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Sunday reading 14 February 2016

Welcome back to Country Calendar Sunday Reading. Today I thought it would be nice to lead off with a mesmerising video of sheep herding in New Zealand. It’s not very urban, but it does nicely illustrate bottleneck queuing, which is a common phenomenon on urban roads and busy pedestrian streets. Only with sheep and paddock gates rather than cars and intersections:

Since we’re talking congestion, it’s worth considering what economist Gilles Duranton has to say on the topic (on Knowledge@Wharton). He ties together issues of urban form, traffic, and pricing:

We found that urban density, measured by the density of residents and jobs within a 10 kilometer radius of where you live, appears to have small causal effect on driving. So, if you bring up density by about 10%, it leads to reduction in traveling of about 1%.

we expected different groups of residents to react differently depending on where they lived — for example, we expected people who like driving to live in places where it’s easier to drive. Actually, these differences were not at all important in our results. Everybody seems to be reacting more or less in the same way. Or at least, we could not find very much of a difference across different groups, across different types of environments. So basically, again, if you bring up density by about 10%, you reduce driving by about 1%. 

[However] you won’t be able to achieve very much in terms of global warming using urban policies of that sort. To go after local pollution, you need a tax for congestion — i.e., the concentration of traffic in some areas of a city — so you need to make drivers pay for that. And you need to tax carbon emissions. For instance, the province of British Columbia does this in Canada — it’s a resounding success. I know it’s particularly a really hard proposition in this country, but that’s the one thing that works. Everything else will not do very much.

This research implies that congestion pricing and carbon pricing are likely to be complements to liberalisation of planning regimes to enable people to live more densely, not substitutes.

On the subject of pricing in externalities, New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme could be an important mechanism for getting our high per-capita levels of emissions from transport and agriculture under control. Unfortunately, it’s been watered down to almost totally ineffectiveness by carve-outs for agriculture and existing emitters. In the NZ Herald, Brian Fallow writes about some of the failures of the ETS – and current opportunities to improve it:

Under its current settings, the Government admits, the Emissions Trading Scheme has made virtually no difference to business investment decisions.

And with an impact, until very recently, of a fraction of a cent on prices at the pump, it probably doesn’t affect households very much either.

Now, people have until next Friday to make submissions on whether to get rid of one of the (many) features that have stultified the scheme.

It is the “transitional” measure introduced in 2009, before the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) applied to any sector apart from forestry, under which emitters with obligations under the scheme only have to surrender to the Government carbon units for half of the emissions they would otherwise be accountable for.

Submissions are open on MfE’s website – if you or your family members plan to live to mid-century, I’d encourage you to do so.

Also on the subject of climate change, Joe Romm at ThinkProgress writes a good (and very optimistic) take on “why the renewables revolution is now unstoppable“. It’s focused on electricity generation, which is a huge contributor to global warming globally but a relatively modest one in New Zealand. Romm highlights a confluence of technological and market factors that suggest that renewables are on the verge of important changes:

Once upon a time, people imagined that replacing fossil fuels with renewables like solar and wind would jeopardize the electric grid’s reliability. Then along came some major countries who showed that it didn’t, and that there really are no limits to renewable integration.

The result was explained last year in a Bloomberg Business piece aptly headlined, “Germany Proves Life With Less Fossil Fuel Getting Easier”: “Germany experiences just 15 minutes a year of outages, compared with 68 minutes in France and more than four hours in Poland.”

In this post I’ll discuss why it is turning out to be less challenging than expected to incorporate more and more renewables into the electric grid — and to handle periods of time when demand is high but the wind isn’t blowing and/or the sun isn’t shining. As the lead energy specialist at the World Bank, Morgan Bazilian, told Bloomberg after 20 years studying this issue, “Very high levels of variable renewable energy can be accommodated both technically and at low cost.”

Improvements to electricity grids are making it easier to get electricity from places where the wind is blowing to points of demand; more reliable weather forecasting is reducing the risk of unexpected outages; and electricity storage is getting cheaper. Conclusion: Don’t invest in coal mines.

