Auckland council fails basic land supply economics

By Leith van Onselen

Yesterday I wrote how New Zealand’s two major political parties – the National Government and Labour – seemed to have reached bipartisan agreement on the need to eliminate Auckland’s urban growth boundary (UGB), called the Metropolitan Urban Limit (MUL), in a bid to increase competition in the land market and free-up affordable housing supply, thereby placing intense political pressure on the Auckland Council.

Their views have also been backed up by New Zealand’s Productivity Commission.

Now, the Auckland Council has hit back arguing that it has already increased supply, therefore, reform of the MUL is not required. From Interest.co.nz:

The council has released a statement arguing it is a “myth” that the current Metropolitan Urban Limit constrains building beyond its boundaries.

“Over the past three years Auckland Council has approved developments outside of the MUL that could provide up to 23,000 new homes,” the statement said.

“This is possible through Special Housing Areas legislation, but it is also part of council’s strategy for the forward supply of urban land.

“The proposed Auckland Unitary Plan… includes proposals to open up 11,000 hectares of land outside the MUL to cater for growth over the next 30 years, with the potential to build 110,000 new homes”…

“In fact the idea of a hard urban limit would be scrapped in favour of a commitment that there is always a boundary that ensures 30 years of land is available to expand into,” it said.

The main problem with urban land supply in New Zealand, and indeed Australia, is that there are no “right to develop” laws, meaning that a land owner is unable to use or develop their land as they see fit, and must instead gain government approval to do so. This process, which is effectively a form of protectionism, stifles competition and contestability in land market, and leads to a situation whereby landholders blessed with zoning permission are granted quasi-monopoly rights and able to force-up land prices.

The only thing that keeps any market competitive is the continual freedom of entry into it by new players. Remove this ability, say via an UGB, and the market ceases to function properly allowing players to “corner supply”, such as via land banking, as is currently the case throughout New Zealand, Australia and other markets running urban containment policies.

Make no mistake, I am not advocating “open slather” development. If land needs to be preserved for environmental or social reasons, by all means the Government should do so. But it should not prevent an adjacent landowner or a landowner further afield from developing their land merely because it sits on the wrong side of an arbitrary barrier, such as a UGB.

Subject to minimum standards being met, there should be nothing to stop a rural landowner from using their land how they see fit, whether it be for commercial use or subdivision into urban lots. Moreover, there should be nothing stopping a visionary capitalist from building a whole new city, attracting employees and businesses to it with very low land costs, as has occurred with the award winning Woodlands development near Houston, Texas, but would be next to in New Zealand and Australia.

Open competition underpinned by the right to develop (subject to minimum standards being met), is key to lowering land prices and ensuring that housing becomes affordable and the economy competitive.

Unfortunately, while most economists recognise the importance of competition in goods and services, they are mostly blind when it comes to land. The Auckland Council is no exception.

[email protected]

Unconventional Economist

Comments

  1. Natural disasters (especially risk from volcanic eruption) will mean permanent settlement on Auckland will probably be not a long-term proposition in any case…

    • Auckland has been settled by Europeans for not far shy of 200 years and by Maoris for some time before that. Is that not permanent?

      • C71 – most recent eruption was 600 years ago, 900 years ago was quite a big one in fact… Christchurch may have the ignominy sitting in the biggest swamp in NZ. Auckland is sitting in the biggest volcanic pile in NZ! Have a look around you, see those hills/mounds is a single/multiple eruptive phase. Some bigger than others… every single one of them.

        Geologically speaking, we are actually overdue for another. Often you need a big earthquake to get things going – a fissure of sorts…

  2. The chances of any meaningful change are virtually zero.
    If ever there was an opportunity and need for change it was when Christchurch was flattened by the earthquakes. I was there last weekend for the first time in years, and it’s a disgrace. The reason for that is the same as always – vested interests.
    Christchurch had hundreds of square kilometers of undeveloped land siting in three directions as far as the eye could see, when buildings within its then regulated zone were destroyed or damaged. It was obvious that abolition or easing of those regulation was needed to allow rebuilding to go forward. Did that happen? Nope. Why? Because all the ’10 acre lifestyle blocks” that were sitting in the undeveloped areas withing 30 minutes of the city would devalue if unregulated land swamped the market all at once. So peace-meal development was allowed on land owned by selected land-bankers.
    Nothings going to change now. It’s all too late. The market is going to have to do its work on the national economy for this lot to be fixed….

