Roger Blakeley

Lessons for Auckland from Sao Paulo

S?o Paulo is in trouble this week as it looks likely to be dangerously close to running out of water to supply its residents.

It’s the 12th biggest city in the world and a place smart growth advocate’s like to tout from time to time of our intensive cities can work.

Except it has a big problem.

The city of Sao Paulo is home to 20 million Brazilians, making it the 12th largest mega-city on a planet dominated by shortsighted humans. Shockingly, it has only 60 days of water supply remaining. The city “has about two months of guaranteed water supply remaining as it taps into the second of three emergency reserves,” reports Reuters. [1]

Technical reserves have already been released, and as the city enters the heavy water use holiday season, its 20 million residents are riding on a fast-track collision course with severe water rationing and devastating disruptions.

But this isn’t a story about Sao Paulo; it’s a report that dares to point out that human societies are incredibly shortsighted and nearly incapable of sustainably populating planet Earth. In numerous regions around the world — including California, India, Oklahoma, Brazil, China and many more — human populations are rapidly out-growing the capacity of their local water systems. Even though keeping populations alive requires food… and growing food requires water… almost no nation or government in the world seems to be able to limit water consumption of local populations to levels which are sustainable in the long term.

Read more »

Auckland Council ratbags push through wharf extension without notification

Councils all around New Zealand are notorious law breakers and the biggest Council is the worst offender of the lot.

An extension of a wharf is not likely to be a complying activity under the district plan. But be that as it may, Auckland Council has effectively ignored all assessment criteria and sound planning judgement to issue itself a resource consent for a major wharf extension.

The Auckland Council has approved two large wharf extensions into Waitemata Harbour for port use without notifying the public or councillors.

Planning commissioners approved the additions on the grounds they were positive and had no adverse impact.

The applications by Ports of Auckland are for extensions at the end of Bledisloe wharf – 100m beyond the left-hand side and 130m beyond the right-hand side. They are each 33m wide.

The revelation comes as Mayor Len Brown, 20 councillors and two members of the Statutory Maori Board today decide if more seabed should be reclaimed for port use.

One of five councillors opposed to further reclamation, Chris Darby, said the wharf extensions had “cunning” written all over the applications and consent. ?? Read more »

Auckland Council writes Herald on Sunday articles

The issue of Auckland land supply has raised a lot of criticism in the property industry. Only this weekend did the Council top thug Roger Blakeley attempt to point the finger at the market and past Councils for the problem.

We constantly read news stories that are actually spin from Councils and Auckland Council is a master of spinning tall tales.

But part of the problem is that the MSM regurgitates whatever it hears from these lying officials.

On Sunday former director of Harrison and Grierson – Jon Maplesden (now a consultant who represents a large swathe of land developers) came out with a solid sledge at the Herald on Sunday – who had previously reported about the progress that Auckland Council were making on the Housing Accord.

As always the MSM are lazy with their reporting ??and the Herald on Sunday is no better than the rest of them, writing that there were now 45,000 sections ready to go.

Maplesden wrote back and it couldn’t be more accurate:

?Show me the houses

Speaking as an expert in land development, who has spent a lifetime consulting on the subject, l would be interested to know where your information on unbuilt houses came from (New homes to bust land hoarders, November 30). I do not believe ?45,000 sections in Auckland are sitting there ready to go, with all the connections to water, power and roads – but no houses?. ? Read more »

Auckland Council’s head planning thug hits back

Where there is smoke there is fire.

I’ve been saying for some time that Auckland Council ignores the rule of law because nobody is policing them.

As it turns out others also think the same and Rob Stock of the Sunday Star Times did so with his comments recently.

So what does Auckland Council do?

Its head thug Roger Blakeley has come out punching.

And here is the tell tale signs of an organisation that is guilty as charged.

Everything I hear tells me that developers and property people are sick to death of Auckland Council’s officers ignoring the rule of law and doing whatever they like.

They run the Council much like a Mafioso or a fiefdom and like all narcissistic control freak organisations they are quick to react to the stinging criticism with fob offs and rebuttal.

And they are running scared because others also ?want a Policeman of Local Government it appears.

AUCKLAND COUNCIL planning supremo Dr Roger Blakeley has rejected claims council officers and urban planners were acting outside the law.

Last week, the Sunday Star-Times reported on planning consultant John Dare’s?Charter for Change, in which he called for the removal of “discretion” from council officers whom he accused of going beyond their legal powers and stymying development.

That, along with slow and complex bureaucracy, was limiting the supply of new dwellings and driving up housing costs, Dare said.

Blakeley dismissed that. “It’s not true,” he said. “Our officers are required to abide by the law.”

