Affordable food and housing
The Sustainability Party of Australia has a policy of making food and housing more affordable by removing some of the government restrictions that are pushing up house prices and preventing communities growing their own food.
The housing policy applies to cities with over 1 million people. At the time of writing, this includes Sydney (5.0 million), Melbourne (4.7), Brisbane (2.4), Perth (2.0) and Adelaide (1.3). The policy divides a city into 3 zones:
Zone 1, inner - within 3km of the CBD (add 500m for every extra million people): All 'community-based' limits to building heights shall be removed.
Zone 2, mid - within 6km of the CBD (add 500m for every extra million people): All 'community-based' limits to building heights shall be removed within 500m of any train station or bus interchange.
Zone 3, outer - beyond 6km of the CBD (add 500m for every extra million people), but within the 'commuter footprint': New housing that is not to standard on certain quality of life or running cost (ie, not safety) measures shall be permitted, provided that the house and land package is worth less than double the value of the unimproved land, and that the property is then encumbered with obligations to inform all potential tenants and buyers that it is substandard, and what the implications are. The properties may not be sold 'off-the-plan'. This policy essentially addresses the problem of uninformed consumers being taken advantage of by informed builders, by informing them rather than the government making decisions for them. The standards may include minimum block size, minimum garden area, thermal and acoustic insulation etc.
As an example, the zone boundaries for Melbourne, with a population of 4.7 million, would be within a 5km and 8km radius of the CBD.
For a short dead end street (or the end of a longer one), a narrower than standard road is permitted and encouraged, provided that inclined guttering is installed so that residents can park partially on the footpath. Pedestrians are to be assigned right of way on such streets.
Residents are to be given greater flexibility in planting trees or gardens on the footpath strip in front of their house.
Designated park areas are to be assigned where residents or council may plant food trees. These differ from conventional 'community gardens' in that they are intended to be for trees rather than intensively managed vegetable patches, are intended to be close to people's houses so that they do not have to drive to them, and are intended to be mixed use open space, not fenced off. Council may limit the number of each species of tree, may limit the permitted species to short ones, or may trim the trees to limit height and size (to make fruit such as mangoes easier and safer to access, and to prevent dominance of one tree over a large area). The trees are to remain communal property and no limitations are to apply as to who may pick the fruit, though guidelines may be applied to the quantity taken, and the fruit may not be sold or passed on to a different household. Any expectation of personal ownership or reward for effort is to be discouraged. Use of some fruit may be restricted to immediate, onsite consumption in order to promote sharing of more popular food. However, this is not intended to prevent the picking of unripe fruit such as mangoes - this is in fact encouraged to prevent waste and pest incursions. The parks are to provide a space for the dumping of green waste to be used as mulch.
Councils are encouraged to use the parks as an opportunity to inform the public of the range of food trees that can be grown in the area and to supply seeds for planting at home (eg, with clear labeling of trees). The inclusion of species that are not well known locally or unpopular commercially due to transport and handling difficulties is particularly encouraged. A 'use it or lose it' policy may be applied, whereby trees are removed if the food is left to rot. The food parks are intended to provide an opportunity for social interaction as well as food. Authority and management responsibility may be handed over to local clubs, provided that these basic guidelines are complied with.