Auckland

National all rhetoric on housing, but little is delivered

How the government got through the election without this particular policy failure biting them in the bum is beyond me.

It’s been revealed the Government’s flagship housing policy has delivered just five homes in its first year.

And in a week where Auckland’s house prices reached a record high, the Government’s strategy has been labelled an utter failure by the Opposition.

The Government last year promised to get on top of Auckland’s housing crisis by building new subdivisions. Tens of thousands of homes would be built in fast-tracked zones called special housing areas.

“We know this has been a problem that’s been around for 30 to 40 years, it’s not going to develop overnight and it’s not going to be fixed overnight,” says Prime Minister John Key.

Granted, Len Brown and his band of merry troughers have a large part to play.  But five houses?  The private sector could have put up 5 houses.  It is a terrible result, and one that needs turning around.

Read more »

Good point John, but those whingers don’t vote for ya

The people who whinge about affordable housing and the fact they can’t afford to buy their million dollar house are probably not National voters.

John Key has given some sound but unpalatable advice for these whingers who have been brought up thinking the world owes them a living, or at the very least a million dollar house next to where their parents lived so they can dump the grand kids every time they want to go out to the swanky restaurants that infest their neighbourhood.

First home buyers in Auckland might have to consider an apartment in order to get onto the property ladder, Prime Minister John Key says.

His comments follow the release of new CVs for Auckland, which have soared since 2011, particularly in city-fringe suburbs.

There are fears the mostly higher CVs could lead to rates increases well in excess of the 3.7 per cent planned for homeowners by Mayor Len Brown next year.

The latest figures show CVs across the city have risen an average of 34 per cent since 2011, and in Hobsonville a whopping 65 per cent.

Mr Key told TVNZ’s Breakfast show today the valuations reflected what had been happening in Auckland over the past three years.   Read more »

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A reader contribution on the transport debate

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A reader emails:

Hello Cam

After reading your blog for several months now, I have seen it steadily transforming into a voice of alternative opinion in many ways, and celebrate that.

I had been working for some time on this piece about Auckland transport, when I read your article yesterday, which sang my song.

Just wondered whether this may have any appeal for your site.

Best regards and keep up the good work


Part 1

Observations:

As a recent returnee to Auckland after over 40 years working and establishing businesses in regional New Zealand, I have recently paid considerably more attention to local body plans and actions in this region.

Joining the local area ratepayers committee on arrival, I soon hear, and discover first hand that generalised wastage/inefficiency seemed to characterise virtually all dealings of the new super city. Examples: 1. a near 200 page document of detailed technical drawings and specifications to place some traffic quietening speed bumps on a street in our area, 2. Two Council staff visit in a Council car, for a half day, to consult re spending well less than $1000 on plants in the area. When it is suggested that the most in-need areas require some soil first, we are told that this is beyond their brief and would require a completely separate department to be involved.

Accordingly, I began to pay closer attention to Len Brown’s call for underground rail for the city, which seems to be preparing to strip all available capital and then some from the City’s coffers for the foreseeable future – and beyond – at the behest of one man with a dream.

The idea of a trainset for Auckland gained great credibility under Mayor Robbie in the late 60’s, and had it been implemented then, it would probably remain a good idea today. Most people in Auckland ‘know’ this so there remains a soft spot in Auckland for the notion of ‘rapid rail’ and relatively little opposition to Len Brown’s plan.

But is it a still good idea if we start now?

There are many new ways and new technologies in the wings, some of which I have observed first hand on our travels, which may soon render an underground trainset for Auckland, a costly white elephant.

Additionally, in a volcanic city and a ‘shaky’ nation, underground makes less sense. Imagine the chaos if a Christchurch-type earthquake broke the underground rail links, after all other public transport had been seriously weakened by rail’s availability.

With these concerns in mind, I decided to look more closely at overseas systems on our recent 4 month trip to the Middle East, UK, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, France, Monaco and Italy and the following observations also factor in some of the previous experiences I have had of undergrounds and public transport in Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris, Seoul, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Australia and so on.

On this trip, I visited many cities of not too dissimilar size, one way or another, to Auckland i.e in area or in population. There are few that have both the area and the population of Auckland. In each city, I paid particular attention to their public transport options and in particular their trainsets. These included Abu Dhabi, Dubai, London, Istanbul, Madrid, Porto, Valencia, Granada, Barcelona, Nice, Monaco and Milan as well as many other less well known cities.

