Month: July 2013

It’s About the Jobs – Again

Strong Economic Growth – Just not where it is needed

 

A release from Auckland Council‘s Chief Economist today on how the Auckland economy continues to do rather well:

Auckland’s housing market boosting wider economy
 
 
Strong house price growth across the Auckland region is boosting other parts of the economy including construction, finance and real estate industries, according to latest economic figures for the region in the first three months of this year.
 
Economic activity is now more sustained and broad based, with 17 out of 20 sectors recording gains in the quarter. Auckland grew at a rate of 3.2 per cent in the year to March; along with Christchurch, these two cities are underpinning growth across the country, said Geoff Cooper, Auckland Council’s chief economist. Mr Cooper said activity in Auckland’s construction, finance and property sectors will likely spill over into other parts of the region’s economy, and with time, other areas of New Zealand.
 
“Auckland house prices continue their upward march, which is buoying consumer confidence and further stimulating demand,” Mr Cooper wrote in the latest Auckland Economic Quarterly, released today.
 
“We’re already seeing a pick-up in activity across the finance, property and real estate and construction services sectors. As building work gathers pace, it will act as a catalyst for growth in various downstream sectors, particularly domestic manufacturing and retail.”
 
The median Auckland house price was $562,000 in March 2013, up 12.5 per cent from March last year. Signs that migration is rebounding, amid the slowing Australian economy, are likely to support house prices in the medium term.
 
Some 4,764 residential building consents were lodged with Auckland Council in the 12 months ended March 31 this year. While that’s down from the 10-year average of 6,631, it is up from the year-earlier figure of 3,976. This represents the early stages of a construction upswing in Auckland, which will need to continue before house prices ease.
 
Auckland’s consumers are among the most optimistic in New Zealand, spurred on by activity in the housing market. Westpac McDermott Miller reports a consumer confidence score of 119.0 for Auckland, well ahead of the national average of 110.8, and up 13.7 per cent from Q1 of last year. Retail sales rose 1.1 per cent from the final three months of 2012, and new car registrations increased again to just shy of the 10-year average.
 
Still, lack of job growth continues to weigh on Auckland’s recovery as unemployment remains high at 7.3 per cent. With business employment intentions in positive territory and economic activity looking more sustained, job seekers have more reason for optimism in the year ahead.

—–ends—–

 

Okay some renewed strength in the house building sector is good as that will get the supply up. Although still not fast enough for sustained Unitary Plan levels if the population growth remains to be high.

The issue though is emphasised in red although the rest in black could be good news if job growth increases..

However, this shows the crucial nature to which the Unitary Plan needs to get right on employment centres. Those main centres being our City Centre, (Super and) Metropolitan Centres, heavy and light industry, and supported by good Town Centres.

 

Forget focusing on you house and everything within 25 metres around it like our NIMBY‘s and shills are. Attention needs to focus on our higher end commercial and industrial centres to make sure the land and infrastructure is in position so that entrepreneurs like me can create jobs.

With the failure that was the Consensus Building Group just announcing their report on transport funding over the life of the current Integrated Transport Program; I believe emphasis will be placed on a more decentralised front with employment centres. Decentralised like running two CBD’s and multiple industrial centres so that people have the option live local and work local rather than cross city commute or funnel into one point as the mayor wants.

i will work up the plan and subsequent language around Manukau, Wiri and Southern Auckland and its potential development front through the life of the Unitary Plan as part of ongoing work in this area.

If we need jobs and our transport boffins are rather inept on getting Auckland moving (and no, Auckland Transport are absolved of this. They are the ones who need to carry this all out) the we better look for some alternatives quick

 

The CBG Final Report

 

So Which Form of Mediocrity Would You Like Today?

Not Really Options for Transport as Purported by The Mayor

 

So with Mayor incumbent Len Brown kicking off his campaign the issue of transport got dragged up straight away. In other words how to pay for the 2012 Integrated Transport Plan that has caused a lot of teeth gnashing from all sides of the coin.

