Auckland is turning scruffy. Its streets, or at least those previously part of the Auckland City Council area, are becoming unkempt. Grass on verges, or berms, beside footpaths has grown shin-high and spring's encouragement is just beginning.
The reason is the Auckland Council's decision to stop from July its contractors cutting roadside grass unless it runs beside council-owned reserves, is near shops or has a particular form of "stormwater asset" within it.
The budget measure is forecast to save $3 million a year. It was justified by bureaucratic fears that continuing to cut the old city council area berms would cost a further $12 to $15 million as other areas of the city demanded public mowers as well.
Now the responsibility for mowing street grass falls on property owners or occupiers. Too bad that in these days of in-fill housing and ever denser accommodation many will not have mowers ... or that some people simply object to having to maintain what is public land when the authorities would not tolerate the same property owner planting, decorating or using that land.
Most people will want to keep their streets tidy and will continue to mow outside their own boundaries, but on the early evidence a substantial minority will let nature take its course.
Auckland Transport, which oversees the roads and footpaths, may intervene if a health or fire hazard eventuates. Short of drought or pestilence, it seems we will now inhabit a greener, but not cleaner, cityscape.