Blakeley also denied developers operated in a “climate of fear” that their chances of getting their projects completed promptly would be damaged if they were openly critical or failed to adopt council officers’ suggestions.

He also rejected Dare’s idea of creating an ombudsman to whom developers could complain when they felt that council officers overstepped the mark.

?That sounds like just adding another layer of bureaucracy? Blakeley said, adding that there were already checks and balances in the system.

Blakeley acknowledged that some in the city believed only a free market could solve Auckland?s shortage of new homes and bring down sky-high property prices.

Just this past week, a report from Statistics New Zealand reported on the rise in the number of households, particularly Pacific Island households, renting. It also lifted the lid on the number of very crowded households.

The future of Auckland planning is being reviewed and a free market option is on the table.

The council has prepared a unitary plan and an independent Hearing Panel is gathering feedback with the aim of having the plan in place in 2016. That feedback process was providing a battleground for ideas on the powers the council should have to control development. ?? Read more »

NIMBYS want a park not jobs

A bunch of NIMBYs don’t want a Bunnings built in their suburbs, instead these selfish ratbags want a park instead of jobs

Angry Grey Lynn and Arch Hill residents picketed Auckland Council this morning in an anti-Bunnings rally.

About 30 people carried placards saying “Bugger Off Bunnings”, “Arch Hill Says No to Bunnings”, and “No to Bunnings Big Box”.

Shale Chambers of the Waitemata Local Board and councillor Mike Lee addressed the crowd at the edge of Aotea Square, expressing support.

Lee said Auckland had a secretive planning process where about 98 per cent of resource consent applications were non-notified.

Lee asked whether planners were public servants.? Read more »

Coney barking up wrong tree

Policy Parrot says:

There is nothing more hilarious than watching Auckland Council fret about legal advice because the advice will be worthless shit.

Today Bernard Orsman reports that Councillor Sandra Coney wants to review legal advice provided to the top Council planners. Her desire to test the lawfulness of the Unitary Plan is smart. But unsurprisingly council officers don’t want her to read it.

This Parrot says that the advice won’t be worth the paper it is written on.

This Parrot can justify said statement because years of legal proceedings such as plan changes, variations, financial contribution battles, Judicial Review’s and other legal brouhaha where Council has either lost or had it’s planning provisions substantially changed proves they are getting poor advice over which fights they can win and which they can’t. They always start the process thinking they are right and what they have drafted is vires.

For example six long years of LGAAA and Plan Change 6 appeals on the Regional Policy Statement. The end result was a clear win for opponents of Council’s planning provisions. Or heritage provisions through Plan Change 167 in Auckland City – pulverised by Remuera locals. What about the tree rules smashed to oblivion by the Property Council?

The point this Parrot is making is that Council legal advice falls short more often than it upholds a Council position with wins. Provisions do get overturned and often.? Read more »

Auckland Council clutching at straws over intensification

Policy Parrot says:

Auckland Council is really starting to look desperate and clutch at straws. Posted today on the Auckland Council website chief planning officer Dr Roger Blakeley has attempted to justify the benefits of a compact Auckland in an open letter.

Roger comes up with some pearls of wisdom that leave one wondering if he has forgotten to take his medicine.

Lets analyse the absurdity of his statements:

Deaths by Pollution

Roger says: ?Less pollution from cars will help create healthier air for Aucklanders to breathe. About 300 premature deaths occur each year in Auckland due to air pollution.?

We say: What the heck is Roger on about? Nobody actually really believes that 300 people die due to air pollution in Auckland he can?t even prove that! What nonsense. The council’s own report in 2012 only thinks there are some death attributable to pollution and uses another number entirely.

Cost of infrastructure

Roger says: ?The more we build out, the more infrastructure we need to add on, such as water and sewerage pipes and cabling. According to a major study in Sydney, overall, it is less expensive by a factor of two to intensify in the urban area than develop new greenfields?.

We say: Does Roger you know that for sure? Only last week Auckland Council issued a Request for Expressions of Interest where it specifically stated it has no idea what the cost on infrastructure is for Auckland vis a vis intensification versus Greenfield. The fact is Roger is shooting from the hip and making things up as he goes. The fact is Greenfield property developers pay for ALL the infrastructure built as the city expands so it is going to be interesting to see how they prove the costs of intensification are cheaper.

Sprawl and farmland

Roger says: ? Auckland also relies on surrounding farmland to grow vegetables, fruit and other crops ? a vital and valuable business. Taking away farmland would cost jobs and require transport of food over greater distances, increasing carbon emissions and the time and cost to sell goods?.