Disruptive transformations are also afoot in other areas. For example, CityLab’s Feargus O’Sullivan reports that London may soon have more bikes than cars at rush hour. This would represent an rapid turnaround in a trend towards cars and away from bikes that went on for most of the 20th century. It’s been caused by a combination of efficient pricing – central London’s congestion charge – and new investments in protected cycle lanes:

According to the [Transport for London] report, the number of rush-hour cars in Central London has more than halved since the millennium. In 2000, an average of 137,000 drivers entered the Central London cordon every day. By 2014, that number had dropped to 64,000. The slump in Central London car numbers is substantially thanks to the city’s congestion charge, introduced in 2003, which saw vehicle numbers drop steadily in the years following.

The rise in the number of cyclists, meanwhile, has been even more dramatic. While just 12,000 people cycled during the Central London rush-hour in 2000, 36,000 were present in the same area at the same time by 2014. Across the day as a whole, the number of Central London cyclists rose from 40,000 in 1990 to almost 180,000 in 2014. So cyclists still have a few years before they overtake drivers, but their numbers are rising sharply, with the speediest growth occurring since 2008.

However, traffic engineering practices can sometimes serve as a barrier to change. Engineer Bryant Ficek has written a thoughtful series on “top 6 ways to pick apart a traffic study” (at Mike On Traffic). It offers some good insights into the pitfalls in traffic engineering from a practitioner’s perspective:

Here are the Top 6 Areas a reviewer could focus on to pick apart a Traffic Impact Study:

  1. Traffic Counts – we generally complete intersection turning movement counts on one day and then use that snapshot as the foundation for all of our analyses
  2. Trip Generation – we use the national ITE average rate for each land use, which ignores potential high/low outliers and doesn’t account for local variation or rapidly changing traffic trends
  3. Modal Split – many times ignored or a general reduction applied to account for transit and other modes of transportation (ITE has recently attempted to correct this)
  4. Pass-By/Multi-Use/Internal Trips – ITE again provides a national basis for some land uses, but the dataset is very limited
  5. Trip Distribution – generally based on existing travel patterns (from the intersection turning movement counts) which would not account for regional growth, development patterns in an adjacent city, or other similar types of factors
  6. General Background Growth – to account for non-specific growth in traffic, a percent increase is usually applied to the existing volumes, sometimes based on historic growth or a regional model

If taken to court, would we have a better defense for the above assumptions than we used “engineering judgment?”

Finally, a few items on housing and urban planning. There’s been a bit of acrimony about this in Auckland over the last few weeks – actually, the last few decades. First, the Government put its thumb on the scales in the Three Kings Quarry housing development, which is opposed by some homeowners groups in the area:

Two community groups, the Three Kings United Group and the South Epsom Planning Group, lodged an appeal at the Environment Court last year to stop the redevelopment of the Three Kings quarry, citing environmental concerns.

Today, the government announced it had joined Auckland Council and Fletcher Residential to fight the appeal.

Housing Minister Nick Smith said the redevelopment would build 1500 apartments and townhouses, and employ 1000 people during construction. He said something needed to be done with the quarry so it did not sit as is for another decade.

“It is an ugly eyesore, and I find it very difficult to accept there aren’t significant environmental benefits as a consequence of being able to proceed with these developments.”

“It is of some concern to me that small groups such as that are able to cause huge delay for a $1.2 billion project.”

Shortly after, Auckland Council decided to withdraw its residential rezoning proposals literally days before independent hearings on the proposed changes began. They’ve apparently been spooked by pressure from people who oppose new homes being constructed anywhere near them. However, it’s a risky strategy, as it reduces their ability to have a say in the hearings – and probably annoys central government no end. Ben Ross at Public Address has written a cogent summary of what Auckland Council’s decision may mean for the hearings on the Unitary Plan:

Long story short: Council’s Primary Evidence into the rezoning is of consequence to all other hearings and all other evidence by submitters to those previous hearings. That’s what the Resource Management Act requires.

