Penny Hulse

I can’t stand this: Deputy Mayor suddenly has the solution

Auckland’s deputy mayor is calling for a cross-party housing accord to solve Auckland’s housing crisis.

It comes as new figures reveal only 9 percent of properties built in Auckland last year were so-called affordable.

The development in Hobsonville is often seen as the poster child of affordable housing in Auckland.

The problem is developers can’t build homes there fast enough.

“Number one over the last four years [is] we’ve absorbed a city the size of Tauranga in the Auckland region and that’s creating the problem,” says Penny Hulse, Auckland’s deputy mayor.

Last year alone Auckland’s population grew by 50,000, requiring an extra 20,000 houses.

Only 5500 were built, and just 9 percent of them were what the Government calls affordable homes – those valued under $500,000.

“It’s not enough. Ten percent is not okay in Auckland,” Ms Hulse says. “It means that housing and owning a house is not a future that every Aucklander can expect to be a part of.”

Hulse is planning to run for mayor, but nobody bothers to ask what she has done over the years to solve this problem.   She was part of the idiots that created the artificial supply of land that caused everything to slow down and prices to rocket.   Read more »

Council’s Port conundrum leaked

The Ports of Auckland reclamation is going from bad to worse for Auckland Council as it turns out that the Council has received plenty of advice about what activity status to apply to future reclamation.

A secret legal opinion shows Auckland Council could have pushed for tougher rules against port expansion into Waitemata Harbour.

Instead, the council has voted to ease the rules for reclamation, handing Ports of Auckland a huge victory in its latest quest to reclaim 3ha of seabed for a giant carpark.

The backdown, led by Mayor Len Brown and his deputy Penny Hulse, has led to a public outcry and a protest at Queens Wharf organised for tomorrow.

Prominent guardians of the city’s commerce, environment and culture including Rob Fyfe, Lady Pippa Blake, Barbara Kendall and Neil Finn are among 110 people to have signed an open letter urging the port company to “stop stealing our harbour”.

Councillors have been gagged from talking about the legal opinion and bureaucrats refused to release it to the Weekend Herald under the Official Information Act.

The Weekend Herald has been leaked a copy of the legal opinion by lawyer Ian Cowper, which says the council can push for tougher, “non-complying” rules in the draft Unitary Plan, the new planning rulebook for the Super City.

Mr Cowper, a specialist in regional and coastal policies, was asked for an opinion after the port company took exception to the council inserting “non-complying” rules into the first draft of the Unitary Plan in 2013.

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Lenny No Mates

Len Brown has no mates, despite his protestations.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown has lost the backing of key members of his campaign team, who are turning their attention to other left-leaning candidates at next year’s local body elections.

The Herald has learned of a meeting last month where key campaign and mayoral advisers delivered the “blunt message” to Mr Brown that he has no chance of winning and should step down.

Mr Brown was told he would receive no financial backing, political support or volunteers to erect billboards and deliver pamphlets for a campaign where his sex life would be centre stage.    Read more »

Land-owners let down by politicians in kauri case

Politicians are a scary prospect at times.

We vote for them to run our cities and country and it appears that they don’t understand the law one bit.

If you’re gonna be a politician – at least get to know the laws of the land just so you don’t look like a prize goose when you mouth off about an issue or try to look like you’re doing something about it.

The Great Titirangi Kauri Tree caper has to be one of those moments when we collectively wonder just how bright our civic and national leaders are.

They all rushed out there, held meetings and expressed concern for the said tree, whilst openly stating they were trying to do something about it.

The fact is, there was and is no legal grounds on which they politicians could resolve the issue.

The Resource Consent can’t be revoked. Most likely a Judicial Review on process would fail to pass the required threshold test to succeed and so everyone was powerless to do anything at all.  Read more »

Len Brown breaks yet another promise, ratchets rates ever higher

Len Brown has become the lying Mayor.

Another of his election promises has gone by the wayside as his council keeps on increasing rates rather than reining in spending.

Auckland Council’s budget committee has voted 16-7 for a proposal to increase rates by 3.5 per cent for each year of a new 10-year budget.

The proposal got the backing of Mayor Len Brown, who promised voters to hold rates at 2.5 per cent this term.

This is on top of the massive rates rises of the last 3 years, some way more than 10% but capped under now expired legislation. Remember too that this is average rates rises of 3.5%, there will be some with even higher rates rises.

These are the tax, spend and hope councillors.

For a 3.5 per cent increase: Len Brown, Penny Webster, Arthur Anae, Cathy Casey, Bill Cashmore, Ross Clow, Linda Cooper, Chris Darby, Alf Filipaina, Penny Hulse, Mike Lee, Calum Penrose, John Walker, Wayne Walker and Maori Statutory Board members David Taipari and John Tamihere.

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Auckland’s councillors are revolting

Well, not all of them, but certainly enough to put Len Brown’s pet project in jeopardy.

The $2.4 billion City Rail Link could be deferred until 2020 because of mounting concerns by councillors about its impact on rates, debt and big cuts to community services.

