Have no Fear Auckland

Hamilton mayor’s $1257 office chair on ratepayers – National – NZ Herald News.

 

Bloody hell, I could probably find a chair that is even more comfortable for half to two-thirds the price at Warehouse Stationary in Manukau City.

Have no fear Auckland however – you would most certainly not see that if I either held an “office” position. And that would be due to my Minister of Finance – a.k.a Rebekka – my wife 😀 having control of the credit cards, debit cards, “purchase order forms,” and all other things financial. Rebekka is very shrewd and has a tight control on finances in the house, every dollar and penny is accounted for when the bank and credit card statements are reconciled each month. That does not mean I have no control or money of my own to spend – quite the opposite actually as my credit card has the larger balance on it normally. What it does mean that both us have “spending money” that is set aside each month and we can do as we wish – once its out it is out until next month. Everything else is set in the monthly budget which is reviewed quarterly and items deemed outside discretionary is discussed before it goes ahead (or not). In the grand scheme of things Rebekka oversee’s the day-to-day operations of the house finances while I over see the “capital” financial decisions such as new cars, lounge suites, white-ware  and the mortgage. However at the end of the day I have the final unilateral say in any financial decision should the need arise (which it has).  The best way to describe it is Rebekka is the House Minister of Finance and I am the House Prime Minister (although I do not get elected 😛 ), and knowing Rebekka she could roll Bill English out of a job and get the nation back into surplus by the end of the year 😛 ! And if you are curious how that works, we have an expression in the house “stop being Dutch will you.” << that aimed at Rebekka who is Dutch – for the rest you can work out.

But back on topic (when my Twitter stream does not run away), if I was ever in Office there would be no $1,200 chairs or Koru Club memberships on the public purse (or private for that matter), or that Christmas Ham when I have a very capable Minister of Finance who would keep an eye on the books of the Office as well making sure those budget lines are trim and every penny is accounted for. As for flora arrangements, have my own garden with roses and other flowers that I would probably use in the office floral arrangements – good way to show off our garden at home 😀

So have no fear Auckland, when I talk about fiscal prudence I mean it. It is practised in this house by both of us and would transfer over into the public realm as well. Councillor’s what have you been spending on (we know what the mayor has been anyway and it was not the Christmas Ham this time round)?

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The Wheels on the Bus/Train Go Round and Round. And Synthetic Fuels – the saviour of Auckland?

Public transport use up as petrol prices near record high | NATIONAL News.

 

I would say the “primary” peak services (such as the 7am Papakura to Britomart via Newmarket and the 5:12 going in the reverse direction via G.I) are a bit more crowded than this time last year at the moment. And with petrol hitting $2.22/litre and our government (central) being as slow as a snail in “securing” our fuel supply I would say $2.50/litre is within reach in 18 months.

All on-board for public transport – although that is not going to help freight traffic very much.

Also it seems the increase in capacity via the EMU’s won’t be fast enough if numbers carry on the way they are.

In the mean time, I did some work on Synthetic Fuels a few years ago when petrol prices last time decided to run away. I have managed to find the document sitting in my external hard drive and uploaded it to Scribd. The document will be embedded below including the link to the process to make the synthetic fuel. Now I have a 200 page document of such a plant that was trialled in the USA, now I still have the document but would need to scan it before you can read it. It is a very good read and worth researching to import the scheme to our previous synthetic fuel work in the Muldoon Big Think era.

Could reviving and modernising our synthetic fuel scheme work to take the sharp edges off high oil prices that can stymie the economy? I think so, just needs some balls of steel to do it as the Commissioner of the Environment and the Greens are dead against this (or sending NZ forward while non-hydrocarbon based fuels are still being worked out). Oh and I looked at the picture on the document, 91 at $1.62/litre and we were screaming then. Heck gas is now $2.22/litre – should we be screaming MURDER?!

The 2008 synthetic fuel article (all based on 2008 prices)

Auckland Water-Frontier – First Attempt

Zone Layout of a possible Auckland Water-Frontier

 

Right; after some thinking, pencil drawings and a few attempts I worked out my first draft version of The Auckland Water-Frontier – the name I am giving the redevelopment project idea down at the Auckland Waterfront where  Port of Auckland currently sits.

The idea is that if Port of Auckland ever gets moved, something will have to take the vacant land it leaves behind. Furthermore the entire land that POAL currently sits on is owned by Auckland Council via the Auckland Council Investment Limited Council Controlled Organisation, so we (the public) have a virtual gold mine of an asset to work with in turning a former industrial site into a Water-Frontier.