  3. I think the best approach as you say is just to abolish all zonings and require all proposed constructions or subdivisions to be approved. All buildings etc have to be approved anyway (so this isn’t new red tape), but this will let land users do what they want with their land provided the gov (perhaps on environmental reasons) or their neighbours don’t object.

    It’s always puzzled me that Canberra has hundreds of acres of vacant land literally 10km from the city that no one is currently allowed to build on.

    • Abolishing all ‘zoning’ and then making council approval for buildings mandatory achieves the same outcome.

      Canberra’s situation does seem strange. I’m not sure that open slather would work any better. Canberra as it is basically has no useful public transport, and more land would mean bigger blocks and make it even more of a car city. Canberra does sit near the head of several inland river systems, so there may be good reasons to restricting building in some areas.

  4. I disagree UE. As much as I hate the ridiculous red tape that defines where I can put a shed, or how high my fences can be, what you propose is not healthy for the community in the long term. Once you get into the country just a little bit outside a major city, you’ll encounter a lot of hobby farms and clusters of houses where there may be 5-10 houses each with 5 acre block all connecting onto the same unsealed road. A result of a previous farm being subdivided down over the generations. These little mini-communities are a drain on council/shire resources because over time the number of people living in these mini-communities is similar to or greater than the amount living in the local town. They still require fire protection (actually they are in more danger of fire), they may demand council assistance with things like roads, water, policing etc.

    Getting rid of zoning makes a lot of sense in a society where individuals are not entitled to assistance from the govt. Plenty of farmers and the like are self-sufficient and deal with their own utilities (water, power, sewage, rubbish). The people living in these clusters of 5-acre blocks expect a lot from the council, and they’re often very wealthy so they aren’t easily ignored.

    I recall during the 2010 floods the cries and moans in the local paper from all the city-goers as their unsealed roads basically melted. The council couldn’t afford to deal with the number of roads that degraded. I would financially benefit from de-zoning (my block is large enough for several Sydney sized detached houses) in the short term, but long term I think social contracts would need to be re-written to handle the mess.

    Edit to add: Cities are often biggest in the most fertile areas for obvious reasons. They become places of employment for big salary. Big open land then becomes a great place for a hobby farm for a city worker. End result is farms being subdivided until theyre no longer capable of supporting themselves in their own right. And all the paving and whatnot means you’ll probably never restore that land to productive farm. Just lots and lots of little 3 alpaca and a horse ‘farms’.

    • Did you miss Leith’s point that “as long as minimum standards are met”, development should be allowed?

      The way US cities with affordable housing grow, sure there might be the odd quite down-at-heel location but choice is good, people don’t have to locate there. The predominant amount of new development is to a very high standard – whole new “edge cities” like “The Woodlands”, Houston. Google it.

      If you are buying rural land at $10,000 per acre instead of $2,000,000 per acre, that leaves a LOT of money for things like tarseal and lamp-posts, doesn’t it?

      • I just generally tune out things people say when they fail to define them. Words like “standards”, “safeguards” etc are just there to re-assure people. They say nothing about the scope of what is being proposed.

      • You are missing the point.

        “Quantity of supply” is not the same as “standards”.

        We do not need to ration the supply of ANYTHING – eg cars, “to keep standards up”.

        What we need is supply unhampered by quotas, licenses, rationing, whatever – to deliver whatever quantity is required to the market; “standards” is a separate issue. We can mandate airbags in cars, for example, and that has no effect at all on supply. if there is a racket in cars because there is a quota scheme, it would be a lousy excuse to keep that racket up “because then cars might not have air bags”. That is how stupid your reasoning is.

  5. I think this is a nice summation. These urban growth boundaries, especially when combined with the loose lending practices of the last couple of decades, create a strong incentive to hoard land.

    “Make no mistake, I am not advocating “open slather” development. If land needs to be preserved for environmental or social reasons, by all means the Government should do so. But it should not prevent an adjacent landowner or a landowner further afield from developing their land merely because it sits on the wrong side of an arbitrary barrier, such as a UGB.”

  6. When RE became a financial leverage tool and bonus multiplier for those in the pipeline of sausage making the writing was on the wall. Now some want to just open the taps on supply because some econnomic law says it lowers price…. sigh…

    Disheveled Marsupial… sounds like some want to infuse new blood in all the crappy securitizations or amortize the toxic crap…

    • There goes the fiscal child abuse denier again. Maaaate, you are the lowest of the low.