But the most important part that Burton, Desley Simpson and others fail to mention is this:

The Panel could very well reject what the Council or any submitter has called for in the hearings and give very different recommendations in order to meet the requirements of the Regional Policy Statement.

So what Council is presenting IS NOT FINAL.

Final is when the Panel gives its recommendations back to the Auckland Development Committee and that committee adopts those recommendations from The Panel.

But why is rezoning important? It is a necessary step in enabling people to build more homes in Auckland. And, simply put, building more homes in places where people want to live improves housing affordability for everyone.

That’s the key conclusion of an excellent new study by the California Legislative Analyst’s Office. City Observatory’s Daniel Hertz reports on the study:

[R]esearchers have taken the next step to showing directly that places like that prevent new construction end up inducing more displacement of their low-income residents.

That finding comes from California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office, which just released a new report on the state’s ever-growing affordability crisis. Using a broad definition of displacement—any decline of a neighborhood’s low-income population relative to its total population—the LAO shows that, even controlling for other demographic factors, Bay Area communities with the greatest expansion of market-rate housing also see the least low-income displacement.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 4.24.43 PM

In a similar vein, John Ricco at Greater Greater Washington reports that “DC added record housing in 2015. That’s slowing price increases“:

The composition of 2015’s housing permits in DC skewed heavily towards large multifamily buildings, as it has in recent years. Neighborhoods like Navy Yard and Southwest Waterfront, where there are fewer neighbors to oppose large development projects, are contributing strongly to the city’s overall housing production.

In recent years, real estate analysts have noted that DC’s higher pace of building has led to rents that are slowing in growth, or even declining. This effect is especially seen at the higher end of the market, since most new construction is luxury.

Here’s Multifamily Executive covering a new Yardi Matrix report:

The cities that had the smallest rent gains in 2015 were Richmond, Va.; Washington, D.C.; and Baltimore. Echoing other reports, Yardi says Washington’s rent gains have been held back because of the large amount of new supply in its market, while Baltimore still lacks job growth. These cities can expect to see similar results in 2016, Yardi says.

However, changes are needed to enable more cities to benefit from similar trends. LSE economists Christian Hilber and Olivier Schöni identify some key reforms to planning systems:

How should a planning system then look like and what would be good policies and instruments to tackle the key housing issues? First, a good planning system should be designed to focus on correcting market failures. Second, by (i) allowing vertical expansion (i.e., largely abolishing height restrictions) and thereby permitting densification in central parts of cities, (ii) imposing a land value tax, possibly with varying rates (to prevent excessive construction in areas where this is not desirable—tax rates could be extremely high, for example, in areas of natural beauty), and (iii) only allowing the construction of new housing near existing developments (thereby limiting the excesses of sprawl), policy makers could keep housing affordable and largely prevent sprawl. While implementing such radical reforms may be difficult and will undoubtedly attract resistance from vested interests, the political rewards in terms of sustained political support could be substantial. Now there is an idea for policy makers around the globe.

Apropos of that, here’s a chart summarising how Auckland Council’s proposal would have changed zoning in Auckland:

That’s all for the week. See you next time!

58 comments to Sunday reading 14 February 2016

  • Adam

    Re: Three kings development opposition.

    They are opposing it on ‘Environmental grounds’, which clearly is a NIMBY ruse.

    I never heard of these same groups opposing Stonefields with these concerns, when the projects are very similar. The main difference being they are not neighbours of that development.

    These groups should be subject to higher scrutiny of their concerns, using Environmental concerns and the Environment court as a subterfuge to protect their own interests shouldn’t be allowed.

    • Peter Nunns

      I don’t think that “environmental concerns” always boil down to NIMBYism. Sometimes there’s something real there – e.g. protection of fragile habitats. But this is a freaking industrial site, not a sensitive wetland!

      I’m also not sure how happy I am about the way that central government is getting involved. It’s good to have a bit of push-back, but I doubt they would have done the same for a smaller project being advanced by a less well-connected firm. My preference would be for a better process that does right by small developments as well as large ones.

