Auckland vs Houston (Two Scales One Map)
Auckland vs Houston (Two Maps One Scale)

Welcome back to this week’s Sunday Reading. Here’s one of those patterns that is difficult to imagine if you think that the future will just be an extension of the past. The rise of single households, delay in conventional romantic household formation, and economic challenges of younger people will have a big impact on the shape of cities.

Richard Fry, “For First Time in Modern Era, Living With Parents Edges Out Other Living Arrangements for 18- to 34-Year-Olds“, Pew Research Center.

This turn of events is fueled primarily by the dramatic drop in the share of young Americans who are choosing to settle down romantically before age 35. Dating back to 1880, the most common living arrangement among young adults has been living with a romantic partner, whether a spouse or a significant other. This type of arrangement peaked around 1960, when 62% of the nation’s 18- to 34-year-olds were living with a spouse or partner in their own household, and only one-in-five were living with their parents.

Not surprisingly, there is a growing difference in how the generations view new housing. Roland Li, “Younger Bay Area residents are more supportive of new housing, signaling generational divide“, San Francisco Business Times.

Millennials, or those between 18 and 33, voiced the highest support for new housing in their neighborhood, with 64 percent saying they wanted new growth in the study. Support dropped off as the age of the respondent rose, with 60 percent of Gen X residents (ages 34 to 49) supporting new housing, 49 percent of baby boomers (50 to 64), and 44 percent of seniors (over 65) supporting new development.

Here is a interesting take on the diversity of ‘urbanist” circles from Seattle. Stu will be writing on this topic specifically as it relates to Auckland and the Blog. Laura Bernstein, “Intersectionality and Urbanism“, The Urbanist.

The lack of room for nuance and for a variety of flavors of urbanism is excluding people from the conversation. It isn’t just about a space that feels safe for people, a space for them to not be attacked but a space that allows people to speak without everyone trying to get the last word.

I want pro-density, forward-thinking spaces that accommodate people’s feelings and emotions to be respected. Some people think that those online spaces are less authentic and call it “tone policing”.

We want people to get involved on- and off-line and ask ourselves: Why aren’t there more women here at this event? Why are there rarely people from communities of color? And then when I’ve tried to explain why I’m told—well, we aren’t going to make everyone happy with our message—without any sense that this is the attitude that makes people feel unwelcome.

Why don’t more women cycle? It’s not simply concerns about their appearance. Here is a response to the “helmet hair” explanation offered up by an MP in the UK.  Mark Treasure, “Cycling Embassy Open Letter To Cycling Minister Over Comments On Barriers To Women Cycling“, Cycling Embassy of Great Britain.

Although, concerns about their appearance do act as a barrier to cycling for women, which shouldn’t be dismissed, this is generally a minor factor compared with the main barriers to cycling among women:

Women consistently express greater concerns than men about safety while cycling, particularly cycling in traffic but also personal safety (for example in unlit areas at night.

Women who do cycle are more likely than men to take quieter routes which are separated from traffic, and avoid multi-lane roads, which may lead to longer journeys.

Women are more likely than men to make multi-functional trips (such as stopping off at the shops on the way home from work), meaning that it’s not just about tackling key commuting corridors but creating a dense network of cycle-friendly routes.

In particular, women are more likely to need to transport children which makes the need for safe, direct and barrier-free cycling infrastructure paramount.

The effect of vehicle speed on road safety is re-visited here to include the consideration of age. Lena Groeger, “Unsafe at Many Speeds“, ProPublica.

While it might be common sense that faster cars are deadlier, what’s particularly striking to me is how much more deadly they are for older folks. A 70-year-old hit by a car going 35 mph is about as likely to be killed as a 30-year-old hit by a car going 45 mph (in both cases it’s about a 50/50 chance).

The second main point is that once cars reach a certain speed (just above 20 mph), they rapidly become more deadly. According to Tefft’s data, a person is about 70 percent more likely to be killed if they’re struck by a vehicle traveling at 30 mph versus 25 mph.