From The NZ Herald

Auckland drivers face off-ramp toll

By Mathew Dearnaley

 

Drivers may be tolled at Auckland motorway exit ramps to ease pressure on ratepayers over a $12 billion transport funding gap, according to a high-level report due out today.

 

The report, from a 17-member think-tank appointed by Mayor Len Brown, will give Auckland Council and the Government a clear timetable for when new revenue sources will be needed to raise an extra $400 million for each of 30 years.

 

The money will be for projects such as the City Rail Link and new roads, including another Waitemata Harbour crossing.

 

The plan is expected to include increases to fuel taxes and rates and possible charges for motorists to use existing roads from 2020, rather than just tolls now allowed on new government highways.

Well as already noted those going right through the city won’t be pinged so long as they stay on the motorway. As for the rest of us? The Great South Road and Mill Road sound better alternatives from Papakura to Manukau or Otahuhu that using State Highway one.

My point? This proposing on slugging the off ramps rather than certain points along the motorway and having an effective mass transit alternative is a case of the cart before the horse syndrome.

To make matters worse in Len pigeon holing the transport funding debate some options were eliminated from the scope in the feedback session by the Consensus Building Group (yeah an Oxymoron right there):

From the Herald again

That paper ruled out about 20 options such as assets sales, a regional sales tax and a lottery before leaving Aucklanders with a stark choice between hefty rates rises combined with fuel tax rises in one corner, and a combination of enhanced traditional funding sources and road charges in the other.

 

Although the Government is opposed to charging drivers to use existing motorways, it is understood the report will suggest tolls at the off-ramps to local roads, given that those are half-funded by ratepayers.

 

Long-distance travellers would be free to drive through the city without being charged, as long as they stayed on the motorways.

 

What was wrong having a good debate about those options in red? Probably not compatible with the Mayor’s ideology so he shuts them out of the debate entirely and pigeon hole’s into the more unsustainable options I could think of.

 

Least our transport workhorse (one of two) Councillor Mike Lee hits the nail on the head:

Council transport chairman Mike Lee said he believed Aucklanders were “more than paying their way” and he didn’t think trying to find more cash from them “is on right now”.

 

So a rejig of the transport priorities and funding allocations might be needed here first folks. Not much of chance that happening while the Local Government Elections now formally under way…

 

 

Time for Some Sim Unitary Plan

1.4 million people in a 16.7km2 Area?

Can I do it?

Yes I can

 

Cold crap winter’s Sunday mean lots of hot chocolate, the heater and time to crack out some Sim City 4.

The Mission: Develop this 16.7km2 piece of real estate:

The hole where I will design and build the new mega city centre
The hole where I will design and build the new mega city centre

The area is planned to be the main core for the region or rather MEGA city. So that mean maximum densities and a very efficient transit system to boot to move those Sims around.

 

The existing transit map (note it does not show subways)

And the transport networks
And the transport networks. Note the Black and Light Blue are both highways (motorways)

Going to be fun connecting the transit system from the surrounds up to the new area. Of note this is what I have to connect up:

  • 2 lane roads
  • 4 lane avenues
  • 6 lane raised and ground level motorways
  • heavy rail
  • subways
  • Elevated High Speed Rail
  • Ferries and a port in the north west end

Infrastructure wise

  • Fresh water pumps
  • Treatment plants
  • Pipes
  • Some high tension power lines at the beginning
  • Nuclear FUSION reactors
  • Waste Depots so the trash is sent “off map” meaning some deals with it next door if I don’t incinerate it at a Nuclear Fission plant else where on the fringes of the mega city

Of note when I last had a “city” in that piece of real estate it took 4 fusion reactors to power it 😛

 

And to show were I will be starting:

Blank canvas for my new CORE city
Blank canvas for my new CORE city

Last time I developed a walking city with 75% of the 1.4m sims either walking or taking mass transit. Impressive? Yep despite the also impressive rapid roading system that matched it.