      • Ad hominem embellished with projections…. if you have any thing meaningful to say please do so…

        Disheveled Marsupial…. drive by incoherent gibberish does not count…

      • Biggest waste of time ever in my whole life, has been repeating and repeating and repeating the case for reform of urban containment planning against deniers like you. At least reasonable people have learned long since, hence the consensus emerging in NZ at least – and among sincere people on this forum. You just want me to waste more of my time on here; you have heard all the facts and reason already. If you, like the Auckland planners, have refused to learn anything right up till today, then you are either just as pig-headed as the central planning fanatics in former planned economies of eastern Europe, or you actually understand the economics only too well, and you are in on the gouge in some way and it is in your rotten self-interest to keep it going at the expense of the whole national economic and socio-economic future. You can posture and sneer and keep making the same mockeries of actual arguments all you like, you just get your side the bad name you deserve.

  7. The Woodlands is a great example of NO government interference creating the best subdivision in the world. Currently two half billion dollar hospitals being built to add to the worlds biggest company selling their downtown Houston and building a campus in The Woodlands allowing workers to have a short commute and affordable houses. Buy a mansion for 300k and live 10 minutes to work. The Woodlands has free public transport (not state funded), free concerts to everyone, and a horse back police force that is also not state funded. It has been carved out of a pine forest with much of the natural landscape kept, pick any street and google map view it to see how developers can match the needs of a growing community with nature. These Master Plan Communities are developing all over the USA without government.

    • To bad about all the biblical flooding…. you’ll get that when you deregulate land use and build on a flood plain…

      Disheveled Marsupial… since it worked so well for the financial sector thingy….

      • Works great in strictly land-rationed, planned to death, Queensland, too, doesn’t it? And in Christchurch, where the “compact city” ideology forced new development onto unstable land because it was “in the right place” and stable land further away would have been “sprawl”.

      • Yes Queensland has been building on known historical flood prone areas for sometime, especially in the last decade, to facilitate the financialization of RE as an ATM. If I was in the market to buy it would be the first thing I would look at followed by build quality, price and size would be down the list.

        Disheveled Marsupial…. 30 year mortgage for a dog box in a flood prone area w/ increasing congestion and inadequate infrastructure projections, does not sound like a rational investment imo…

      • What’s your point? Mine is that contemporary urban planners are evil, they end up forcing society into worse calamity than they claim to be there to save society from; while private sector developers are completely unable to condemn millions to misery, and in fact are part of the means of lifting millions into decent living conditions over the last century or so. In competition with each other to provide value for money. Same as “markets” for everything else.

      • What and you don’t grok robs example of moronic Market based deregulation and its failure to reconcile royal science so some can live the dump dream of owning land just because it make you – free – escapes you….

    • A bad example also exists in Texas. That chemical (fertiliser?) plant that blew up, surrounded by residential housing.

      • Not a valid argument against reform that allows for just urban land prices and housing. Leith said: “subject to certain minimum standards”. Wrong mixtures of activities is nothing to do with overall land supply.

      • @Phil – zoning is how we determine ‘activities allowed’. He is saying “change it from no residential allowed, to anything allowed minus some undefined standards”. Australia prevents mixed-use by zoning.

      • Overall supply of something is nothing to do with regulations regarding quality, safety, standards, whatever. Don’t you understand that this debate is about housing affordability, land supply, and land prices? What Leith is saying is “open up supply”. You can have quotas with standards, and you can have freedom of supply with the same standards (re quality, safety, whatever). Leith is saying, “abolish the quotas”, that is the whole point. It is just obfuscation to make it an issue of “falling standards”, reduced safety, whatever. As I have been saying to Skippy, the planners have in any case been a cause of increased disaster impact risk by their fundamentalist “compact at all costs” approach. Furthermore because so much capital and finance is swallowed up in dead land costs, there is a trend for the actual construction to be shortcutted as much as possible. Decent developers providing value for money in competitive markets, are NOT going to buy rural land for $10,000 an acre, put in unpaved roads, and sell houses on 1/10 of an acre sections for $700,000. The evidence re standards of development in affordable US urban areas is all out there; anyone following this argument can fact-check and see for themselves. We deserve all the swindling and disaster we are getting if we are really as stupid as to believe all the BS from anti-reformers.

  8. NEW ZEALAND HOUSING: EVEN GREENS SUPPORT SCRAPPING AUCKLAND RUB (URBAN LIMITS) … INTEREST CO NZ / KIWIBLOG

    Urban Limits abolition: Greens support Labour & English ramps up pressure on Auckland Council … Interest Co NZ

    http://www.interest.co.nz/property/81678/english-capitalises-labour-call-auckland-abolish-urban-boundary-ramps-pressure

    EVEN GREENS SUPPORT SCRAPPING AUCKLAND RUB (URBAN LIMITS) … KIWIBLOG

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2016/05/even_greens_support_scrapping_aucklands_rub_but_goff_doesnt.html
    … Pavletich post on Kiwiblog thread …

    This is hugely heartening. Thank you David !