  • All good stuff. As part of an affected small forestry business, I amused myself a couple of weeks ago making a submission on the NZETS, recommending a rapid, staged increase in ETS to 200$/tonne. Could not agree more that it is critical to comment. However, I should say that the questions were carefully phrased to bring out every chance to ask for any change to be phased in really slowly.

  • mfwic

    I read Ben Ross’s article. He totally fails to address the basic criticism of out of scope changes being put forward until the last bit “And if you did not submit to the Unitary Plan in 2014 because you were happy with what was proposed then and there have been changes now which you don’t like, then tough.”
    I think that is actually what people a annoyed about, the process opens the door to the Council putting forward something that was “Out of Scope” of their submission or anyone else’s submission. In any other forum it would be thrown out, but here the Council can spring stuff on people and there is no chance for anyone to submit. The fact it’s not final doesn’t improve the ethics of this one bit.

    • Peter Nunns

      Ben’s point is that the Council is playing a dual role in the process. When the hearings are over, they will act as the regulator to implement whatever recommendations come out of the process. But during the hearings they are simply one of many submitters. When they put up a rezoning proposal, it’s no different than (say) Housing New Zealand or the NZ Institute of Architects putting up a proposal.

      You wouldn’t reopen submissions because HNZ or NZIA suggested rezoning some sites, so why would it be necessary to reopen them when AC does the same?

      In any case, the lesson that I’ve learned from this is that in any future hearings on citywide plan changes, it would be a good idea to put in a submission requesting that every site in the city be rezoned for (say) mixed use or apartment blocks. That way there will be no issues with out of scope changes!

      • mfwic

        “You wouldn’t reopen submissions because HNZ or NZIA suggested rezoning some sites” Actually Peter that is exactly what you do. If either of them wanted sites zoned they would have put it in a submission and then affected people had a right to further submission. Neither is allowed to add extra in when the write evidence. That is what scope means. You can only get what you apply for and no more. You can reduce the scale and intensity of what you asked for but you can’t increase it. Unless of course you are a Council that doesn’t care about fairness or openness. The silliest thing is even if the Panel accepts it they are just opening the door to a High court appeal at which point the whole thing could take years.

        • Peter Nunns

          The entire point of a hearings process is to shake loose all the issues that weren’t immediately apparent at the start. In order for that process to work, submitters, including Council, have to be able to propose things that weren’t necessarily in their initial submission.

          And in order for that to avoid devolving into a ten-year process that creates ungodly amount of regulatory uncertainty, there have to be some limits on people’s ability to put in new submissions in response to changes that are proposed during the process. It may seem unfair to some people, but you have to draw a line at some point to enable the process to work.

          • mfwic

            No it’s not Peter. The purpose of the hearings process is to provide due process and a decision based on a consideration of the different points of view. The out of scope changes are seeking to ram something else through 2 years after submissions closed.

    • You did read the full article why Judge Kirkpatrick is considering out of scope changes per the Local Government Act right (so it would not be thrown out)?
      If you read his Interim Guidance on the Pre 1944 Demo Overlay which scaled it back it means Council could no longer defend the extent of the Single House Zone spatial applications as it did in 2013. So to comply with the RPS Council has to upzone.

      If you read the Guidance to Best Practice in Rezoning, Judge Kirkpatrick made it very clear how zoning was to be applied and defended. Council is just following along as a submitter.

      • mfwic

        I am not sure i follow. Are you suggesting it is somehow ok for the Council to upzone sites in their evidence that they didn’t upzone in the notified PAUP or their own submission? That is just being sneaky and trying to pull the wool over people. Some people would have submitted had it been in the PAUP or made a further submission if the Council had owned up to it at submission time. Maybe I should have asked for a designation on the east west link in evidence I wrote on daylight controls even though I never submitted on that road. In any other forum out of scope changes are thrown out. At a resource consent hearing you cant ask for an extra floor level at the hearing. In a plan change you can’t double the area of land after submissions have closed. But here when the Council has already had the table tipped in their favour and had our appeal rights removed then somehow the council thinks that is ok. There should be consequences to this nonsense. But the logic I really can’t follow is your claim that somehow this is all ok because “It isn’t final”. You seem to think that because the Council has a right of veto then they should be able to get away with anything at the hearing. WTF?

