Auckland

Show me the homeless people Phil!

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It is a question I’ve had for some time.

If we have an Auckland housing shortage, should we not have about 100,000 homeless by now?

And since we don’t, where is this “housing shortage”?   Read more »

Changing the zoning won’t solve the immediate problem

My eyes are rolling in my head and glazing over.

It’s just possible that everyone in the city drinks from the Council Kool Aid and forgets everything that’s happened over the last five years.

Remuera home owners may not like it, says Peter Jeffries, but three-storey apartments in the suburbs offer the last real chance at housing affordability in Auckland.

The chief executive of CORT community housing is a vocal supporter of the compact city model in Auckland Council’s Unitary Plan, a new planning rulebook that will define the shape of Auckland’s future for decades to come.

The plan decides what can be built and where – and it has sparked a generational and politically divisive debate about housing density and height in traditional suburbs.

The council did itself no favours with a proposal to rezone about 30,000 properties in a late change to its submission on the proposed Unitary Plan without informing homeowners.

The proposal – which would have had to come back to the council from an independent hearings panel in July for a final decision – was rejected by a majority of councillors, after a long, often emotional debate in which young supporters of change accused their older opponents of selfishly protecting their own interests.

Jeffries argues that the problem will not go away. Auckland is going to grow by 75 per cent over the next 30 years, he says, and suburbs like Remuera have to share the burden of growth.

Read more »

Sound fiscal management would solve Auckland’s problems

Auckland can afford to be compact much less than it can afford to sprawl out. That’s fact and even Council’s own reports prove it.

All the rhetoric that it’s too expensive to let Auckland grow outwards is based on the premise that infrastructure for new suburbs created in green fields is too expensive to construct and too expensive to maintain.

It’s not expensive to construct – except Auckland’s existing infrastructure is rooted.

Auckland is a city where infrastructure maintenance has been ignored for decades. Legacy Councils and this current Council have spent money obtained from ratepayers (as depreciation in the rates bill) and spent it on other things instead of maintaining pipes.

Even the auditor general has said that Councils all over NZ are a ticking time bomb because of the lack of expenditure on maintenance of infrastructure.   Read more »

Now this is an actual loophole: Auckland City may fall apart

A real loophole, one which may be able to be used to attempt to rein in out of control council.

Less than six years into the life of the country’s biggest local body, Aucklanders are being asked for new ideas on the way the city is governed.

The Local Government Commission has been required by legislation to make the move, deciding debate on a breakaway move by Auckland’s rural north needs to be widened because it would affect the entire region.

Aucklanders will be given just 40 days starting from the middle of this week to propose alternatives to the current structure of Auckland Council, which was established in late 2010 and faces elections in six months.

The decision to throw open the debate spun out of a move by the city’s northernmost rural community to attempt to break away and form a North Rodney Council.

The commission decided that would affect all of Auckland, and the law required all Aucklanders to be consulted on how they thought the city should be run.

Read the full decision by the Local Government Commission (PDF, 100KB)

Mayor Len Brown said the debate was unhelpful and due to a gap in legislation. He hoped that either the commission or the government would reject it.

Read more »

Not a silly idea

Mark Thomas has had a good idea.

An Auckland mayoral candidate’s plan to sell most of the council’s shares in the airport has the Government’s cautious approval.

Mark Thomas, businessman and member of the Orakei Local Board, wants to reduce Auckland Council’s share of Auckland International Airport down to 10 percent, and use the proceeds to invest in housing and transport.

The council’s 10-year plan is to spend about $2.3 billion a year on transport, which Mr Thomas says needs to be $300 million higher.

“We’ve looked at debt, we’ve looked at rates increases. Aucklanders don’t favour those, I don’t favour them either,” Mr Thomas told Paul Henry this morning.

“But what the reports show is we’ve got these assets that I think we could look at swapping into other investments.”

Cutting the council’s share in the airport will bring in up to $800 million, says Mr Thomas. While he admits this will see the council lose out on dividends, improvements in transport infrastructure will see congestion costs drop.

“I was in Huapai, northwest Auckland, at the weekend. The special housing areas are creating a lot of pressure on the existing infrastructure. We’ve got to do more, put more of our share in to get roads built.”

It’s estimated Auckland’s traffic congestion costs the country $1.25 billion a year.

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What a surprise: tresspass notices don’t work on beggars

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Beggar with a smart phone on Queen Street, Auckland

Wonders will never cease, trespass notices are being ignored by beggars.

Trespass notices are not enough to keep beggars from hassling Asians in Auckland for money and cigarettes, a business owner says.

Last Thursday, the Herald reported that five rough-sleepers had harassed customers in Esquires Cafe on Courthouse Lane.

One became unruly after being asked to leave. Police arrested him, and he was later given a trespass notice banning him from the premises.

On Friday, police were again called to the cafe after three men and two women hassled Asian diners there.

The beggars were all given trespass notices.

The cafe owner, who wanted to be known only as Ms Li, said those who were trespassed were banned from entering Esquires, but that did not stop them loitering around the outdoor seating area where smoking customers were, because it was outside the cafe.   Read more »

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Not just useless but absent as well

Len Brown has been a disaster for Auckland, but not only is he dead set useless, but he is mostly absent as well.

Mayor Len Brown had the worst attendance at Auckland Council’s most important meetings last year.

The Herald on Sunday has analysed attendance records for all 21 elected councillors across the four committees that made the biggest decisions – the Auckland Development Committee, the Finance and Performance Committee, and the Regional Strategy and Policy Committee – collectively known as “Committees of the Whole”.

Council’s primary decision-making arm, the Governing Body, which also expects all councillors to attend, was also included.    Read more »

This is the best the Nats could find to stand for Auckland mayor

Victoria Crone Vic Auckland Mayor

Vic Crone and Louise Upston

When Nikkie Kaye and Paul Goldsmith recruited Michelle Boag to find them a candidate to stand for Auckland Mayor they drew up a list.

There were reportedly 20 names on the list. As they worked their way through the list potential candidate after potential candidate said no…until they got to number 11…Vic Crone.

It didn’t seem to matter to Nikki Kaye or to Michelle Boag that Crone was helping Labour develop policy for the Future of Work Commission and is still on their advisory board for that. I also didn’t matter that she was extremely cosy with Len Brown as well.   Read more »

It’s supply stupid!

The Auckland Housing crisis is back in full swing with reports today that investors are in like Flynn buying up more property.

Investors are back in a heated Auckland property market and rapidly rising house prices are fuelling the fire.

A summertime dip, after tax and loan-to-value ratio (LVR) changes were introduced last year, appears well and truly over.

New figures show the median price of the more than 3000 houses sold in the region last month surged $70,000 to $820,000, the first time it’s broken $800,000.

Investors accounted for 44 per cent of the sales and one in three properties went for more than $1 million.

Experts now say predictions the market would cool were premature, as investors found ways to circumvent controls.

The city’s median price was up from $720,000 in January and $750,000 in February, according to Real Estate Institute data.

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Aucklanders are doomed

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Not because of Len Brown, although that can’t have helped.  But apparently, Aucklanders are so disconnected from reality that they want Civil Defence to restore their “WiFi” before water.

In emergency situations, Aucklanders want WiFi internet restored before water, a survey revealed.

Auckland Council Civil Defence and Emergency Management (CDEM) found 48 per cent of people prioritised WiFi as an essential part of everyday life. Read more »