 

So time to fire up and get going. If one is wondering I do have a A4 colour copy of the above pic’s where I do pencil in preferences to what goes where in the planning phases. So essentially I am do a Sim Unitary Plan first then let the developers and sims let rip.

Fun times ahead

 

Informative Open Day from AT

You Should Go to One

 

I went to the Auckland Transport Open Day this morning in Papakura (while Rebekka was at the library) to have a nosy and ask some questions. On the cards was:

  • Bus Routes 365 and 371
  • Te Mahia Station being closed (which I support)
  • The Manukau and Otahuhu Transport Interchanges

(Note this was different to the status I gave on Facebook)

So I rocked up, signed in, got the notebook, started taking some nots, and asked some questions to the very helpful attendants. Oh and I got a brochure too so I can pass it to someone else for a read.

Overall I was there for 30mins and was worth it. I highly recommend rocking up to one and going yourself. These are the open days for the Southern Network:

From the AT Website

Open Days

To give Aucklanders the opportunity to ask any further questions in person and learn more about what the New Network will involve, we’re holding Open Days across South Auckland during the consultation period. Come along to an Open Day near you.

  • Saturday 13 July at Papakura Crossroads Church, 25 Broadway from 10am to 5pm
  • Monday 15 July at Manurewa Library, 7 Hill Road from 10am to 7pm
  • Tuesday 16 July at Mangere-Moana-nui-a-Kiwa Leisure Centre, 14 Waddon Place from 12pm to 7.30pm
  • Wednesday 17 July at Papatoetoe Town Hall, 5 St George St from 10am to 8pm
  • Thursday 18 July in the Manukau Room, Auckland Council Civic Building, 31 Manukau Station Road from 10.30 to 8pm
  • Saturday 20 July at the Otara Market (community centre), Newbury St from 7am to 4pm
  • Thursday 25 July at the Otahuhu Recreation Centre, Fairburn Reserve, 30 Mason Ave from 10am to 7.30pm
  • Saturday 27 July at the Onehunga Community Centre, Jackson & Yates Rooms, 83 Church St from 10am to 5pm

…..

 

Before I sign off I will repost AT’s FAQ around this as it should be compulsory reading before going along – it does answer some of the obvious

From AT again

New Network for the SouthQ&A with Anthony Cross, Auckland Transport’s Public Transport Network Manager

Q: How is the submission process going?

A: We’re tracking well with more than 500 submissions already received. Overall feedback has been favourable of the change. There are of course some routes and proposals that have captured people’s interest, which is fine and what we have been expecting.

We’re aiming to create a network that is both useful and convenient for more people in South Auckland. We hope to improve on it with the public’s input.

Q: Do you have any advice for people sending in submissions?

A: Yes, please be as detailed as possible to ensure we can identify your desired changes. For example, changing the XX route to go down XX road is more helpful than saying don’t like the new route. Or the XX connection point is not a suitable location because of X and Y.

If you have questions or disagree with something, attending an Open Day would be helpful. Staff will be on hand to speak with you and go over the proposals to help inform your submission.

Please tell us what you like as well as what you don’t like. And of course don’t leave it too late to send it in.

Q: The southern consultation closes in August 2013 but won’t be implemented until early 2015. Why does implementation take so long?

A: We understand it can be viewed as a lengthy process, but there are many elements involved when making changes of this scale. After consultation is the analysis of submissions. Are there routes and areas that need changing? This kind of fine tuning is needed before we can confirm the final southern network.

Because we are changing existing services, all new services will be contracted through a competitive tendering process. The successful operator will then require time to set up their operation (buses, drivers) to deliver these services.

Also, there need to be some infrastructure changes. For example, we need to build interchanges at Otahuhu and Manukau and to improve bus stops at many locations.