        • What it shows is you need to go read the Unitary Plan processes again

          Might want to start with
          1) All the Interim Guidance Judge Kirkpatrick has written
          2) The Reply he sent back to Mark Thomas and Auckland 2040 on denying late extra submissions.

          • mfwic

            http://www.aupihp.govt.nz/documents/docs/aupihpdirectiononresrezoning20160114.pdf The Judge has said he won’t allow late submissions at this time on out of scope matters. But he hasn’t said he accepts the out of scope changes proposed by the Council. It will be up to them to satisfy the panel when they present their case. The fact the panel will listen doesn’t make it right in any way for the Council to try this nonsense in the first place. The panel can have a clean conscience but the Council can’t.

          • Matthew W

            So mfwic, how do you propose the council respond to the issue of not enough upzoning to be consistent with the RPS? Or how do you expect the panel to recommend a plan consistent with the RPS? Should the panel just come up with its own upzoning at the end of the process?

          • mfwic

            Ok so there is no new RPS yet. The Panel has issued interim guidance but no actual firm decisions. If the Council finds itself on the wrong horse they just have to make the best of what they can from other submissions. It was the Council who asked for a one step process- nobody else did. The Council seems to think they can now change what they proposed 2 years after submissions closed. What would you say if you were a panel member when they present a case to you that isn’t what the people saw or submitted on? I would listen to them and say it was too much for me, the answer is no. It will be up to the Panel of course but crikey! I once saw a designation rejected because the asked for an underground pump station and turned up at a hearing with an above ground one that no one has been asked to submit on.

          • Matthew W

            But these changes are consistent with existng submissions!

            Look it is for the panel to decide, it is their out of scope recommendations not the councils. The council can aid them transparently as they see fit or leave it to the panel. I see no issue with what the council have done. If I was a panel member trying to square the circle of all these submissions, I would be reluctant to start rezoning behind closed doors. I would prefer the council helped out.

          • mfwic

            I agree it is up to the Panel. But i don’t see anything for Ben and co to be gleeful about when the Panel rejected late submissions on the out of scope stuff. I would see that as meaning they are less likely to approve it not more likely. If you were on the Panel would you approve something when you know you are only going to hear one side?

    • Matthew W

      Lots submitters are proposing things not in the PAUP. Do we need to have another round of submissions on each potential change? How long is that all going to take?

      • mfwic

        The difference is they proposed them in their submissions two years ago. Those submissions were published so anyone who didn’t like what they proposed could make a further submission in July 2014. People are not now proposing new things that were not in the PAUP or their submission. Only the council is trying that on.

        • Matthew W

          I see your point mfwic. However many other people called for additional upzoning across the city in their original submissions. So if people were concerned about additional upzoning coming to pass they could have commented on all of those submissions. i.e. Additional upzoning was always going to be on the table as people had submitted on it.

          • mfwic

            I haven’t looked at all of the maps. If someone asked for upzoning (like I did in my area) then that is fair game. It is within scope and if nobody did a further submission then tough. Those areas are shown with a black border and I have no truck with anyone who wants to submitt on that now. The issue is where nobody asked for it. These are the blue borders. My opinion is you either allow submissions and if the deadline for this process doesn’t allow it then you do a plan change later so people can see it and submit if they want.

          • Matthew W

            There are submissions that called for general upzoning.

          • Peter Nunns

            Matthew: I’ve heard a few people say that there were some submissions for general upzoning, but I haven’t seen any specific submissions of that nature. (Note: I haven’t read 99.9% of submissions on the plan.) Care to point me to any?

          • Matthew W

            I literally only looked at a few but here are some examples, I am sure ther are many more. It looks like Generation zero has quite a lot covered in their submission:

            10-2 Jie Zhang Not Supplied Residential zones Residential Land use controls Increase maximum density in Mixed Housing zone.

