Welcome back to Sunday reading. This week: Land taxes.

In Newsroom, Zbigniew Dumieński and Nicholas Smith put forward the case for a major shakeup of New Zealand’s tax system. Sounds like it could be a very good idea:

Unlike any other products of labour (including houses), land is not produced and, therefore, won’t disappear when we tax it. This is also why, unlike a tax on buildings, a tax on land values cannot be passed to tenants. Taxing land values eliminates the incentives for speculation or land banking and encourages landowners to use their land more efficiently, thereby reducing sprawl, waste and burden on infrastructure and the natural environment.

Taxing unimproved land values also allows us to reduce other harmful taxes that currently fall on production and entrepreneurship. This could help improve our economy’s competitiveness and reduce the high cost of living. Even a local shift of rates from improvements onto land values would reduce the cost of constructing or renovating homes, while at the same time making holding land idle much more costly.

A tax on land values is also easy to collect, transparent, based on public information and virtually impossible to avoid – these characteristics should appeal to those concerned with the problem of tax avoidance.

Finally, a tax on unimproved land values is naturally progressive. Not only is it the most burdensome to those who hold valuable urban land they are not using, but it also it correlates better with benefits received (e.g. good transport infrastructure, schools, low crime, clean environment) than any other broad-based tax.

On the same note, Lance Wiggs lays out the case against complaining about rates on his personal blog:

The average rate payer in New Zealand pays just 0.35% of their house value each year, still far less than most Kiwisaver providers.

If we had a single nation-wide standard rates fee as a percentage of home value then we would have a national rate of 0.35% of home value. That would mean rates in Auckland would rise by 50%, in Queenstown Lakes by 29% and everywhere else the rates would fall.

So here in Auckland we underpay our rates, and the national government has to subsidise (and they don’t enough) our infrastructure more than they should. they certainly pay their way in Waitomo – if Aucklanders paid as much as they did there then rates would rise by 550%.

A 50% rate rise in Auckland is entirely justifiable, and the rest of New Zealand should be demanding we pay our fair share, and lowering their rates too. But can Aucklanders afford to pay more?

Yes, yes we can.

Over just the last year homeowners have, almost everywhere, made substantial capital gains and once again Auckland’s did very well. […]

Last year alone Auckland ratepayers averaged a tax free gain of $52,000 from each property, and they paid an average of just $2,340 in rates. The gain is 2226% greater than the cost, a ratio any Kiwisaver fund would be proud to brag about.

We all need to stop complaining our rates, especially those who can afford to pay them with cash, and who are sitting on vast windfall gains.

Now, a bit on homebuilding, which we don’t have enough of. Dan Bertolet from Seattle’s Sightline Institute explains how “housing delayed is housing denied (and rent increased)“:

Recent analysis by real-estate firm Trulia indicates that delay may be the biggest regulatory factor in the lag of homebuilding that sends prices spiraling in booming cities (see end notes). In 2002, economists documented a “strong positive relationship” between permitting delay and high home prices. This 2015 study from Austin, Texas, estimates that the city’s average avoidable delay of 3.5 months raised the rent of a typical apartment by 4 percent. Meanwhile in San Francisco, approval alone may consume four years or more.

Overall, like any complex undertaking, housing development becomes less efficient when the flow is interrupted. Specifically, delay makes homebuilding more expensive through four main direct mechanisms. First is interest on the land. Imagine you’re trying to construct apartments. Typically, your first task is to secure land on which to build. In most cases, you have to borrow the money to buy it. You’ll pay interest on that debt until you finish the project. The interest adds up fast.

Second, more time to complete a project means more overhead: more paychecks for your managers and office staff, more retainers for attorneys, designers, and other consultants. Third, delay imposes an opportunity cost: you cannot start your next building while you’re still assembling this one. Fourth, the longer your project takes, the more inflation, taxes, or additional fees may take a toll.

