“Auckland is a basket case when it comes to housing affordability,” says Sayers. “It’s of the highest moral imperative for Council to fix.”
Auckland must dump the ideology of a compact city and spread out and up to make housing affordable, while simultaneously protecting vital food growing soils and building the required infrastructure, says Auckland councillor Greg Sayers.
Sayers says the “anti-sprawling” of houses into rural area has pushed land prices up and meant higher house prices.
“While there are downsides to sprawl, as Aucklanders we need to consider whether sprawl is as bad as super high house prices that are radically changing the nature of our city for the worse,” said Sayers.
Auckland, he says, is a beautiful and vibrant city with many highly desirable qualities, but Council, through its planning ideologies of creating a compact city had created a city where housing has become unaffordable.
“The bulk of the blame rests squarely on the shoulders of Auckland Council, and in particular with its zoning rules, its desire to monopolise infrastructure, forcing travel into the city for jobs, and its slow and expensive consent processing,” says the Councillor.
“Auckland is ranked as the ninth most unaffordable city in the world,” he says. “That’s a shocker. We are becoming a city of rental properties and the Kiwi dream of home ownership is rapidly evaporating for both low- and middle income families.”
“People are struggling to pay the rent, struggling to buy healthy food at the supermarket and even struggling to afford to give their kids a decent pair of shoes. Too much of their income is going on the mortgage or rent.”
Sayers says the ugly and other often hidden consequences of houses being unaffordable includes growing wealth inequality, expanding poverty, increasing homelessness, children sleeping rough in cars with their mums, and the rapid emergence of third world diseases from overcrowding.
Sayers, the Auckland City elected politician for the Rodney ward, is very clear that dealing with housing affordability is the single most important moral issue facing Auckland Council.
The book is dedicated to former Auckland Councillor Dick Quax, a fierce opponent of the compact city model and contains a forward by former Reverse Bank Governor Don Brash.
“In well-functioning cities, the median house price should be about three times the median household income… now it is more than nine times,” Brash said.
“Auckland Council is capable of solving the problem independent of central government but lacks the courage to do so,” says Sayers.
The book is titled “How To Fix Auckland’s Housing Crisis”,in which Cr Sayers presents four world-proven solutions he argues Council can implement itself to make housing far more affordable while simultaneously protecting vital food growing soils and building the required infrastructure.
Sayers says “until Auckland Council owns the issue, taking it by the scruff of the neck, finds sensible solutions, and has the gumption to make the bold changes required the Auckland Housing Crisis will continue to spiral out of control.”
In “How To Fix Auckland’s Housing Crisis” Cr Sayers proposes removing the artificial restrictions on land supply will make bare section prices significantly more affordable, however, Class 1 and Class 2 food productive land must be protected from development. He also wants to see house building made easier with fewer rules, lowered Council costs and speeding up consenting processing times.
Sayers also advocates that rather than forcing developers to connect to Auckland Council’s monopoly services, they should have the option of providing their own infrastructure, or Council should offer new user-pays ways of financing infrastructure.
He cites examples such as building Auckland’s missing major roads as toll roads, and the Milldale subdivision in his own Rodney ward where home owners pay the development contribution costs over time rather than having them added onto the price of the house.
Finally, he says homebuyers should be able to insure their property against poor workmanship removing the high costs that Council adds onto the price of a new house through its overly regulatory approach to risk management.
Sayers says there shouldn’t be any fear of a housing crash or wealth loss by existing home owners as the ripple effect back onto existing house prices could take years, or even decades, to take effect.
“Council has a choice to either give affordable housing the priority it deserves to start the process of reversing what has failed for Aucklanders, or its citizens resolve themselves to accepting the fallout and the damaging social impacts of unaffordable housing,” Sayers said.
Sayers says he wrote the book because and he had exhausted every other channel available to him as an elected politician to have Council table alternative ideas to solve the housing crisis and its associated ugly social problems.
“So proudly I said to myself enough is enough, and even though it won’t be a vote winner, I’ll sacrifice my own time to write an unprofitable book and stand up to defend Auckland’s vulnerable and least resilient communities,” he said.
“This problem is solvable and we need Auckland’s leadership to come up with alternative ideas, as the current compact city ideology is failing to produce affordable homes for its people.”
Purchases of “How To Fix Auckland’s Housing Crisis” can be made from the website www.gregsayers.co.nz