There’s some big news from the Council this week, as they debate whether or not to adopt District Plan Change 72 and 73. Councillors will vote on this on Wednesday, in what is probably going to be a massive meeting. More on DPC 72 and 73 later – but first: Johnsonville.

Scoop Wellington (aka Lindsay Shelton) has been hosting a discussion about Johnsonville which seems to take the whole DPC 72 / 73 thing very personally. Have a look at the article “Johnsonville “doomed” by withheld report, claim residents” which has got me a bit staggered as to what they’re smoking up there at the Top o’ the Gorge. A media release by the Johnsonville Progressive Association (well there’s an oxymoron!):

“Wellington City Council Commissioners for District Plan Change 72 have signed off on their report, which is expected to doom a popular northern Wellington suburb to a future of high density, low rent housing, and herald the destruction in over $ 200million in property values.
The Council is expected to rubber-stamp the report next week, but whether or not its contents reflect the massive popular opposition to Johnsonville becoming a “high-density only” housing zone, is being withheld from the public at a critical stage of the electoral cycle. After initially promising to release the report to the public yesterday, it is understood that council officials have closed ranks to keep the report secret until after nominations for forthcoming Wellington City Council elections close at noon this Friday.
“The Council has cynically withheld the report to help save the hides of three incumbent Northern Ward councilors from the fallout. A huge community backlash will erupt when the report findings are made public” says Graeme Sawyer, spokesperson for the Johnsonville Progressive Association.”

Pretty serious allegations – I personally don’t think that our Council is capable of being quite so Machiavellian – but I really don’t understand their (outrageous? mis-guided?) claim that the changes will “herald the destruction in over $ 200million in property values.” Huh? Why? A commenter to the article on Scoop, named Graeme Sawyer, goes on to make even more outrageous claims:

“We don’t want you to rip the guts out of our community and destroy the value of our homes to encourage carpetbagger developers to buy ‘em cheap and put up high-density state houses and cheek-by-jowl “units” that will attract the dregs of humanity. What you don’t seem to understand is that even if no development occurs soon under “Area of Change” (quite likely if the economy remains slow to recover), Johnsonville will crumble, as reduced property rights for homeowners (and the threat of development) will stop families buying homes here to raise their kids, and landlords won’t maintain their rentals (why should they bother, when they might be knocked down in a few years?).
The decline of our neighborhoods has already started, with two muggings (coincidentally, both on the highest density streets of J/ville) in the last two weeks. The blood of those victims – and all the others that occur as J/ville citizens get more transient, rougher, and more desperate over coming years – will be on your head. Unless you front up and do your job (rather than just drawing a salary for keeping a seat warm), and advocate at council for DPC-72 to be thrown out. And if you reply that you are “sworn to act in the interests of all of Wellington” when you vote on DPC72 next week, then please explain to me how making Johnsonville the excrement-pit that it will become, will be good for Wellington?”

The “dregs of humanity”? The “blood of those victims will be on your head”? Oh come on Graeme, stop being such a Drama Queen. Johnsonville is hardly a paragon of virtue at present – and as the DPC hasn’t even been passed yet, then the blood of these particular victims has absolutely nothing to do with city living density. Quite extraordinary. Councillors Ngaire Best and Helene Ritchie have been providing rebuttal to these hysterical rantings – I pity anyone wanting to stand for Council and having to put up with this level of nutty abuse. At least the Fish has well-informed and polite debate. And all of this is because of an expressed desire that another 3000 people can be housed in J’ville. And property prices would probably go up. And there would be more life on the streets. And businesses would grow. And jobs would be available. And good, honest, hard-working people who can’t afford to live in the central Wellington CBD would have a place to live, and make their home.

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