The basic picture is below with explanations running underneath that, so without further ado I bring the Zonal Layout Draft for the Auckland Water-Frontier.

Click on Picture for full view at around 1920×1280 resolution

Right the methodology was to give as best mix possible of land use and transit links to give maximum economical and social benefit to Auckland. A basic colour guide is the following:

  • Lime Green is open space/parks
  • Blue is Commercial (office/retail/services)
  • Brown is Residential/Mix use
  • Yellow is the two Cruise Ship Terminals (Main and Secondary) which would also be fitted out with hotel or commercial space?

There are three areas particularly blank, mainly at the current container terminal as I try to figure out how to incorporate the Auckland Plan Green Stitch from the Judges Bay through to the terminal and how much development should occur on that space with a prime view shaft from the Parnell Rose Gardens out to Devonport on the other side of the harbour. Any suggestions on the blanks is much appreciated .

So ignoring the three blanks I have you can see I have gone around for a 50:50 in green space and urban development, that ratio would continue when it is decided what should happen at the container terminal.

Commercial and residential space wise, taking into account height controls and some “feature buildings,” the split was again around 50/50 to allow both residents to live on the frontier and workers to work on the frontier. Each residential or commercial development is well-connected by roads and surrounded by generous open space/parks. Again height controls would be in place to minimise views being blocked by another development/building. A feature building at the north-west end plus an iconic statue are “pencilled in” to give the Auckland Water-Frontier some iconic signatures to complement the signature harbour and signature remark “City of Sails.” When I start the 3D work on the Water-Frontier site hopefully a better understanding can be given on my proposal for this beautiful and prime site.

Cruise Ship Terminals

Auckland Council wants to spend $23 million on a Cruise Ship Terminal for the ever-increasing amount of the cruisers coming in. That is fine with me so long as we have a “Bed Tax” implemented and the terminals are NOT built on Queens Wharf blocking a pile of views and causing traffic congestion. In my zone lay out draft, I relocated the terminal down to the centre section of The Water-Frontier and doubled the spaces to four (two main at 250 metres long and two secondary at 220m long). The Terminals would be equipped with Customs and service facilities (including Tour Bus and taxis facilities) to deal with if all four berths were used. Hotels, apartments or civic spaces for exhibitions would also share the terminal space to maximise return on the facilities. View shaft wise, shifting the Terminal down to the new proposed site would have less of an impact on views than the proposed Queens Wharf Site.

Infrastructure

Infrastructure wise the Water-Frontier is connected at five entrances with one extra proposed if the Eastern Highway was ever built. There are also some realignments to three existing roads plus new ones built as well to support the Water-Frontier development and surrounding areas. The road system on The Auckland Water-Frontier is designed for multi-modal transit (car, bus, taxi, shuttles, cyclists and walkers) apart from the Quay Street Express-way which is designed for cars/buses going to and from the CBD/Eastern Suburbs. With The Auckland Water-Frontier I decided to add a 4-lane express way with bus lanes on the side to assist in rapid movement of thoroughfare traffic from the Eastern Suburbs to the CBD. The express-way allows a few important things to happen:

  • Allows a thoroughfare route for Eastern Suburb traffic and should be future-proofed for an eventual Eastern Highway
  • Allows the a part of Quay Street between Tapora Street at Stanley Street to be turned into a boulevard that is mass transit and pedestrian/friendly. The Boulevard would be flanked by a green-space strip between the Boulevard itself and the Quay Street Express-way. The Boulevard is able to accommodate light rail from Wynyard Quarter to Mission Bay.
  • The express-way acts a grade-separate for local and Auckland Water-Frontier traffic especially at the Stanley Street Main East/South Entrance
  • The Expressway would have pedestrian over-bridges to allow ease of access for foot traffic between Quay Boulevard and The Water-Frontier

Speed limits would be kept at 40km/h in The Auckland Water-Frontier Zone with all roads bar the six entrances and the main Water-Frontier East-West thoroughfare being shared spaces. Extending tram-lines into The Auckland Water-Frontier from Quay Street and Tamaki Drive is possible to give an extra mode of transport inside the Frontier – lessening the need for cars. Car parking would be restricted to the residential buildings (for the residents), a few car parks on the commercial buildings and hotels, with the rest of the “public” parking on the fringes of the Water-Frontier. The idea of putting public parking on the fringes is to discourage cars in the Water-Frontier area and encourage shuttle transport within the Frontier to get to their final destination inside the Frontier. Through discouraging cars inside the CORE of the frontier, the area is not detracted nor do other users including foot traffic using the share spaces have to be overtly worried about the car. Effectively on-street parking would be non-existent except for 15-minute “drop-off” zones in some areas (hotels, feature building and cruise ship terminals). In any case, the infrastructure inside The Auckland Water-Frontier is designed to be people friendly 🙂 !

