback based on them being from an ‘overrepresented’ group.

    1. Yes, I agree with that. For what it’s worth, I think the appropriate solution would entail hearing *more* from groups that currently submit at low rates, not *less* from the people who currently submit.

  6. One option for council would be to get smarter at summarising feedback in terms of how views expressed and submitters’ characteristics align.

    Simple summaries like “x% of submitters said…” are probably not that useful given this representation deficiency, whereas “x% of property owners said…” and “x% of people aged xx to xx said…” might be more informative.

    Of course, while it might highlight very relevant factors at play in society, it might not help decision making. All sorts of tricky questions as to what weighting to give to different voices would arise.

    Ultimately, in the case of urban planning and transport decisions, these consultation scenarios only become meaningful by and through local leadership. _If_ leaders are only listening to a select subset of voices when enacting decisions, then formal consultation becomes meaningless.

    FWIW, this is not just a local leadership + consultation affliction. New flag anyone?

  7. I did my best to help with the Long Term Plan, I submitted and ticked boxes for Pacifica Woman 15 to 24. Democracy doesn’t mean every view has to be represented. It means everyone starts out with equal opportunity to be involved. Not using that opportunity is a valid choice.

    1. Last week, you were arguing that it was an outrage not to hear submissions from people who didn’t take the opportunity to submit on the notified Unitary Plan.

      1. I was and it is. The Independent Panel has the job of hearing submissions, not the Council. It is an outrage to make changes that affect people and say “you should have submitted two years before we made this public” If the Council now tries to hear evidence and submissions after the Panel has finished then they will step in a big legal hole. That won’t be an outrage it will just be amusing.

  8. What’s the age breakdown of the councillors? local board members? Ethnic breakdown? Gender?

    This isn’t just a consultation problem, it’s a representation problem too

    1. I don’t know what Auckland’s elected member demographics look like, but here’s a summary that LGNZ put together for the country as a whole:

      LGNZ councillor demographics table

      Compare with Census data, which shows that in 2006:
      * 51% of NZers are female
      * ~14% are Maori
      * ~17% are other ethnicities (neither Maori nor Pakeha)
      * People aged 18-29 were considerably more numerous than people aged 50-59.

      1. And the majority of generals in the army are over 50.

        Does this mean the army suffers from non-representative leadership, or that the skills to lead are developed over time?

        1. Your metaphors for how society works (or how it should work) seem to either be military or revolutionary in nature. Neither is appropriate: society is not an army, and most of the time it’s not in revolutionary turmoil.

          Also, unlike generals, councillors are *elected* to *represent* people, not *appointed* to *command* them. Massive difference.

          1. Cripes, the standard of modern economics education!
            The “militaristic” Bolsheviks won. The “representative” Mensheviks lost. The metaphors/analogies I use to describe social things are based on what works.

            The goal of local government is not to let Johnny Waffle rabbit on about where we should have a pool or whether we need more movies in parks. It’s to maximise the benefits generated by the services provided. This isn’t assisted by letting every man and his dog have a say.

          2. Again, society =/= revolution.

            Also, most people wouldn’t describe 1921 famine, the Holodomor, Stalin’s Terror, and the Gulag as “maximising the benefits generated by the services provided”. The Bolsheviks won the civil war, but they didn’t cover themselves in glory after that.

          3. Russia in the early 20th century is no comparison to Auckland. They were used to a Tsar who told them what they could do. We are not. We are used to a bottom up system where politicians are elected to “lead by following in front”. They give us what we already have or what an overwhelming majority want and we leave them alone until they get it wrong, then we reset them on the path. We love visionaries so long as they don’t actually change anything!

    2. “At large” councillors may have helped with this, but the government went for Ward councilors only for some reason.

  9. If you don’t speak up, it’s your own fault, and nobody else’s. Democracy is about everyone having the opportunity to have a say, and in that respect, 100% of Aucklanders are represented, equally.

    The truth is, those people who don’t speak up, just don’t care.

    The dumping of the UP shows that democracy is alive and kicking, but we came damn close to it disappearing when the council tried to pull a fast one and push through changes outside the normal process, which was extremely undemocratic.

    1. Last week, you were arguing that it was an outrage not to hear submissions from people who didn’t take the opportunity to submit on the notified Unitary Plan. They had an opportunity to have their say when the plan was notified… but they chose not to.

      In addition, the Unitary Plan hasn’t been “dumped” at all… the independent hearings process on the plan is still ongoing. The early indications are that AC’s decision not to back its own evidence may not have an impact on that process: http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/regional/297876/auckland's-density-housing-saga-rumbles-on

    2. I spoke up about wanting more density in the UP but apparently it was out of scope because I didn’t mention actual property addresses. It really wasn’t that obvious that I needed to list every address in Auckland.

      1. I think the best way to look at submissions is if you want to change the text, write some new text. If you want to change a map print the map and colour it in the way you want it. Your relief has to be something people can use and something a reader can relate to specific matters bits of the Plan. You dont have to do it that way but if you do it will avoid doubt. Listing all the addresses causes other problems. To convince people you need to be pithy. They have to understand your point of view.

          1. If they allowed submissions again I would write a script to automatically submit on every single property on the isthmus not zoned MHU or higher. That would learn them. Even better if Gen0 wrote the script and had multiple people submit on every property. Could easily get a few billion submissions for them to look through!

          2. You are free to do it however you want. I was just offering advice on the basis of having written decision reports for one Plan and done appeals on two other plans plus maybe 20 plan changes. How you approach it is your business, but if you need people to understand it easily before you can convince them, otherwise you are wasting your time. Remember they are interested in why. Why not less? Why not more? Maps help you show the reasons for a boundary.

