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Sunday reading 17 July 2016

Welcome back to Sunday reading. This week, a different take on housing markets. We normally focus on issues like zoning and development that affect the quantity of housing that gets built in a city, but things aren’t necessarily all hunky-dory once the housing’s there. Mike Konzcal writes about “the violence of eviction” in Dissent Magazine:

A central premise of markets is that people who can afford to pay the price will end up where they belong. According to this assumption, eviction is simply a correction made by the market, one where people simply end up in a cheaper house that’s better suited to their income. But this is not what happens. One important reason is because there are very small rent differences across the poorest and richer parts of the Milwaukee. “A mere $270 separated some of the cheapest units in the city from some of the most expensive,” writes Desmond. In the poorest neighborhoods, median rents for a two-bedroom were only $50 less than in the city overall. Meaning, people who are evicted aren’t automatically reshuffled by the market to cheaper housing, because such housing simply isn’t always available.

This is because prices don’t determine who ends up where, landlords do. Desmond writes, “landlords were major players in distributing the spoils. They decided who got to live where.” No matter what else the poor have in common, “nearly all of them have a landlord.” Rather than a facile notion that people end up where they best belong, we see that people’s respective power dictates where they end up, and in poor neighborhoods, landlords have the power.

Landlords make decisions heavily informed by race. White and black families live at opposite ends of Milwaukee, but they might as well live in different galaxies. The black families can’t find any landlords willing to work with them in the white parts of the city, rendering false the idea that they could simply move if they so wished. The white families, for their part, refuse to look in the black ghetto at all, and receive a location dividend based on their race.

The way landlords choose to screen tenants reshapes the housing market in fundamental ways. Having kids, for instance, usually means an instant rejection. This is particularly tough on single moms, who are often already in difficult economic situations, and the children themselves. Eviction means school connections and deeper community roots, essential for children, are impossible to sustain.

Kim-Mai Cutler (Techcrunch) also wrote an excellent article about racial exclusion in housing markets, looking at the history of a single community in Silicon Valley: “East of Palo Alto’s Eden: Race and the formation of Silicon Valley“. It’s a long exploration of the dark side of the American (housing) dream.

Do we need to think about housing markets differently? Perhaps. In general, I think the case for renters’ protections and public involvement in providing rental properties of last resort, i.e. state houses, is stronger than we usually think.

Does this mean we need to rethink our approach to market analysis more generally? Perhaps. Eric Beinhocker puts forward the case for reinventing economics to take better account of market failures, behavioural economics, and complex, nonlinear relationships. He writes:

New economics seeks explanations of how the economy works that have empirical validity. Thus behavioural economists run painstakingly crafted experiments to explain actual human economic behaviour. Institutional economists conduct detailed field investigations into the functions and dysfunctions of real institutions. Complexity theorists seek to understand the dynamic behaviour of the economy with computer models validated against data.

In my book The Origin of Wealth (2007: 97) I offered a table to summarise the contrast between traditional economics and the new economics perspective. I provide here an updated version.

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 11.56.54 PM

Traditional economists often respond that the limitations of orthodox theory are well recognised and there is much work being done to relax restrictive assumptions, introduce more realistic behaviour, heterogeneity, institutional effects, dynamics, endogenous innovation and so on. They are correct and this work is a very positive development for the field. However, much of this work introduces just one element of realism to an otherwise standard model – a bit of behaviour here, a bit of institutional realism there, and so on. It is very hard or even impossible to relax all of the assumptions at once without throwing out the whole structure of the model – in particular without abandoning the core idea that the economy is an equilibrium system.

The radical challenge the new economists have accepted is to relax all of the unrealistic assumptions at once, move to the right column of the above table, and create an economics that has much greater fidelity to the real world. It is an enormous challenge and it requires a new toolkit and methodologies.

For boring mathematical reasons, I’m a bit sceptical that Beinhocker’s research agenda will converge to a tractable set of models. But even so, there’s value in seeing what happens when you relax the conventional assumptions in traditional economic models. Sometimes the models no longer work.

