A recent Huffington Post article shines a light on a rather surprising political battleground in many cities around the world – seemingly progressive residents going feral against change in their neighbourhoods.

In May 2018, a public meeting in a wealthy enclave of one of America’s most progressive cities devolved into a two-hour temper tantrum as longtime residents incensed about a proposed tax to fund homeless services shouted down its proponents.

“Lies!” the crowd bellowed as an attendee explained that the tax would be levied on corporations, not citizens. “Shill!” “Plant!” “Phony!” they shouted as another supporter spoke. “Coward!” a man yelled at a homeless woman as she took the microphone.

Kirsten Harris-Talley, the co-chair of Seattle’s Homelessness Task Force, had to pause to ask the increasingly unruly crowd to calm down: “Can I finish what I’m saying?”

“No!” the audience chanted back.

This was not an isolated incident.

Last September, a community hearing over a proposed homeless shelter in Los Angeles had to be cut short after boos and jeering repeatedly interrupted speakers. Throughout 2018, public meetings in Minneapolis to discuss changing the city’s residential zoning code erupted into shouts and insults from audience members. At a public meeting last August on homelessness in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles, audience members chanted, “Lock her up!” at a female representative of the mayor’s office.

In Auckland we also have a few infamous examples. Like the February 2016 Auckland Council meeting on the Unitary Plan where young people desperate to be given a chance at affording a home were booed and jeered by wealthy homeowners.

More recently things got so bad that after daring to make streets safer for pedestrians by putting in pedestrian crossings and lowering speed limits in St Heliers, Auckland Transport pulled out of a meeting because they literally feared for the safety of their staff.

While St Heliers isn’t exactly a bastion of progressiveness, similar behaviour has been seen in Grey Lynn and, most recently, Pt Chevalier.

In many cities, it seems that people who are otherwise quite progressive behave very differently indeed when it comes to change in their own area. Back to the Huff Post article:

Rowdy public hearings are nothing new in city politics, of course. But campaigners and elected officials told HuffPost that the nature of local opposition has changed in recent years. Where protest movements and civil disobedience were once primarily the tools of the marginalized, they have now become a weapon of privilege — a way for older, wealthier, mostly white homeowners to drown out and intimidate anyone who challenges their hegemony.

“Most of the abuse I got came from older suburban or retired folks, and always from people who considered themselves progressive,” said Rob Johnson, a Seattle City Council member who retired in April after three years in office. During his tenure, he supported proposals to increase housing density, expand public transit and establish safe use sites for drug addicts.

Despite representing a constituency with bright-blue voting records on immigration, reproductive rights and LGBTQ equality, Johnson’s progressive positions on local issues provoked a large and organized backlash. In 2017, after supporting a plan to install bike lanes on a major thoroughfare, Johnson received a death threat on social media. Opponents posted his home address on Nextdoor. Eventually, he stopped visiting local businesses and even skipped events at his children’s school to avoid the increasingly frequent confrontations with other parents.

This is a somewhat odd conundrum. People who in many respects are extremely worried about issues like homelessness, inequality and climate change are also those at the forefront of opposing the very initiatives that can make the biggest difference in helping to address those issues.

Perhaps because there’s at least some recognition of this hypocrisy, a lot of the focus of the discussions ends up on process issues like consultation. Doesn’t this sound familiar?

Alex Baca, a housing program organizer for the pro-density nonprofit Greater Greater Washington, said neighborhood opposition groups nearly always claim to support public transit and affordable housing in general but use technical arguments and procedural roadblocks to make sure such projects aren’t built in their neighborhoods.

Examples of this can be found in nearly every city experiencing job and population growth. In San Francisco, residents of a wealthy neighborhood opposed the construction of low-income senior housing, citing concerns that it was seismically unstable. Seattle homeowners sued a homeless housing project over a technicality related to its permitting. In Boise, by some measures the fastest-growing city in the country, one of the arguments employed by residents fighting the construction of new townhomes is that they will reduce pedestrian safety.