          3. No, Sailor Boy has a good point. Submissions for broad upzoning are caught in a catch-22: If they only put in a map, or a general statement describing which areas they want upzoned, they are “not specific enough”. But if they put in a list of specific properties, it’s “too much information, can’t be bothered”.

            In deciding which rezoning proposals to describe as “out of scope”, Auckland Council discounted any rezoning request that did not name a *specific* address. If future councils take the same approach, then the *only* way that broad rezoning requests can get a fair hearing is to submit a list of all properties in the city. That’s insane, but it’s the logical implication of AC’s position.

          4. That isn’t how they dealt with my submission. They have adopted it in their evidence and are saying the change is in scope (because my submission clearly shows who it affects). My way of looking at this is show specifically which bit your relief applies to. If you want a map changed show how on a map. If it is a policy- write a new one. But you need to link it back to their S32 report or go to the effort of doing a S32 analysis yourself. There are plenty of other examples where people have submitted a map and it goes from there. The trick is to make sure it has a justifiable boundary, anyone reading it can see if they are in or out, and you avoid creating a pocket zone. It probably would have been better of they had published the Panels advice on zoning before submissions rather than when we wrote evidence. The problem with broad upzoning is they can be too broad. You actually need to do the whole of the area to a detailed level rather than be general in nature. Later you can resile from your relief a bit if you want but you cant add to it. The Courts have said the relief needs to be “within the four corners” of the original change.

          5. That’s generally reasonable advice, and one that Matt followed in the submission he put in on behalf of Transportblog: http://greaterakl.wpengine.com/2014/02/28/27253/

            It contains highly specific suggestions such as “Maps – Mt Roskill: The area bounded by May Road to the west, Mt Albert Road to the north, SH20 to the south and Mt Roskill Grammar to the east should be “upzoned” to Terraced Housing & Apartment Buildings”

            However, the issue is that some submitters might want broad relief, not just some specific changes around the edges. They *need* to be able to submit a general statement of what you want zoning to accomplish, backed with maps or lists of hundreds of thousands of addresses if need be, and have it considered in the process.

          6. I do understand the problem and I don’t have a solution to it. I know it isn’t overly helpful this late in the piece but in my experience you have to plate it up for them and offer your alternative because these reviews always turn into huge jobs even before they created ‘one plan to rule them all’. While the process is loaded in favour of the Council, it is the submitters who have an advantage as they can spend more time on their particular issue. If you have a ready made answer for them that makes sense and reduces their workload you have a good chance of success. The chance for broad changes or higher level stuff is often prior to notification and in the obs and pols. It is hard to sell the idea to them that they should redraw all their maps. Doesn’t mean you can’t, I just think it’s an uphill struggle.

    1. The problem is the council itself is not representative of Auckland’s population. The council is mostly of white middle-age bracket. There is no voice for any younger Aucklanders.

      1. Is it that they aren’t represented or aren’t heard when they do voice an opinion?

        The bit that is the most upsetting about the UP process is that a section of the community are not letting others be heard. Unpacking the why might help increase overall participation.

  10. Ideally the people who are submitting ought to consider the views of others as well as their own; we haven’t had a breakdown of how many submitters have Asperger’s, so I’ll assume they’re mostly capable of basic empathy. Since it’s a process where essentially the people have a large say in the decision, that doesn’t mean the best policy is for the dominant group to say exclusively what they want – everyone has a responsibility to think about the repercussions of what they want for other people. See Jarrett Walker writing about this here: http://humantransit.org/2016/01/who-is-not-in-the-room-a-question-for-2016.html

    Separate topic: Peter, did you see this article the other day? http://oldurbanist.blogspot.co.nz/2016/02/nimbyism-under-microscope.html

    Do we have a breakdown of how many submissions on the UP explicitly concerned house prices versus ‘character’ etc.?

    1. Great links – I’ll put them in my next round of Sunday reading! And you make an excellent point that hearing only from some people, and not from others, can sway the outcomes.

      However, I’d pull you up on one minor thing: people with Asperger’s / autism don’t lack empathy per se. From what I understand, it’s more that they aren’t good at reading social cues and putting themselves in the shoes of others. So it may be difficult for them to figure out what the appropriate response is in a social situation – which is different from not *caring* how others feel.

        1. Yes very good, very succinct, e.g.:

          ‘These typical practices don’t only segregate uses, they also dictate what kind of housing can be built and where, how big they can be, how big the lots must be, how far apart buildings must be from the limits of the lot, etc… Essentially, this zoning imposes certain types of housing in certain neighborhoods. The most evident impact this has is quite simply socio-economic segregation. Yes, it does deserve to be in bold.’

      1. Thanks for pointing that out – you’re right that it’s a mischaracterization. Glad you found the links useful!

  11. Saying that younger generation being under represented is their own fault surely haven’t experienced being in their shoes lately. With study, part-time work, rents and if lucky slight social life, you cant blame the younger generation for having no time to research what is happening in politics. Compare that to the older generation which have all time in the world to kill. If you want more younger opinions, why dont they go to schools, universities. Why dont they reach out through social media. Small amount, if any, younger generation uses the landline anymore.

    1. That’s a very good point. It isn’t helpful to say that younger people haven’t bothered submitting and it isn’t democratic to claim that because they haven’t submitted they shouldn’t have a say.

      I think Council needs to look at the way it engages with public opinion, and to look at whether or not demanding written submissions and holding afternoon meetings in central Auckland is the right way to consult young people. I’m pretty sure it’s not!

    2. I’m sorry that’s just wrong. Young people are too busy to participate? Really.

      I hate to break it to you, but it doesn’t get any easier. Pre-retirement you’ll never have more spare time than you do now. Wait till you’re doing a full time job and raising a family.

      I have no sympathy for people who don’t vote and then get screwed over by the system, what did you expect?