On a completely different note, let’s take a look at some lessons from Paris. TransitCenter reports on the success of their new outer-suburb light rail network:

The Paris tramways have proven exceptional not just because there are so many of them (nine, with more in the planning and construction phases), but also because they are so popular. Ridership is 900,000 per day, which is five times greater than America’s busiest light-rail system (Boston’s Green Line) and greater than any subway system in the U.S. except New York.

All this is taking place on a network whose first line opened just 24 years ago and whose entire existence many visitors to Paris might not even be aware of, given that the routes are in the less touristy parts of the region…

It takes just a few seconds looking at the RATP map to see why the Paris trams are so useful. In Paris’s hub-and-spoke transit network, they are the rim of the wheel, connecting the ends of Metro and RER lines in far-flung parts of the region. All nine lines offer at least two stations that connect to other modes of transit. Some offer many more:

No. of transfers No. of total stations Pct. of stations with transfers
T1 8 36 22%
T2 4 24 17%
T3a 12 25 48%
T3b 8 18 44%
T4 2 11 18%
T5 2 16 13%
T6 3 21 14%
T7 4 18 22%
T8 3 17 18%

It’s not just, as the map implies, that the tram lines travel near other transit stations. In most instances, the streets and stations are designed to make the connection as smooth as possible. Here, for example, is the T1 tram where it meets the M7 Metro line at the La Courneuve station in Aubervilliers. The stairs to the underground Metro platform deposit riders right at the tram:

Google Street View

Google Street View

Even commuter rail stations don’t present an obstacle to tram transfers. Here again the T1, this time at the Noisy-le-Sec rail station on the RER:

Google Street View

Google Street View

The ability of the trams to link existing transit is not a happy coincidence, but rather an explicit goal of the network’s planners. According to Sandrine Gourlet, a STIF deputy director who spoke to Le Figaro about the trams back in 2012, the agency calculated that forcing customers to make transfers that take longer than two minutes produces a ridership drop of 10 percent.

That’s a lesson well worth applying in Auckland’s public transport network.

And now for two bits of history. First, Envirohistory NZ takes a look at “vanishing forests: the pre-European transformation of the South Island“. We think of New Zealand, and the Southern Alps in particular, as a relatively untouched natural environment. But the truth is that humans have massively transformed the ecosystem since arriving. We terraformed New Zealand:

When we encounter the extensive tussocklands of the eastern South Island [see below right], it is hard to imagine any other landscape in that place – so much a part of the “natural” New Zealand landscape have they become. Yet, as explored in a previous post What is natural? The tussocklands of Lindis Pass, this is in fact a human-induced landscape; the tussocklands have replaced podocarp and beech forest [see left] that once covered the South Island. However, this occurred long before any written history was established, and this environmental history has had to be pieced together through painstaking paleoenvironmental research.

New ground-breaking research, undertaken by an team of both New Zealand and international scientists, has determined how, to what extent, and over what time-frame large tracts of South Island forest were destroyed…

Pollen records show that before Polynesian arrival in New Zealand, 85 to 95% of the country was heavily forested, with low scrub and herbaceous plants above the treeline. The South Island supported beech (Nothofagus) forest at wetter, higher elevations, and podocarp forest (rimu, miro, matai, kahikatea, totara etc) at drier, lower elevations.

However, between the arrival of the first settlers from the Polynesian Islands 700 – 800 years ago to the European settlement of New Zealand in the 19th century, 40% of this forest had disappeared from the South Island, mainly on the eastern side [see forest cover maps below left]. What makes this remarkable is that this extensive deforestation was achieved by small, largely transient, non-agricultural populations in places remote from any settlement, and occurred throughout the relatively large South Island in only a few decades.

envirohistory-nz-forest-cover2

Humans obviously don’t always get it right. An architectural historian, Dr James Alexander Cameron, takes us on a tour of “great mistakes in English medieval architecture“. A bit too much mead involved in the construction of some cathedrals, I think:

