Auckland Council

Three Auckland Councilors trying to save their jobs in face of CRL budget blowout

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Three Auckland councillors are asking the Audit Office to investigate a potential blow-out in the budget of the City Rail Link.

A sign on Victoria Street, Auckland, where work on the City Rail Link project is already under way. Photo: RNZ / Todd Niall
They’re concerned the price-tag could rise from the current $2.5 billion – to $3bn. Read more »

Auckland Council is dodgier than a 6-day-old chicken curry

Guest Post

It’s widely known that they flout the law and do whatever they want. And it’s also widely known that the Council deliberately work against property developers to screw the scrum where it concerns Resource Consent Applications.

Most of the time property developers grin and bear the pain and get on with things quietly. More often than not, however, they get strong armed by Council holding them to ransom. A consent approval in return for something Council want that will cost a fortune.

Before you say ‘cry me a river’ understand that Council are breaking the law. And the more often they get away with it the more they are likely to do it to you if the opportunity presents itself.

There are limitations on a Council’s power under the RMA. A Council can’t do whatever they want.

Firstly, there is the law (legislation) and then there is the interpretation of the law (case law), which occurs when matters end up in the Court for a ruling. An interpretation of the law by a judge results.

What should happen subsequently is that the all Councils – when dealing with similar issues in the future – should abide by the ruling of the Court as a precedent. The law is set – so follow it.

But they don’t. What Councils do is ignore the law because nobody polices the Councils and they can get away with it.  Read more »

Auckland Council will train you to be a Jedi, but only if you’re a man

Another storm in a friggin’ tea cup.

The latest installment of the Star Wars series may have starred a woman – but it looks as though an Auckland theatre hasn’t seen it, as its Jedi workshop was advertised as a boys-only event.

The theatre was forced to make a hasty apology and quickly change its advertisement after being called out on social media over what many believed was an example of gender stereotyping.

Another event in the same brochure promoted a fairy-themed workshop, which was labelled as being exclusively for girls. Both advertisements drew derision from a number of Twitter users

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Of course, this has caused immediate and widespread “social media outrage”. (In other words, a handful of people had a moan and Newshub decided it was an easy target.) Read more »

An interesting idea, but one no political party will touch

Arthur Grimes reckons that the government and Auckland Council should work together to collapse the Auckland property market.

A former Reserve Bank chairman has called for the Government and Auckland Council to enact policies to deliberately “collapse” the city’s house prices by at least 40 per cent and intensify building along Tamaki Dr with Gold Coast-style towers.

Arthur Grimes delivered a hard-hitting speech at an Auckland Conversations event, calling for swift action to resolve the housing crisis, and the city’s eastern suburbs to have high-rise residential blocks, ready for the next generation of Aucklanders.

The median house price was $1 million, up from an already too high level of $600,000 five years ago, he said.

“I think we should set ourselves a target now of looking for a collapse in house prices of at least 40 per cent in Auckland, OK? And that should be a political approach … central Government and local government politicians should be out there saying, ‘We’re trying to have policies in place that will collapse house prices in Auckland by at least 40 per cent’, because that will only take them back to a level where they were too high already five years ago,” Grimes told the Auckland Conversations forum.   Read more »

Ratepayers’ Alliance campaign accused of being “misleading”

I hope the Ratepayers’ Alliance aren’t sued for defamation as that is the preferred weapon of choice by people who want to silence their critics. For now they have simply been accused of being “misleading” even though the council cannot find one example of something that was incorrect in the Ratepayers’ Alliance campaign.

Dear Juana,

Here at the Ratepayers’ Alliance we work very hard with our spokespeople and volunteers to ensure that our research and briefing papers are accurate.  We make no apologies that our campaigns are hard hitting, as our very purpose is to keep elected officials accountable.

Last month we launched our ‘these councillors are rubbish’ campaign to expose two councillors who are failing to prevent changes to local waste services which will see many households north of the Harbour Bridge pay twice as much for domestic waste collection. We had done a lot of homework.

In a response that left us stunned, the Council issued this media statement on the ratepayer-funded news service “Our Auckland” which labelled our campaign misleading and quoted the Council’s Manager of Financial Policy, Andrew Duncan as saying “the generalisations in the flyers could be misleading”.

Read more »

Oh, that’s going to stuff up housing projections

I’m laughing because good quality evidential research always shows up how piss-poor local government is.

Len Brown and his cronies at Auckland Council have sold a storm on their compact city and the rate of intensive development that is occurring. It’s always been fanciful.

Plans for 28 new Auckland apartment blocks containing 1900 units have not gone ahead as originally planned, a real estate expert says.

Zoltan Moricz, CBRE research head and senior director, said changes had been made to schemes for about 15 per cent of planned new stock.

Some of the new apartments might never be built, but plans could also be on-sold to other developers or perhaps the projects would be down-scaled, he said.