            28-6 Matthew D Paetz Not Supplied Residential zones Residential Land use controls Allow “gentle density” increases in the Single House zone to enable greater density with limited impact on character.

            839-10197 Housing New Zealand Corporation Not Supplied Residential zones Residential Land use controls Amend rule 3.1 Maximum density in the Single House zone, to enable one dwelling per 450m2 net site area rather than 600m2.
            839-10198 Housing New Zealand Corporation Not Supplied Residential zones Residential Land use controls Amend rule 3.1 Maximum density in the Mixed Housing Suburban zone, to enable one dwelling per 375m2 net site area rather than 400m2 and 175m2 rather than 200m2 where the requirements of rule 3.1.5 are met.

            5478-57 Generation Zero Not Supplied RPS Urban growth B2.1 Providing for growth in a quality compact urban form Upzone across the urban area where this supports the Regional Policy Statement aims of intensifying near centres and in areas accessible to high quality public transport.

            5478-7 Generation Zero Not Supplied Residential zones Residential D1.1 General objectives and policies Amend zoning to balance the need between accommodating growth and protecting the character of special areas.

            5478-36 Generation Zero Not Supplied RPS Urban growth B2.1 Providing for growth in a quality compact urban form Amend rules to increase dwelling capacity within existing urban boundaries as per Regional Policy Statements.

            5478-32 Generation Zero Not Supplied Business (excluding City Centre) Business I3.4 Dev. controls Centres, Mixed Use, Gen. Bus. & Bus. Park zones Amend maximum tower dimensions rules to avoid overly restrict development in important zones.

            5478-33 Generation Zero Not Supplied Residential zones Residential Development Controls: Terrace Housing and Apartment Buildings zone Amend outdoor living rules for Terrace Housing and Apartment Buildings and City Centre zones to be more flexible, e.g. exempt conversion of existing buildings and combine outdoor living spaces into common areas.

            5478-41 Generation Zero Not Supplied Residential zones Residential Land use controls Amend Rule 3.1 ‘Maximum Density’ to five effect to intensification of the PAUP, refer pps.23-24/33 of submission.

          • Frank McRae

            “I’ve heard a few people say that there were some submissions for general upzoning, but I haven’t seen any specific submissions of that nature.”

            The non-profit community housing provider CORT has submitted asking for significantly more upzoning to enable more affordable housing (submission point 4381).

            Specifically they have asked for:

            – a significant reduction to the extent of the single house zone.
            – increase the extent of the mixed housing urban zone to 70% of residential areas
            – increase the extent of the THAB zone to 10% of residential areas

            The new zealand property council has also submitted requesting greater density generally.

          • mfwic

            Matthew W Those look like residential rules submissions topics 59 to 63 which have already been heard. I dont think you can use those to change the geographical area of a zone or precinct in topic 81.

          • Matthew W

            5478-57 Generation Zero Not Supplied RPS Urban growth B2.1 Providing for growth in a quality compact urban form Upzone across the urban area where this supports the Regional Policy Statement aims of intensifying near centres and in areas accessible to high quality public transport.

            Um, I think Gen zero would have considered changing zoning boundaries to be an appropriate way to address their submission.

          • mfwic

            It is a shame the Council took down the maps showing their position. The really were a clear way of understanding what they wanted and where they wanted something new not specifically supported by a submission. It certainly helped me write my statement. The site says it is in their evidence but I have no idea where.

          • Matthew W

            Frank, yes CORT submission looks like a very good example.

  • MikeM

    I have been thinking that those on the Isthmus who want the fashionable light rail need a carrot and a stick approach eg you can have your light rail down Dominion to Lynfield or Mt Eden to Hillsborough but the properties within 100m or so of the route must be rezoned for the high density urban use eg three story terrace’s or similar in order to justify the project.
    (Disclaimer – I live in Mt Eden and abut 100m from Mt Eden Rd)

  • I lived in Mt Eden for about 8 years many years ago and even then there were a significant number of multi storey flats. The area hadn’t degenerated into a slum because of their presence and a few more of reasonable quality will ensure the continuing vibrancy of the area.