One of the great things about medieval art and architecture is that people just went in and did things. They didn’t build models and scale them up, building great cathedrals and abbeys was a learning process as much as anything else. This means many of these apparently perfect aspirations to the Heavenly Jerusalem have some often quite comical mistakes, corrections and bodge-jobs that once you see, you can’t unnotice. There do seem to be a few more of them in English architecture than anywhere else, that makes it all the more fun to study…

___________________________________

Selby Abbey, nave, north arcade, early twelfth century

Selby Abbey, nave, north arcade, early twelfth century

Ok even I know arches don’t look like that

Just a bit of settlement abbot, nothing to worry about

I don’t know why we even bother sometimes

___________________________________

Canterbury

Canterbury Cathedral, south-east transept, south wall, triforium, early 1180s

Canterbury Cathedral, north-east transept, west wall, triforium, early 1180s

Uhh, master William, we’ve had a small problem in the triforium, some guy springed the arch at the wrong pitch and oh god it looks ridiculous

Naw, leave it, yeah

Seriously? William of

Sens had us redo loads of things because they were not up to s-

Look, I’m going to get this thing finished on time or my name isn’t WILLIAM THE ENGLISHMAN

And now for something a bit more local, although still controversial. The great Island Bay Cycleway blog explains why “the hypocrisy around cycleway safety needs to stop“. It’s a must-read article, and not just because they quote some blog posts I wrote:

Any objective discussion about safety on our roads really starts and ends with motorised traffic. To argue that separating people on bikes from cars, trucks and buses travelling at 50 kph is less safe overall is disingenuous and dangerous. If we really care about safety then let’s focus on motor vehicles and have a discussion about things that will actually make a difference.

Let’s talk about dropping the speed limit across Wellington to 30 kph. Let’s talk about about the design of roads and road geometry that encourages people to keep to safe speed limits. Let’s talk about giving pedestrians and cyclists on paths priority over turning traffic at side streets. Let’s talk about having more traffic lights and pedestrian crossings. And let’s talk about removing more on-street parking from Wellington’s roads in order to make more room for cycleways and footpaths (in Island Bay it is actually the preservation of so much on-street parking on The Parade that creates almost all the key risks that people perceive with the cycleway).

If we just don’t want to talk about these things that’s fine, life is full of tough choices and trade-offs and we might not be prepared to make some of those. But if we are prepared to mitigate, manage and ultimately accept the significant risks associated with having motor vehicles in our cities and suburbs please don’t be a hypocrite and tell me we can’t do the same for a cycleway.

To close, University of Auckland economics professor Ryan Greenaway-McGrevy explains (at interest.co.nz) why intensification is the only way we can bring down housing prices without imposing large losses on existing homeowners:

Suppose that house prices stood still, and that nominal household incomes grew at 3% per year, which is slightly higher than the 2.7% average rate of general inflation since 2000. It would take about twenty-four years for nominal incomes to double. That would lock a generation out of the property market. (And that is with an optimistic inflation rate; there are significant deflationary pressures in the global economy that could be here for the long term.) Another way to look at it: If house prices stay at the levels they are at now, household incomes would have to grow at about 5.1% to hit the Council’s target by 2030. Unless we strike oil in the Hauraki Gulf, that is just not going to happen.

The calculus is inescapable: House prices have to halve. They have to go back to 2006 levels. That is a difficult reality to come to terms with. And it will be even more difficult to actually achieve…

It is possible that some combination of the more reasonable demand-side policies would succeed in bringing down property prices by fifty percent. But such a policy would be quite reckless, and possibly push the economy into recession. It would come at a huge cost to those who have diligently used housing as a savings vehicle. And it would also push the mortgage on many recently-purchased homes underwater. That is a terrifying prospect for many families, because it massively increases the downside of involuntary unemployment for the breadwinner(s). Moreover, the reduction in household wealth would likely cause property owners to cut back on spending, lowering economic growth, and exacerbating the risk of recession.