      1. A vote is different to a submission. Voting is easy but a submission takes a bit more time. You cannot submit a proper submission if you do not do some research first. University/School is not just get to class sit some exams. In order to do well in your course, you have to spend atleast 10- hours a week for each course (including study, class, tutorial). So for a minimum 4 courses, that is 40hours a week of study. Other degree needs 5 courses a semester (50/week). Remember that this is just the minimum recommended.. you would always need more as research and writing would take twice the amount for each course.

        Not to mention students also tend to work part-time which could take another 8-20hours a week of their time.

          1. If you’re doing a conjoint degree, you would need to do atleast 9 courses a year in order to finish in time. Also if some people failed a paper, they would have to catch up by taking 5 papers. 75 points (5 papers/courses) is the maximum you can take per semester, but you would be surprise how many people actually take 5 papers.

        1. When I was at Uni 2 odd years ago, the attitude seemed to be C = Degrees for most people, lectures were time to play ipad games or catnap, study time in the computer labs meant Facebook or in the case of one guy laughing while watching Brickleberry. Liberaries were for web surfing on the iphone & studying at home meant doing toss all. People make out that Uni is some place where students work 40 hours a week and are constantly study but tbh they were the exception who got A’s not the rule.

          Disclaimer: I left Uni after finding it an academically devoid place of anti-intelligence dogma where answers to the test only mattered to people, rather than any question on what was actually being taught was factual. It scary how everyone just took what they Prof’s said as gospel then forgot it after the exam. I spend most of the second semester reading other stuff during the lectures.

      2. Total rubbish. I have far more time after graduating. Perhaps you are out of touch with the reality of modern tertiary education.

        1. Maybe I’m showing my age here
          I was at uni 1995-1999 (five years inclusive)
          I had a lot more spare time then than I do now… a lot more.

          1. You also gotta consider government subsidised of Uni fees has been decreasing regarding inflation through the years. It takes I think an average of 8years now for a University student today to pay of their student loan, compared to maybe your time when its still payale within couple years.

  12. Some existing residents – especially homeowners – benefit from restrictions on the supply of new housing, as these help keep up house values.

    They don’t exactly do that. Imposing prohibitive costs on supply only increases marginal rental return in some circumstances and rental return is not sufficient to justify even current prices. Current pricing is based mostly on a willingness to invest for perceived future growth, not supply restrictions.

    In an upward trajectory property market the high costs mean an accentuated higher price (which is what the Nimbys desire), because people want to invest in property and so they will pay the higher costs. However in a downward market it means accentuated crash (which is what the Nimbys will get, if they don’t sell first), because a town where the rents are high and growth is blocked is not somewhere in which to do business. If for instance a USA President with amazing hair causes global interest rates to rise, then property prices in Auckland will be supported by very little.

  13. In response to ‘If you don’t speak up, it’s your own fault,’ and similar comments: maybe, but the fact remains that it’s the responsibility of public authorities to act on behalf of the whole community, not just the loudest, angriest people.

    If self-selected submitters or town hall meetings don’t show what the community as a whole thinks (which is obvious), it’s their responsibility to find out in other ways – most obviously, by doing some statistically valid sample surveys.

    A representative democracy where important groups are under-represented is an unhealthy one. Right-minded people should be trying to make it more representative, not sneering at the folks who, for whatever reason, are not in the room.

    1. Fully agreed. Properly designed, representative random surveys are a much better way of seeking feedback than listening to shouty, angry people.

      1. While it would give you a broader range of opinions, surely we want to privilege the opinions of those who actually exert efforts to make those opinions known? Isn’t it a bit like hiring people who go out of their way to get an interview?

        1. Why? Its probably more rational to not submit if you value your time – you are unlikely to change anything. So you are privileging people who either have a lot of time on their hands or who take pleasure in writing submissions.

          Also, one issue is often that positive effects of policy changes are diffuse and uncertain, while negative effects are concentrated. The latter is far more likely to submit than the latter. If you privilege the katter you will tend to only hear one side of the argument. If Douglas consulted and acted on submissions we would still be assembling our own TVs!

          1. ‘Also, one issue is often that positive effects of policy changes are diffuse and uncertain, while negative effects are concentrated. The latter is far more likely to submit than the latter.’

            Is a very good point. Well said.

        2. If we accept a principle that if you show you’re highly motivated you deserve more influence in the halls of power, where does it end?
          Rich retirees who have the time and energy to write submissions and attend town hall meetings are highly motivated. Rich businesspeople who arrange meetings with ministers and make large donations to political parties are clearly even more highly motivated. So should we leave the field to them?
          An interviewing employer is entitled to think only of their own interests. Governments, whether they like it or not, have the duty of governing on behalf of the whole community. That may often mean finding compromises between competing interests, not just lining up behind the loudest interest group.

          1. Sometimes it is genuinely best to weigh the loud voices more heavily. For example, if you’re proposing a small change to (say) street lighting or CCTV in a public park, you’d be wise to listen closely to the neighbouring residents. They’re most likely to understand the problems with the area.

            But when you’re consulting on a large, region-wide plan, e.g. the Unitary Plan or Long Term Plan, that may be less appropriate. Many people will be directly and indirectly affected by the plan, and some of them may not be sufficiently informed to understand how. (And as others have noted, some of the affected parties won’t have been born yet.) In that situation, you can’t simply listen to the loud voices and expect to get a good outcome!

  14. I don’t have a good solution to this – although I have a few ideas. What are your thoughts?

    I suggest benchmarking this city’s performance against contemporary cities in the Australasian common market.

    For instance did you know that Melbourne or Brisbane have record high prices, high suburban growth and off the chart record high apartment growth? A situation where everybody wins.

    1. What is the specific relevance to consultation processes? What specific things are Melbourne or Brisbane doing better in this area?