 

There is still a lot of work for me to do on developing The Auckland Water-Frontier – where Aucklanders’ and visitors alike can enjoy the full waterfront that “fronts” our city rather than being barricaded by red fences and an inefficient port. But what I have presented is a start  and all ideas start from somewhere – often on the back of a napkin (or this case MS Paint). Over time I will continue to develop and showcase work here on The Auckland Water-Frontier as a viable alternative to the prime real estate on our waterfront. More in-depth coverage and commentary will be provided especially on aspects such as cruise ship terminals, feature buildings and iconic statues. Not everything was covered in this post, but as I develop the program more aspects will be brought to light and covered here at VOAKL

Watch this space as I continue on The Port of Auckland Relocation Project and The Auckland Water-Frontier Program – for a better Auckland.

We Need To Move!!!

Low listings prompt property market stall warning – Business – NZ Herald News.

 

Not good news especially for new home buyers.

While The Auckland Plan is now in effect, and the Long Term Plan and Regional Land Transport Program up for hearings (and to which I submitted on) before their own adoption – there is now an emphasis upon Councils and the respective Local Boards to get a move on.

Essentially we need 13,000 new residential dwellings (at the minimum) plus supporting employment and infrastructure (social, physically and economical) by the end of Long Term Plan 2012-2022 cycle. And when I refer to development I mean both in Brown and Greenfield sectors.

Time is not on OUR side to get Auckland in a state to: Accommodate employment and economic activity in supporting a healthy social and physical environment for over two million residents by 2040. In doing so The Plan has to follow the objective of being: Simple, Efficient, Thrifty, and restoring Affordability to residents and businesses while still making Auckland ‘The Most Liveable City.’

We need to move!

The Original Submission

Meetings Meetings Meetings

Auckland Council has its Meetings for April

 

It is that time of month again

 

When Auckland Council and its various committees have their meetings on all things Auckland

The three committee meetings I usually pay attention to are:

  • Auckland Plan Committee
  • Strategy and Finance Committee
  • Transport Committee

I will keep an eye on two others but usually when something of “high interest” catches my attention or is brought to my attention – which is usually via a Councillor or the media have picked up on it, those two committees being:

  • Governing Body (which is Auckland Council proper)
  • Accountability and Performance Commitee

 

VOAKL usually runs commentary on all the above mentioned “committees” except for ‘Transport’ after the said meeting has occurred unless something on the agenda sparks my attention (usually due to a debate running around because of the nature of an item) as has happened before.

Transport commentary I leave to the boys at Auckland Transport Blog, in which they do a fine job. If I do need to comment I will usually do so over there and not here for the basic reason of: CONFLICT OF INTEREST – straight and simple.

So today I go cruising through the various Auckland Council committees’ agendas to see what our elected representatives and the bureaucrats are up to (links will be provided below via Scribd). Two agenda’s caught my attention in particular today, that being the Transport Committee and Auckland Plan Committee.

The Transport Committee caught my attention as it was 10mb is size which usually means a substantive agenda to which I was right. Quite a few interesting reports on patronage and upcoming AT “capital” projects, and one report from a Mr Mark Lambert – Manager of Public Transport Operations. Be interesting to hear what he had to say at the meeting, probably ask a Councillor to forward me some minutes of what Mr Lambert has to say (either that or I make a trip into the city on my day off – which I probably won’t).

Again I’ll let the boys run the commentary on the Transport Committee while I focus on the other Committee that has particularly caught my attention – The Auckland Plan Committee.

The Auckland Plan Committee was held yesterday (Monday) and two items on the agenda caught my attention specifically: Item 9 on “The Draft City Centre Masterplan, Draft Waterfront Plan – Hearings and Feedback reports” as I had submitted on the City Centre Master Plan and gave a presentation which got a letter of “Thanks;” and Item C1 “Establishment of Tamaki Regeneration and Development Company – Tamaki Transformation Project.

