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.