Warrens without rabbits

New Zealand, by and large, is not burdened with the sort of nouveau urbanists who clutter up the American cityscape: the Kiwis simply haven’t been properly indoctrinated into the Density Über Alles mindset. To address this deficiency, Auckland imported Harvard economist Edward Glaeser, with exactly the results you’d expect:

He says the Auckland Council’s unitary plan — outlining regional growth over the next 30 years, is not bold enough.

And residents also need to get real if they want the city to grow into an exciting place that continues to drive the national economy.

The quarter acre dream is simply not sustainable.

There’s that word “sustainable” again, tortured into its current definition of “fits into our idea of a master plan, and maybe we should capitalize the M in Master because it reflects the reality we propose to impose.”

Mr Glaeser urges the council to be more aggressive in upzoning core urban areas as its works to solve regional housing issues.

That means building multi-storied buildings to create an exciting, pedestrian based city centre and avoiding suburban areas of medium density that only contribute to wider traffic congestion.

With 20 to 30 storeys in central Auckland you can produce massive amounts of space, Mr Glaeser says.

The assumption made in all these cases is that if there are enough “amenities” stacked in corner lots like cordwood, people won’t ever want to leave the center of town — which is a good thing, because it’s hard to maintain surveillance on a population that won’t keep still.

Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse is not impressed with this pitch:

[S]he says it would be difficult to develop the central city to the same extent as others around the world, given Auckland’s unique geographical shape.

“We’re not exactly the same as Vancouver or Houston. By just shoving everything into the city centre is when you put the city most at risk.”

Disclosure: I own a quarter acre (actually 0.26) in Oklahoma City, which admittedly is not exactly the same as Vancouver or Houston.

Says Aaron Renn, the Urbanophile, from whom I swiped this story: “Ed Glaeser would have more credibility if he actually lived in the city instead of the suburbs himself.” Yep.


  1. McGehee »

    13 July 2013 · 8:38 am

    Isn’t Nouveau Zealand an earthquake zone?

  2. Don »

    13 July 2013 · 9:37 am

    Earthquakes and volcanoes.

  3. LittleRed1 »

    13 July 2013 · 10:03 am

    Yeah, and given the geology under Auckland, 30 and 20 storey buildings would require enormous, broad foundations so they could float on the soil when it liquifies in the next earthquake(s). Which also means not crowding them close together, lest you end up with 20 storey dominoes.

  4. Bill Peschel »

    13 July 2013 · 4:12 pm

    Plus, 20 or 30 story buildings do not produce a community. Four or five-story buildings with windows that open and fire escapes allow for all manners of interactions between the occupants and the street. Think New York’s Lower East Side of old.

    Buildings of more than 10 stories are a fit for only two things: storing stuff and storing cremanes.

  5. McGehee »

    14 July 2013 · 11:23 am

    Earthquakes and volcanoes.

    So, Iceland South.

  6. fillyjonk »

    14 July 2013 · 4:38 pm

    My main issue with high density living is that there’s going to be SOMEONE who thinks everyone else has the right to enjoy their music along with them, at high volume, usually late at night.

    Or people down the hall who cook fish all the time. Or who enjoy smoking “tobacco alternatives”

    (Perhaps I’ve lived in college towns too much of my life. But I wouldn’t live in an apartment complex again were I given the choice)

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