PHILOSOPHICAL FOUNDATIONS AND MODUS OPERANDI

Core Vision : is that of a thriving and economically-productive New Zealand able to produce or attract and retain the youth-based competence, energy and enterprise essential for the restoration and perpetuation of national prosperity, within a free democratic society.

Roads First recognises that the economic productivity of the Auckland region is a primary driver in the creation of the social, cultural, environmental, and material wealth key to its own vitality and success in nurturing and holding youthful energy, creativity and enterprise 1.

Roads First is concerned that the current planning of Auckland’s development is based on the “Ahwahnee principles” (see web), which define philosophical foundations for the “smart (sic) growth” style of town planning 2 promoted in some American cities. (Portland OR is widely regarded as a primary model). Once thriving these cities have rapidly become, almost without exception, amongst the most intrusively planned, regulated and functionally-distorted cities in America. Most such cities are today standout examples of economic debilitation to the point of failure. They are driving young families, workers, businesses and investment alike to migrate to more accommodating cities where housing remains affordable, congestion remains tolerable, commerce is welcomed, development is (comparatively) low-cost quick and easy, employment is much more readily available, and the city remains economically viable with generally-affordable levels of rates and taxes.

Roads First recognises that Auckland must move towards the latter type of city if it is to reduce the current migration of our enterprising youth and businesses to more attractive opportunities in Australia and beyond, and an acceleration of our current (comparative) economic decline. To that end, Roads First subscribes to, and promotes through submissions and political representations, the “more market” (ie less central planning direction and control) principles espoused in the “Lone Pine Compact” (see web), created by a group of American (mostly) economists, engineers and “interested others” as an alternative to the Ahwahnee principles. Roads First sees cities today replaying the economic struggle between Soviet Russia and America in the decades leading up to Russia’s economic collapse in 1980s and since.

Such market-led planning was widely practiced (including Auckland) up to the mid 1970s, when the OPEC oil price hikes led to a common (if incorrect) perception amongst town planners throughout the western world (led fist by UKIP then advanced by the API, and enthusiastically adopted by Auckland’s regional-level town planners) that public transport offered an energy-efficient “answer” to an impending permanent energy shortage. Such may well have been wishful thinking, but it fitted well with planners’ growing desire to plan and (re-) construct whole cities in the manner achieved in eighteenth and nineteenth century Europe and North America, where government owned, or could resume ownership by force, the large areas of land necessary for grand(eur) designs. Thus centralised planning of land use and development has assumed a similar role, and is seeking to achieve similar ends by zoning and regulating the development and use of “other people’s property”

Roads First exists to promote the “more market” approach to planning and development as a way of releasing and incentivising the personal economic drivers which can lead us back to the vibrantly enterprising and attractive (especially to commerce and young workers) city most citizens would surely prefer. It is daily more evident even to the uninformed public that the “smart (sic) growth”-style planning currently prevailing has become so responsive to special interest groups – including the “integrating” planners themselves – and so “environmentally sustained” that it has stopped functioning as a reflection of public wants and needs, and that under its aegis the city is stagnating.

1 President Bill Clinton expressed this perception most succinctly with his : “it’s the economy first, stoopid!”.

2 Smart growth’s parental image is that of an Italian hill-town; – dense, pedestrian, small scale, architecturally coherent, aesthetically enchanting, and with very clearly-defined boundaries (often walls) between town and country. Cars are very intrusive in their public places, and for larger western new world cities, their replacement by public transport systems offers opportunities for reversing the automobilisation of cities and for sub-regional commercial foci at transit stops, especially rail stations.

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