Dodgy ratbag council is as dodgy ratbag council does

It appears that the corrupt Auckland Council are donkey deep in making things easy for themselves whilst making it hard from anyone else to do anything at all.

The vote to make expansion of the container terminal a discretionary activity, that in turn makes consenting easy and possibly non-notified, is marred with all manners of agenda.

Firstly Ports of Auckland is owned by Auckland Council and the dividend paid to the Council is an obvious benefit that by default creates a conflict of interest.

But there is even more agenda at play.

In the same development committee meeting the Councillors had two topics for discussion being:

1. The now known activity status for reclamation of the port;

2. proposals to investigate changes to the CBD waterfront – but more specifically – Captain Cook Wharf.

Now call me cynical, but it would appear that Council is not only making the consenting of reclamation easier, but that Council has a reason for wanting to do that.   Read more »

SkyCity bludgers want government cash from NZ but have plenty to pour into their dog in Adelaide

Sky City has increased the cost of the convention centre with the addition of a 5 star hotel, not on tarting up the proposal. Combined with escalation within the wider construction industry the Sky City team have grossly under estimated the true costs. So be it.

But wait there is more…

Now they say they want to invest heavily into their dog casino at Adelaide. It’s losing money hand over fist but the execs at Sky City obviously think a few hundred million spent there is a good idea.

While negotiating with the Government here on its Auckland project, SkyCity Entertainment Group is considering spending more than the A$350 million ($366 million) it originally planned on its Adelaide property.

Announcing the interim result yesterday, chief executive Nigel Morrison revealed a newly expanded plan for Adelaide which the business says would eventually be far bigger than its Auckland casino and entertainment operations. But he did not quantify the exact amount to be spent.

“SkyCity is currently exploring a range of different expansion options including additional Horizon VIP villas and suites and an expanded hotel, which would potentiality increase the costs for the project over the indicative cost of A$350 million,” he said.   Read more »

Dodgy Auckland Council report misleads on compact city

Auckland Council are at it again with fudged numbers and reports to try to support their beloved compact city.

And it really calls into question the rationality of the brass who just won’t let go of a losing argument.

Yesterday Council finally released a report that they had been trying to bury. Of course the MSM have picked up on it in part, but only to quote the wrong paragraphs. Hardly a surprise.

I’ve said before that ​the arguments for intensification are tripe. Nothing more so than the ‘cost arguments’ that are touted. Rather than accept that sprawl produces very cost effective homes comapred to intensification the advocates of compact cities complicate the argument by adding in all manner of other costs that they say make up the total true cost of housing. Like transport and infrastructure for example. Lately the arguments for travel have been thwarted by a sudden decline in the cost of fuel making all the reports and cost estimates touted int he last few years irrelevant. Now Auckland Council is trying to argue that the infrastructure costs to let the city continue outwardly sprawling – is too expensive – and that it is cheaper to make it compact.

In short they argue that the costs of installing pipes for water, sewer and storm water along with roads and public transport – is more expensive for greenfields. Bollocks. Developers of greenfield land always pay for the infrastructure and give it to Council for free, whilst network connections are repaid to councils through development contributions. End cost – nought. Free. Zip razoo.

And ironically their own report agrees. Which is why they tried to bury it.   Read more »

Bill English joins Reserve Bank in trying to scare housing market


Rising house prices can’t go on forever and the Reserve Bank could take action to rein in the booming market, Finance Minister Bill English says.

In a speech last week, Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler warned about the risk a “sharp correction” to houses prices poses to financial stability.

Asked whether he thought housing bubble could burst, Mr English said: “All I know is no asset price can go up at over 10 per cent a year forever. Sometime it will stop.”

However, he said the Reserve Bank has responsibility for financial stability and it would be up to the governor to decide what action would be taken.

Mr English said housing supply was increasing and in the next three to five years the supply situation in Auckland will change. Read more »

Face of the day


Samuel Forrest with his son Leo

Today’s face of the day was forced to choose between his wife and his son. It is a choice no man should have to make but due to cultural differences and an intolerant society in Armenia pressure was put on his wife to give her baby up.

In a second article she explains her side of the story saying that she felt it was better for her son that she loves to live in New Zealand where he would be treated better. However she fails to say why she filed for divorce and decided not to move to New Zealand with her husband and son.

12:05, 6 February 2015
A HEARTBROKEN father has been made to choose between his wife and his son after their baby boy was born with Down’s Syndrome.

Samuel Forrest’s wife Ruzan Badalyan gave birth to their first child Leo on January 21 in an Armenian hospital .

But just a week after welcoming Leo in the world, Ruzan filed for divorce because she feared his disability would bring “shame on her family”.

Read more »

Want to be buried in Auckland? You may have to join a queue

Having a burial plot all to yourself is set to become a luxury in Auckland as the Council scrambles for more space.

Auckland will run out of room for graves at two of its three main cemeteries within four years, and will spend up to $46.5 million to acquire and develop land for more burial plots.

A report will be presented to Auckland Council’s parks committee when it meets on Tuesday outlining the future demand for burials and storage of ashes.

The report reveals that, based on 2006 Census data, North Shore Memorial Park and Waikumete Cemetery will run out of burial space for bodies by 2019. Manukau Memorial Gardens will run out of space for bodies in 2035.

According to the report, 70 per cent of people in New Zealand favour burial over cremation, but a changing demographic in Auckland will see a shift in preferences.

Perhaps it’s time we put them in the ground vertically.   Read more »

Can Auckland Transport get anything right?

Auckland Transport has stuffed up again, rooting up one of the simplest jobs they have, providing adequate and readable signage for motorists.

New signs peppering streets around Auckland’s Dominion Rd may have to be “re-skinned” to make them easier for motorists to read, the city’s transport authority admits.