Any policy that caused property prices to halve would not be fair to these groups of people. But the status quo is not fair to prospective home buyers either. The only policy option that is fair to both groups is to increase urban density.

To understand why, first note that there is a distinction between the price of a property and the price of a dwelling. With increased density there will be an increase in new dwellings supplied to the market, putting downward pressure on dwelling prices. But this does not mean that the price of property has to fall. Property that can be redeveloped under the relaxed density restrictions will retain its value: You can always bulldoze the villa and build two homes that make better use of the available space. That option to redevelop will be capitalised into the value of the property – and could in fact increase property values – provided that the unitary plan grants the right to redevelop.

Which brings us to the crux of the issue.

Increasing urban density is the only policy that ensures that both current and prospective home owners can win. Any other policy – including the status quo – will punish one of these groups. With increased urban density the average price of a dwelling will come down – allowing families to purchase a home at a reasonable cost – but the price of developable property will retain its value – ensuring that many current property owners won’t lose on their investment.

Property owners that oppose increasing urban density in their suburbs should be aware that properties that cannot be redeveloped could fall in value once the supply of dwellings increases. If they are not comfortable with a capital loss, then they should be lobbying for greater density in their neighbourhood – not opposing it.

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

49 comments to Sunday reading 17 July 2016

  • Bruce

    “But we’re Tangata Whenua…guardians of the land…” Said every time a development of some sort wants to go ahead and so needs expensive BS Kaumatua to watch out for the animals and the trees… Oh wait hold on, trees… Those things that were deliberately burned off by Tangata Whenua…
    It’s all about the $$$$$ and nothing else.

    • Peter Nunns

      Enough with the redneckery, Bruce. The Treaty of Waitangi, which is the country’s founding document, sets out a partnership between tangata whenua and non-indigenous New Zealanders. While the exact nature of that partnership is still contested, to a degree, most people agree that there’s a duty to act in good faith to protect cultural and natural taonga. Which means, in some cases, checking whether a development site has significant archaeological or cultural value before digging it up.

      • Bruce

        So even though that paper which was quoted in a post by Transport Blog specifically states it was Maori that caused widespread deforestation in NZ well before Europeans settled you continue to deny that Maori arent really the great protectors of nature they claim to be?

          • Nick

            I don’t agree with the whole of Bruce’s argument, but he does surely have a valid point? Great emphasis is often placed on Maori’s guardianship and relationship with the land, as if it’s something deeper and more sustainable than that of European settlers and their descendants. The deforestation information above highlights that it isn’t. Per head of population, Maori were far more adept at trashing their environment than those that came later. I strongly support the need for us to meet our obligations to Maori under the treaty of waitangi and believe that NZ society doesn’t adequately reflect Maori culture. However the whole Maori as indigenous people with a mystical connection to the earth crap is just patronising racist nonsense.

        • Peter Nunns

          New Zealanders, both Maori and Pakeha, tend to see themselves as environmentalists. On the whole, it’s a much more environmentally-minded country than (say) the US. But our environmental record is also dismal in some respects, such as water quality and greenhouse gas emissions.

          Does this mean that we don’t value the environment, or that we should be ashamed to speak up for environmentalism? In my view, no. I think we’ve made some mistakes in the past, due in part to our poor understanding of the link between our individual actions and the ecosystem as a whole. But we’ve also learned from those mistakes and resolved to do better in the future.

          Trying to single out one group of New Zealanders as being hypocritical when it comes to environmental protection is a small-minded thing to do. We’ve all failed in the past; many of us are trying to do better in the future.

  • Matthew W

    “Any policy that caused property prices to halve would not be fair to these groups of people.”

    Good grief. Since when was unfair for people to face the downside risks of highly leveraged, undiversified equity investments?

    • Sailor Boy

      +1, it isn’t unfair, it is unfortunate.

    • MW, sure, but i think the point here is one of political possibility; getting support for new policy probably requires it not likely to wipe out the wealth of the voting-est group, don’t you think?

      Why else have the gov been so inactive on this issue? Fear of displeasing their core voters?