The chance of being killed by a car going 50kph
The chance of being killed by a car going 50kph

Vancouver may now have the highest cycle to work mode share in North America. Their rapidly expanding network of high quality facilities is no doubt the primary pull factor. It’s interesting that the mode share for transit is dropping at the same time. Charlie Smith, “Vancouver records spectacular increases in cycling trips“, The Georgia Straight.

By 2013, the city reported that 83,000 trips were taken on a bike. The following year, this rose to 99,000, and by 2015 the number shot up to 131,000. That’s a 32-percent hike in cycling in a single year.

modeshareYVR

We look to the West Coast of the States as it tends to have the same freakshow housing qualities, in particular in the Bay Area. I think it was Bernard Hickey that snarked, ‘Auckland is just like San Francisco but without the start-up/tech economy’. Zoning and process increasingly is pointed to as the culprit for low rates of building, rising inequality, and rising rents. Mark Hogan looks a the history of zoning (exclusionary, racist) and comes the conclusion, “addressing the twenty-first century challenges before us will not be possible with tools that are a century or more old.”

Mark Hogan, “Re-Coding Planning“, Boom a Journal of California.

Building and planning codes have their roots in the Progressive-era reform movement that sought to promote health and safety through higher-quality housing than the tenements that had been built in fast-growing industrial cities. Light and air were seen as cures to the ills that plagued dirty and heavily polluted late-nineteenth-century American cities, and many early reformers were legitimately concerned about the living conditions of lower income residents. But reformers’ intentions were not always benign. Nativist sentiment, racism, and classism also figured heavily in the reform movement, and upper-class reformers “saw new ethnic, religious, and political subcultures as threatening to hard-won changes in polite family life.”

Even where layers of code aren’t in conflict with one another, they can be in conflict with neighborhood groups. In California, which allows for a great deal of citizen participation in the planning process, it is not uncommon for neighbors to object to projects that will introduce rental apartments or taller buildings even where they are allowed in the existing code. For instance, the state enacted legislation decades ago to specifically allow for secondary units (also known as in-law units or granny flats) statewide, yet few local jurisdictions have followed through and allowed the new housing because of resistance from homeowners. San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors passed local legislation in the 1980s explaining why the city’s single-family housing was a scarce resource that needed to be preserved, despite it making up the majority of the residentially zoned parcels in the city. To this day, San Francisco does not allow in-law units in single-family districts.

California Governor Brown is pushing a housing proposal that will not such much change city’s zoning codes, but will help to make building what’s allowed “as-of-right” easier. Ronald Li, “So long, NIMBYs? Gov. Brown’s housing proposal could mean sweeping Bay Area changes“, San Francisco Business Times and Dan Walters, “California housing shortage sets up battle over land-use control“, The Sacramento Bee.

This month, Brown proposed that “in-fill” housing projects meeting certain criteria, including density, closeness to transit and serving low- and moderate-income families, be exempted from local control.

The Legislature’s budget analyst says the need is highest in coastal areas, and the exemption should be widened to include more kinds of housing and be tightened to prevent cities from circumventing the exemption.

The same market dynamics are happening in Los Angeles which was largely downzoned in the 1970’s. Brent Gaisford, “How Los Angeles’ Rent Got So Damn High, Market Urbanism.

“It doesn’t have to be this way. We know what the problem is, and we have the power to solve it. Congress doesn’t need to unfuck itself, Obama doesn’t need to pull off a lame duck miracle. Zoning rules are made at the local level, city by city. So let’s solve this thing. Let’s upzone L.A., build more houses, and stop rent from eating the world.

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  1. Perhaps you should be able to build up to 4 storeys everywhere in Auckland as of right? I.e. permitted activity status etc.

    Four storey buildings are only the height of a tall tree, and so are not going to have a large visual impact on the skyline. Buildings of this height are common in Sydney, Melbourne, and most European cities. That is, buildings of four storeys are common in many of cities that New Zealanders choose to live when they are overseas.

