Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The New City: Global, walkable, unaffordable

A website after my own heart from Australia - the tag line says it all.

 The New City 
"Cities for people, not planners"

The New City is a web journal on urban development, arguing that cities should be prised from the control of bureaucratic planners and left to a free market of workers, families and businesses. Based in Sydney. Click here for our free email updates.

Catalogued in the National Library of Australia's PANDORA archive and featured on New Geography, On Line Opinion, Quadrant Online, Demographia, Catallaxy Files, Forbes.com, the National Post, RealClearWorld, Architecture Insights and others ... past articles


The Suburban Economy and its Enemies

Environmentalists and planners - two increasingly interchangeable categories - are oblivious to the prospect that their creeping regulations and imposts, and misallocated resources, could unravel the suburban economy. Yet they will always struggle to mobilise public opinion. Their all-purpose pretext, the climate change hypothesis, relies on aggregated data which can’t be used to argue particular cases. Take the NSW government’s recent decision to review the costly ‘energy efficiency building sustainability’ rules. While the Housing Industry Association came to the issue armed with a raft of statistics about price impacts and falling housing starts, green outfits like the Total Environment Centre could do little but sputter the magic words ‘greenhouse’ and ‘global warming’. They were not in a position to show why, how and to what extent this particular decision would exacerbate climate change.

Progressives clearly feel a need to delegitimise suburban life. This stems from their barely suppressed rage against people they can’t control. Like Kurtz in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, suburban people have strayed too far from civilisation, they contend, and will lose their minds. Yet they fail to explain why surveys indicate an overwhelming preference for detached housing on sizeable blocks, or why the latest Australian Unity Wellbeing Index registers higher rates of happiness amongst suburban people than their inner-city counterparts.

Deindustrialization of Sydney  4/17

 Malcolm Tyson of Colliers warns that Sydney could run out of industrial land in just 6 years. Dreaming of “global city” amenities like dense housing, commuter rail, walkability and bike paths, our planning elites may be occupied elsewhere. But this is a crisis in the making.

Sydney lurches to housing unaffordability  11/16

Second, progressive policy analysts and welfare advocates, closely aligned with the university system and highly educated knowledge-worker elite. They too promote inner-urban infill development, higher core and middle-ring densities, and public amenities associated with TOD. While the Big Project coalition is mostly driven by finances, cultural-lifestyle factors loom large for knowledge-welfare types. Hence their demands for more housing near “consumer city” localities crammed with trendy bars, pubs, nightclubs, restaurants, cafes, art galleries, theaters, museums and cinemas. This plays into “creative-class” perspectives on economic growth and an aversion to suburbanization as “unsustainable”. Some of them are supply-solution sceptics, leaning toward demand-management, and most are aggressive critics of tax concessions. They urge more social housing schemes and regulatory responses, such as mandating a portion of affordable units in new housing developments (inclusionary zoning), which Big Project lobbies like the Property Council and Committee for Sydney oppose (with good reason, as the evidence suggests IZ reduces supply and raises prices).  

The ABC of making housing unaffordable 12/16

This feeds into the false narrative being built up by the ABC and other media outlets, particularly catering to a younger audience. It’s all the fault of greedy oldies or wealthy investors with their snouts in the trough. The impulse is to slap taxes on the scapegoats. In the meantime, the real causes go undiscussed and the problem keeps getting worse.

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