“It’s like playing Whac-a-Mole,” Baca said. “No matter what you propose, they’ll tell you that if it was just a little bit different, they could support it. But then you come back with the changes they asked for and they find a new reason to fight it.”

I think a lot of this issue is generational. Privileged boomers who are at the forefront of these NIMBY efforts had their formative years in the 1970s and 1980s, when developers were just “how do I squeeze every dollar and who cares about anything else”. So many boomer progressives have always seen developers as the enemy. Furthermore, many people of that same generation were “anti-establishment”, whether this was hippy movements of the 70s or “government is the problem” attitudes of the 80s. Therefore instinctively they’re super happy and keen to push back against government, councils etc. (even though they now are the establishment themselves).

“The boomer generation came of age at a time when neighborhoods were fighting back against highway expansions and power plants,” Baca said. “To them, preserving their neighborhood is progressive.”

The excellent “War on Cars” podcast also touched on this recently:

It will be interesting to see how this issue plays out over the next few months ahead of this year’s local body election.

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  1. Oh here we go, the St Heliers thing again.

    “While St Heliers isn’t exactly a bastion of progressiveness” uh….what?

    My understanding of the consultation issues in St Heliers/Glendowie was that when the UP went through, consultation went through on one basis, and then the lack of objection to it was used as an excuse to fundamentally change the entire plan from one that was consulted on. It was either incompetence or arrogance to table a totally different document to the one that was consulted on and then expect people to not ask what the hell had happened.

    This is an area that for years had a bus service that was so unreliable that it was unusable. One service, that finished at 11pm while other parts of Auckland got services well past that, with not even as much as a bus lane in the entire Central East. And that lost a huge chunk of off-peak service in the new networks. Yet they were expected to just accept an up-zoning after consultation closed when places that have frequent bus services in the inner-city suburbs wouldn’t take on any more density.

    But of course, you don’t read about that the snarkpiece the Spinoff ran, where they made precisely zero attempts to look at what the basis of residential objections actually were, and decided to instead write a clickbait story about angry white people. If it was happening in any other community, it would have been a story about a lack of “natural justice” or whatever.

    As for AT being afraid of their safety, that reads a lot like “We’ve shat all over an area for decades, the Council milks them for rates and surprisingly they’re not happy when we roll into a community we’ve shown little interest in providing with additional services and for some reason they aren’t happy when we want to take a bunch of car parks from the local shops”, regardless of how reasonable the actual plan itself might be.

    1. What planet are you living on?

      The consulted unitary plan had far more upzoning that the actually implemented one. It was scaled back massively after all sorts of griping and wailing from the locals about three storey ‘skyscrapers’, not least by Richard Burton of the so called Auckland 2040 group, who lives in a three storey house in St Heliers.

      If St Heliers want nothing then so be it, they can get nothing and sit there pickled in aspic until the last grey hair shuffles off to the retirement village (four stories!!) while their inheritors quietly realise that there’s nobody who can afford to buy their three million dollar pile.

      Auckland has bigger fish to fry and can invest elsewhere. See you in twenty years.

      1. My understanding was the plan floated for consultation had almost minimal upscaling, the tabled plan had far more and that is what caused outcry.

        “If St Heliers want nothing” Yes because they’re totally over-run with public transport options out there. How many kilometres of bus lanes are there East Bound on Tamaki Drive again? None? Again, Glendowie lost off-peak services under the new network. Threatening with less service than they already get is kind of difficult.

        1. There are scant bus lanes on Tamaki Drive because the five proposals in the last twenty years to deliver them were all shot down by angry local residents lawyering up with their QC neighbors.

          The fact you have a touch of T2 lane inbound is simply because those lawyers realized they could have their wives drive them to work and beat the traffic.

          Why not bring up your bus lane plan at the next local meeting, see how it goes down with the good burghers.