While I am curious on the feed back and the final outcome for the Draft City Centre Master Plan (and to a degree the Draft Waterfront Plan which is going to be binned come 2013), Item C1 to which the public were excluded has my attention the most. Probably as I did a university project and with that project used it as part of my submission to the Draft Auckland Plan being the reason why this particular item has my attention.

Councillors, what are you up to down in Tamaki – am curious on what you lot have planned for the Tamaki Community which seems to be at the short end of “Talk and No Action” syndrome.

And for your reading pleasure I give the links to some Committee Agendas below:

Auckland Plan Committee

Strategy and Finance Part One and Two

Auckland Transport Committee

 

Tamaki Transformation Program Project from University of Auckland

Queen Street the $2 Mile?

Shoebox shops ‘the ruin of Queen St’ – Business – NZ Herald News.

 

Having walked down lower and mid Queen Street not so long ago to give my presentation on (and ironically) the City Centre Master Plan at Town Hall, I can safely say what the article states is true to an extent.

Lower Queen Street near Britomart is pretty good with some high-end stores mixed with medium and low-end stores as well. It is between Fort Street and Town Hall – particularly on the Town Hall side of Queen Street where we see the situation pointed out in the article. Put it this way I avoid that section of Queen Street unless it’s a straight walk through, even then I have a tendency to walk on the Britomart side of Queen Street in my trips to and from Town Hall.

Although in my City Centre Presentation I focused on the City Rail Link (which has potential to lift the area) and Wynyard Quarter, Queen Street was never far from my mind and its potential that can be reached.

To “solve” the problem of Queen Street is going to need just not only vision, but a serious case of “balls of steel” to see any urban improvements done. The improvements are multi-tiered and multi-dimensional with transport in the area being the biggest fish-hook that can snag anyone. Do I have a “solution” for Queen Street? I do but it is very dependent on a lot of factors.

For starters you would flip Queen Street from Customs Street to Fort Street into a Pedestrian Mall where only the Link Buses and Goods Vehicles  (from a certain time) would be sharing the space with pedestrians. Then over the next 15 years as the CRL gets under way and some traffic route rerouting in surrounding streets, the mall gets extended street by street up to Mayoral Drive/Queen Street intersection.

Removing the noisy road traffic and “greening” up the mid and lower quarters of Queen Street would go some (but not all) distance in lifting the desirability of the area. The other issue is one of a market issue and that is supply and demand of commercial retail in the area. An oversupply causing vacant spaces is NOT going to help Queen Street much and will most likely serve as a catalyst into attracting junk shops as struggling building owners try to get their returns on dormant sites. So Council and businesses have to work together in managing commercial retail to avoid gluts and shortfalls which can stymie our Golden Mile.

I understand this from the article:

Ludo Campbell-Reid, the council urban design champion, does not want the civic vision spoiled.

“The mayor and I are determined to see the revival of the high street occur in Auckland and are interested in overcoming any perceived or real barriers to achieving this,” he said.

Having sat through City Centre Master Plan hearings and giving a presentation in front of Mr Campbell-Read (heck he even has a wiki-page so least I gave a presentation to an actual “expert”), Chairman George Wood and the Committee (to which I got a letter of thanks and commendation (verbal as well) – see below); the fact I work in the city (Britomart); am busy designing the Auckland Water-Frontier; and know the potential this city can deliver through the Britomart Precinct (which is damn beautiful and love walking through it on my breaks (when the weather does not go for a piddle)); I know Auckland can get it right and restore Queen Street from a $2 mile back to its Golden Mile status that it once enjoyed.

So time for some action lets restore Queen Street.

And a thank you to the Auckland Plan Committee for hearing my presentation to the City Centre Master Plan. Very much appreciated and acknowledge your letter of thanks in return.

The Letter of Commendation and Thanks

A Waterfront where we can touch the Water-frontier? Part Two Coming Soon

VOAKL will take a look at what to do if Port of Auckland Relocates OUT of Downtown

 

Having looked at relocating Port of Auckland to south-east Auckland and drawn up some basic diagrams of the port down at its proposed new location, the question dawns on us; what to do with the vacant land at the old POAL site.

Well VOAKL has some ideas for the Waterfront if the Port were to ever shift away from OUR Waterfront.