A number of councillors are having second thoughts about an early start on the rail project and support deferring work until the Government comes on board with funding in 2020.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown has locked $2.2 billion into a new 10-year budget to begin work on the 3.5km underground rail link in 2016 and completed by 2021.

On Wednesday, all 20 councillors and the mayor will debate the budget and make decisions on the rail project for public consultation.

One commenter notes:

The best news from the article is that councillors seem to be backing away from the train set – with luck Len’s folly will be initially deferred and later abandoned without fanfare.

And another comments:

Had a quick look. Finally it seems like ‘the people of Auckland are getting mad enough and therefore loud enough to be heard. Reading between the lines it seems like the counsellors have decided they would rather get re-elected and keep their jobs than support someone (Lenny) who is going to lose.

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More talk about Auckland’s housing problems

Nick Smith, housing, environment, building and construction minister, vowed Resource Management Act reform. Deputy major Penny Hulse revealed plans for a new Auckland Development Agency, understood to be a merger of council-controlled Auckland Council Property and Waterfront Auckland. They would become one new more powerful urban transformational unit. But she said she did not want to reveal details before the announcement.

[NZIER principal economist] Mr Eaqub said foreigners were not responsible for driving up prices and at maximum, only 8 per cent of house sales were to non-residents. New Zealand investors and movers dominated new house purchases, he said citing CoreLogic data showing investors made up 45 per cent of house purchases, first-home buyers only 19 per cent and movers 28 per cent.

There are a lot of misconceptions of who are the active participants in our housing market,” he said.

These three form the ‘expert’ panel.  So far I’m underwhelmed.   Read more »

If anyone knows about prohibition it is the Sallies…and they say it doesn’t work

Some very wise words from a Salvation Army boss about prohibition, both of alcohol and cannabis.

Simon Collins takes a break from pimping the poor to talk to to Alistair Herring of the Salvation Army.

A New Zealander who has come home after heading the Salvation Army in Pakistan says prohibition never works, but more restrictions can reduce the harm from drugs and alcohol.

Commissioner Alistair Herring, 63, who returned from Pakistan in April to head the Salvation Army’s NZ addiction services, said Islam’s ban on alcohol did not stop Pakistanis suffering serious addiction problems.

“Muslims are not allowed to hold alcohol licences in Pakistan on the premise that Islam is against addictive substances,” he said. “What tends to happen in reality is that Muslims who want to drink will go to the Christian or non-Muslim community for their alcohol. I have talked to Muslim folk in Pakistan and they acknowledge that it is a problem. There is also a huge drug problem, of course.”

He said Salvationists vowed not to drink or smoke voluntarily “because of who we are and the services we provide”. But compulsion was “quite a different thing”.

“Prohibition is never going to work, has never worked,” he said.

He said he would be “very cautious” about decriminalising cannabis, as proposed by Auckland Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse, but he acknowledged the inconsistency of laws on cannabis and alcohol.

“I understand the younger generation saying to their parents, ‘So you are against my drug of choice but what about your drug of choice?'” he said. “We tend to want to use a sledgehammer with drugs and a feather duster with alcohol.”

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Good intent, but I doubt we need a 3 year study to work out why Pasifika don’t own houses

An interesting if doomed initiative.

An initiative testing the financial management of Pacific Aucklanders is being launched this weekend.

The three-year pilot programme, Turanga, will be trialled on 60 Pacific families in a bid to identify why few Pacific people are homeowners.

Almost half of all Pacific Aucklanders live in crowded households and are likely to experience long-term debt, Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse said.

“There are significant challenges for many Aucklanders to become homeowners but it can be especially hard for the Pacific community to get a foot on Auckland’s housing ladder,” Hulse said.

Twenty families a year will take part in Turanga and will provide information about their financial, social and cultural circumstances to identify the challenges they face.

The findings will then be used to develop a programme for each family tailored to their specific needs.

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We don’t want your stinking apartments

Ever desperate to continue pitching for an intensified future Lawrence Yule and his buddies at Local Government NZ have organised a conference and found someone, anyone who will spout on about apartments.

The cost of properties with over-inflated price tags can be brought down with a rapid increase of high rise apartment blocks and granny flats, according to an expert speaking at a property seminar in Wellington tonight.

Local Government New Zealand president Lawrence Yule will lead a panel discussion on housing affordability with Finance Minister Bill English, Auckland Council Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse, economist Arthur Grimes and New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development chairman John Rae.

Aha! Someone who will say that building apartments will make a difference to house prices and demand.

Normally Arthur Grimes is considered to be pretty smart and he has some good things to say.

But it appears he lacks understanding precisely how the mechanism of property and how the buying market works.

In fact – not many people do at all.

New apartments have to sell for between 8,000 and 10,000 per square metre of floor space in Auckland on average to allow a developer a margin. That can drop slightly in the CBD if car parks are discounted off the price by not building them. A 100 sqm apartment therefore would have a sales price around $1m.

New houses have to sell for $3,000-3,500 psqm. A $1m house will most often be a big 250-300 sqm house on land with yard and so on.

Apartments have terribly high ongoing costs distributed through body corporate fees. Houses don’t.    Read more »