          The city has continually tried, and the residents have resisted. Eventually you need to stop trying and stop wasting time and money.

        2. Cool. Let me know when we’re stripping back Link Bus services from areas that refuse to intensify on character grounds. Funny how it doesn’t seem to work that way.

          As far as ‘the residents’ are concerned; ascribing the motivations of the kind of loudmouth idiots which live in literally any suburb as a basis for a generalisation for ‘the residents’ is bullshit. There’s a shedload of college kids who become uni students and people who work in the city out there. Many end up driving lest they be stranded at either end.

          The buses that did show up in my suburb were full when they got to St Heliers, if not so then definitely Mission Bay. That was five years ago. But sure, ‘the residents’ are all PT hating assholes.

        3. If you are referring to hourly direct service from all and sundry, plenty of those were ‘stripped out’ all over Auckland in favour of walking further to main corridors. Have you ever looked at the changes in Pt Chev, Grey Lynn, Westmere, Parnell, etc?!

          There are far more bus kilometres run in the eastern bays now than before the New Network.

        4. Butt that’s the whole point of this post. The entirety of the community is being spoken for by a dominance of loud old crackers.
          I used to go to school in the city from st heliers I know the pt sucks. This was before the unitary plan and I guess I don’t know what the cuts you refer to are. But I know the people at the town meeting never stood up for that.

        5. Yes, and maybe that wider community needs to do something then?

          I’m thinking from the perspective of the people trying to get this work done. Despite what people think the likes of AT have few staff with small budgets. They go to these after hours community meetings on their own time, and they don’t get paid extra for it.
          How long do we expect these staff to keep going to get shouted at, called liars and be threatened with violence?

          If nobody else turns up then all they get it hate.

        6. There might be “more bus km”, but that’s mostly due to the extra peak services AT weirdly put on to service the area that everyone is so keen to make out as hating public transport.

          From what I can tell, there’s no bus services on Riddell Road after 730pm.

          I guess the difference here is there’s no ‘main corridor’ that buses come down nearby, it’s a 2km+ walk to the other side of Glendowie with a fair amount of terrain to boot.

          Thank God I left before the New Network came in.

        7. BW – many of the frequent routes that you mention already have higher density than St Heliers will ever likely have in the future.

          If St Heliers intensifies like the areas around Mt Eden and Dominion Rd are, then sure add a whole lot more services, but it makes no sense to allocate bus services today based on a potential future level of density.

        8. Jezza: The flipside of that is you can’t expect locals to buy into the ‘more density’ argument if stuff keeps getting taken away.

          I’d love to see St Heliers go down the Hobsonville Pt style density route, reinstate the old wharf and connect ferries, an extended boardwalk out over the edge of the sea wall, the works. I think that vision is missing from proposals in the area and a big contributor to push-back from locals. I’ll gladly agitate for it 🙂

        9. To be fair I think some of these cut out at 7:30pm kind of services are annoying or the ones that drop to hourly in the middle of the day, at night & on weekends. Like the 782 Sylvia to Mission Bay crosstown one.

      2. No. The Unitary Plan that was publicly notified didn’t include a major upzoning. The Council snuck that in during the process after submissions had closed. Normally you can’t do that but the Council had convinced the government to change the usual rules and so the locals who had not submitted got screwed. If you like a notified document you can usually not submit as the scope rules prevent anyone from making it significantly more extensive. But the Unitary Plan process was wasn’t like other processes. The government had put their foot on one side of the scales of justice. That meant the Council ‘won the unitary plan’. But it means St Heliers will never trust the Council or its minions ever again.

    2. Still going on about the Unitary Plan
      It was rather simple and even the Environment Court stated it:
      Dont submit even in SUPPORT of a Draft version and that is it you no longer participate in the process through until the end. The submission forms even had the box I SUPPORT THE PROVISIONS OF THE UNITARY PLAN.