    THE GREAT CONSENSUS indeed !

    Soon after this year’s 12th Demographia Housing Survey was released (refer Schedule … http://www.PerformanceUrbanPlanning.org ) …

    • Hopes rise that Auckland’s children won’t grow up to be renters | Stuff.co.nz

      http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/money/76385596/hopes-rise-that-aucklands-children-wont-grow-up-to-be-renters

      … last December, Ilya Somin, Professor of Law at George Mason University opines with The Washington Post …

      The emerging cross-ideological consensus on zoning – The Washington Post

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/12/05/the-emerging-cross-ideological-consensus-on-zoning/

      … and late last November Labours Phil Twyford and business think tank NZ Initiative Executive Director Oliver Hartwich opine with the New Zealand Herald …

      Opinion: Planning rules the cause of housing crisis … Twyford & Hartwich … NZ Herald

      http://m.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11553128

      New Zealand is the global leader in politically progressing these hugely important issues. All Kiwis should be proud of that.

    • Even the Greens now don’t want to go down with the Auckland planners, in spite of having been ideological bed-fellows for decades!

      Caeser saying “Et, Tu, Brutus?”, comes to mind…

      • Phil … Indeed !

        You are very perceptive.

        The polls will be clearly telling The Greens (and all politicians for that matter) where they should be on these issues in New Zealand.

        In a representative democracy politicians must be poll parrots … telling the people what the people are telling them.

        Even in politically autocratic environments (such as China and Singapore), politicians are very sensitive to public opinion. As the now jailed former Governor of one of China’s Provinces Bo Xieli is reputed to have said ‘There is no more nervous a politician than an unelected one.

        Public attitudes and broad culture are what drives politics.

        Lets just say, throwing out the unelected ones generally gets very rough indeed. And they know it.

      • Joel Cayford, the well-known Auckland planner, reports on the recent NZ Planning Institute Annual Conference in Dunedin …

        Why are house prices rising … Joel Cayford 16 April 2016

        http://joelcayford.blogspot.co.nz/2016/04/why-are-house-prices-rising.html

        … extracts …

        I’ve just returned from the New Zealand Planning Institute conference which was held in Dunedin. One of the best I’ve attended. I was there as NZPI’s Policy Analyst and there were some interesting sessions about NZ’s planning system – with Productivity Commission, MfE, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, the Hon Nick Smith and Labour MP Phil Twyford.

        The debate and discussion about house prices is alive and well and most commentators argue that the main influence driving house prices is supply – that more houses need to be built – in fact Phil Twyford went so far as to be reported in the Otago Daily Times that Labour would “flood the market” with houses. …

        … concluding …

        Anyway. I’m a physicist and planner. Not an economist. But seems to me that it’s about time for New Zealand’s government, and the opposition Labour Party, to stop arguing that increased housing supply is the answer to our problem with housing affordability.

  9. The Auckland Planners need to not just be sacked for incompetence, they need to be prosecuted for malice. They have had the realities on the ground explained to them repeatedly; how “corners” and “quotas” work. “X years supply” is nothing more than a fig-leaf.

    The world could run on fossil fuel from just 3 countries, therefore giving those 3 countries a monopoly (and embargoing all other fossil fuel extracting nations) would not drive the price of fossil fuels up? For Pete’s sake, there could hardly be flimsier excuses being mounted to perpetuate a more obscene racket.

  10. End Auckland’s urban growth boundary Twyford | Politics | Newshub#axzz48tYqYppS

    http://www.newshub.co.nz/politics/end-aucklands-urban-growth-boundary—twyford-2016051814#axzz48tYqYppS

    Labour says removing Auckland’s urban growth boundary will take some pressure off the high house and land prices.

    It’s one of a number of options the party has come up with and is urging the Government to rule the boundary out of Auckland Council’s Unitary Plan if it wants to fix the housing crisis.

    The boundary was first put in place to help stop urban sprawl, but Labour housing spokesman Phil Twyford says that hasn’t worked. … VIEW & READ MORE VIA HYPERLINK ABOVE …

    NEW ZEALAND Government and Labour wish to abolish Auckland boundary to ease housing crisis | ONE News Now | TVNZ

    https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/government-and-labour-wish-abolish-auckland-boundary-ease-housing-crisis

    Labour’s housing spokesman Phil Twyford says the boundary creates an artificial scarcity of land and drives up the cost of sections.