What I observed made me wonder whether this whole underground rail for Auckland proposal has been properly thought through.

Underground rail worked well, it seemed, in the sorts of high rise, high density cities that have relatively small footprints for their populations, like Madrid. Accordingly Granada, for example, is in the throes of beginning one, and I can see the point there. It is a compact city with many tourists.

Trainsets also seemed to work well in more widespread cities covering land areas like Auckland’s, even with intervening waterways, so long as they had one of the following conditions:

  1. High population (eg Istanbul, Sydney) or
  2. A long ribbon of development, as in a strip style city running along a shoreline (eg Dubai or Perth).

Read more »

Get ready for massive rates increases

Rates increases are on the cards for Auckland residents.

Len Brown has said that they won’t be more than the rate of inflation, but the Council will undoubtedly use the recent valuations to further ratchet up the rates in coming years…massively.

Council valuations of Auckland homes have jumped by almost a third on average, new figures reveal.

Auckland Council will tomorrow release new valuations for more than 220 suburbs across the region for three-yearly review of CVs.

The figures will show properties in 10 areas have had an increase to their valuation of 50 per cent or more over the past 12 months; including Hobsonville which has jumped by a massive 65 per cent.

Just four areas have recorded reductions in their CVs; Manukau Heads, Kawau Island, Great Barrier Island and Rakino Island.

The new valuations will apply from next year and have an impact on rates for 2015.

Read more »

Crazy Cat Man

I normally report on crazy cat ladies.  But here we have one of the very rare examples of a crazy cat man.

via NZ Herald

via NZ Herald

An Auckland man who crammed 38 dead cats into his freezer has been allowed to keep his three surviving felines but banned from acquiring any more.

Donald Cruickshank, 80, was charged with failing to care for his pets after an SPCA visit in December 2010 found him living with the animals in squalid conditions. Read more »

Something to go to today since the weather is rubbish

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Could be an interesting meeting this weekend for Aucklanders concerned about the council’s racist Unitary Plan, and trashing of property rights.

Remember when Shane Jones called a stupid digging instrument for corrupt extraction of RMA ransom payments a spade earlier this year.

Of course Labour did not pick up his mere when he left, because it did not fit with the identity politics that was all they had left. Bob Jones seems to have been the next public figure to risk tackling this issue (link). He reminded everyone that thousands of properties were newly vulnerable to iwi discovery of taniwha or other spirits and cultural needs that might need placating with koha.

A group called Democracy Action have called a public meeting in opposition to the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.

The Plan kowtows to iwi elite and forces the rest of us to pay in cultural impact assessment fees, and lip service to so called spiritual and cultural values (taniwha) just to do things like replacing a window or putting in a pool.  Read more »

Face of the day

Shayne Currie

Shayne Currie

Shayne Currie is my face of the day. He is the man at the top The NZ Herald and it is fair to say that the buck stops with him.

If his staff lie in articles the buck stops with him.

If they defame people in attack articles the buck stops with him.

If they attempt to undermine inquires the buck stops with him.
If they do anything totally outrageous like I don’t know… deliberately putting an innocent man’s face in an article about public masturbation, then he is totally responsible.

Read more »

A reader’s email about housing in Auckland

Yesterday we posted about housing prices and who was to blame for the situation, especially in Auckland.

It prompted this email from a  reader:


Dear Cam

Re: Minimum wage, how about a minimum house price

This whole discussion about housing in Auckland aggravates me because it’s not just the RMA, or the availability of land that is ramping up the price of existing homes and discouraging development. It’s more the power of the mafia council and its ability to squeeze every last drop out of homebuilders that is the big issue.

The ‘new streamlined’ Auckland Council is actually more of a bureaucracy with a capital ‘B’ than its composites, irrespective of the duplication of tasks. It’s a heaving, monolithic, Stalinist leviathan, long since irrelevant in the post-colonial era but with the statutory authority to dictate what use you may put your land to and to gouge you for the privilege.