      • Matthew W

        Absolutely and it was quite a good point he has made, but I get flipping annoyed at the attitude (not usually as explicitly stated) that house price falls due to the government sorting out housing supply are somehow unfair on anyone.

    • Bigted

      To wipe anywhere near that much of the value of property will cause unemployment and probably hit those that are advocating it the hardest.

      • Early Commuter

        How? If my house halves in value tomorrow it doesn’t mean it suddenly falls down or leaks.

        • Bigted

          If the values dropped like that the builders building new ones would stop (also effecting anyone who works in an industry that supplies the building industry), those who employ people would suddenly not have the money anymore and many more other flow on factors.

        • Nick R

          Loan to value ratios would go negative, making it impossible to borrow money to invest in business. We have a lot of small businesses leveraged against the family home, I wouldn’t underestimate the problem that would create for investment finance.

          • Sailor Boy

            Property wouldn’t be yeilding double digit returns, making people more likely to invest in businesses than property.

      • Matthew W

        A supply side response will involve a lot of economic activity If we dont have a financial sector issue (and according to the RB we wouldnt), then there is no reason to assume a recession and unemployment.

  • +2 to the authors! Increasing housing density is both essential and if it is done well should make Auckland even more wonderful to live in. The whole of the isthmus should be zoned 3 storey terraced housing, no parking minima and no consent required, with one exception: All areas within walking distance of a train station should be zoned the same as the central “city”.

    • buttwizard69420

      Yes I can definitely see residents being happy if their neighbour whacks up a three story apartment building next door and casts a shadow over their property without any notification or recourse.

      • Sailor Boy

        Many residents probably wouldn’t be happy to have gay neighbours either. There is equally little reason to regulate either activity.

        • buttwizard69420

          is this what passes for an argument here?

        • Early Commuter

          That’s a terrible strawman. If your building causes direct physical effects on my building (shading) then you should compensate me. In a non-zoning utopia, all developments should compensate those who lose utility from the development from the net gain; if there isn’t a net gain, it shouldn’t be build (i.e. if I lose 100 utils from your development, but the development only crates 85 utils for the new residents, it’s actually a stupid idea)

          I think a pretty basic principle of “who benefits, pays” would be worthwhile. Gay neighbours next door do not damage my utility in any way. If however, gay neighbours (or straight neighbours, or whatever neighbours) start playing loud music onto my property, they do damage my utility. Same with lights, noise, smells, etc.

          • Matthew W

            You could keep shading rules and get rid of everything else. We would be a heck of a lot more liberal than we currently are. Common law nuisance extends to shading but very little else in our plans would constitute a tort of nuisance if it were infringed.

          • Sailor Boy

            They damage your utility. They wouldn’t damage mine. I would appreciate the shelter from the wind. My point is that you don’t want a tall building, that’s a personal judgement about what someone does on their private property, it’s no different to not wanting homosexuals or children living next door, or people hanging their washing out.

          • Early Commuter

            “They wouldn’t damage mine”
            So light and sound don’t cause you any loss of utility? How about I aim a 50kw laser at your house. Light doesn’t harm you, right?

          • Matt P

            Matthew W at 6.14pm – yes yes yes!
            I might go slightly further than having only shading controls, but not much!
            In the Queenstown Proposed District Plan (notified last August) we really pulled back on development controls. I didn’t go as far as I wanted to – we don’t live in a dictatorship, after all – but we got rid of private open space, outlook space rules etc etc. Tried to focus on externalities, rather than a planner’s notion of how much open space someone needs (I’ve lived in apartments in NZ, Japan and Europe that didn’t have balconies and they were perfectly pleasant places).
            I will be very interested to see the IHP’s recommendation. If they don’t pull back on the outlook space / private open space rules, and increase site coverage rules from 35/40%, then it’s not going to hit the spot, and Auckland’s housing will yet again be set up to fail.
            In my ideal world, plans (in terms of residential regulation) would only control site coverage, shading and noise.
            I wouldn’t have height rules, because shading controls are enough. This would allow taller buildings within bigger sites, and still protect against shading. The only exception would be in certain heritage areas where height rules might be justified, or for some viewshafts.
            No density rules either, but you could effectively have density controls by varying site coverage and shading controls by zone.