Speaking of construction, James Macbeth Dann has a useful but worrying rundown of the fate of the Christchurch rebuild projects:

Here’s the full list so you don’t have to click through:

1. Hagley Oval. Built in time for the Cricket World Cup. Sports! Open

2. Bus Exchange. Has been running for more than 2 years. Strangely quiet

3. INNOVATION PRECINCT. Was listed in the Blueprint but was really more of a vibe than a project. EPIC centre planning on leaving

4. JUSTICE PRECINCT. Was meant to be “handed over” on March 31st. Didn’t happen. Fletchers meant to be getting pinged for each day over

5. THE FRAME. The $500m buy up of land on the east frame has been complete. Now they are landscaping the gravel

6. THE CATHEDRAL. An incredibly sad sight. No decision, no idea what is happening

7. NGAI TAHU CULTURAL PRECINCT. Pretty sure that they walked away from this. Nothing happening

8. PERFORMING ARTS PRECINCT. No one knows what is going on with this, nor whether any of the stakeholders actually want it / will pay for it

9. CENTRAL LIBRARY. CCC in charge of project, seems to be steaming along

10. RESIDENTIAL DEMONSTRATION PROJECT. Collapsed at project stage after a bizarre “competition” for entries, no-one could work with CERA

11. MARGARET MAHY PLAYGROUND. Unmitigated success that wasn’t actually included in the Blueprint

12. METRO SPORTS CENTRE. Take a giant sports facility from the poor east and put in in the middle of town! Construction hasn’t started

13. HEALTH PRECINCT. The new hospital build is well underway, but little-to-no other buildings – the research labs etc that were promised

14. CONVENTION CENTRE. Currently a massive wasteland that takes up 2 blocks in the centre of town. Meant to cost $475m. See

15. THE STADIUM. Not two but THREE whole city blocks, sitting, waiting, for an idea and the $500m to pay for it.

16. THE AVON RIVER PRECINCT. They made the river look nice and now there are some eels and a place to eat you lunch.

by my count, 4 out of 16 projects are complete, and they’re all the smallest ones. 2 have been canned entirely. 3 are under construction.

5 – and the biggest 5 – are mired in uncertainty at this moment: Stadium, Convention Centre, Metro Sports, Performing Arts, the Cathedral.

Jeez. Also on Christchurch, John McCrone writes about the city’s transport transformations in The Press:

Change is knocking at the door. The general public quietly realises it says Dr Glen Koorey, a former Canterbury University engineering lecturer now working for Christchurch transport consultant ViaStrada.

Christchurch is of course a city where a car is just so damn convenient. There is parking everywhere and the sprawling design of its suburbs seems to demand private vehicle ownership.

Yet Koorey says people understand they could be only an economic crisis and oil price shock away from this car dependence being a big problem.

Christchurch’s traffic congestion is also growing. For such a flat and open city, it is getting rather choked on its main routes.

And he says it is notable that when Christchurch residents were asked what they wanted during the council’s post-quake Share an Idea consultation exercise, they called for a compact city with greener transport options.

Just before the earthquakes, the council had brought in Danish urban designer Jan Gehl to come up with European-style plans for Christchurch – cycle paths, light rail, street calming.

“At the time, a lot of those recommendations seemed pretty radical. The report was politely parked. But then the earthquakes came along and it has been a game-changer. People have said, yeah, we actually want those things.”

So there is a general mandate for change. The only problem now is to figure out how to deliver – especially with post-quake Christchurch having become even more spread out with people shifting to Halswell and Belfast, Rolleston and Rangiora.

Aspirations for transformational change that are thwarted by conservatism and bad delivery. I’ve heard that story before.

On a completely different note, Alana Semuels reports on Japan’s challenges with rural population decline in The Atlantic. This is a fascinating topic that we should all be paying more attention to, as similar trends will shape many places in most developed countries:

Japan is slowly becoming something like one big city-state, with the majority of the population centered in an urban belt that runs through the cluster of Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya, all located relatively near each other, along the route of Japan’s bullet train. In 1950, 53 percent of Japan’s population lived in urban regions; by 2014, 93 percent did. (In the U.S., by contrast, 81 percent of the population lives in urban regions.) It is mostly young people who move to the cities, and that means that as Japan’s population ages, the cities and towns outside the city-state are left to fade away. Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs says that now, around 15,000 of Japan’s 65,000 or so communities have more than half of their population over the age of 65.