    “Land inside the boundary is up to 10 times more valuable than rural land,” he said.

    “It is not enough for the council to progressively add more land zoned for development here and there. That just feeds the speculation that is an inevitable result of having the boundary. … VIEW & READ MORE VIA HYPERLINK ABOVE …

    No wonder even old bubble cheerleader Olly Newland is losing his nerve BIG TIME with the Auckland housing bubble … a recent Interest Co NZ interview …

    http://www.interest.co.nz/property/81268/warning-bells-are-well-and-truly-ringing-no-one-listening-says-veteran-property

    • Editorial: A few home truths for our leaders – Business – NZ Herald News

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11631844

      Our “Home Truths” series over the past two weeks has concluded with some possible solutions to runaway house prices that leave too many facing rented accommodation for the rest of their lives. We made 10 suggestions. These were not alternatives – all or most of them would need to be done at the same time. They amount to a suite of measures, some of them quite radical, that can not be expected from a government that has been in office long enough to have considered them. The housing problem has reached the proportions that require fresh thinking from a government elected to do something about it. … read more via hyperlink above …

      Home Truths – New Zealand Herald

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/headlines.cfm?c_id=1500914

  11. ‘SLOTH’ … A LECTURE / SERMON LOCAL GOVERNMENT NEEDS … FIRST THING EVERY MONDAY MORNING ! …

    7 Deadly Sin: Sloth ~ Fr Ripperger …

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoqMAyKYXj8

    Sermon on the dangers of being slothful or lazy. What is sloth? Why is it bad? St Thomas helps. …

    … Better the dullards within local government get it ‘spelt out’ by Fr Ripperger … rather than me … as he is more forgiving !

    … Sloth has social and political consequences …

    Recently, within an Opinion for the National Post / Montreal Gazette … Conrad Black stated ‘… Foreigners like Robson should remember that Americans, unlike most nationalities, are not accustomed to their government being incompetent and embarrassing …’

    Dont under-estimate Donald Trump. He will win. … Conrad Black … Montreal Gazette / National Post

    http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/world/conrad+black+underestimate+donald+trump+will/11764127/story.html

    … with Nassim Taleb ‘letting rip’ too … ‘… People are not voting for Trump (or Sanders). People are just voting, finally, to destroy the establishment.’

    Nassim Taleb sums up the American election … Zerohedge

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-03-12/nassim-taleb-sums-americas-election-17-black-swan-words

    • … and former Speaker Newt Gingrich ‘chiming in’ at Slate …

      Newt Gingrich discusses the merits of Donald Trump… Issac Chotiner … Slate

      http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/interrogation/2016/03/newt_gingrich_discusses_the_merits_of_donald_trump.html

      Little wonder …. If this Pew Research reported on Kiwiblog last November is any guide …

      U.S views on how institutions affect the country …. Kiwiblog

      http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2015/11/us_views_on_how_institutions_affect_the_country.html

      November 26th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

      Pew polled US citizens on whether various institutions have a positive or negative effect on the country, The net positives for each were:

      1. Small businesses +69%
      2. Tech companies +54%
      3. Colleges and universities +35%
      4. Churches +33%
      5. Energy industry +7%
      6. Labor unions +5%
      7. Banks -7%
      8. Obama Administration -10%
      9. Large corporates -23%
      10. Entertainment industry – 24%
      11. News media -40%
      11. US Government -42%
      12. US Congress -61%

      • Mid 2014 Local Government New Zealand (a deadbeat bureaucratic outfit if ever there was one) in conjunction with pollsters Colmar Brunton, carried out a poll to measure public satisfaction with NZ local government.

        The results were a shocker !

        POLL SHOWS LOCAL GOVERNMENT HAS A REPUTATION PROBLEM … NZ NATIONAL BUSINESS REVIEW

        http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/poll-shows-local-government-has-reputation-problem-b-172979

        Only about 28% of the public were satisfied with NZ’s LG performance mid 2014 !

        We were never told how the bloated bureaucratic basket cases of Christchurch and Auckland polled.

        It appears satisfaction with some smaller local government units exceeded 80%.

        No wonder the dopey amalgamation proposals last year for wellington, Hawkes Bay and Northland were rejected by voters. The whole lot of them !

        It is interesting it took LGNZ near 12 months to release the results of this poll !

        It is supposed to be repeated annually.

        The results of the 2015 poll have yet to see the light of day !

        Clearly … Local Government New Zealand is doing whatever it takes to mask / minimize failure.