    If some people don’t want to live next to a building that is say four storeys high, then why don’t we expect them to manage this risk? E.g. by 1) buying/building a house back from the boundary; 2) paying to place covenants on neighbours’ properties; or 3) moving to live to the countryside? Why is the default setting to let people with specific preferences control not only what happens on their property, but also what happens on someone else’s property?

    And in the process prevent much-needed housing from being built, causing rents and interest rates to be higher than they would be otherwise.

    It seems to me that people who advocate for density controls are basically abdicating their personal responsibility.

    1. Not a bad idea, Stu.

      It will be interesting to see what the Unitary Plan hearings panel comes back with in this regard. In the draft version of the plan, there wasn’t any by-right ability to develop midrise apartment blocks, even in the zones that are intended for apartments. (In fact, I think that any development with more than 2 or 3 dwellings on a site requires a consenting process.) That might be something to change if we’re seeking to speed up the pace of development.

      The argument from council’s side, I think, was that bigger buildings were more likely to require a design review. But that raises some issues of consistency – e.g. what’s the difference between a three-storey mansion and a three-storey block of flats from the outside? So maybe it makes more sense to tie the design review requirement to the physical size of the building, not the number of units on the site.

    2. There has been a lot of public debate about abolishing the horizontal UGB. But logically a city has two boundaries a horizontal one and a vertical one. I think we need a lot more discussion on abolishing or at least massively relaxing Auckland’s vertical boundary. I would support Stu’s proposal that building up to 4 storeys everywhere in Auckland is a right.

      A proposal I have is that if a neighbourhood of adjoining properties agree then they could build upwards (say 4 stories) and out to their shared internal boundaries (so no setbacks) as a right, only their external boundaries should have to comply with the localities district plan. That any mechanism -such as targeted rates and municipal bonds available to build on greenfield land also be available for this sort of development too.

      Further that an Urban Development Authority be a catalyst for this sort of development by providing -financial, design and legal advice. It could also be a participant in this sort of land reallocation scheme by buying public laneways through these neighbourhoods -to encourage walking, biking and PT which is a natural complement for this sort of intensification.

      A theoretical discussion of these concepts is here
      https://makingchristchurch.com/why-land-contiguity-is-causing-market-failure-in-new-zealand-s-cities-eb00577c8d91#.w4uv4xx8r

      1. Stu’s suggestion and your suggestion are hardly exact parallels with Labour’s MUL policy – they are ways of *loosening* a restriction but not abolishing it. They’re the equivalent of suggesting a specific increase to the MUL, rather than doing away with the line.

        The problem with that is that four-storey height restrictions or requirements to seek permission from neighbours before building up are still relatively restrictive. You get significant per-apartment cost savings from going from (say) a 4-storey building to a 7-storey building. (As a result of being able to spread fixed costs of development and building infrastructure over a larger number of dwellings.) Those gains taper off at some point, but that point is almost certainly above four storeys.

        Furthermore, as Glaeser’s work on Manhattan apartment prices shows, height limits (and other restrictions on redevelopment) can have large costs even in the absence of constraints on fringe land availability. (New York’s metropolitan area spreads over three states and many more local governments; it’s not able to enforce an urban growth boundary.)

        Basically, if you’re going to make bold reform proposals in one area, I’d encourage you to be equally bold across the board…

        1. I am fairly sure Phil Twyford mentioned removing densification restrictions as part of his abolishing UGBs announcement. The media and public have just jumped on the making room -out implications not the making room -up implications.

          I think a discussion on what vertical restrictions to remove would be an excellent idea because as you say Peter they are not without costs. If that means higher building limits are needed to make going up feasible -well let’s follow the evidence.

          My voluntary intensification proposal was an effort to lower transaction costs of amassing decent contiguous sites for economy of scale intensification developments. If there are other ways of doing that -well that should be put out for public debate.