Try just getting their consent to build a house. We did in 2012, on 3200 square metres of bush in Titirangi, Auckland. We selfishly thought we might (gasp) construct a home for our family there but the thought that someone might purchase a section for such a nefarious purpose was obviously something the West Auckland chapter of the Auckland Council Mafia was prepared for.

We were barely owners of the property for a day before the council weed-fascist was onto us. We had a ginger infestation that needed taking care of immediately or we’d be put in stocks and/or executed. We did the environmentally-friendly thing and approached the Waitakere Weedfree Trust. The guy there sold us a plastic tub and told us to dig out the ginger and put the bulbs in it to rot. A day later, and barely one percent of the ginger removed, I hit the local hardware store and bought the most toxic weedkiller I could find. Six months later, it was all still alive and the council guy was threatening court action.

In the interim, we hired an architect and got him planning our dream home. He prepared a resource consent submission, which we took to lodge at the Henderson office. The architect had warned me that there may now be a charge for the pre-lodgement meeting. What he’d heard anecdotally, and no one since has been able to verify this for me to a legal standard, is that since the formation of the ‘Super City’, whichever ex-composite council charged the most for any particular service was now the going rate for all. What was once free in Waitakere now cost $200.

First shock. A development levy would apply upon the successful lodgement of our consent. Approximately $10,000. I pointed out that our property was within an enclave of seven properties, six of which had been built on many years ago, but not ours. All utilities were already on site: water, power, phone, storm-water and sewage. Nothing needed to be provided, we merely needed to tap in to the pre-existing infrastructure which we had paid for as part of the purchase price. No matter. The levy was for other things, added pressure on the local libraries and such. I thought about saying I had a Kindle but doubted that would have gone down well.   Read more »

The Huddle

newstalkzb

It’s Monday and as usual Larry Williams has The Huddle with Jock Anderson and myself.

Our topics will be:

  • National’s cabinet reshuffle.
  • The electricity cuts in Auckland. A two sided affair, businesses take a hit – and these kind of power cuts shouldn’t be happening. BUT also there was a bit of overkill in relation to the media coverage and the term “crisis” being bandied about.
  • Nicky Hager getting raided by the Police.

Read more »

Face of the day + Perverse Poetry competition

Mayor Len Brown

Mayor Len Brown

 

First, the press release announcing the scheme came out only a fortnight before the application deadline. As the winning proposal has to be about living in Auckland that didn’t give applicants much time to think up a suitable, fit-for-purpose idea.

Second, Mayor Len Brown says: “Let’s write about our place with passion and love.” Why the fervour? Is the funding from the council’s marketing budget? Or is the (as yet unselected) panel to ignore the mayor’s pronouncements when judging the proposals for his grant?

And here’s the kicker: the grant winner will be notified in December but will not get the $12,000 until the work is written (they have until next June). Presumably, until then, they live off their credit cards or write only in rare moments snatched between jobs.

It’s unclear who gets to decide if the writer’s results are a “tangible work” in the end, and worthy of payment (no minimum word count is stipulated). Is overt civic passion necessary? Baxter would have had trouble; he compared Auckland with the back-end of an elephant “surrounded with blue-black haemorrhoids“. No wonder he never got paid. Where’s the crowd-funding project for perverse poetry? I’d contribute.

– NZ Herald

As Mayor Len Brown has come up with a Mayoral writing grant I feel inspired to suggest a Perverse Poetry competition about Auckland.

I am sure Whaleoilers can come up with some poems or even limericks to describe how we feel about Auckland under Pants Down Brown.

Definition of: Perverse

Standard Definition
[adj] marked by immorality; deviating from what is considered right or proper or good; “depraved criminals”; “a perverted sense of loyalty”; “the reprobate conduct of a gambling aristocrat”
[adj] resistant to guidance or discipline; “Mary Mary quite contrary”; “an obstinate child with a violent temper”; “a perverse mood”; “wayward behavior”
[adj] marked by a disposition to oppose and contradict; “took perverse satisfaction in foiling her plans”
Synonyms
contrary, corrupt, depraved, disobedient, immoral, negative, obstinate, perverted, reprobate, wayward

-poetrysoupdotcom

 

Here is my contribution :

Affair with Council employee

Unacceptable behaviour

Censure of Auckland Mayor

Kleenex tissues

Len Brown

Adventures of a sexual nature

Ngati Whatua room

Doesn’t resign