In some rural regions, nature is reclaiming the land. Families are tearing down unused homes, turning the land back into fields. Bear attacks near settlements in Japan’s north are increasing as humans stop pruning back trees and maintaining their land. Wild boars have been ravaging farmland across the island of Honshu. “What will happen in the future, for most places, the only outcome will be total disappearance,” said Peter Matanle, a senior lecturer in Japanese studies at the University of Sheffield, who has extensively studied Japan’s rural decline. Fields and empty lots will replace homes and farmland, and in some places, only graveyards will be left to mark the land where people once lived.

One measure that Japan could take, but probably won’t, would be to accept more immigration. There’s heaps of people who would happily move to small-town rural Japan if given the opportunity – but they just don’t happen to be Japanese.

On that note, Joseph Heath wrote a thought-provoking essay on Canada’s unusually tolerant and well functioning immigration system. Canada has lots of immigrants, from extremely diverse sources, but it hasn’t experienced a major populist backlash against them. Heath explains why:

[After Trump’s election and the UK’s Brexit election] a fairly widespread discussion broke out over the seemingly anomalous circumstances that prevailed in Canada, where nativism seemed to be gaining no traction. The picture we all saw of a smiling Justin Trudeau greeting Syrian refugees at the airport was reprinted in newspapers around the world. And it led a lot of people to wonder what we’re putting in the water here in Canada.

As was widely noted, there are several important respects in which attitudes towards immigration and diversity in Canada diverge from those in other Western countries (leading many people to announce the dawn of “Canadian exceptionalism”). Typically, as the number of immigrants goes up, public support for immigration goes down. Canada is the only country in which both immigration and support for immigration have risen over the past few decades. Furthermore, patriotism and support for immigration are positively correlated in Canada, whereas in most Western countries, including the U.S., they are negatively correlated.

Heath goes on to put forth five explanations for Canadian exceptionalism on this front. I’ve excerpted them at length because they’re well worth considering. The key point, it seems, is that Canada has evolved a system wherein immigration reinforces national identity, and hence where it is widely perceived to be socially and politically beneficial for the country.

1. Very little illegal immigration

Perhaps the most important difference between Canada and the U.S. is that, south of the border, any sort of discussion of migration policy is completely dominated by the problem of illegal immigration. Indeed, I do not think it is too much of an exaggeration to say that the discussion in the U.S. is poisoned by this one issue. In Canada, by contrast, illegal immigration is much less of a problem (the unauthorized population in Canada is estimated to be between 200,000-400,000, so maybe 15-25% that of the low-end estimate of the U.S. one) This is, interestingly enough, comparable to rates in Europe before the Syrian refugee crisis, but by contrast, only 50% of Canadians view it as a concern, compared to 67% in Europe. (Canadians, it should be noted, are just as hostile to illegal immigration as Europeans, they are just less like to consider it a problem.) […]

2. Bringing people in from all over

Again, partly because of geography but also because of policy, Canada has an immigration policy that brings in people from all over the world, as a result of which no one group dominates within the migrant population. There is no “majority minority.” Indeed, in a typical year, no group from any particular region makes up more than 15% of the total number of immigrants coming to Canada. This is quite different from the situation in France with North Africans, Germany with Turks, or the United States and Mexicans.

The central advantage of this arrangement in Canada is that it makes each ethnic community a much smaller pole of attraction, such that it cannot form a viable subculture within the society. This dramatically limits opportunities for what, in another context, sociologists would refer to as “social deviance.” More generally, it increases the incentive to participate in the broader workforce, as well as to learn the language of the majority. The latter point is particularly important in Quebec. If immigrants don’t speak a common language amongst themselves, then they will naturally gravitate toward the language of the majority, or the language that is taught in schools, even to mediate their own relations. […]

3. A political system that encourages moderation

[…] All of this is because our electoral system gives the moderate right a powerful incentive to control the far right. As a result, we have not seen the emergence of far right, nativist party, in the way that so many European nations have – one that has a permanent “base” of around 15% of the population, not enough to win power with, but enough to ensure a strong parliamentary presence, so that its voice will always be heard.