          1. I thought your “land contiguity” proposal was a quite good one in a lot of ways. There are definitely some advantages to having larger lots for development, and we should think of ways to encourage people to create them.

            Incidentally, the draft Unitary Plan contains some similar incentives. Effectively, it allows people to build bigger buildings / more dwellings on larger sites. I believe that policy was designed in part as a subsidy for site amalgamation – i.e. if you buy up adjacent sites and combine them into one larger site, you get to build more.

            Your “laneways” suggestion is also conceptually similar to policies in Auckland and many other cities that give developers “bonus” floorspace in exchange for building public open spaces or pedestrian access. Interestingly, the park where the Occupy movement started – Zuccotti Park – was created in exchange for bonus floorspace.

            The problem is that these policies are only effective as a subsidy for site amalgamation (etc) if the underlying zoning rules are too restrictive. The only reason that somebody would be willing to undergo the expensive and uncertain process of site amalgamation in exchange for an extra storey of height is that the underlying height limits are too low!

          2. Interesting Peter. Obviously I agree that laneways are a good idea, especially in parts of Auckland where there is a lower than average number of intersections and land dedicated for right of ways. In my mind I didn’t see public purchases of laneways as a subsidy for intensification. Or some sort of price to paid for being ‘gifted’ intensification development rights. I was thinking that this sort of intensification would be a codified right. That if the Council/Crown wanted to a laneway for wider community benefit it would pay the going rate i.e. whatever is paid when the Crown purchases land. That if they did this at the same time as intensification/property reallocation then there could be mutual benefit.

    3. 4 stories anywhere is probably a step too far. 3 anywhere is probably the right idea. 4 stories typically need a lift so become uneconomical compared to 5-7 stories anyway. That’s not to say we shouldn’t have 4+ stories in just saying they shouldn’t have blanket approval everywhere. There should be a lot of areas where 4 could be given blanket approval (or as mentioned up to 7 to be more economic – eg isthmus LR routes and town centres).

      1. the fact that four stories could need a lift doesn’t seem to be a good reason to prevent them from being built. Lifts are an internal characteristic of the building and should have no bearing on whether or not it’s allowed to be built in different areas.

        I think you’re also underestimating the potential demand for 3-4 storey townhouses. These could easily function without a lift.

        Nonetheless, I do agree that 7 stories is more economical, so would suggest something along the lines of:
        – 4 storeys everywhere
        – 7 storeys on rapid and/or frequent transit corridors
        – No limit in metropolitan centres

        1. I agree Stu with your proposed vertical boundaries. This would release a huge amount of space for developmental supply.

          It is hugely important that potential supply is released both vertically and horizontally. That way people get a genuine choice and the construction market will react to those underlying preferences.

        2. It’s not just the height – it’s the side boundaries. NZ has this peculiar love of side yards and set backs, in order to mandate suburban detached housing. Wastes a whole lot of space, for little use – if you’re lucky you might get some sunlight through a side yard window, and get a space to store your bike, an old barbecue and some garden rakes – but mostly side yards are rubbish. Delete them – and save the space.

          Three storey high terrace housing with no side yards – very comfortable to live in, similar to most of south London. Five storey terrace housing with no side yards – good quality living, highly desirable – think Kensington, Notting Hill, Holland Park. No lifts in any of them. Auckland could do this too – no reason why Victoria Ave in Remuera shouldn’t be terraced as well.

        3. From memory, under the New Network roughly 20% of the Auckland urban area will be within walking distance of a frequent (<15min headway) or rapid PT service. That's a lot of rezoning you're proposing!

          1. Agreed mfwic. Walk up flats, Euroblocs, Terrace housing…. -we need developmental rules allowing these housing options. I believe with big enough up rezoning, then there will be so much potential supply that these housing options will be very competitive. After transport costs are calculated I think these sort of intensification developments will be able to compete with dispersed developments.