      You make this point all the time, but it never goes any further than “Melbourne and Sydney are doing it better than us!” I would appreciate some further insight about particular policies or practices.

      1. These are questions you should not need to ask, our council should be actively competing with our contemporaries – the other million plus cities of Australasia. What are they doing better and what are we doing better should be to the fore.

          1. I think I know why certain Australian cities are doing much better than us, I don’t know how to confine the answer to terms of consultation and representation.

            They have a greater availability of greenfield land which means their construction costs are significantly lower than Auckland and buildings can be constructed there with greater profitability. This means they get more growth when they have a property boom and that there the potential nimbys like apartments, because apartment developers are the customers that will pay the most for inner city land. They are urbanising much, much faster than Auckland.

            How I see us getting from here to there is trying to find a public lobby group interested in urbanising Auckland (transportblog/Greater Auckland) – then hammering on this same point over and over again. Pushing the somewhat counterintuitive point that creating a dense urban form requires the ability to sprawl. As a city grows bigger it sprawls slower and intensifies more.

            No matter how dearly any lobbyists like urbanisation or abhor sprawl it doesn’t become a choice, because we can’t afford urbanisation by itself.

          2. Auckland is more geographically constrained than the Australian cities. They have approximately 50% more developable land simply by virtue of being on the edge of a large continent rather than on an isthmus between two harbours. And, as I’ve pointed out, both Sydney and Melbourne have urban growth boundaries, so they don’t differ greatly in terms of policy approach.

            In this context, “Auckland needs more land for development” isn’t a meaningful policy prescription – it’s just a description of a geographical reality.

            Also, as a general point, I would observe that “hammering on this same point over and over again” isn’t a good way to convince people, unless you are also (a) providing evidence and considering the evidence that others offer and (b) identifying *specific* policy changes that could enable a better outcome. Hence my question: what *specifically* are the Australian cities doing differently, other than accidents of geography?

          3. This is a considered opinion on your evidence, can you please tell me where I am going wrong?

            Auckland being on an isthmus means the value of sprawl attenuates faster than in cities that have land on which to spread, like Sydney or Melbourne or Toronto or Brisbane. Confined cities like Tokyo, New York, Vancouver or Auckland naturally become denser than cities with more land. Yet here we are today – Melbourne, Brisbane, Toronto and Auckland are all having a property boom. Melbourne, Brisbane and Toronto with their massive amounts of sprawl ready concentric accessible land are urbanising 4 – 5x faster than Auckland – this is screwed up, Auckland should urbanising faster than any of these places. Peripheral suburban land in cities has an inherent value derived by how short a commute between that piece of land and “x” amount of jobs. In concentrically developable cities that value will remain higher for a greater distance than In confined development linear cities. This is a value relationship we would expect to see reflected in greenfield land price. Sydney prices are higher than Melbourne prices are higher than Brisbane prices, but they are all lower than Auckland (in Melbourne and Brisbane a lot lower). Auckland’s lower value land is priced higher than Australian higher value land. This price signal tells people not to develop urban structures in Auckland. Therefore I conclude our MUL is too tight.

            Please, tell me where my logic is falling down.

          4. Please note: the Clevedon Valley is flatter and wider than the Hutt Valley. Taupaki is a village set in rolling foothills.

          5. If Auckland was measuring itself against Canadian cities -Winnipeg would be an embarrassment -housing affordability of 3.7 (Demographia median multiple) compared to Auckland’s of 9.

            It seems a surplus of condo’s is the cause. Check this article our ‘Condo price drop boosts affordability in Winnipeg’ http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/business/condo-price-drop-boosts-affordability-in-winnipeg-370760601.html

            Sure Winnipeg is half the size of Auckland and less constrained geographically -but condos don’t take up much space -so the geography excuse doesn’t ring true as the complete answer.

            Transportblog should keep up the effort regarding restrictions on intensification. The debacle of the Unitary Plan. The cost of the ‘leafy suburb’ revolt….. I think Transportblog does bang the drum and it needs to bang louder.

          6. Goosoid,
            I am contending based on comparative evidence that Auckland land is overpriced, but price is relative to value. Melbourne 4.5 million, Auckland 1.5 million – create different land values (reflecting agglomeration values) and the larger city will have higher values. Desirable Melbourne suburbs should be higher priced than desirable Auckland suburbs, because they are worth more value.
            “and that there the potential nimbys like apartments” – Potential nimbys are people who own property. In Melbourne they get to choose between property rights to develop that will increase the value of their property or becoming a nimby. In Auckland they get to choose between becoming a nimby to increase the exclusivity and price of their property or being pro-development. Amazingly in Auckland there are endless amounts of people who are highly concerned about cultural values and aesthetics, so much so that they are able to quash intensification; yet in Melbourne the nimbys can’t quite seem to find the numbers. Of course if you were to ask any of them, it would never be about money…

            So seems like the NIMBYs are out in force in Australia. – Their nimbys are a small bunch, who are ineffective at preventing intensification. There the nimbys complain about the stuff that is happening, ours stop it from ever starting.

          7. Gee Patrick, I can’t quite seem to get excited about the houses we are building in car centric Silverdale. We’ll soon be building some more exurbs in Warkworth, Kumeu and Pukekohe – those figures will get even higher. Exurbs of single dwelling houses.

            Personally I’d like to see something more like the 48,000 apartments that are going into inner Brisbane. I’d get excited at the prospect of Auckland getting 30,000 to 40,000 new apartments – a figure that is so easily achievable if we overcome our nimbys and their silly tight MUL.

            I get excited about apartments.

            http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-27/brisbane-to-see-50,000-new-apartments-added-to-skyline-expert/7117686

          8. A fairly arbitrary figure Angus, 50k apartments that might be built in Brisbane in some unspecified timeframe.

            What is more important are the numbers that are actually being built today, in the Brisbane CBD that’s about 10k, and in Auckland CBD about 6k.

