Supporting the wealth gap

March 29th, 2014 atam Posted in Building, General, Peak oil | 1 Comment »

One rule for the rich, another rule for the poor, and that’s official.

The Planning Department has apparently revised the rules regarding parking spaces to permit housing projects with larger flats to provide more car park spaces while those with smaller flats will have the number of parking spaces reduced.

While it makes total sense for flats located close to the MTR to not have any parking space at all, does it make sense for larger flats that only the rich can afford to be allocated more parking spaces? Hong Kong’s excellent public transport system is such that, even if one’s living in posh districts like the south side of Hong Kong Island, one’s bound to find a combination of buses and minibuses providing a reliable and regular service, in addition to a plethora of private shutter bus services set up to serve various residential complexes. But of course, the well-off can’t be expected to take public transport; they must drive their fast cars or be driven around town by their chauffeurs.

Does Hong Kong have a problem finding sites for more housing? Well, why is precious space being allocated to cars then, especially when car parks are so often exploited to push up the height of buildings, the better to capture whatever view there is, natural ventilation be damned?

Motorists are complaining about a lack of parking spaces and the number of parking tickets they get. If they’re to give up motoring, they’d save a chunk of money maintaining their cars and paying fines while Hong Kong’s roads will be that much less polluted and less congested. The funny thing is, while car ownership has been increasing, only a fraction of licensed vehicles are on the road at any one time. Some people actually do use other forms of transport during the week, taking the car out only at weekends. So for much of the time, these cars just hog space that could house people instead.

There’s a vision for a smart city in which driverless vehicles can be stacked away in automated high-rise garages and sent out to serve people on demand. Rather than stand idle for much of the time, they can be reassigned to serve other families once existing requests have been fulfilled. This way, a much smaller number of vehicles can serve far more families without imposing undue demand on parking spaces.

It sounds good, but when people are encouraged to treat cars as an aspirational item with even the parking spaces elevated to the status of a commodity, such a pragmatic and more environmentally friendly approach is hardly likely to gain traction.

Applause broke out during the Finance Secretary’s budget speech, when the motoring lobby discovered that Mr Tsang would not be raising the first registration tax. Did the Transport and Housing and Environment Bureaus provide any input?

One Response to “Supporting the wealth gap”

  1. The incongruity of various government departments’ differing agendas enormously damages Hong Kong’s future. Imagine what would be accomplished if they were all on the same page. Isn’t this CY Leung’s job?

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