      Rest of the City got that part but seems the East did not (lesson: read next time) so forgive me if I care little for the tears over in St Heliers.

      As for the rest I have the OIA back on the St Heilers situation and it seems we have gaming of the situation going on by the usual BANANAs. That makes the solution rather simple: no more investment for Orakei Ward.

      1. Ben – I’d ask you to consider why ‘bait and switch’ is not accepted under consumer law.

        In any other community, this would have been framed as an issue of ‘natural justice’. But it’s not, so people flip their shit about other people doing exactly what they would do if their local park was rezoned for housing while other more central areas got off on ‘character grounds’.

    3. yep, ‘the St Heliers thing’ – but the ‘thing’ isn’t the proposed designs, the ‘thing’ is the aggressive and unruly attitude of those grey hairs at the meeting who preferred booing and heckling to constructive questioning and debate. This is why there will be fewer public meetings it the future and more on-line feedback processes. Most of the public at the meeting were an embarrassment

      1. My experience is that people behave with manners when the system operates fairly and they know they will get a fair chance. Unruly and riotous behaviours occur when they believe the system will ignore them or screw them over. After the Council’s stunt of changing the Unitary Plan, out of scope and after the submissions were in, you probably can’t expect any sane person in St Heliers to show the Council any respect.

        1. I think it’s the opposite, unruly and riotous behavior occurs when the system delivers a fair chance, not the exceptional special treatment they think they deserve.

          Every hostile meeting I’ve been to starts with someone declaring how their neighborhood and people are different and special and the council should deliver on their special demands. Ergo a st heliers that gets a bee in their bonnet over being treated the same as the rest of auckland in the unitary plan.

          Hell hath no fury like the privileged not getting special treatment.

  2. I am afraid a lot of this is the media. They want controversy, and are unprepared to offer an alternative viewpoint. My case in point is the pine trees in Western Springs. They are old, dying, dangerous and pretty much the most ugly trees in Auckland. The council wanted to replace them with native bush. Locals complained and managed to get national coverage. As a local, I tried to present a counter argument to RNZ, Stuff, and the Spinoff. Not interested.
    So the trees are still there, and my favourite running track is closed.
    Now Buttwizard, there is another story regarding St Heliers. The proposed “improvements” were an anathema to cyclists, see https://www.bikeauckland.org.nz/a-better-beachfront-boulevard-mission-bay-and-st-heliers-need-you/. As a regular user I was certainly not consulted over the original design. It was also against the agreed and consulted Tamaki Drive Master Plan. So that is one I am pleased is getting a rethink.

    1. Yes Bike Auckland (I am on commitee) wanted a few changes and submitted on that. The last thing BA wanted as the whole thing scrapped.

      Please don’t suggest that BA supports this NIMBY/BANANA crap. BA wants more chnage so that cyclists feel safe. NIMBYS are always opposed to that.

  3. So we have, what? An entire generation who doens’t care if young people live, die in a traffic accident, or if their kids die from third-world diseases because our shoddy housing. Or whether they goes homeless or not.

    Interesting is one way to put it.

    For me this is a really strange aspect of living here. Back where I’m from baby boomers are perfectly decent people. Here? I more or less have to invoke Godwin’s law to describe their disdain for other people.

    1. Look at it in this philosophical way. The homeless situation and the denial of actually getting ones own home is in no small part driven by New Zealand Inc’s unadulterated lust and pure greed for self gain with those on the ladder buying “investment homes for my retirement”, thus depleting the supply of houses driving up their prices both in purchase and rent and fully creating both the rentier and dispossessed classes, with all the problems that causes. And of course aided and abetted by like minded or pathetically timid governments.

      But like an ending from the Twilight Zone these self indulgent cockroaches do age and do fall prey to the Rymans and Metlifes of this world who through fully legal means slowly but surely strip the shirts off their greedy little hides for their greedy investors in a bizarre parody of the “circle of life”. And aided by their failing minds and judgement phone and internet criminals bleed many dry at the other end too. I have watched this irony of life play out.