My inclination is to regard the absence of such a party as an important feature of the Canadian success story, because these sorts of parties have an impact on the national conversation that greatly exceeds their electoral numbers. In particular, I think that the success of these parties in gaining media attention may lead many immigrants to overestimate the level of racism, or hostility to minority groups, that exists in the general population. Or perhaps the absence of such a party, in Canada, leads immigrants to underestimate how much hostility is out there. Either way, I think the absence is good for integration, in part because it reduces the salience of race or ethnicity in everyday interaction.

4. Immigrants are part of larger nation-building project

It is important to observe that the major cleavages within Canadian society – those that threaten to tear the country apart – are between its “founding peoples,” the English, French and First Nations. Just today, in my Canada Day edition of the Globe and Mail, I see short interviews with all the provincial premiers, about their dreams and hopes for the future – all except the premier of Quebec, who refused to participate. Meanwhile, there is a “reoccupation” teepee in Ottawa, to protest the Canada 150 celebrations. And so it goes. Does anyone seriously believe that the Canada 200 celebrations will be any different? After all, we will still be standing on land stolen by the white man, Montcalm will still have been defeated on the Plains of Abraham…

Immigrants, by contrast, arrive here fresh, with none of these axes to grind – and indeed, convincing them even to take an interest in these old conflicts is a challenge. As a result, immigrants have been doing a lot more to hold the country together in the past few decades than any of the founders. It may have been impolitic for Jacques Parizeau to blame the loss of the 1995 Quebec referendum on “money and the ethnic vote,” but the allegation was certainly not false. “Allophones” in Quebec essentially voted along the same lines as anglophones – overwhelmingly in favour of staying in Canada. If they had voted like francophones, Quebec would have seceded. The fact that secession is now considered dead in Quebec is almost entirely a consequence of subsequent immigration, not any sort of change of heart on the part of francophone Quebecers. This is nation-building on a large-scale – Canada has, in effect, overcome the secession threat by changing its own internal demographics. […]

5. Protection of majority culture clear from the start

When it comes to immigration, Quebec is in a peculiar position. French Canadians are a national minority group within Canada, but with respect to immigrants, they form the majority group in the province of Quebec. As a minority group, both their language and culture are threatened, “externally” as it were, by the English majority. Large-scale immigration, however, threatens to further undermine their language and culture, “internally,” because immigrants might choose to learn the language of the national majority (English) rather than the local majority (French).

Thus Canada has faced the challenge of integrating immigrants, not just into the majority society, but into the society of an internal minority, in a way that is acceptable to that minority. (Compare that to a country like Germany, France, or the United States, which has a single, hegemonic language.) Because of this, the only way that it has been possible to have something resembling a national immigration policy has been to offer a set of very explicit protections for Quebec, and in particular, for the French language. These same protections, however, have been extended to the English majority as well. So, for instance, Canada is far more explicit with immigrants about the importance of language-learning than many other countries are, in part because we have an “official languages” policy that sets out very clearly the privileged status of English and French.

The result has been, I believe, much less insecurity, or “demographic anxiety” about immigration, because the protections enjoyed by the majority are laid out explicitly, in a way that they are not in many other countries.

That’s it for the week! Until next time!

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24 comments

  1. Thank you for collecting some interesting reading.

    Comparing Japan’s rural decline with New Zealand’s would be interesting – deserving more thought and research. The comment about ” heaps of people who would happily move to small-town rural Japan if given the opportunity ” is unnecessary – anyone who knows how hard life can be in a 3rd world country knows finding immigrants is never a problem for a 1st world country especially one that provides a social safety net of pensions, hospitals, free schooling. Keeping them in the quiet rural towns would be far harder – the fact that immigrants disproportionately move into cities has been known for a century.