    4. “That is, buildings of four storeys [which] are common in many of cities that New Zealanders choose to live when they are overseas.”
      This times a thousand.
      It drives me batty that Aucklanders decry ‘intensification’ but when they head off on their OE they generally gravitate to big cities, not rural villages. And when they’ve finished facebooking about how great London, Barcelona, Brooklyn, or wherever is they come back and give a contented sigh and tell us how good it is to be home, and let’s not change because it’s great to be able to live in a detached bungalow on 450sqm in Auckland, unlike those Big Cities they loved living in for 2+ years. The ones with high density apartment living and lots of things to do because there was a concentrated population that made a multitude of different things economically viable.

  2. Excellent curation again Kent.

    On the speed issue, isn’t it likely that the chart actually understates the threat caused by faster vehicle speeds because a collision is surely also more likely at faster speed? In other words not only will the severity of the outcome be worse, as shown above, but also the frequency of the events. No?

  3. On the “Two maps one scale” theme, a website called the Urban Observatory allows you to do the same thing, but with census data and urban fabric measurements overlaid. The link below, for instance, is to the population density comparison between Auckland, New York and London.

    http://www.urbanobservatory.org/compare/index.html?group%3Df4373b6eae144e26a634937269d336ec%26noun%3DPeople%26theme%3DPopulation%2520Density%26cities%3DNew%2520York%26cities%3DLondon%26cities%3DAuckland%26minLevel%3D8%26level%3D10%26maxLevel%3D16%26dualPane%3Dfalse

  4. I started cycling in the city in 1944 and for the first 30 years there were no real problems with cars or drivers. Since the 1970’s there has been quite a noticeable change and I wonder how to account for it.

    One of the things that changed in the 1960’s was more people were driving and cars seemed to have greater get up and go with better power to weight ratio’s and gearboxes.
    In the 1970’s most families had cars and fewer people were biking to school.
    In the 1980’s with Used Imported cars we had a real change take place with many more cars on the road and many more people driving (Much higher percentage of people driving daily) and fewer people cycling or children cycling to school.
    In the 2000’s we have people driving who have never ridden a bike and who have grown up in an environment where the cyclists are denigrated.

    How can we reverse the process without losing the advantages the car ownership gives us. Can cyclists win back the respect of motorists and learn to share the road?

    1. I think what has also changed is we now have a conflict for space in the only safe area there once was, prior to the 1980’s one car families were the norm and cars weren’t left on the roads, now we have parked cars day and night making it inevitable cyclist’s will come in conflict with cars as they maneuver around them, we are on a 70kph highway and it’s the parked cars that cause the danger.

  5. The increase in mode share for active modes in Vancouver is great – but alarmingly it’s nearly all come from transit (6 percentage points down, or a 20% reduction) Vancouver is often held up as a fine example, but clearly everything in the garden is not beautiful.

    Perhaps they should visit Auckland to see how to increase transit use?☺

    1. Active cannibalising Transit is pretty much inevitable in booming cities, especially where Transit mode hits over-crowding or high cost levels. This is clearly what is partly behind London’s extraordinary cycling boom. In London both driving and Tube and Train are very expensive by any standards. The bus less so but is slow. Furthermore Rail Transit of all kinds are exhibiting near constant over-crowding issues. Add to that the fear of terrorism as a result of the July 07 attacks and the appeal of the bike is obvious. Add to that some new safe infrastructure and BOOM!

      Of course the Transit rider has already left their car at home or behind entirely, so they are the most ready to join the bike riders. Vancouver has been building great bike infra.

      This shift is no bad thing however, it frees up capacity on the Train for new recruits from the ranks of urban SOV users. Both modes, remember, are spatially efficient, and their growth means it is easier to fix auto-dominant streets. And cycling is also the most energetically efficient mode. It really is the top of the tree for efficiency and positive externalities; even more so than walking! Or at least on a par.

      57/8% Transit/Active is great, the increase in Active, especially walking, may also simply represent a shift in living location; more proximate dwellings? More inner city apartments? Why take Transit if you’re already there?