    I live close to Takapuna village and I am delighted to learn that there will be a 92 unit development on “the Block” sites and another 40 odd in Killarney St. All of this might mean better public transport solutions although the immediate response seems to be road widening. The irony seems to be that this widening will be for the benefit of Milford residents many of whom seem to view Killarney St as an expressway.

  • Frank McRae

    “Auckland Council decided to withdraw its residential rezoning proposals literally days before independent hearings”

    The council hasn’t actually made the decision to withdraw their own evidence yet. To do something so self defeating they would need to officially meet and vote on it which hasn’t happened yet.

    • Peter Nunns

      I’m just going off what I read in the papers, here – I saw that a vote on the issue had been recorded last Thursday.

      • Frank McRae

        I think they have the numbers to do so (11 councillors) but haven’t voted formally. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/bernard-orsman/news/article.cfm?a_id=67&objectid=11588060

        • I reserve my contempt for those who should better on that list. The usual wreckers are beyond reason, but Lee and Fletcher?

          • Frank McRae

            What do you mean Lee? He has been well beyond reason for years and always sides with the wreckers. Fletcher is definitely the disappointing one. And it is amazing that the silent absentee councillor John Walker chooses this as his moment to finally participate.

          • Matthew W

            Hopefully someone asks the councillor’s to respond to the issue of not enough upzoning to meet the RPS target, and how they want that addressed.

          • Frank McRae

            Cameron Brewer, Cathy Casey, Dick Quax, Wayne Walker, and Mike Lee are conservative ideologues who cannot be persuaded by facts.

            John Watson and George Wood aren’t far behind.

            Chris Fletcher, Denise Krum, Sharon Stewart and John Walker occasionally listen to reason and can be brought around. These are the ones to write to ask how they expect housing supply targets to be met.

          • mfwic

            Chris Fletcher is in the paper this morning saying she is not anti intensification but she is against a botched process.

          • translated as: against intensification near my ward.

          • mfwic

            Or perhaps intensification without notification. The out of scope stuff was approved by 3 Councillors plus one non-elected statutory board member giving four votes of 8, one of the three in favour then used his casting vote. I know you want intensification but are you really so opposed to it being decided by elected representatives? That is what they are asking for. Oh and also the simple courtesy of telling people about it before the submission period closes.

          • Frank McRae

            “Chris Fletcher is in the paper this morning saying she is not anti intensification but she is against a botched process.”

            The process hasn’t been good but a botched process is preferable to a botched outcome: a plan that doesn’t meet it’s own objectives around housing supply.

          • mfwic

            So the ends justify the means Frank? Spoken like a true tyrant!

          • Matthew W

            “Or perhaps intensification without notification. The out of scope stuff was approved by 3 Councillors plus one non-elected statutory board member giving four votes of 8, one of the three in favour then used his casting vote. I know you want intensification but are you really so opposed to it being decided by elected representatives? That is what they are asking for. Oh and also the simple courtesy of telling people about it before the submission period closes.”

            Actually there are a lot of people asking for upzoning and downzoning with varying levels of specificity. To get a plan finalised, the details of this upzoning and downzoning need to be translated into specific plans. How do you expect this to happen? The panel recommends its own markups? Would that be better?

          • mfwic

            That is simply not true Matthew. Nobody is against the Council preparing plans. They are against the Council doing things beyond the scope of any submissions. When you look at the Council maps put forward they use a black border for zone changes within scope of a submission, theirs or any one else’s. They use a blue border for zone changes beyond scope. ie nobody asked for it including themselves. It is the out of scope stuff that has pissed people off. Normally out of scope is reserved for a few minor corrections to mistakes here and there, not new intensification.

          • Matthew W

            How do you know it is beyond the scope of any submissions? There are submissions that generally call for more density with varying specificity. These changes will be consistent with some submissions is my point.