          9. Nik R, Do you have any citation to back that claim up?

            There aren’t 6000 apartments being built in Auckland today. 6000 apartments are the entire development pipeline for the entirety of Auckland, not just the CBD. That pipeline includes those being built, those that are permitted and those that are in the process of being permitted. These have planned construction starts between now and 2018.

            http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11466270

            There are 40,000 – 48,000 (depending on how you count) apartments in the development pipeline for just the Brisbane CBD and 6000 apartments in the development pipeline for the entirety of Auckland. 94% of Brisbane’s new apartments are set to be in the CBD, Auckland’s CBD will have less than 75%.

            https://www.commbank.com.au/content/dam/commbank/assets/corporate/industries/property-insights-summer-ed3-2015.pdf

          10. Hi Angus – I see I’m late to the discussion! A few good points have been raised, but unfortunately I don’t have time to respond to all of them. I see Nick and Patrick’s point that Auckland’s on a bit of a consenting upswing at the moment, and hence the comparison is probably not as dire as it looked a year ago. But I also agree with you that there is the possibility (indeed, the need) to do quite a lot more. Also keep in mind that the Unitary Plan process has probably suppressed development in Auckland over the last 3-4 years, as many people will be holding land in the hopes that they will be able to get more value out after the process wraps up. (Which now looks more in doubt than it did.)

            Onto your points:

            “Auckland should urbanising faster than any of these places. Peripheral suburban land in cities has an inherent value derived by how short a commute between that piece of land and “x” amount of jobs. In concentrically developable cities that value will remain higher for a greater distance than In confined development linear cities.”

            Yes, generally agreed. In the absence of regulatory constraints, you’d expect geographically constrained cities to be developed more intensely.

            “This is a value relationship we would expect to see reflected in greenfield land price. Sydney prices are higher than Melbourne prices are higher than Brisbane prices, but they are all lower than Auckland (in Melbourne and Brisbane a lot lower). Auckland’s lower value land is priced higher than Australian higher value land.”

            I haven’t seen any data on greenfield land prices, so I’m not sure if this is true. Keep in mind that *average* land prices within cities may be a misleading indicator – if the average parcel of land in Sydney is 30km from the CBD while the average land parcel in Auckland is 15km from the CBD, they might not be comparable.

            “This price signal tells people not to develop urban structures in Auckland. Therefore I conclude our MUL is too tight.”

            I think you’re under-estimating the importance of other planning regulations, such as building height limits and density / minimum lot size controls. There simply aren’t a lot of places in Auckland where you can build multi-unit dwellings or anything over 2 storeys. By contrast, the Aussie cities have much larger areas of brownfield industrial land that they are upzoning and converting to residential. That won’t last forever – and Melbourne seems to be tightening the screws on apartment development.

          11. Lastly, on this point: “Their [Australian] nimbys are a small bunch, who are ineffective at preventing intensification”

            In the last two years, the Victoria state government has proposed to:
            * Limit apartment development outside of the CBD: http://blogs.crikey.com.au/theurbanist/2014/06/04/does-this-strategic-plan-really-spurn-sprawl/
            * Impose (quite high, in my opinion) minimum apartment sizes: http://blogs.crikey.com.au/theurbanist/2015/07/13/can-apartment-residents-be-trusted-to-make-their-own-decisions/
            * Tighten height limits in the CBD: https://urban.melbourne/policy/2015/09/06/interim-central-melbourne-planning-controls-detail

            Seems like they’re getting a dollop of NIMBYism…

          12. Would be interesting to know if part of the reason for Aus’s bigger apartment numbers is the fact that overseas investment in housing is limited to new builds. Must be a factor. I’d like to see that policy here, although someone has told me (don’t know if it’s right) that NZ’s free trade agreement with China prevents that… Of course, Aus’s building costs are way lower too which is a factor.
            My Alternative Thoughts, Tom

          13. Seems like they’re getting a dollop of NIMBYism…

            Their nimbyism will take flight in the 2018 – 2020 time-frame, it is a predictable result and my opinion quite a healthy result. In fact that is the kind of nimbyism I can agree with.

            Because something very important is going to happen in 2018, Melbourne is going to start having a housing surplus.

            Auckland housing surplus? My guess is in the 2035 – 2045 – never time-frame.

          14. “I haven’t seen any data on greenfield land prices. Well here you go and prices appreciated by 10% across Australia in 2015.
            http://www.corelogic.com.au/news/residential-land-costs-continue-to-rise
            http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2016/02/hia-land-prices-rocket-as-sales-evaporate/

            “Keep in mind that *average* land prices within cities may be a misleading indicator – if the average parcel of land in Sydney is 30km from the CBD while the average land parcel in Auckland is 15km from the CBD, they might not be comparable.” How about a section in Warkworth 60 km from Auckland selling at NZD360,000? Compared to a combined house and land package in Rockbank 35 km from Melbourne selling at AUD300,000?
            http://www.realestate.co.nz/2637323
            http://www.realestate.com.au/property-house-vic-rockbank-122026506

          15. I see Nick and Patrick’s point that Auckland’s on a bit of a consenting upswing at the moment, and hence the comparison is probably not as dire as it looked a year ago.

            If you like exurb built single dwelling homes that are destined to serve as anchor points for the next 100 years of sprawl, then the year has been a cause for celebration. Patrick is, as he says above, approving. Matt L, on the other hand quite recently pointed out that a policy of allocating growth outwards is crucial in developing sprawl and, after I initially rubbished the claim, I did some research – Matt L was more right than me. http://greaterakl.wpengine.com/2016/02/22/atap-foundation-report/

            If you like apartments and density it has a been a horrible year.