        … WHAT SYSTEMIC AND CULTURAL CHANGES NEED TO OCCUR IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT … IN DEALING WITH THE ‘INSTITUTIONAL SLOTH’ PROBLEM ?

        … It seems sloth in Government is not going to be tolerated for much longer …

        READ TOO … THIS SHOCKER FROM THE UK DAILY MAIL OF SOME YEARS AGO …

        Public sector inertia at a council office where employees take six-month sickies | Daily Mail Online

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1289702/Public-sector-inertia-council-office-employees-month-sickies.html

      • BUREAUCRATS … THE BIG SORT OUT IS BEGINNING …

        Angry White, Rich, Educated Men? Trump Voters Are Smarter And Richer Than The Average American | Zero Hedge

        http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-05-10/angry-white-men-trump-voters-are-smarter-and-richer-average-american

        It’s not just “angry blue collar white men,” that are supporting Donald Trump. Having received a record number of votes in a Republican nomination campaign and winning in some of the richest and best-educated counties in the country adding to victories in his more traditional strongholds of white working-class neighborhoods, statistician Nate Silver found – after reviewing exit poll data in 23 states – that Trump voters’ median household income was higher than the median in every state, sometimes by a wide margin; and that 44% of Trump voters have college undergraduate degrees, compared to 29% of US adults. … read more via hyperlink above …

        PUBLIC SERVANTS – WHO IS SERVING WHOM ? … MISES INSTITUTE / ZEROHEDGE
        ‘Public Servants’ – Who Is Serving Whom? | Zero Hedge

        http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-05-09/public-servants-who-serving-whom
        … concluding …

        … Job Security

        This hardly needs mentioning, but public servants are much less likely to be fired than workers in the private sector. Following the Great Recession (2007–2009), the private sector had cut 3.5 percent of jobs by 2010. The public sector (Federal, state, and local) only cut 0.5 percent.

        From the Federal Times on public employment generally:

        The firing rate held at 0.46 percent of the workforce in both fiscal 2013 and fiscal 2014 — the lowest rate in 10 years.

        The private sector fires nearly six times as many employees — about 3.2 percent — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics …

        Conclusion

        For the sake of argument, let’s just say we need government employees for maintenance of fisheries, mail delivery, and invading Middle Eastern countries. Fine. Can we at least dispense with the misnomer public servant? A servant who makes more money than those “served” (by threat of force), provides subpar service, takes away jobs, and is immune to firing cannot be accurately titled servant.

        … Local government costs getting out of control is THE ROOT CAUSE of the housing affordability / traffic congestion problems … as they lose the capacity to meet the infrastructure responsibilities to their communities …

        … New Zealand and Australian public servants ARE PAID WELL ABOVE the rates paid to their North American counterparts ( where in a number of States … including Texas … it is mandatory for government employees incomes to be disclosed ) … particularly when measured against the respective GDPs …

        Texas Government Salaries Explorer | The Texas Tribune

        https://salaries.texastribune.org/

  12. AUCKLAND HOUSING SUPPLY: COUNCIL MUST PERFORM … OR ELSE … SAYS BILL ENGLISH …

    Finance Minister says Govt expects Auckland Council to approve Unitary Plan that caters for housing supply growth needs; says August vote on Plan ‘probably the single biggest issue for house prices across the country’ | interest.co.nz

    http://www.interest.co.nz/property/81571/finance-minister-says-govt-expects-auckland-council-approve-unitary-plan-caters

    By Bernard Hickey

    Finance Minister Bill English has ramped up the pressure on the Auckland Council to agree to a Unitary Plan in August that allows for the city to grow its housing supply in a way that takes pressure off prices and financial stability nationally.

    English delivered his annual pre-Budget address to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday and chose to fire a shot across the bows of the Council ahead of it receiving the recommendations of the statutory Independent Hearings Panel (IHP) on the Unitary Plan, which will set the zoning and other rules for house building and town planning for decades to come. … read more via hyperlink above

    … ESSENTIAL VIEWING … OPERATION HOUSING …

    Govt: Auckland housing shortage ‘matter of national significance’ | Politics | Newshub#axzz48KGpagxC#axzz48KGpagxC

    http://www.newshub.co.nz/politics/govt-auckland-housing-shortage-matter-of-national-significance-2016051117#axzz48KGpagxC

    A two-pronged attack is being formulated to fix the country’s housing shortage.

    The Reserve Bank has hinted at restrictions on bank loans for house hunters so the amount you can borrow will be more strictly tied to your income. That will hurt first-home buyers.

    The second prong is to make councils free up more land, and to do that the Government is prepared to elevate the housing issue to a “matter of national significance”.