Some of the planned projects were badly located, too expensive or not what the market wanted, he said.

Moricz said people should not see the trend as indicating Auckland’s apartment market was heading for the doldrums as most new Auckland apartment schemes were proceeding as planned, bringing thousands of new units to the city.

“We don’t see a 15 per cent abandonment rate for project launches as a materially adverse outcome given the diversity of active developers, apartment product and locations. A prominent theme behind abandonment has been the wrong product, at the wrong location, at the wrong price.

“The market is discerning. Success requires a careful balance of having the right specification and type of product for a given location at a price that the market will accept while still allowing development profit.

Moricz would not name any ‘abandoned’ projects.

Read more »

Rudman whining about trains to the airport now, not his theatre

Old boy Rudman – who loves a good troughing spendthrift Council – is bemoaning the right decision to axe rail to the airport.

Auckland Transport chairman Lester Levy is dangling the vision of driverless buses tootling back and forth to the airport to distract attention from his board’s decision to kill dreams of a train link from Onehunga.

It’s not the only thing driverless which comes to mind when it comes to Auckland transport. This week’s burial of airport heavy rail brought to the surface once more the behind-the-scenes tussle among a gaggle of politicians and bureaucrats from AT, Auckland Council, New Zealand Transport Agency, and the airport company, over whose turn it is to pull the levers.

The AT board officially pulled the plug at Monday’s meeting. But NZTA, the Government’s road builders, had all but sabotaged the proposed route already, with its plans to trench the motorway at Kirkbride Rd in Mangere so deep that trains would not have been able to manage the gradient. The airport company was adding to the problems by insisting a train station would have to be underground, and be built to its deadlines.

I expect wowsers to do that. There are plenty of people who crack a woody over rail. And that’s ok – we’re all entitled to our opinions.   Read more »

Watercare continues the blame game

Watercare appears to be toeing the line of its paymaster Auckland Council who want to continue the blame game regarding housing supply.

Not willing to concede that the Council have stuffed Auckland they are trying desperately to blame everyone – from landowners to property developers – instead of accepting responsibility. Talk about being sensitive.

The property industry and I have been saying for a while that the issue is Council refuse to build the infrastructure and are using sewers, potable water and roads to stymie the expansion of Auckland. Some weeks back I pointed out that there is now only capacity for 45,000 dwellings to connect to the infrastructure.

So what does Auckland Council do? They shove Watercare out to pitch a story about expenditure that’s over a long time frame and to tell a fat pork pie.

Most of the article is talking up a storm about infrastructure works that replace and improve the stuffed existing infrastructure servicing areas of Auckland. It’s not for new areas. It’s all the deferred maintenance and asset management playing catch-up with a bit more capacity to allow for more apartments in certain areas.

Like new big sewer mains that connect central Auckland suburbs back to Mangere and a Hunua water connection that terminates at the water tank in Ponsonby. They are things in places where people already live, not where the city needs to be growing into, like the edges of the city.

Watercare Services is catering for 195,000 new Auckland dwellings in the next decade, and is working to expand the fresh and waste water networks to cope with this growth.

But Raveen Jaduram, Watercare chief executive, admits the organisation does not really expect that many dwellings to be built.

“The actual number will be significantly less but we’re catering for that bigger number. We have to be ahead of the growth so we built infrastructure well before it’s required,” he said.   Read more »

At last some transport sense: no train to airport

Great news. The proposed rail link to the airport, a dopey idea at best, is now off the table after the NZTA and AT agree it’s a dog.

A commuter rail link to Auckland Airport – which could slash travel times to the international gateway – has been dumped in favour of trams or buses.

The scrapping of the heavy rail connection is a u-turn by the New Zealand Transport Agency, which last year said it was “extremely committed to providing a rail link connecting the airport and the city”.

Auckland Transport (AT), which has favoured rail to the airport as a high priority, meets today to decide if it will endorse the agency’s position.

Road travel typically takes about an hour from the city centre to the airport. Commuter rail could cover the 20km journey in 35 minutes.

The Transport Agency’s board ruled out heavy rail after it was shown an AT report at its last meeting.    Read more »

Len’s crazy rail loop set to cost billions more

 

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Sometimes I can smell a dead rat from another universe.

Only last week I mentioned that the rumour mill was rich with talk that the CRL is now massively over budget and could be as high as $5 billion.

Then, following that, John Key also mentioned the same.

It has to be said that the rumours must be thick and strong when the PrimeMinister is saying the same.

Now a group of Auckland Councillors have stuck the knife in to ferret out information.

And, at the same time, AT have come out in defensive mode with talk that admits it but doesn’t. They’re scared and yet they know the truth is going to get out there.

Auckland councillors want the Auditor-General to investigate the -City Rail Link’s billion-dollar costs with the Government and Auckland Transport admitting the original $2.5 billion estimate is almost certain to change.   Read more »