Q: What are the main changes proposed in the New Network for South Auckland?

A: For the full details on how South Auckland’s public transport network will change under the New Network, I suggest people look through all the information available on our website, but one example is the introduction of a new Frequent Network. This Frequent Network will have trains and buses timetabled at least every 15 minutes, from 7am to 7pm, seven days a week. It will be supported by a network of Connector routes timetabled at least every 30 minutes, along with Local and Peak services, to ensure South Aucklanders continue to have good access to public transport.

Q: What are the benefits of the New Network?

A: The most significant benefits are that the New Network is easy to understand, and operates frequently over a larger part of the day, all week including weekends. The frequency and increased service hours mean people can consider using public transport for a greater range of purposes, such as shopping and leisure activities, not just their regular work-home commuter trips.

We’ve also made improvements to travel between key locations within South Auckland, for example the route that connects Mangere to the airport.

Looking at the New Network map, it’s noticeable how much we have simplified the network – and a simple network gives people more confidence to navigate it. Right now people might only stick to the journeys they’re familiar with; we hope the New Network will offer Aucklanders flexibility and spontaneity in getting around Auckland for work or play.

Go to the New Network project page on the Auckland Transport website

Please do note the part I have put in red. One thing I notice with submissions and this was apparent with the Unitary Plan is that the residents will sit there cross armed and go “No don’t like it” but, never give an alternative. Those folks are your ultra NIMBY‘s – in the road of progress.

If you don’t like something in particular with a bus route, then write something meaningful as an alternative.

I went through the process on pointing out some meaningful changes to the proposed 365 and 371 routes in East Papakura. It can be seen here below:

19. Is there anything about the New Network you would change to better meet your travel needs? Please be specific e.g. change the xx route to go down xx road increase frequency of xx route because… xx connection point should be moved 100m south down xx road xx connection environment should be improved with a shelter xx connection point is not a suitable location because…. Please be as precise as possible to ensure we can identify your desired changes.

Text Response

Route 365 to terminate at Manurewa rather than Manukau (from Papakura). Have the proposed 365 route from Manurewa to Manukau dropped back to a Local Service rather than a connector service and renumbered.This is due to the proposed 365 route being too long, windy and redundant with the proposed Manukau South Rail Link in the pipeline that would allow direct fast train travel from Pukekohe and Papakura to Manukau Station instead of clumsy transfers at Puhinui

Route 365 (Papakura to Manurewa) should be having a stop 100 metres to the west – meaning it takes a detour along Walters Road, Arion Road and Willow Camp Road before rejoining Porchester Road to allow direct feeding to the large Takanini Village and proposed Glenora Road Station

Route 371: (Papakura to Takanini) should be having stops 100 metres to the west – meaning it takes a detour along Walters Road, Arion Road and Willow Camp Road before rejoining Porchester Road to allow direct feeding to the large Takanini Village and proposed Glenora Road Station until the “extended section” of Route 371 takes effect

To which it should take its proposed “extended” path 20 minute off peak frequencies between 9-4 seven days a week with it extended to 11pm Fridays and Saturdays for Routes 371 and 365

Yes I had the map open when writing all that up. No it does not have to be as long and as complex as what I came up with either. But, the above does serve as an example on what AT would be looking for if you were promoting a route change.

So if you catch public transport or want to with gas hitting well over $2.22/litre (still $2.10 – $2.19 where I live) then I’d suggest getting along to an open day and both learn something as well as give suggestions back. It will be YOUR public transport in YOUR city after all

totarim transport poster png mode

 

C&R Cluster?

Is it a split or just jockeying

 

I had heard Communities and Residents (C&R)(the Auckland Local Government Centre Right main ticket) were not very well but seeing Orsman’s piece this morning AND hearing what Councillor George Wood pulled (good on him) has me wondering.

How bad are things for the Centre Right in the coming Local Government elections with the formal campaign period (12 weeks before October 12) effectively under way.