    Auckland housing’s problems are Economics 101 — lack of supply and too much demand. … VIEW & READ MORE VIA HYPERLINK ABOVE …

    Home Truths – New Zealand Herald

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/headlines.cfm?c_id=1500914

  13. NEW ZEALAND GOVERNMENT: AUCKLAND HOUSING SHORTAGE ‘MATTER OF NATIONAL SIGNIFICANCE’ … NEWSHUB TV3

    … ESSENTIAL VIEWING … OPERATION HOUSING …

    Govt: Auckland housing shortage ‘matter of national significance’ | Politics | Newshub#axzz48KGpagxC#axzz48KGpagxC

    http://www.newshub.co.nz/politics/govt-auckland-housing-shortage-matter-of-national-significance-2016051117#axzz48KGpagxC

    A two-pronged attack is being formulated to fix the country’s housing shortage.

    The Reserve Bank has hinted at restrictions on bank loans for house hunters so the amount you can borrow will be more strictly tied to your income. That will hurt first-home buyers.

    The second prong is to make councils free up more land, and to do that the Government is prepared to elevate the housing issue to a “matter of national significance”.

    Auckland housing’s problems are Economics 101 — lack of supply and too much demand. … VIEW & READ MORE VIA HYPERLINK ABOVE …

    Home Truths – New Zealand Herald

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/headlines.cfm?c_id=1500914

    2016 12th ANNUAL DEMOGRAPHIA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING AFFORDABILITY SURVEY

    http://www.demographia.com/dhi.pdf

  14. POLITICAL AND BUREAUCRATIC LYING AND INCOMPETENCE WILL NO LONGER BE TOLERATED

    Like it or not Donald Trump will be your next President … Claire Bernish … Zerohedge

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-05-20/it-or-not-donald-trump-will-be-your-next-president

    Trump will be the next president of the United States.

    Now, before you take up arms over that statement, take a minute to carefully peruse the evidence pointing to precisely such an outcome. … read more via hyperlink above …

    Little wonder …. If this Pew Research reported on Kiwiblog last November is any guide …

    U.S views on how institutions affect the country …. Kiwiblog

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2015/11/us_views_on_how_institutions_affect_the_country.html

    November 26th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

    Pew polled US citizens on whether various institutions have a positive or negative effect on the country, The net positives for each were:

    1. Small businesses +69%
    2. Tech companies +54%
    3. Colleges and universities +35%
    4. Churches +33%
    5. Energy industry +7%
    6. Labor unions +5%
    7. Banks -7%
    8. Obama Administration -10%
    9. Large corporates -23%
    10. Entertainment industry – 24%
    11. News media -40%
    11. US Government -42%
    12. US Congress -61%

    … with Nassim Taleb ‘letting rip’ too … ‘… People are not voting for Trump (or Sanders). People are just voting, finally, to destroy the establishment.’

    Nassim Taleb sums up the American election … Zerohedge

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-03-12/nassim-taleb-sums-americas-election-17-black-swan-words

  15. IN PRAISE OF URBAN SPRAWL (KOTKINS NEW BOOK … REVIEW) … SHLOMO ANGEL … WALL STREET JOURNAL

    … Shlomo Angel reviews Joel Kotkin’s new book …

    In Praise of Urban Sprawl – Schlomo Angel – WSJ
    …google search title if blocked …

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/in-praise-of-urban-sprawl-1463777428

    Dense urban living discourages child rearing. It is no surprise that there are 80,000 more dogs than children in San Francisco.

    Between 1840 and 1910, the population of Manhattan grew sevenfold, reaching a peak of 2.3 million in 1910. The average population density of its built-up areas tripled during this period. The New York Times in 1898 spoke of “densely crowded quarters” and “inmates . . . huddled together in their cramped hutches like rabbits.” How cramped? There were 620 people per acre, on average, in the walk-up tenements of the Lower East Side and 540 people per acre, on average, in the East Village. Jacob Riis, the author of “How the Other Half Lives,” placed the blame for overcrowding on the shortage of “decent” residential buildings in Manhattan: “We have a tremendous, ever swelling crowd of wage-earners which it is our business to house decently; . . . it is not housed decently; . . . it must be so housed here for the present, and for a long time to come, all schemes of suburban relief being as yet utopian, impracticable.” … read more via hyperlink above …

    The Human City: Urbanism for the Rest of Us – Kindle edition by Joel Kotkin. Politics & Social Sciences Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

    https://www.amazon.com/Human-City-Urbanism-Rest-Us-ebook/dp/B01DV1YATQ

  16. How The West (And The Rest) Got Rich … Deirdre N McCloskey … Wall Street Journal … google search title if blocked …

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/why-the-west-and-the-rest-got-rich-1463754427