          • Sailor Boy

            50kW? Sure, if you spread it over the entire property, that is approximately 5% of what I get from the sun. As is a building of 3 stories built right on my boundary. You may value direct sunlight, I value community. We are both making value judgements, you are trying to legally enforce yours.

            http://www.itacanet.org/the-sun-as-a-source-of-energy/part-2-solar-energy-reaching-the-earths-surface/

      • Matthew W

        If we did what the comment or above propose, and kept recession planes,we would be a hell of a lot better off than we are now.

  • I very much liked the Island Bay Cycleway blog comment. I used to cycle around there in the weekend, a long time ago. It was very pleasant except for the cars, 8-). The vitriol around the new cycleway is quite remarkably out of proportion to the pretty modest changes. I admit that I don’t really understand how we got to the situation where the people causing congestion and killing people actually blame those reducing congestion? Crossing fingers that it settles down

  • The Greenaway-McCrevy piece is exactly on the money, so here’s to a good Unitary Plan from the commissioners this week!

    ‘And to be frank, the time for gripes over traffic and loss of character neighbourhoods is over. Next time you are stuck in rush hour gridlock, just be thankful that you have a home to get to, and that you won’t be spending the night in your car. Auckland desperately needs more housing.’

  • And here’s a very good primer on what is urban density, and how to measure it, from Aus:

    https://theconversation.com/urban-density-matters-but-what-does-it-mean-58977

  • Morton

    With reference to the Paris tramway system – Would it be better for the Auckland light rail to terminate at a HR station rater than run all the way into the city center?

    • It will terminate, to start with, at an HR station: Britomart.

      No, a big point of it is to add an additional high capacity route into the City; high value, high demand.

      • Morton

        OK – But it appears to run very close to Kingsland and Mt Eden HR stations. Would it not be logical to have a transfer stop near these?

        • Sailor Boy

          Very hard to get a transfer to either from Dominion Road as they are both right at the limit of transfer walking distance.

        • Peter Nunns

          There’s a bit of a capacity crunch at peak times on the rail network. Feeding a whole bunch of transfers into the trains at Kingsland or Mt Eden would negate a lot of the capacity benefits of light rail.

          A more subtle point is that Paris’s light rail network is working because there are a *lot* of transfer points on each line. Light rail lines don’t stop at one heavy rail station and go no further – they continue on and set up transfers at lots of other points. So the equivalent in the Auckland context would be to (say) have a light rail line with transfers at Mt Eden, Britomart, and Onehunga.

    • Sailor Boy

      For some light rail, yes. for example AMETI, or a southern or northern crosstown route.

    • GreenLight

      Requires sufficient capacity on the heavy rail network to enable the transfer of thousands of people per hour. One light rail vehicle could carry 450 passengers – thats more than half the capacity of a 6 car train set when many are full at peak times (and this is only going to become more common as the network increases in popularity.)

  • Jim

    I noticed that it was announced on 13 July that a Downer and Soletanche joint venture had won the tender to build the Auckland CRL.
    There were no dates or amounts mentioned.
    I think Auckland City and the government need to be honest about the big planned projects and the likelihood of completing them.
    Auckland in these boom times should have a surplus but there is a $7 billion debt.
    The projects include.
    E – W link $1.5 billion.
    CRL $3.0 billion.
    Auckland Port relocation $5 billion.
    Panmure – Pakuranga busway $200 million.
    Downtown to NS crossing. $3 billion.
    Lincoln Rd widening. $200 million.
    The biggest import cost to the government is oil at about $7 billion per year.
    This will increase over time. More PT will help reduce the cost.
    Reducing the cost of oil is the best way to have more money for health, education etc.
    So it is clear to me to get people on PT. Make a profit on PT if possible and reduce our dependency on oil.
    Our dependence on fossil fuels is not good.