    The reasons for the success of Canadian immigration are sensible and rather similar to NZ: no illegals, sheer variety of country of origin and English language. The use of immigrants by politicians as a wedge against first nation arguments may be similar. The argument about the importance of including every immigrant into the national identity is critical. It is common in NZ to find immigrants are far prouder of being New Zealanders than average home-born Kiwis.

    Canada has a very high immigration rate although it is about a quarter less than ours – do they have any problem with lack of infrastructure as per Auckland?

    1. What is missing from the article on Japan’s rural decline is the issue of food production. Japan only produces about 40% of its own food: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2015/04/01/editorials/nations-food-self-sufficiency-rate/#.WaJ1DRdLfCI

      There’s a deep discussion to be had about how we are farming, how we are caring for our soils, and how we expect to feed the world’s population, now and in the future. If we accept rural decline as inevitable how then are we asking for our food to be grown? On large farms, with fossil carbon-fueled machinery in a chemical mix using soil just as an inert substrate? This route reduces fertility, causes desertification, puts soil carbon into the atmosphere and will result in much of the world’s population facing famines within several decades.

      I visited and worked on a permaculture farm in Japan in 2013, which was established in 1980. The 90 or so residents grew all their own food (they only bought salt and seaweed), sold produce and seedlings, and their ecological footprint per capita was 1/6 that of a US citizen.

      They could have set up in a rural area – since rural land has been abandoned. But where it was most efficient for them to operate was in an area of large abandoned gardens and smallholdings on the edge of a city. Their children could therefore attend the local kindergartens and schools, and some of their members could work in the community (as nurses and caregivers, mainly.)

      Everyone has social needs, whether farmer or city-dweller. I don’t think we should look at rural decline as inevitable, but as a result of the value we place on our food-growing, our ecology and our people.

  2. I think a land tax and removal of the improvements tax and possibly others is worth looking into. What additional measures would also be required to ensure that it doesn’t put Councils and developers into a position where they can’t economically justify adding green space and parks?

  3. I’m an Auckland homeowner, it sounds great that people think I’ve somehow made $52,000 last year. The truth of course is I haven’t, like everyone else who lives in the house they own, our financial circumstances are entirely unchanged.

    I’ve not seen a cent in real money, likewise as values now seem to be trending backwards I’m not losing money either. I’m just getting by the best I can and paying my mortgage.

    1. A land tax may make sense but if you own property it would feel retrospective; maybe it depends on how big the tax is. The concept of moving towards balancing rates across the country has an appeal although it would leave an Auckland property owner (as I am) worse off. But there is a serious problem with the depopulation of rural NZ – maybe it is inevitable but I would like to see the rate of change slowed down.

    2. Also an Auckland homeowner. I get endless letters from real estate agents breathlessly informing me that my property has increased in value by this or that many $$$thousands since last month (and now would be the perfect time to sell) but as Alan points out, I don’t personally see a single cent of that money.

      My weekly paypacket remains stubbornly unchanged no matter what rate or tax increases are imposed upon it.

      I regard this supposed increase in my wealth as merely notional (or even fictional) as it cannot be turned into liquid assets until or unless I sell the house. Who’s to say that when I sell up in old age and move to something smaller that the market won’t have collapsed to a fraction of it’s current value?

      I may never see the financial gains my house is allegedly accruing.

      1. Agreed. Taxing paper gains is farcical and there’s a reason the IRD has an absolutely massive threshold before you get captured by it for personal income tax purposes when it comes to foreign exchange.

  4. The reason that rates are higher in Waitomo is because a small number of people live far apart. This is incredibly inefficient and wasteful, which is only partly reflected by higher rates. If Waitomo residents lived as closely together as Aucklanders, the costs that rates pay for would be hugely cheaper per home.

    This blog oftens champions apartments and townhouses, and vilifies the quarter-acre pavlova paradise mentality. Don’t let your enthusiasm for neo-Georgism mar your consistency.