          16. I can’t really form any conclusions from two data points – insufficient statistical power.

            However, let’s take a look at your link on median prices for vacant lots in the Australian capital cities. Acknowledging the caveats about controlling for quality and location, it shows that median land prices were AU$543/m2, or around NZ$593, in 2014. (Using today’s exchange rates.)

            Median prices in Sydney were equivalent to NZ$744/m2; Melbourne was NZ$500/m2; Brisbane NZ$454/m2; Adelaide NZ$564/m2.

            By comparison, the Productivity Commission’s latest report provided data on median land values in NZ cities (Figure 1.1). In 2014, the median land price in Auckland was ~$5m/hectare, which converts to ~$500/m2.

            In other words, the data you’ve provided seems to indicate that Auckland land prices are within the range observed in Australian cities – lower than some, and higher than others. Consequently, I conclude that land prices are likely to form no more of a barrier to apartment construction in Auckland than they do in Melbourne or Sydney. Other regulatory factors are likely to play a stronger role.

          17. The Productivity Commission Report includes a large amount of land outside of the MUL. The contention here is that the MUL is making land prices in Auckland too expensive. To base pricing data on land outside the MUL makes your conclusion extremely dubious. But luckily both our conclusions are very testable.

            You reckon median section price in Auckland is $500/m2?

            I will buy a beer for the first transportblog reader who finds a mere 3 sections out of the 1000+ sections on sale in Auckland that qualify as selling at below Peter Nunn’s stated median. To qualify the section must be in Auckland or a nearby exurb – within 25 km of the CBD.

            Hint – I think I might have found 1 out of the 1,119 Auckland sections currently listed on http://www.realestate.co.nz/ that could possibly qualify as below that median, but I live in that area and think it is small plot.

          18. It’s not my data, it’s the Productivity Commission’s data. They claim that it refers to section prices, which seems to imply that it’s stuff that’s been subdivided for development – i.e. within the MUL.

            If you disagree with the approach they’ve taken, take it up with them, not with me. And if you have more reliable data, please provide a link.

          19. If you are interested, the median price for the sections currently listed on http://www.realestate.co.nz/ is $600,000 for the entire Auckland region. Now assuming, as you do, that the average land size is 500 m2, that equates to a median land price of $1200/m2.

            This data does not include countryside living houses/lifestyle blocks that maybe included in other surveys.

          20. I generally trust the Productivity Commission to report accurate data, if that’s what you’re asking.

            You could ask the same questions about median land prices in the Australian cities. For example, here’s a vacant lot selling at around NZ$1000/m2… way out in the wops of West Sydney. 60 kilometres from the CBD. Does that mean that CoreLogic has reported a median land price (~$744/m2) for Sydney that is waaaay too low? I don’t know, but you seem to be selectively critical of the NZ data in a way that you never are with the Australian data.

            In any case, it doesn’t even matter that much, because apartments consume very little land. The average midrise apartment requires less than 40m2 of land. Even if an MUL doubles the price of inner-city land from (say) $1000/m2 to $2000/m2, it will only add $40,000 to the cost of the apartment. That’s less than the estimated cost of other planning rules, such as balcony requirements.

          21. You can find land prices above and below the median land prices published for cities in Australia. This means the Australian figures aren’t totally wrong, i took the trouble to check those figures. There aren’t any sections in Auckland below your suggested median price, i checked these as well.

            If I were to choose investment opportunities among several on offer and one of them cost $40,000 more than the others, I would not invest in the costly one. I would prefer to make more money. For those looking to invest in constructing apartments, overpriced land is a killer.

          22. That’s less than the estimated cost of other planning rules, such as balcony requirements.

            Adelaide is a city with lots of concentric land to accommodate sprawl, it has a smaller population than Auckland and is growing much slower than Auckland. It has rules governing apartment light access, balcony size, line of sight, offset from boundary, car parking requirements and so on.

            http://www.adelaidecitycouncil.com/assets/documents/DIGS-Multilevel-Apartment-Buildings.pdf

            Adelaide has 6450 apartments in the pipeline, compared to Auckland’s 5723.

          23. I have played your stupid little game. Here are three sections selling below the Prod Comm’s estimated median:

            Pukekohe: $370/m2

            Warkworth: $460/m2

            Gulf Harbour: $250/m2

            And here’s a bonus: waterfront in Birkenhead for only $620/m2!

            Most of the sections listed on this website are price by negotiation or at auction. It’s possible that a share of them are selling at below-median prices. I’ll pass on the beer as I have literally zero interest in continuing this conversation.

          24. And one final thought, you’re the person that taught about the value of agglomeration so I’ll try and show you how much I’ve learned.

            You can build an apartment wherever you want, in Auckland it will cost you more than in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane. But because of agglomeration value, you can sell your apartments for a lot more in Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane.

            Where are you going to invest your money?

          25. To qualify the section must be in Auckland or a nearby exurb – within 25 km of the CBD.

            Sorry no beers.

      2. Do you believe the data you are presenting to be true? Do you believe the prices for Auckland sections were nearly flat between 2011 and 2015?

        This is what is shown on the graph that you have presented as evidence, I want to know if you think it is true.

  15. I think the fundamental problem is that we prioritise ‘place’ in local democracy over other identities we might have – age, gender, ethnic community, etc. So we have local boards, wards, and funding based on value of property.

    I agree that is a representation problem as much as a consultation one, though the key ‘consultation’ if you like is the elections. You could ameliorate some of the effects of property/place based democracy by – say – having more councillors elected at large to represent entire communities rather than one place-based bit of it.

    but if your problem is that democracy can’t look after ‘the needs of current and future residents’ then maybe go to the heart of the problem: design the electoral system to ensure good representation of age. For example, vote in age-based ‘wards’ – 18-30, 30-45, 45-60, 60+ – possibly with higher numbers of councillors for younger age groups. You can guarantee that the representatives of the 18-30s and 30-45s will make sure their voices are heard as clearly as the residents of orakei are now.

