Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tony Recsei, High Rise, High Hopes, Canute and Sydney as a new Gotham for Batman

Ain't it grand. With the Duffster somewhere invisible as the NSW government announces plans to cram all the poor rats into high rise towers (like they've already done in Redfern), The Sydney Morning Herald must have decided they needed a Duffy clone to speak about the tragedy.

Cue Tony Recsei and Rise of high-density living a new low for Sydney. Poor Tony is terribly worried about the prospect of Sydney turning into a high rise concrete and bitumen jungle (you can sense he lives on the North Shore because only a benighted denizen of that suburban jungle could think everything is currently terribly green in Sydney.)

He lists six huge ways that Sydney will suffer - greenhouse gases, failure to convert to public transport, congestion, health damage, overloaded infrastructure, cost of housing, and cost of commercial land.

After doing his Chicken Little - after each point, you feel like asking "so?" - he ends with a pious hope: "We have no quarrel with those who prefer living in a high-density area, nor with those developers who take advantage of the free market to fulfill that limited demand. But Bureau of Statistics figures show 83 per cent of us prefer to live in a free-standing home, and we do object to draconian policies forcing us to live in bland high-rise units".

Then the tag at the end reveals all. Tony is an environmental consultant and president of Save Our Suburbs

Newsflash Tony: barring World War 111, a total economic meltdown, the seas rising to swamp Circular Quay or similar catastrophes which means all bets are off (did I mention  comets?), Sydney is going to keep growing, going to keep getting more and more compressed, forcing more and more rats to live in housing which won't be a free-standing home. Housing and land prices will go up, things will get more intense and cramped, and anyone who stays will have to learn to live with it and get along.

Another newsflash Tony: this is hardly news. The tendency in inner city living in the nineteenth century was to force poverty-stricken rats into terrace houses joined at the hip (which means you can usually hear your neighbour having a vigorous fuck through the paper-thin joining wall, giving a whole new meaning to neighbourly intimacy).

And this long standing trend isn't going to change. Trying to stop people coming here, trying to stop this growth, is a bit like King Canute trying to stop the tide. Realising it's happening and managing it as best we can - a task clearly beyond the current Labor government - is the best we can hope for, and plaintive articles yearning for lost days of yore are no help. Nor is it any use quoting statistics saying we'd all prefer to live in a stand-alone home going to help. 

Heck, if anyone asked me, or many others if we'd prefer to live in a stand-alone palace on the Mediterranean, or a stand-alone brownstone on the upper east side of New York, or a handsome self-contained maison in the heart of Paris, I'm pretty sure I could get a ninety per cent 'in favor' percentage. But you can't always get what you want, unless you develop big enough boobs to appeal to James Packer.

There is however an upside. As Sydney gets to be the new Gotham, maybe we can persuade Spiderman and Batman to re-locate. Jeepers, their first job could be sorting out NSW politicians and their second environmental consultants who don't seem to have a clue.

And there is also another solution. Last time I checked out Adelaide, it was as flat as a Pancake Parlour pancake, and just as appetizing. And if Adelaide doesn't work, why not head off to save Darwin, or Perth, or Hobart? Melbourne's already shooting up like a gawky young thing who's discovered there's more to life than black, and Brisbane wants to take over the world.

And Sydney is gone, gone, gone. Hand that developer a chain-saw Tony, the man has work to do and you say you don't want to stand in his way. Better idea: why don't you stand in his way? It didn't work for the Black Knight in Monty Python, but can it work for you?

Moral for the day: conservatives fear the future because deep down they know they can't control it. 

1 comment:

pclifto said...

A year late, I know, but congrats on a cracking post.

Couldn't agree more. Nice work