From the NZ Herald and our favourite reporter Bernard Orsman

C&R splits as members eye election spots

Deputy leader quits centre-right ticket, leader in quarrel over ward running mate

 

George Wood has set up a new ticket on the North shore to contest October's local body elections.  Photo / Natalie Slade

 Photo / Natalie Slade / NZ Herald
George Wood has set up a new ticket on the North shore to contest October’s local body elections. Photo / Natalie Slade

The deputy leader of Communities and Residents, George Wood, has abandoned the centre-right ticket and set up a new ticket on the North Shore to contest October’s local body elections.

 

And in the Albert-Eden-Roskill ward C&R leader and councillor Christine Fletcher has indicated she does not want C&R’s Mark Thomas as her running mate for two seats on council.

 

Mr Wood told the Herald he was still a C&R member but running for the two North Shore seats with Devonport-Takapuna Local Board member Joseph Bergin under the banner Fair Deal, For Shore.

 

Mr Wood, a 66-year-old former North Shore Mayor, said he and Mr Bergin, 21, who is not a member of C&R, wanted to focus on the high rates burden for North Shore residents.

 

In Albert-Eden-Roskill, a plan by Orakei Local Board member Mr Thomas to stand with Mrs Fletcher has not gone down well.

 

Before leaving for the United States last Friday, Mrs Fletcher said on Facebook that she hoped an Albert-Eden-Roskill team member would be her running mate, “hopefully an enthusiastic Nigel Turnbull campaigning beside me

You can read more over at the Herald

 

The last thing the Centre Right need with a very galvanised Mayor (after the massive transport announcement), the Centre Left incumbents at the moment pretty safe in their seats (this includes Penny Hulse and Richard Northey who will face stiff opposition from Centre Right candidates) and Len Brown on a odds of taking the Mayorship at around 85% currently.

Do I personally think there is going to be any massive change in the Governing Body make up post October 12 this year? Apart from maybe a couple of changes owing to retirements (and I stand corrected Councillor Fletcher is NOT retiring) the make up won’t change much. This means status quo from the last three years continuing for the next three years.

Is this a good thing? On the finances side no it is not. But, both sides can have equal blame laid at their feet for a less than desirable Long Term Plan followed by tacking on projects like money for a church and the White Water Rafting project.

With the Unitary Plan and Transport issues at hand, stability in the Mayoral and Governing Body make up would be a good thing as these two mega projects grind their way through the political processes.

With concessions being gained in the Unitary Plan for all moderate sides of the debate (if Councillor Northey, Auckland 2040 and myself (and there will be countless others) can pull off Unitary Plan concessions in benefit for the city while showing 😀 faces then something must be going right), the last thing the city needs is destabilisation of the Unitary Plan process. Something that candidate Ms Krum who is contesting Northey’s seat could very well do after her Shilling exercise at her launch. Heck even ATB picked up on it and was not flattering towards her at that point in time.

As the Deputy Mayor said last week, we don’t need re-litigation of the Unitary Plan which Councillor Brewer effectively did last week. That did seriously annoy a lot people and even had three media outlets effectively bagging him for it. Based on Ms Krum’s first campaign release (first impressions count and that one was the worst I have seen thus far in the campaign) all we would see is an increase in re-litigation on the Unitary Plan over the next three years that gets the city NO WHERE!

Also any increased destabilisation in the Unitary Plan while concessions are being gained (and powerful economists are in general support of the Unitary Plan ( Get real with city plan ) could be lost. That would annoy the wider city to no great amount due to petty politicking! Oh this is a challenge to Ms Krum to lay out her comprehensive alternative to the Unitary Plan rather quickly. A guest post can be set aside for her if need be. 

 

As the Mayor formally launches his campaign for re-election in Sunday the race will be on for the chains and the council ward seats. Effectively here come the theatrics folks – groan!