    And pair that with funding based on things that you either want to make more efficient or otherwise discourage, so a land tax plus carbon tax rather than capital value rates.

  16. The demographics are quite similar to the ones for general voting – maybe not so much in terms of gender bias but with the young, Maori and Pasifika generally not participating in the consultation process.

    There are a multitude of causes and reasons for that, and some could be tackled pretty easily, but it means that that the council (if it really wants a demographically-balanced feedback) needs to be creative and proactive. The hard-working Pasifika family that juggles several jobs, several kids, with possibly poor educational background, has just as much a right to voice its view than the retired white male – the council has to enable this participation. What is the best way to communicate with each group? where can we meet them? how can we make the information easy to understand? how can we make responding quick and easy?
    It might mean council teams doing sessions at high schools, universities, churches, marae, shopping malls, supermarkets, etc… they need to go to the people, otherwise only the ones with the time and the confidence to respond will do so.

    AC has shown very poor communication through the UP process – and the Herald had a free rein engaging in scaremongering. Maybe if there had been more of an effort to get community engagement we wouldn’t have ended up with such misinformation circulating around, and last week’s debacle.

  17. Some aspect of the racial makeup would be a reluctance to try and shape a country you have only recently arrived in. Imagine if you moved to France and then tried to tell them how to change Paris!
    That’s not a reason for Maori under representation obviously.

  18. My children (in their 20s) think that in Council elections (at the very least) a person’s vote should count in inverse proportion to their age because the younger you are the longer you have to live with the impacts of the decisions of those you vote into positions of power. And I tend to agree. If this was the case with National politics I doubt we’d have the current inaction over climate change.

  19. Here’s my challenge

    1. Find a copy of a pre-consultation Annual Plan or LTP
    2. Compare it to the final (post consultation) version
    3. If you find any substantive changes to goals or targets, then please tell me. I’m rather cynical

    1. Exactly. They consult only because they have to consult. What people say is total irrelevant to them. It is quite different to a formal submission process that gives you standing in a hearing. I would say the younger people are smarter for not wasting their time on such foolishness. They don’t submit in consultations because it has no relevance to their life and won’t make any difference. The rest of us make submissions because paying an inflated rates bill annoys the bejesus out of us and it is our only chance to tell them.

      1. The transport levy for which the council required it to be spent on specific modes was a direct response to the strong support in submissions for more/better investment in PT and cycling. I’ve been told that if it hadn’t been for those submissions that wouldn’t have happened

        1. Right I just skimmed the 2015-2025 consultation document and compared it to the final LTP.

          Here’s what the consultation document wanted to discuss:
          – Rates levels
          – How much to spend on transport
          – AC’s role in urban development
          – Rates splits

          Here’s what wasn’t consulted on (amongst a trillion other things in the final LTP)
          – How frequent should PT be and what are appropriate travel times
          – How long should it take to get a building consent done
          – What satisfaction level with libraries should we have
          – How long should it take to get a response to a noise complaint/illegally parked car
          – How late should community facilities stay open?
          – How many flood events should our stormwater network allow?
          – How reliable should our wastewater system be?

          My point is consultation isn’t really meaningful.

          1. The council should, amongst other things:

            aim to reduce costs from consenting processes (shorter BC/RC times)
            reduce the nuisance from noise
            reduce the harm from dogs
            increase the benefits from library use
            reduce the harm from sewage/waste etc
            reduce commute times

            So it seems entirely appropriate for the council to consult on these as much if not more so than the level of rates. Because how much I pay doesn’t tell me anything about the services I get

        2. How representative of the city were the cycling submissions? Weren’t they the result of an organized campaign by (self)interested groups and individuals?

    2. Unitary Plan changed significantly twice as a response to submissions. Councillors then decided to ignore submissions.

  20. It’s a problem that could be rectified in part by citizen’s juries, surveys (street and phone) and by direct approaches to communities that don’t have much participation.

    Just putting our hands in the air and saying ‘that’s how it is’ is not good enough.

  21. “I don’t have a good solution to this – although I have a few ideas. What are your thoughts?”

    Transport Blog and Generation Zero are what got me interested in local council/Auckland/transport/housing issues (in fact, politics in general). Before I found these groups I would read a bit of info in the herald (horrible Orsman articles) but I didn’t really understand the issues, wasn’t very interested and didn’t feel like I could make a difference.

    Groups like Transport Blog, Gen0 and Ben Ross have made it easier for me to understand the issues and this has lead me to become more and more interested and involved. I think we need more groups explaining the issues in easy terms that everyone can understand. Explained with evidence and reasoning rather than the fear-mongering used by some of the groups out there and the media.

    The easy submit forms by Gen0 and the submission ideas (i often copy and paste text from a blog) from Transport Blog have been very useful. You guys really understand the issues and it is very handy for me to read a template submission add any additional points I have and submit it. I have used the Gen0 BetterBuses submission form everyday this week. Also, using these quick submit forms feel like the views are more likely to hit that critical mass and be heard rather than just submitting by myself.

    Now, even when there isn’t a template, whenever I submit feedback, I always add a little note at the end saying I support all submissions by Transport Blog and Gen0 (depending on the topic I also add in support for Bike AKL and Ben Ross submissions).

    FYI, i am a late 20s, white male, renter and I found Transport blog a year ago.

    1. I was actually thinking a while back that it would be great to have a blog that isn’t associated with any particular topic (like Gen0 and transport blog are) or any specific agenda except being a place where people can go and air their frustration about political decisions. I was thinking it could be called something like ‘that f****n sux’ or similar. It should be aimed at the young.

