It’s time for some tweaks to MMP

Now that the outcome of the 2017 Election is known, it’s a good time to reflect on what could work better in our parliamentary democracy. A small share of National supporters, plus some nitwit political columnists, are grumpy about the fact that National won the most votes of any individual party but nonetheless finds itself out of government.…
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Sunday reading 22 October 2017

Welcome back to Sunday reading: The first edition since it’s been confirmed that we’re getting a new Government. But that’s not what I’m going to talk about! The first article of the week is some new research into house prices from the US: Issi Romem at BuildZoom has published an insightful new analysis of why prices are high in some places but not in others: “Paying for dirt: Where have home values detached from construction costs?” Here’s the take-away points, but the whole article is worth reading:In the expensive U.S.…
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Sunday reading 8 October 2017

Welcome back to Sunday reading. This week, I wanted to lead off with a couple of pieces about bus networks – what works and what doesn’t. First, three transport analysts have published an important research paper on patronage outcomes from transfer-friendly networks: “How network structure can boost and shape the demand for bus transit“.…
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Pre-emptively poking holes in the land tax bucket

Land taxes have – unexpectedly – become a hot policy topic in the run-up to the election. Land taxes were originally suggested by the economist and social reformer Henry George as a fairer alternative to income or business tax. The logic behind them is that land values are shaped by the activities of society as a whole, rather than the individual owner: they are boosted by public investments in transport and good schools, and by the productivity gains that arise from lots of workers and businesses interacting in cities.…
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The cost of pedestrian congestion

Disclaimer: This is a post about a research project I led at work. My policy is not to blog about things that I’m working directly on, but in this case the research has already been reported elsewhere. All facts and figures in this post are drawn from a summary of my research and some related work that was presented to the City Centre Advisory Board.…
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New Zealand’s problem with death

Matt’s post the other week about New Zealand’s worsening road safety record was troubling. After years in which the number of people dying in road crashes has fallen, the number’s been rising steadily since 2014 and it’s recently spiked upwards. As Matt wrote: That our road toll is increasing is appalling and it’s even more disappointing to see that pedestrians are bearing some of the brunt of it.…
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Sunday reading 10 September 2017

Welcome back to Sunday reading. Before the articles, a brief personal note. My grandma, Mollie Rogan, died on Friday night after a short stay in the hospital. She was 96, and had spent most of those years in Devonport (where her family moved during the 1930s), Milford (where she and my granddad Jim raised a family), and Takapuna (where they moved after the kids moved out).…
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Legalising perimeter block housing

One of the paradoxes of planning reform that legalises the development of more housing in established urban areas is that it typically makes it easy to build like this:While still making it difficult to build like traditional perimeter block housing like this:Even from the Google Maps view, you can see that there are some important differences between the first built form, which is in Royal Oak, Auckland, and the second, which in Prague.…
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