Auckland Transport said yesterday that some drivers had complained lettering on the dark blue “way-finding” signs is not large enough for them to make out.

“Initial feedback is that the typeface … is too small, particularly if you are driving,” said marketing general manager Mike Loftus. “This is certainly something we will be reviewing.”

But he said the signs were designed so they could be re-skinned with larger type if necessary, rather than replaced at greater cost.

Although they were introduced primarily to point to a 12km network of routes developed for $5.9 million as safer cycling alternatives to busy Dominion Rd, they have replaced larger street signs in a number of locations. Those include four intersections along Dominion Rd.

The larger – more legible – versions will remain in storage during a trial by Auckland Transport and other council organisations to develop a standard wayfaring sign to point to community facilities throughout the Super City.

Mr Loftus said the budget covered about 100 signs and route maps installed along the Grafton Gully cycleway as well as two sets of routes parallel to Dominion Rd, for which contractors have also installed speed bumps, pathways and boardwalks, leaving only a bridge to be erected in Mt Roskill’s War Memorial Park.

Read more »

Is Auckland Council corrupting the consultation process

Auckland Council are as dumb as a bag of hammers and notorious law breakers of the highest order.

Last week I brought to the attention the absurdity of the Auckland Council Community Engagement survey for the Long Term Plan that included questions over funding alternatives for Auckland that – in my opinion – were deliberate and railroaded residents into voting for one of two options – (1) fuel tax; or (2) motorway congestion charges.

Auckland Council cannot do either of those things and the government has poured cold water on the ideas for years. But try they will.

Today I want to focus the gun sights on the lawfulness of the consultation.

Because it appears Auckland Council are again failing to fulfil their duties under the Local Government Act. Deliberately.

When I read the Local Government Act I am drawn to Sections 76AA, 82A and 95A which outline how consultation/engagement is supposed to be carried out.

While I may not be a lawyer, it’s not rocket science and there are very specific requirements for Councils to fulfil in order to discharge their duties. One can’t simply issue a glossy printed brochure with some questions and expect that it will suffice.

For example – Section 76AA ‘Significance and Engagement Policy’ – sets out that before consultation a Council must adopt a policy that clearly outlines how the Council will undertake enagement with the community and in receiving back responses – how it will determine what that means. I doubt Auckland Council has a policy and I’d like to take a good look at it if it exists because this particular Council has a legacy of spin doctoring and the is every reason to suspect they will merely present the results of the consultation in a way that supports the pet projects they want.     Read more »

Torched for being modern?

Pinko heritage advocates are being fingered for arson attacks.

Police hunting an arsonist who torched a designer home in a swanky Auckland suburb are investigating if the blaze is linked to opposition to its controversial construction.

Fire ripped through the house on Hakanoa St in Grey Lynn nine days ago.

It comes after the property, which divided opinion on the heritage-protected street, was last year targeted by vandals who broke in and flooded it.

Police confirmed they were investigating both incidents but would not be drawn on whether they were linked.

But they said any connection between the break-ins and damage and possible heritage activists would be part of the investigation.

Last week the Malcolm Walker-designed property on Hakanoa St in Grey Lynn ” which is owned by Justine Muxlow and Daniel Birt “was burgled and fires started in a number of rooms.

Fire gutted a room next to a child’s bedroom, and a window exploded.

The pair and their two young children were not home. Read more »

Guest Post – Phil Hayward on Auckland and the RMA reforms

by Phil Hayward

The Auckland Unitary Plan Submission process is underway and we should soon know whether it is a charade with outcomes pre-determined and impervious to evidence. The usual suspects are also claiming once again to be able to “debunk” the latest Demographia Report on housing affordability, and even the government is embarrassed over the dismal ineffectiveness of its trumpeted “Housing Accords”.

My previous essays on this forum could usefully be read or re-read now by anyone interested in this subject.

The prevalent mythology is that Auckland already sprawls too much at low density, already has built too many roads (and that is why it is congested), is letting the floodgates re-open too much towards more new sprawl and not enough new intensification (60% of growth to be via intensification is the plan), the ramp-up in building now is major, and intensification will provide for affordability.

In fact, Auckland is around 3 times as dense as Boston, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Nashville and dozens of other US cities; is the second densest city in the Anglo New World after Toronto (pop. 6 million); is one of the densest first world urban areas of only 1 million people; is close to Amsterdam’s density and is denser than Lyon, Marseille, the Ruhr Valley and many urban areas in France and Germany, especially those with around 1 million people or less.

We have never actually had US style low density sprawl; very little of our suburban development was ever even ¼ acre sections. That always was a “dream” for most, and now nearly every such section has already had townhouses built on what was the backyard. In the USA, suburbs are common with minimum lot size mandates of 1 acre to 4 acres.  

Michael Bassett and Luke Malpass (NZ Initiative) “Priced Out: How NZ Lost its Housing Affordability” (2012) show that NZ and Auckland were during the period from the 1960’s to the 1980’s, building as many as twice as many new dwellings as now. Most of that was greenfields suburban development, albeit at considerably higher density than US-style sprawl. We now have congestion problems because there was inadequate planning of road capacity, not because we did the roads we did.

I have estimated from TomTom Traffic index data and Google Earth imagery, that Auckland has 1/3 the highway lane miles and 1/5 the arterial lane miles of Indianapolis, which has a similar population. Indianapolis in the TomTom Traffic Index, scores a congestion delay of 15 minutes per 1 hour of driving at peak (other comparable US cities are similar) versus Auckland’s 45 minutes. Of course its house price median multiple happens to be stable at around 3 as well, in spite of being truly low density, unlike Auckland.   Read more »