  5. assuming that land rates would replace property rates and would be struck by councils and go directly to council funding, then yes, replacing ‘added value’ property rates with ‘unimproved land value’ taxes would be a much more progressive way forward.
    Even more progressive would be a for the council to not spend 50% of the rates subsidising local roads, but to receive a share of the government collected road user charges, fuel taxes, et al, (each of which should be dramatically increased) to make roading closer to user pays.
    And then to income tax. Why tax effort and labour instead of taxing extraction, consumption, pollution, waste and wealth? Our most heavily taxed are the high PAYE income earners and our lowest taxed are those wealthy enough to not have to work for others in a PAYE type relationship.

    1. ” receive a share of the government collected road user charges, fuel taxes” – My only problem with this is that currently the fact that local roads being paid out of rates and general taxation is one of the few things in favour of cycling and/or PT infrastructure.

      Although most people live under the illusion that cars pay for roads, as you rightly point out local roads actually represent a massive subsidy for driving a car and, even worse, driving a truck. If we made that illusion real, it might make people in cars feel even more entitled than they do currently.

      1. I’m wondering if some of a fuel tax /congestion charge could be earmarked for health, some for mitigating climate change, some for purchasing land for positive purposes, some for waterway cleanup and marine conservation, some for planting and maintaining air – filtering plantings, some for road maintenance. Hopefully this would capture the costs of driving that fall into these categories. The costs of providing PT and active mode infrastructure might them be accepted as a way to enable the public to use these modes and avoid having to pay for the negative consequences of driving.

  6. Taxing land for the maximum development potential creates a large incentive pushing towards development. This tool can be very broad brush and create unwanted development. For example if all undeveloped land in Auckland City was to be taxed at a rate expecting full residential development, don’t expect to buy Pukekohe onions or potatoes in future.

    If the land tax is based on maximum development under the land’s zoning, where would that leave all the Future Urban zoned land under the Auckland Unitary Plan? Future Urban land’s development will not be clear until there is a plan change. At present you cannot easily subdivide Future Urban zoned land and you are allowed only one full-sized dwelling and a minor dwelling on each lot. Taxing this zone’s land at future development potential would be somewhat inequitable, BUT in future this land could be develop-able, winning the owner large capital gains, equivalent to those of a landowner who has not developed their Residential.zoned land, who has been taxed for the lack of development.

    Inequities appear to be inevitable from land taxes based solely on development ability under the present Unitary Plan in Auckland

  7. “A 50% rate rise in Auckland is entirely justifiable, and the rest of New Zealand should be demanding we pay our fair share, and lowering their rates too. But can Aucklanders afford to pay more?

    Yes, yes we can.

    Over just the last year homeowners have, almost everywhere, made substantial capital gains and once again Auckland’s did very well. […]

    Last year alone Auckland ratepayers averaged a tax free gain of $52,000 from each property, and they paid an average of just $2,340 in rates. The gain is 2226% greater than the cost, a ratio any Kiwisaver fund would be proud to brag about.”

    That may be so but it doesn’t give me ready money to pay extra rates. Does the writer expect me to sell my house to realise the 2226% gain so that I can afford to pay Auckland Council another $1000 per year?

      1. An interesting idea. Since rates are based on the Council’s estimation of a property’s value will rates go down if there is a reduction in the value of the house?

  8. Despite the Christchurch rebuild seeming utterly depressing when you list out the anchor projects like that, living and working in Christchurch, I feel like it’s a time of rapid progress and positivity here. There’s a wave of private developments all being completed around now in the CBD, and lots of office workers shifting back, lots of cafes/bars/restaurants/shops opening up to add to my growing list of places I need to check out, and heaps of awesome cycling infrastructure popping up all over the city. Exciting times, despite CERA/Otakaro/government/council/whoever-else dragging the chain.

    1. That’s a good point and a good perspective.

      For what it’s worth, I didn’t see the anchor projects as an unmitigated good – some of them were good, some were pretty questionable. They probably would have worked reasonably well if they had been built faster. But if many of them are still stalled and private development is going ahead, then I think the best move would be to scale down the megaprojects and hand back the rest of the land for development.