      Greed is not good yet you wouldn’t know it in this place but solace can be gained in this karma.

      Maybe we should all be nicer to each other and things would work out!

      1. Waspman, this is disgusting boomer bashing! We cannot choose when we are born. Maybe your generation will do far worse than us. I hope not.

        1. Who bashed baby boomers? Plenty of New Zealanders of later generations subscribe to the same greedy philosophy.

        2. “these self indulgent cockroaches do age and do fall prey to the Rymans and Metlifes of this world”??????

        3. Dave, there was and is a generation that preceded the baby boomer and plenty after, not forgetting the younger generation who are shut out by this greed. Stop been a snowflake.

        4. No. The Baby Boomers are the biggest snowflakes I have ever heard. Never seen Millenials dealing out abuse at meetings.

          Of course mostly because they are busy trying to earn enough money to pay their inflated rent to their baby boomer landlords. No time to attend meetings at 4pm.

          Every single unpleasant social interaction with strangers that I have in Auckland are with angry old people. So self entitled it is mind boggling. basically all society has to be bow to their needs.

          Over it.

      2. Wow – so I’m a self-indulgent little cockroach. Thanks, Waspman, for your constructive and thoughtful contribution to the discussion. Please forgive me if I skip any future posts from you.

        1. It’s fair to say David I have watched the entitled greed of my generation and that before it well and truly harm the prospects of the most recent generations and rendered plenty homeless.

          If you are one of those who thinks the world revolves around you and criticism of that behaviour made plain, then tough, your interaction is not valued.

        2. To be fair older generations don’t tend to hold back when criticising the younger generations. Try listening to talkback!
          I don’t necessarily think the boomers are different to any other generation. When people get older they tend to become more conservative and anti change. When people get richer they tend to believe that they somehow deserve it and anyone that is not rich is lazy (even if they fluked their own riches). This behaviour has been going on for ever.

      3. I agree with you to a point. The war babies and the 1st batch of baby boomers and to a lessor extent 2nd batch of baby boomers you have summed them nicely.

        As a 2nd batch baby boomer, I appalled on how war babies and the 1st batch of baby boomers and to a lessor extent the 2nd batch of baby boomers have are self centred with their nimbyism thinking.

        I would be interested in what the 3rd batch of baby boomers are going to be like.

        This self centred and nimbyism thinking has created years of short term quick fix cheap urban and transport planning creating the basket case Auckland is now experiencing.

    2. As a baby boomer I think I am a perfectly decent person. I hope I have progressive views. I am very concerned about my kids and grandkids and their future prospects with housing, and all the other ways the the world going to shit. Again, it is a very small minority. DO NOT TAR US ALL WITH THE SAME BRUSH! I believe an apology would be welcome here.

  4. In Takapuna the distant Auckland Council wants to build high-rise car parking and to sell off public space to private developers. It is dedicated local opposition (and the elected Local Board) that has not only highlighted this disaster but also proposed much better and more modern alternatives.

    What you haven’t highlighted here is how democracy is failing in Auckland, and how many parts of the city have been left without any local government representation. This has consequences such as local projects not funded, public transport neither subsidised nor improved, and valuable local assets being sold off against clearly voiced local wishes, all of this despite massive rates increases that accompanied the formation of the super-city.

    We need change – it’s not enough to have to wait three years to elect councillors who then become responsible not to their communities but to Auckland’s mayor.

    1. “In Takapuna the distant Auckland Council wants to build high-rise car parking and to sell off public space to private developers. It is dedicated local opposition (and the elected Local Board) that has not only highlighted this disaster but also proposed much better and more modern alternatives.”

      AC is already building that car park and it was a poor decision and that is why I have appealed it to the Ombudsman. A year down the track and AT are taking every step they can to stall the investigation.