We say: Roger is talking tripe. According to the Auckland Plan document horticultural activities in the Auckland region grew by 6,799 hectares between 1996-2010 whilst lifestyle blocks increased by 36,718 hectares. What this tells anyone is that the regions surrounding land is being cut into lifestyle blocks but that it is not having a detrimental effect on horticultural land used for growing vegetables, fruit and other crops. Additionally one can read many economic data on-line that demonstrates that over 80% of all food crops consumed by Aucklanders comes from out of the Auckland region. In short ? Roger is talking nonsense.

Losing parks and forests

Roger says: ?One of the things that makes Auckland so great is easy access to wonderful forests, coastal areas, countryside and parks. If we can preserve as much of this as possible, with a greater focus on intensification, we have these areas to enjoy for recreation.?

We say: Roger is bonkers. The premise that developers will buy from Auckland Council parks and forests and recreation areas and develop them is beyond preposterous ? it is plainly absurd. These places are owned by Council so unless Roger is suggesting that under Greenfield expansion they will sell them there is no risk to any of these places being lost.

So?

Is this the best we can get from the top planner at Auckland Council? Surely not?

If this is the way Auckland Council planners think, then it is of no surprise that the draft unitary plan is so poorly considered.

Len?s team are faltering and are hopelessly lost. The Mayor and his planning team are demonstrating time and time again that they are not up to the job of steering our city. So is it time for them to step aside and let the Government in?

Planning Parrot: 10 Questions for Len Brown

Len Brown Smack face10 Questions for Len Brown:

1. Do Roger Blakeley and or Ree Anderson get paid a bonus for delivering Unitary Plan on time for notification?

2. If the answer to question 1 is ‘yes’ then do Roger and Ree give a toss if the plan is quality or deliverable?

3. Lenny B where is the evidence and analysis required for the Unitary Plan’s Section 32 report that helped you make informed decisions about the future Auckland or did you just write your own vision and hope to find some scraps of evidence to support it?

4. How many people on Council Unitary Plan work streams are graduates?? Read more »

Len Brown is coming for your schools, golf clubs and churches

Len Borwn’s shiny new unitary plan has looked at?available?land for housing across Auckland, and has come to the conclusion that there is plenty for infill housing just so long as they take your schools, golf clubs and churches.

Schools, including Kings Prep in Remuera and De La Salle College in Mangere, were unlikely to be replaced by houses, said council chief planning officer Dr Roger Blakeley, but it was still a possibility.

Dr Blakeley was commenting on a stocktake of land and property in the existing urban area that pinpoints large parcels of land that could be subdivided for infill housing and apartments.

As well as schools, the stocktake has captured resthomes, churches and the Grange Golf Club in Papatoetoe.

Luxury homes on large sections in Remuera and the eastern suburbs could also be replaced with more intensive housing.

Schools and other properties have been labelled “residential vacant” (vacant land) and “residential vacant potential and infill” (land with some buildings) in a council report, with capacity for housing development.

The report, Capacity for Growth Study 2012, looks at how many new dwellings could be built in urban Auckland under the existing district and regional plans.

“Unlikely”…like I’m going to believe a council official intent on massive intensification. Len Brown can’t be trusted either, unsurprisingly his house was miraculously left out of zoning changes?in the unitary plan that allows for tower block apartments.

When will Len start telling the truth?

It’s time for Lyin’ Len Brown to be honest with the people of Auckland about his plans to junk accountability.? Having been outed by Judge Jeff Smith for delays caused by?bureaucratic?manipulation, the mayor’s most senior planning official, Dr Roger Blakeley, said the council “… had not complained to the Government about delays in the court progressing planning cases sufficiently rapidly“.

Does this mean that Auckland Council now believes transparency, accountability, and upholding the rights of Aucklanders to appeal Len Brown’s draft unitary plan will not cause unreasonable delay?? If so, why would Auckland Council make the argument to Environment Minister Amy Adams for immunity from appeals?

The latest spin coming from city hall is that without the Minister’s intervention, the council faces a?”… $9 million legal bill and up to 10 years of delays if the region’s new growth planning rule book draws 170 appeals“.? Since Len Brown came to office, council debt has risen to the point where borrowing?now increases at a rate of $3 million per day.? The cost of democracy and accountability equates to only three days worth of borrowing under the present mayor; yet?the?threat of accountability is the thing that motivates him more than any other to pick a fight.

Perhaps the truth is the mayor’s unchecked arrogance has now ballooned to the point where he believes accountability no longer applies to him.

Fair enough, Len established that?view?years ago when using the?ratepayer’s plastic to fund the Christmas ham and Volare dinners.? But why would any community or any government buy into his vision of lifelong immunity from his own ratepayers?

Then again Lyin’ Len Brown promised us that he would always tell the truth, but with limits.