The Christchurch City Council is proposing to regulate what they call ‘home share accommodation’ through the District Plan.

This approach presumes that the resource management issue is a land use problem, when in reality it’s a technology problem. Defining home share accomodation as something different from ‘normal’ residential accommodation is a seemingly arbitrary activity based approach within an effects based framework.

I say arbitrary because ‘home share accomodation’ is a phenomenon that has been enabled by technology. It has effects, whether we define it or not. The dictionary is a big book for a reason. If you think about it, most things are defined less by what they are and more by what they aren’t.

Anyway, it’s naive to think that land use regulations can influence technology. It’s almost always the other way round. Can you even imagine the people who were vehemently opposed to the motor car in the early 20th century? It seems absurd. Now we design most of our public space specifically for motor cars! This is despite the fact that motor cars are literally the main cause of climate change.

Why is so much planning about maintaining the status quo? We need to stop looking in the rearview mirror and start looking out the windshield. A brave new world awaits – if only we gave our communities some bold vision to rally around. The Airbnb mission statement is actually not that different from the relevant District Plan objective.

Airbnb’s mission is to help create a world where you can belong anywhere and where people can live in a place, instead of just traveling to it.

Airbnb mission statement

There is a range of housing opportunities available to meet the diverse and changing population needs of Christchurch residents, including:

i. a choice in housing types, densities and locations; and

ii. affordable, community and social housing and papakāinga.

Christchurch City Plan – Objective 3.3.4(b)

The approach proposed for ‘home share accommodation’ is similar to that taken by the luddites when they started smashing looms in the 18th century. It wasn’t the looms that were the problem – it was the societal change enabled and accelerated by technology. And that can’t be overcome with sticks; or rules.