Read this hilariously ignorant editorial from the Herald. The writer, who appears to have absolutely no grasp of the issues involved in contemporary city development, complains that ‘Green thinking’ has been too prominent at the Auckland Regional Council, and that the ARC’s transport plan is unrealistic.
The ARC’s plan aims to “support and contribute to a compact and contained urban form consisting of centres, corridors and rural settlements” – which the Herald’s writer calls a ‘fundamental mistake’. Auckland’s “environment and terrain invite sprawl” apparently. The writer also laments the Council’s prioritising of rail projects over new roads. It is the writer’s hope that once the Super City is established, the council will be too busy to worry about this environmental nonsense, and let it fall through the cracks, so the city can get on with making more roads and biggering and biggering.
Sustainability and good environmental management are not just about climate change and peak oil, as the writer seems to think (having apparently mastered only a couple of keywords from decades of environmental science, planning, and design). They are about very concrete issues that directly affect the lives of people in the city: the quality of the water at the beach, noise and air pollution, access to community resources, the cost of getting around, the physical health of the city’s occupants, the time spent commuting… Environmental concerns don’t ‘compete’ with economic and social equity concerns, as the writer says; environmental concerns are economic and social concerns. The economics of externalities is outdated.
The writer claims that “Auckland’s roads are of national interest in a way that its public transport is not”, unaware that proper public transport is an essential part of allowing the roads to function properly. All the world’s major cities invest substantially in public transport. It is an embarrassment that someone arriving at the Auckland International Airport can’t catch a train into town.
The Herald’s editor also plays the seedy trick of implying that policies you don’t like must reflect a problem of governance: that only bumbling politicans acting out of bad faith could support policies like this, and that there must be a systemic problem.
The ARC is not being held hostage by garden gnomes. It is doing it’s job: thinking over the long term, and managing the city environment. What did the editor think the ARC was supposed to be doing?
[ crossposted to aaa.org.nz ]