      1. The argument that active transport will cannibalise transit is a new one on me, and I don’t believe it. Taking your London example, both cycling and rail are booming (buses less so) and there’s no sign of a “fear of terrorism” effect. And you can’t be being cannibalised (certainly to Vancouver’s extent) and continue to be overcrowded at the same time!

        That shift is a very bad thing, because that freed-up capacity is not being used by urban SOV users, except perhaps to a limited extent – car use has increased! Unfortunately such a significant decline in transit means a significant reduction in farebox takings and hence in potential for funding improvements – a perfect scenario for a the start of a cycle of vicious circles.

        What would your attitude be if Auckland’s transit patronage was falling at such a rate?

          1. That’s seven years ago, Patrick, and since then London has expanded and is still expanding rail capacity as fast as it possibly can, with frequency and capacity increases (costing many, many millions) planned for every single Underground line, the Elizabeth line (Europe’s largest construction project) anticipated to be full as soon as it opens, massive patronage increases on all Overground Lines, the DLR extending all trains to 3 cars to meet demand, extra trams and double-tracking for Croydon… At the same time cycling in London is going gangbusters, with the opening of the Superhighways and lots of local schemes.

            So your example does nothing to support your contention that active transport cannibalism is inevitable: in fact it demonstrates the opposite. Perhaps you should choose a better example (if one exists) to illustrate this phenomenon, but a hint: don’t choose Auckland or Wellington – they both have both active mode and transit patronage rising.

            And as to why bombs in London 11 years ago could be affecting current transit demand in Vancouver, well, my imagination isn’t up to that.

          2. Calm down Mike. If you read carefully what I wrote you will see that I said it is inevitable ‘in booming cities’ ‘where Transit has over-crowding or cost issues’. These are both the case in London. That overcrowding is exactly why Crossrail is being built, but as you know it takes a long time and a lot of money to add that sort of capacity, and even then it’s only an additional 10%; and I expect it to be pretty much full on opening. Already most lines are now running frequencies at off peak that only a few years ago were only used at peak. It can be seriously full, as I experienced when last there. The growth in Transit and Active in London is all good news. But that doesn’t stop both overcrowding and cost forming a push factor for the startling growth in cycling.

            All mode changes have push and pull factors, new cycling infra is both cities are pull factors, but in London the cycling boom preceded the infra.

            The fear of terrorism is not my theory, although I have heard people say it, but rather comes from that TfL study. Clearly I didn’t suggest that was relevant to Vancouver.

            Also Transit ridership is not falling in Vancouver, those are shares of a total that’s growing, certainly the Skytrain is steady to slightly up at 117m pa. And the soon to be open extensions will lift that number further. As I said above do think that changes in habitation are a big factor in Vancouver, especially for the growth in walking.

            As for AKL, I do think that capacity issues will constrain growth before the CRL is open, we already hear reports of overcrowding at peaks, and 2023 is a long way away. This will indeed be a shame. And, as the CRL is own little pro-rata version of Crossrail, It too will be well used right from opening. In both cases there will be huge latent demand uncovered.

          3. Sorry, Patrick, but that graph looks to me if it shows an absolute (not just relative) fall in transit numbers in Vancouver, and I’m still surprised (not to say disappointed) that you think a drop of 20% in mode share in just two years is “inevitable”, let alone “no bad thing”. Clearly it isn’t, and it is a bad thing.

            With a real drop in transit patronage any overcrowding in Vancouver must be easing; and I’ve got no idea why you raised London or terrorism: as you’ve now acknowledged, they’re both irrelevant to the point you were attempting to make.

            And thank you for the advice, but I am still greatly concerned that a person whose views I normally respect can dismiss such a significant adverse change in such an off-hand manner, and with the introduction of red herrings galore.

            Now, back to the issue of active-mode cannibalism, which seems to be unique to Vancouver (unless you’ve evidence to the contrary).