            Even if it is out of scope it is up to the panel to make the recommendations. The council is helping the panel by presenting an option that will address their concerns about a lack of upzoning. Otherwise it would just be up to the panel post-hearing to mark up the plans.

          • mfwic

            I only know it is out of scope because the Council has said so. The Council took down the maps of Jan 26 that showed whether they considered a change in or out of scope. But I think you can find it in their evidence. If it is out they can present it but have to tell the panel it is out and why they think it should be approved. The Panel has to weigh up the pros and cons or a good outcome versus a poor outcome taking into account the fact they may not have heard from affected people. Do you think that will go well?

          • Matthew W

            The affected people had a chance to submit on other peoples submissions that called for upzoning! They chose not to. Everyone will be affected by the panels decisions. As we dont know what they will be in advance what is the panel to do?

          • Frank McRae

            The whole process has been botched starting from when local boards were given the chance to down zone before notification without any regard to whether these zonings would meet the agreed and voted on objectives around housing supply. Allowing out of scope changes corrects this earlier botching of the process.

            Also the out of scope changes are for upzonings and therefore do not involve the removal of property rights, for which a higher standard of procedural fairness should be required.

            And the panel has a general power to make out of scope changes and they seem to be determined to get a plan which provides for sufficient housing supply in order to address affordability. As noted by Matthew W, if the council didn’t make these changes and present them to the public now, the public would be in for a much bigger surprise later when the panel recommends an upzoned plan that has never been publicly presented.

          • mfwic

            Except their are no underlying ‘property rights’. You have the rights provided for by law. When we look at changes the test is usually ‘scale and intensity’. So if you submit you can later resile from what you asked for or pull back a bit. You can’t add to the scale and intensity of what you asked for.

  • Matthew W

    “Shortly after, Auckland Council decided to withdraw its residential rezoning proposals literally days before independent hearings on the proposed changes began. ”

    Did this actually happen?

  • Peter Nunns

    For all those arguing about the hearings process, this is a useful summary of what the enabling legislation provides for: https://www.planning.org.nz/Attachment?Action=Download&Attachment_id=2952

    On slide 9, it notes that the hearings process differs from conventional RMA processes in several ways, including the Panel’s ability to make recommendations outside the scope of submissions if necessary. Now, I am no lawyer, but this seems to indicate that no legal niceties are being infringed.

    Here’s the relevant section of the enabling legislation: http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2010/0037/latest/DLM5600684.html

    • Matthew W

      Exactly. So it seems the council is presenting out of scope plans at this stage using their resources and expertise for the panel’s benefit, enabling debate to occur at the hearings. The alternative presumably is the panel gets out its red pen after the hearings have finished and presents new zone maps in its recommendations that noone has ever seen before.

      • mfwic

        No they are not enabling debate to occur at the hearings as submissions close 2 years ago and the Panel won’t allow new submissions at this late stage as they will miss their statutory deadline. Yes the Council can do this but the issue is should the try this crap on? And is it right to try this on if the full council doesn’t vote on it?

        • Matthew W

          Existing submitters can debate on it at the hearings. My point is would you rather have the council do this or leave it to the panel to present something that noone has ever seen.

          • mfwic

            I dont think there is any chance the Panel will do something nobody has asked for. They are allowed to but simply dont have the time. We are going to get something sombody has asked for. The bit I can’t figure out is if the Council rejects the Panels recommendation on your submission you can appeal to the Environment Court, but what happens if the Council asks for out of scope changes, the Panel says no to them and the Council then rejects the Panels advice and includes them anyway. If nobody gets to submit then does that mean nobody gets an appeal?

          • Matthew W

            Thats not an issue though – people have asked for a whole bunch of things!

          • mfwic

            True but I can promise you the Council staff will have looked through every submission to see if they can use it to support their current position. Where they can they note the submission they are using and tell the panel it is in scope. If the submission goes further than they want they can support it in part and get what they want. It is only when they are sure there is nothing they can use that they will say it is out of scope because that is the weakest position to be in.

          • Matthew W

            Well thats interesting I wonder why they did not use the submissions I and others pointed out above.

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