    The Great Enrichment of the past two centuries has one primary source: the liberation of ordinary people to pursue their dreams of economic betterment … read more via hyperlink above …

    Deirdre N. McCloskey: Home Page

    http://www.deirdremccloskey.com/

    Deirdre McCloskey – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deirdre_McCloskey

  17. BERNARD HICKEY: LET THEM BUILD USING BONDS … NEW ZEALAND HERALD

    … A road to Damascus experience for Bernard Hickey … at last …

    Bernard Hickey: Let them build, using bonds – Business – NZ Herald News

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11642655

    The flurry of news this week about Labour (what about The Greens too … see below ?) calling for the abolishment of Auckland’s rural-urban boundary buried a potentially more important idea that could eventually do more to solve the housing crisis than rubbing out any lines on a map.

    Labour’s housing spokesman Phil Twyford proposed Auckland be encouraged and allowed to start issuing infrastructure bonds to pay for the roads, pipes, street lights and footpaths to go with these new housing developments a boundary-free Auckland could generate.

    If the council issued these bonds and tied them to rates targeted to the residents of these developments it could kill a couple of birds with one stone. … read more via hyperlink above …

    … as made clear within the WELCOME page of PERFORMANCE URBAN PLANNING … http://www.performanceurbanplanning.org/index.html

    http://www.performanceurbanplanning.org/welcome-story.html

  18. NEW ZEALAND GOVERNMENTS GLACIAL PACE DEALING WITH HOUSING AFFORDABILITY …

    The major 29 October 2012 Government announcement by Prime Minister John Key and Finance Minister Bill English … with the focus on …

    * land supply
    * infrastructure financing
    * process
    * construction costs

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AuCchEb-XOk

    I wrote about the very slow progress soon after …

    Housing: Mr Key – Get on the Programme | Scoop News

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL1212/S00041/housing-mr-key-get-on-the-programme.htm

    Prime Minister John Key’s performance on these issues can only be described (through gritted teeth) as ‘reprehensible’.

    Here is what his then Housing Minister Phil Heatley said out of the starting blocks soon after the 2008 election … and at the time the Demographia Housing Survey was released late January 2009 …

    beehive.govt.nz – Bringing better balance to the housing market

    https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/bringing-better-balance-housing-market

    At that stage Auckland housing was about 6.4 times annual household earnings … when Nick Smith replaced Phil Heatley early 2013 it was 6.7 times … and now, some 3 wasted years on, a stratospheric 10.2 times annual household earnings for Aucklanders.

    The sheer callousness of John Key is unbelievable.

  19. (New Zealand Labour Leader Andrew) Little: We would do more for housing affordability … Newstalk ZB

    http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/news/politics/little-we-would-do-more-for-housing-affordability/

    Labour is attacking the Government, for ignoring what it describes as commonsense solutions to the housing crisis.

    Leader Andrew Little has delivered his pre-Budget speech in Wellington, ahead of the Government opening up the books on Thursday.

    Mr Little said the Government needs to crack down on housing speculators and land bankers. … read more via hyperlink above …

    Andrew Little: National neglecting ‘middle New Zealand’ – National – NZ Herald News

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11642964

  20. Heat on Govt to move on housing woes – Business – NZ Herald News

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11643059

    Anne Gibson
    Property editor of the NZ Herald

    Housing is grabbing all the headlines lately, so the heat is on the Government to deliver on Thursday.

    The sale of state houses, homelessness, the Government/Auckland Council divide over Auckland’s city boundary, foreign buyers, the prospect of land tax, mortgage lending limits and rising unaffordability are all huge issues.

    There’s a general election on next year, so will we see big, bold, action in three days’ time? … read more via hyperlink above …

  21. AN HISTORIC WEEK IN NEW ZEALAND POLITICS …

    Editorial: Labour’s bond proposal makes sense – Business – NZ Herald News

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11643010

    The Labour Party surprised many people last week, and dismayed some of its own supporters, by advocating the complete abolition of boundaries on urban expansion.

    Its housing spokesman, Phil Twyford, endorsed the Government’s view that boundaries imposed by the Auckland Council have been a major contributor to the escalation of house prices. His announcement was timed to get in ahead of an urban development directive to councils expected from the Government soon, possibly in the Budget on Thursday. But Labour’s proposal goes further than Mr Twyford believes the Government’s national policy statement is likely to go. … read more via hyperlink above …