      I can’t accept the rest of your statement. I asked Heart of Takapuna to post their proposal on their website so everyone could consider it – nothing. I was at the meeting to discuss the issue. The proposal was explained as a whole lot more public space and was noticeably silent as to what the group proposed for surrounding buildings.

      What Takapuna town centre needs is some life breathed into it. I counted 11 empty shops on Hurstmere Road on the weekend – about the norm. Modern town centres need to be vibrant business hubs so that residents use them and don’t expend precious resources driving elsewhere.

      It is also questionable as to whether Takapuna needs a town square – the city has Aotea Square and at most times this is a relatively empty, soulless place. I liked the Panuku depictions of commercial areas opening up onto a public area. I am not saying that it is perfect, but the status quo of a decaying Hurstmere Road serves no one. I was at a Local Board meeting when a member said that he saw no future for Takapuna as a shopping area. For me that was a signal that fundamental change needs to occur.

      I worked on Queen St in the 80s. It was a dying city. This area was revived by intensification and bringing people to the area using public transport. There seems no reason that Takapuna can not be revived in the same way; great for the environment; less costly than widening Anzac St and wherever if we focus on car based solutions, and great for local business.

      1. Many cities have a big square somewhere. Which often sits empty, but when also often really full when an event is on. I went to Japan day a while ago. For whatever reason happened in Eden Park. Normally such events would happen on that Big Square. Maybe Aotea Square is too small to do it there?

        A problem with Aotea Square is the lack of businesses opening up onto the square.

        I studied in Leuven, which is only a fraction of the size of Auckland (smaller than North Shore) but it has a square of similar size as Aotea Square. There’s plenty of events over there which fill up that square.

        I think Takapuna is large enough (or it will be) to have its own town square.

        Also the more I think of it, the more the Gasometer car park makes sense (although it should probably have something nicer on the street frontage). Park all the cars there, and keep the town centre itself car-free. If you live there and you want a car, you’ll rent a spot in a parking garage. A lot of townhouses out there would be much nicer if developers wouldn’t have to cram in all that parking.

        1. That’s quite an interesting comment roeland, something I’d not thought of before. (I live nearby the gasometer site, and think it’s a ridiculous waste of a good site in a central location)

          if the whole town centre was kept car free I might even go from thinking that carpark is a waste of $30M to being an ok idea.

          But what are the chances of removing all the carparks in the town center? -200? or more?

    2. “massive rates increases”
      That probably ties in with the massive property value increase people lucky enough to own / sell property in Auckland over the last few years have had then.

      And, rates for a $1million property in Auckland are less than a $1m property in Waikato or Bay of Plenty

      1. No, no. Baby Boomer stragey to make money is to socialise the costs and privatise the profits.

        Therefore thye should be able to make money from their property but pay no higher rates, no CGT and then complain about development contributions too.

        But if anyone else gets something for nothing it is “socialism”.

    3. “democracy is failing in Auckland” – code for “wealthy white Baby Boomers are not having their every whim catered for”.

  5. It’s really just nonsense..Auckland Council and Auckland Transport need to harden up and make bolder decisions. Consultation is fine, but unless the points you are hearing are so unbelievably compelling then stick with what you have designed. Just because someone shouts doesn’t mean anyone has to listen. The free market that has given these people such wealth is also the free market that can say ‘if you don’t want apartments in your neighbourhood, you’re free to move’

    As for idiots like the Occupy Garnet Road crew, well just arrest them, they’ll eventually get bored.

  6. This article seems to have missed the point. It is great to see local communities engaged in change. If you would like their positive support they need to be involved, included & listened to – with the result drawing widespread support before it is published for consultation. Communication & effective engagement are always key to successful supported change – no real surprise this is true worldwide.