          4. Mike a shift in mode share from Transit to Active is indeed no bad thing from the city’s point of view. In fact leans somewhat to the positive in terms of net benefit particularly for social cost and health, energy consumption, and emissions externalities.

            I would agree with your more negative view if the mode share of Transit and Active together had fallen, but it hasn’t; it’s pretty much the same to slightly up. Perhaps we just hold a different understanding of the value of Active Transit to cities and society.

            I would add though that this growth of Active Transit, in the west, is new, but I am sure we will see more of it, especially as it goes with more inner city living. And it will go hand in hand with Transit growth, with some switching back and forth depending very much on local factors, like Transit capacity and investment. And is all good as both modes are required and desired for the secular shift away from car use in cities.

  6. The issue of public participation is a hard one. Part of the reason they gave for the RMA was that the old town and country planning act was too restrictive on granting standing. You had to show you had an interest greater than most people. The odd thing is we have moved back in that direction and pulled back from letting anyone object. Part of the problem was the the first generation of District plans (1991 on) had less permitted activities so lots of basic developments needed a consent when before that they were called predominant uses and it was simply your right to establish them. Some of the District plans even had general rules that changed activity status which you weren’t allowed in the old District Schemes. An example is North Shore which said any activity which generated a turnover of more that 100 vehicles per day would be discretionary. It simply meant a hell of a lot more reporting, more objections and ultimately a lot more people being disappointed and feeling they were not listened to.

  7. This article (https://medium.com/@andersem/a-guy-just-transcribed-30-years-of-for-rent-ads-heres-what-it-taught-us-about-sf-housing-prices-bd61fd0e4ef9#.w5ogwuenh) uses empirical data to indicate that increasing housing supply by 50% in San Francisco would reduce rents by 67% (the other options are to reduce wages/salaries by 50%, or reduce employment by 50%, both of which are politically non-starters); it goes on to make an important point: developers would not want to increase housing supply by that much because the profitability would disappear if rents dropped by that much.

    The NZ Government’s simplistic ‘markets-will-fix-a-supply-shortage’ ideology-dressed-as-strategy doesn’t seem to have thought of this real-world barrier (that the developers and private housing suppliers have a vested interest in not supplying more housing to meet demand – no conspiracy required, it’s just business logic).

    Okay, so without wishing to sound like a “communist” (whatever that is), the thought that immediately came into my head is: obviously we can’t rely on the private/for-profit sector to provide sufficient housing to make it affordable (as that goes against their reason for being), so we need the public/not-for-profit sector (e.g., government, habitat for humanity) to do it, as they don’t have to worry about making a profit, they can just do it (and in the case of governments, they’ll be saving billions each year in health costs and prison costs, etc., because if people have decent housing then they’re less likely to get chronically sick, drop-out of school/work and fall into crime, etc. – it’d probably cost the NZ government much less to build everyone who needs a house a house, and give them $50-100k to kickstart their lives, compared to what it’s costing now in health, education, CYF, police, courts, prisons, etc., and paying all the social workers and agencies and MSD consultants, and academics studying the effects of poverty, etc.). Perhaps Labour could do the Kiwibuild and a tax-cut, based on the wider cost-savings?

  8. I am probably the only person on earth to think this, but vehicles should have their speed limited according to their mass. The lighter the faster, as the damage from an accident is directly proportional to its kinetic energy.

    1. I was thinking about the time before seat belts in the back seat of cars and the damage a flying granny could do in a crash, I would rather separate transport according to speed, that would mean 30kph on all roads where pedestrians and cyclist have to coexist, think of the impetus that would give to rail. I don’t know what the maximum speed is on our tracks, but look at what is going on in the world, trains on the continent do 300kph and the UK 200kph.

      A friend is in the UK at the moment and traveled on the a Pendolino between Birmingham and London, he said the motor way in one part had a traffic jamb 5km long, he wonder what the drivers thought as they shot past at 200kph.

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