      1. In my opinion the anchor projects have inhibited Christchurch’s cbd’s development. Especially the convention centre and east frame. If the original hundreds of landowners had been left to develop this high value land (about 8 cbd blocks) they would have done better than government. Because 6-7 years later and the government has achieved nothing on those sites.

        The convention centre should be rolled into the stadium and be located to one side of the cbd -because of the ‘dead zone’ these sort of facilities create when not in use.

        What this reminds me of is the destruction in Auckland, of removing city housing for the motorway spaghetti junction in the 60/70s and similar projects in the US, which boil down to heavy-handed top down government undertaking crony capitalism and claiming success from development that would have happened better in a organic bottom up manner.

        Check this article out for a description of this problem in the US
        https://marketurbanismreport.com/tax-increment-financing-new-urban-renewal/

        1. I wonder what is the reason or the advantages of arranging development in those megaprojects. The pool of developers who can pull off a $500 million development is probably quite small.

          And looking at Auckland, those shopping strips along the former tramways which everybody loves so much, to me they don’t look like they were built at once by one big developer.

      2. When they first pitched the anchor projects they were meant to be something that led the rebuild and gave the private sector certainty about the future. 6 years later and they’ve done the opposite – lagged private development and created uncertainty.

        As a local I’m generally a fan of government throwing free money at Christchurch. However, it does increasingly seem like some of these constantly growing mega-projects don’t stack up economically and could actually make the city worse rather than better. So yea I think I agree with you, I’d like to see each project more rigorously tested on its merits, and either scaled back, combined with others, or canned if they are going to be huge wastes of money.

  9. I’m interested in the comment:
    “[Christchurch] 2. Bus Exchange. Has been running for more than 2 years. Strangely quiet”

    My comment at the design stage was ‘This looks to be wildly overdesigned and inappropriate in relation to the need.’ More at https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2014/03/08/the-new-christchurch-bus-interchange/#comment-101170

    I’d be interested to know whether the outcome has justified my criticisms. Has there been much comment or consensus on how well it’s been working?

    1. To me it’s not that strange that it’s quiet – the CBD in general is quiet. I can’t find any stats on how many workers are back in the CBD now, but despite the spate of recent openings I’d guess only half the CBD is operational.

      I don’t use the bus exchange everyday but have used it a few times on weekends. It seems to work well to me, although I think some of your comments may be valid – the footprint is massive and there are a lot of bus bays. It’s hard to judge whether it’s the right size though while it’s still only servicing half a CBD. In another 6 years we’ll a better idea.

  10. christchurch should have build their rapid transit grid when they rebuild.

    Now they just wasted the opportunity and goes back to a lifeless car centric sprawling city.

    No fancy white elephant building will work if the layout of the city transit is poorly designed.

  11. Lance wiggs’ argument is so stupid it is pissing me off. Auckland pays the least as a % of house value?!?! That is a totally irrelevant metric!

    If all our Auckland houses cost a billion dollars each(paid for by generous interest free loans), but we are still only earning the average 40k a year, increasing that % rate would have a huge impact on our ability to survive.

    The average house in Auckland is twice the price of those in CHCH, but we aren’t paid twice as much.

    He claims Auckland underpays rates. On what basis? How about other kiwis pay too damn much to their councils?

    You pay more rates for a bach in the coromandel than you do a home in Auckland. What do you get for it? Nothing. Water comes from the roof. You have a septic tank. You pay for rubbish collection. You have a state highway(not council) running past your house. No library or pool or bus or anything down the road. Council does nothing and charges you an arm and a leg. You get nothing.

    Yes, Aucklanders get a great deal, but where is the evidence that Auckland Council is under funding it’s infra in comparison with the rest of the country? Are we getting more than our fair share? We are the ones getting all the immigration (internal and external) This isnt our fault that there is extra population to absorb.

    How can he claim increased rates won’t be passed onto renters?? Is he serious?? Landlords aren’t exactly cash rich. The money has to come from somewhere. Welcome to more homeless people or 3 families per house.

    Some rich white man who has obviously never struggled to survive telling us we should shut up and pay more rates and be glad. I’m so angry right now with how stupid is argument is.

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