    1. If I may use the Pt Chev meeting as an example, this was not a forum where discussion nor engagement could happen. There were many people in the audience – including many boomers – who found the relentless HNZ bashing upsetting, but there was no safe way to speak. Locals who had gone to discuss the changes needed to make the suburb more climate ready left without having said a word, as the chance of not being belittled and scorned was slim. And this despite superior facilitation.

      The myths about intensification that I had blogged about that morning were rife, and went unchallenged. As one member of my community group emailed me afterwards she left at half time because of the “very rude woman” and felt it was only going to get worse.

      Out consultation process favours the status quo and is therefore not democratic. That we cannot discuss things in public anymore is very sad and very worrying.

        1. The definition of discussion is to talk about something to reach a decision or exchange ideas.

          I think the word you are looking for is ‘preach’.

      1. Agree Heidi. The anti change brigade are not the kind of people you can have a logical discussion with. But generally their ideals do slowly progress over time.
        I find it funny how they never work out that they are always wrong. the world hasn’t ended from gay marriage or legalised prostitution or women getting the vote or any other progressive events that they opposed so much!

    2. Current locals do not get a veto over the interests of other citizens including future ones. They are but one voice in the discussion.

      That this does not sit well with certain groups says a lot about their social expectations and insecurities, not about what makes a good city.

    3. The right to be heard is very different from any right to be listened to. They were heard and their objections were dismissed by people with much more knowledge as irrelevant.

      That’s consulktation. What you want is direct democracy, and that is not the system we have or a system that will allow any change ever.

  7. I have known for a long time that self-style “progressives” are full of it. When I think of “progressives” I usually think of hypocrites and elitists. They use whatever is fashionable and “trending” as a weapon and have few if any principles apart from advancing their own selfish interests while dressing it up as “progress”. Maybe GA will learn that too.

  8. The problem is trying to intensify existing areas never works. Esp in Auckland where you have fatally low road space (13%) compared to most cities – eg. Amsterdam is 30%. You will only produce traffic congestion and if you restrict land at the fringes then you get massive house prices.
    At the same time you get the ugly infill housing and the destruction of urban trees.
    GO THE NIMBY’S – they are completely right!

    1. Can you link to calculations of space allocated to roading and cars in Auckland, Graeme? Council was unable to supply me with this information.

    2. I hate to say it, global warming is going to the force the issue whether us humans like or not about how we live, work, eat and play. So I think us humans needs to starting adapt now to the realities that life as we know it will not around in the future.

      1. Kris you are right. We are at the stage where all of us need to have conversations about how we are going to change and not whether we will.
        At the end of that conversation (consultation) hopefully we will have leadership that will make decisions that are best for all the population rather than just an interest group.

    3. Graeme, I’m trying to figure out what you mean by saying that Auckland has “fatally low road space (13%)” and that “Amsterdam is 30%”. That would appear to imply that Amsterdam is more spacious than Auckland, which I think we all know is not true, as the Netherlands is one of the most densely occupied countries on earth. It also implies that Auckland needs to have more space given over to roads – but the non-fatal type of roads, rather than the fatal roads. Huh? Maybe I have mis-read your comment, but I honestly do not understand your comment. Please explain.

    4. That’s empirically false – every city at all times and in all places have changed – and the successful ones get denser. Do you think Queen Street in Auckland has not got denser over the years. Once it was forest, then farm land, and now it’s got towers. All suburbs in Auckland were once forest before farms before housing.

    5. “The problem is trying to intensify existing areas never works. Esp in Auckland”
      Or perhaps sometimes doesn’t. Takapuna has had two significant apartment blocks completed this year and two more about to finish. The area seems to be coping just fine as for much of the day Takapuna is served by a good bus service and these buildings are located close to amenities.
      I am optimistic that when the 3 other projects that are selling off the plans come to fruition they will also not place undue strains on infrastructure.

    6. Graeme, I’m also interested in the figures as I’ve wondered about this for Auckland before. Can you confirm what the definitions used are? i.e. is ‘Auckland’ the current urban area, the MUL or the RUB or something else?