      The topic that made me think of it was that the beerfest that used to happen every year and attract thousands of people has been canned the last two years due to overly restrictive licensing imposed by the council. There should be an easy way for people to show that they are not happy about these kinds of political interference. Of course they could argue the other way too.

    2. Thanks for letting us know that Ossu. It’s really great to hear that we’ve made a small difference for you. Please keep reading and commenting… and if there’s anything you think we’re missing, let us know!

  22. What does the law say about the voice of ‘ratepayers’ as opposed to ‘residents who aren’t ratepayers’.
    Do ratepayer’s have more rights?
    They may not technically? But politically / realistically they do?
    From my recollection the RMA and LGA talks of ‘people’ and ‘communities’ rather than ratepayers.

  23. See that Chardonnay Socialist Rudman has had another rant in the mad rag…heritage is important but not at all costs….we need to prioritise what we protect.
    I would suggest that the Rudmans of this world just need to ship out. We live in a growing CITY, not a stagnant museum piece. Get out if you can’t handle it, rather than getting in the way.
    Dunedin could be a good option for him – almost no growth, heritage to burn.
    How about Cambridge – full of heritage and trees, close to Auckland

  24. This thread is interesting but you have to differentiate between Council consultation and the formal submission process on RMA matters. When the Council ‘consults’ I dont think they really care much about what replies they get, they only ask because they have to. However your submission can be a really quick sentence or two. I don’t think anyone could be too busy for that but I totally understand if they can’t be bothered. An RMA submission like the Unitary Plan is a whole different thing. They are not asking you what you think and they would probably prefer you didn’t make one. The law allows you to be involved in a formal process of change with standing and equal rights to other parties. You can do quick submission but you are wasting your time if you don’t sketch out your argument first so you can make sure your submission covers off what it is you are trying to achieve. Because they wont let you expand your relief later. This takes a lot of time and care and for many people it is not really a do it yourself proposition. Not if you want to succeed.

  25. They could weight the score against the demographic group.

    For example group that are under represented by 100% will have a weight of extra 100% in the final score.

    They just need a computer algorithm to do that.

    1. Not really, all in the Local Government (Auckland Transitional Provisions) Act 2010 so this isn’t your usually RMA based Regional Plan.

      1. AC comes up with draft plan and lodges it with Independent Panel appointed by Government headed by Judge Kirkpatrick of the Enviromental Court in 2013.
      2. Anyone can make submission to the IP including AC who after realising they were 100,000s of homes short asked for uped density in their sub.
      3. Submissions closed & the IP is reading through them. During this Period an election year Councillors panic’d & withdrew the evidence because some people goaded by the Herald were told that some three story townhouses “High Rises” were going to bring an end to their suburbian wet dream & capital gains. Instead of just writing Covenents which were not practical mainly because they would reduce there PV & because most neighbours didn’t care went to the AC to stop the madness of three story townhouses because they could not submit on a submission because the IP said they had a deadline set by law (Three Years after date of when UP Draft Lodged & did not have the time & said they should have submitted themselves.
      4. IP basically ignores AC and continues on as usual even allowing people to use the AC evidence which was important as people used AC evidence for their own subs.
      5. June/July three years after date of draft plan lodged IP will submit final draft plan updated by submissions which best meet the Auckland Plan to AC as set by the Act.
      6. AC have to accept or reject, if they reject Bill English will appoint Commissioners replacing AC to implement the plan, or will pass the Unitary Plan into law via statute. They are not going into next election without major action on Housing Supply in Auckland because some pissant councillors were to scared of the 20% of people who actually vote local elections.

      1. If you read the letter from AC lawyers to the Panel and the Judges response in topic 81 documents you will see they dont really know how to deal with this now. Auckland City wants to withdraw just the out of scope residential but their own witnesses have already swapped evidence with it in. The witnesses have to act as independent advisors to the Panel otherwise they lose expert status. So the Council cant change their evidence only the witness can do that but the Council can choose not to call them. That makes it a bit of an all or nothing situation which is why the Council lawyers want agreement that nobody will question the witnesses on out of scope stuff. Why would anyone agree to that? This is such a mess now. My guess is the Panel will not agree to any constraints on their ability to ask questions (I mean would you if you were on it?)

  26. Thanks re: 2: how the heck were they that far short? That’s a major screw up that has thrown the process out of whack?

    1. Basically, some of the modelling approaches that AC has used to estimate how much housing capacity the plan enables have been challenged and refined in the course of the hearings process.

      There are supposedly _hundreds_ of pages of technical documentation describing this process in excruciating detail. I haven’t read them, but Auckland 2040’s Richard Burton has been involved in the process so he has been well aware of the issues for a long time.

  27. but ‘challenged and refined’??? The gulf is huge, much different from a tweak, or refinement!
    Weren’t they literally something like 200,000 dwellings out?
    I come back to the point that this – at least to me – seems a major flaw and it’s really thrown the process out of whack
    I’m surprised there hasn’t been more focus on this

    1. You will probs also find that the Draft plan was more political, they couldn’t push much density or the people that went nuts recently would have gone nuts then. After the Draft was lodged, the AC submission was headed by the Civil Servants & Penny Hulse who wanted more Density who probs understood they couldn’t meet the needed housing in the watered down draft. In fact if Bernard Osman at the NZ Herald hadn’t have been obsessed with writing opinion/running a personal hit campaign on the UP & “danger of high density” people would have most likely never have noticed the AC submission which for most people would have been a boring legal process.

      1. Perhaps he should write about how Grey Lynn is about to be bulldozed to make room for nice large houses on nice large 600m² sections.

        Or wait, that’s not going to happen either?

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