  • How true “the hypocrisy around cycleway safety needs to stop”

    I recently wrote to the Tasman District Council about getting a cycle way and a safety barrier installed on the main highway to make it safer, I pointed out how children coming from the school busses had only a painted white line to protect them from logging trucks doing 70kph, the answer I got I will paste to the end of this, from it you will see he thinks Patons road is a safer alternative, only thing it has no footpaths and a ditch on one side with nowhere to go, a young cyclist was killed on it last year, He states traffic volumes will increase without considering it runs right through the heart of the village, so I don’t hold much hope for any improvement when it goes in the face of transport, live appears to be less important than commerce.

    This is the reply:-

    Good morning Bryan,

    Your request regarding the above has been forwarded to me as your concerns regard the state highway.

    We understand your concerns. However, there a numerous safer alternatives to cycling along this busy section of SH6. Paton Road to the south is a much safer alternative, which less traffic volumes a lower speed limit. There is also a formed cycleway along the old railway reserve land to the north-west. There is also the Great taste shared path route that runs parallel to the state highway. With all of these safer options, it would not be cost effective to spend funds on improving cycling along this busy section. Traffic volumes are only going to increase. This is why there are safer alternatives.

    In regard to safe crossing of SH6 in Hope, we will investigate the need for it, and determine the most appropriate location. If it is warranted, then we will try and put this project into the 2017/18 minor safety programme, subject to funding being approved.

    Kind regards

    Steve James MET, AIPENZ/ Senior Safety Engineer
    Highways and Network Operations Group
    DDI 64 4 910 8247 / M 64 21 245 3876
    E steve.james@nzta.govt.nz / w nzta.govt.nz
    100 Willis Street, Wellington 6011, New Zealand

    • Peter Nunns

      Yikes. That’s dire. Good on you for raising the question with them! If you’re interested, perhaps consider writing a guest post on some of the cycling safety issues you’re seeing down in Tasman.

      • Thank you all for your comments I will print out his email and save it, just for the record this is what I wrote back to him but got no reply:-

        Dear Steve

        Thank you for your reply, I have watched children crossing this road with it’s 70 km speed limit when they are coming from the school busses with logging trucks and heavy transport vehicles and nothing to protect them but a center median strip of paint it’s not something I would have wanted for my kids. we have a village that’s divided by a road, it’s speed governed by the highway authority not by our local council, it goes though our area with nothing we can do about it, just seems bullying to me. this area is just as built up as places with 50 km speed limits.

        I do think the cycle ways and great taste trail are a great start to a safer environment but we don’t have a safe way to access them without the same type of cycle way alongside of our roads as urban areas, we have 70 km speed and no cycle ways, urban areas with 50 km and half the chance of dying do, seems illogical and why people are reluctant to get onto a bike.

        Yours faithfully,

        Bryan Sellars.

    • Based on this example you’d have to conclude that Highway Engineers have no idea about anything beyond moving tin at speed. Not qualified, nor competent. Should have no control over the provision of infrastructure nor safety for Active users. After all it is all about protecting people from the lethal outcomes of their work.

    • Matthew W

      If a cyclist is injured or killed on this route, and NZTA get prosecuted under the new H and S laws, this email is a smoking gun, Steve James would be criminally liable.

  • ‘Bill English is cautioning first-home buyers about committing themselves in the current Auckland market, saying if they are patient, prices might fall soon.

    He also indicated that if the Auckland Council does not accept a Unitary Plan that allows supply to meet demand, the Government could force it to do so by law.’

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11676255&ref=rss&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

  • Matt P

    Going to be intriguing to see the IHP’s recommendation.
    I am not holding my breath. The Unitary plan has been farcical. The blind leading the blind in terms of understanding the interplay between density, development controls, development feasibility and housing costs. Really second rate stuff.
    If the recommendation maintains things like ‘outlook space’ controls of 5-6 metres, for example, then we can wave good bye to any meaningful intensification.

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