  9. The general use of the word “progressive” obscures clarity.
    St Heliers, Mission Bay etc are high on my list of the wealthiest and most conservative suburbs in New Zealand. Obviously some people there don’t fit that description and would like better public transport. Likewise wealthy suburbs of Seattle, San Francisco etc. Obviously people are free to call themselves what they like, often at great length.
    But much of NIMBYism reflects the concerns of conservative people.

    1. In the American urban areas the Huffpost quotes refer to, “progressives” has a clear meaning. The local population is dominated by people who overwhelmingly vote Democrat and who, in opinion polls, say they are very concerned about climate change, are for public health care, for public transport, for more government support for the poor, etc. It just so happens that when those principles collide with self-interest in the housing domain, the NIMBY instinct wins. (Source: a close friend involved in housing activism in SF.)

      This is less true in Auckland — some Auckland electorates elect National and ACT MPs. But I think you’ll still find plenty of nominally-progressive NIMBYS. For example I don’t know Peter Lange but I doubt he votes National. https://thespinoff.co.nz/auckland/30-08-2018/this-ludicrous-dominion-road-decision-is-proof-the-planning-system-is-broken/

      1. Yes, I agree, Robert. And in the green community we have plenty of examples. However, it’s not all self interest – it’s often due to a limited understanding. I do think that a large part of it is not having thought through the land use, equity, urban form, transport, green infrastructure and housing interplay.

        I’ve observed that just a couple of robust deep discussions can bring people to a position of being able to join up dots, understand consequences and avoid the NIMBY potholes.

      2. With (minor) apologies to Tom Wolfe

        A conservative is a liberal who has been mugged.
        A liberal is a conservative who has been arrested.
        A reactionary is a progressive who owns a two million dollar house.

  10. Group meetings/audiences should be avoided. They are not true consultation and bring out the “animal” group behavior in humans.

    Far better to do real one on one consultation through open days.

    Legally we give councils (& councillors) control over public space & the right to make decisions about it. Their role is to govern properly, read the background reports and come to an informed decision that is in the best interests of all ratepayers, not the very loud voices at a single meeting.

    1. Yes, and part of the problem is that meetings often have a panel which presents, and then answers questions from the floor. Nothing bad in that per se, but with so many people wanting to ask questions, it doesn’t seem right to take everyone’s time to just say, “I like this proposition, and this is why,” nor is there a chance to say anything to an audience member who has based their line of questioning on a value system or a myth that you would like to debate.

    2. Yes this is a key issue. In a world or sound bites, click-bait headlines & social media shallow debates we need depth of discussion. Some of which comes out in this blog which I think is helpful.

  11. Wealthy older people who’re used to privilege get angry and animalistic when that privilege is threatened. Even if they pose as being “progressive” in principle.

    In other news, Pope is catholic. What a newsflash that personal greed and entitlement outweighs “principle”.

    1. “Wealthy older people who’re used to privilege get angry and animalistic when that privilege is threatened”

      Are there some statistical aspects to that statement that you can share with us please Daphne?

  12. A few years back the good people of Epsom railed against the plan for a new secondary school in the area. Some didn’t like the idea of their kids not going to the traditional schools they’d bought in the area for and of course didn’t want their exclusivity to be watered down.
    David Seymour helped residents of Epsom fight against having social housing in the district.
    It’s no good having money if you can’t control the world.

  13. The moral i get from this story is that those who proclaim virtuous political opinions are actually arseholes in their personal life.

  14. Hypocriscy is a human failing. People who profess progressive political beliefs are human too, so some of them will be hypocrites.

    If we can see vices in the “people like us”, may be we can start to acknowledge virtues in the “people not like us”. Perhaps the humility of a common, imperfect humanity could lead us to speak more kindly of and to each other. Then, who knows, we might even start hearing one another.

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