I am working on these ideas and will post here soon at VOAKL

Because I believe in a “A Waterfront where we can touch the Water-frontier

 

Click on picture to enlarge to full size

Port of Auckland Existing Site

Costs in Building

http://transportblog.co.nz/2012/03/31/building-our-way-to-affordability/

I saw this article while cruising through Auckland Transport Blog this morning. In it was a table that I saw from some Australian research into effectively Brownfield and Greenfield development.

The figures were interesting as Auckland has just adopted its (C- grade) Auckland Plan which in-part spells out urban development over the next 30-odd years. Auckland is looking at around a 60:40 Brownfield:Greenfield split in urban development with hopefully some strict urban design protocols enacted as well.

Now the post also have some commentary from two prominent academics – Jane Jacobs and Edward Glaeser which were also interesting reads as I have studied the pair of them at university.

I will let you be the judge yourself on how we tackle restoring housing affordability in Auckland.

But from my point of view you can see my comment to the blog post below or read my Land Use Section of my submission to the Draft Auckland Plan – now Auckland Plan.

Shudder when that name Jane Jacobs gets mentioned (happens when you study Planning at Auckland Uni).

Ok so there is high demand for housing near or even in the CBD and its associated fringes if the media are anything to be given by. While some have unrealistic expectations (Champaign tastes on beer budgets syndrome) and possibly we are hopeless at spreading job centres around the entire city to slow down cross commuting (which would never happen so long as free choice remains) how do we get supply up near or in the CBD then?

Bob Harvey did say he could get 20,000 peeps down at Wynyard Quarter and the Viaduct (more like 7,500) http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/auckland-waterfront-could-home-20-000-4802792 Love to see that happen. We could squeeze a few more in Downtown – if we moved the port but anyone game for opening up our water frontier?

I guess the key point is that just as building more 5 bedroom McMansions on the urban edge won’t make a blind bit of difference to housing affordability, building super-flash inner city apartments, townhouses and terraced houses is also unlikely to help. Clearly, constrained housing supply leads to housing becoming unaffordable, but to resolve that we need to not only build more houses generally, we need to build more affordable houses. How to do that in a way that still allows developers to make a sufficient level of profit for them to bother is perhaps one of the biggest questions facing Auckland in the next few years <<<<< hang on let me find the link, Josh Arbury said something about it and I picked up on it as well: From Texas http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2011/09/housing-supply-australia-look-to-texas-to-solve From Josh: http://transportblog.co.nz/2011/10/23/taking-a-fresh-look-at-planning-regulation/ Maybe relaxing the planning rules and fees so developers aren’t hoop jumping and shelling out the bucks for high planning compliance costs (I said planning not building – even I believe H3 and H4 timber should be used building houses)

My Submission:

I Do NOT Support the Auckland Plan

People are not happy with The Auckland Plan

 

Yesterday I posted on The Auckland Plan being brought into existence by Auckland Council (on a vote 16-5) and some musings on this historic document. I also stated that The Auckland Plan was “C-” grade (a bare pass) and lacked affordability measures myself and others had lobbied for in our submissions and presentations to Auckland Council. What I did not say in the post is whether I supported this Auckland Plan in its final form.

The answer is – (to be straight up with VOAKL readers) ‘No I do not support The Auckland Plan!’ In other words if I was a Councillor I would have voted AGAINST the Plan.

The reason why is this:

After reviewing the final version of The Auckland Plan and reading C&R’s piece I have come to the final conclusion that Auckland will be as of 10am today lugged with a C – grade Plan that does near nothing in addressing the situation at hand that is on people’s minds: Housing Affordability – not being priced out of a home. Transport came to mind but that I will leave to the Long Term Plan and Regional Land Transport Program when Hearings start for those (and I did submit on both so don’t worry readers).

Essentially The Auckland Plan in its current form did not address the following “goal” I had stated in my submissions – the goal being:

To accommodate employment and economic activity in supporting a healthy social and physical environment for over two million residents by 2040. In doing so The Plan has to follow the objective of being: Simple, Efficient, Thrifty, and restoring Affordability to residents and businesses while still making Auckland ‘The Most Liveable City.’

Chapters 9(Rural Auckland), 8 (I think that became Climatic Change), 10 (Urban Auckland) in my eyes failed in address the goal above, while Chapter 13 (Transport) was okay and can be worked on through the Long Term Plan and Regional Land Transport Program (to which I submitted and wished to be “heard” on) to help with the above goal.

So I am sorry, but I you can now say I am in opposition to The Auckland Plan and will seek “changes” in 2013 when the new council is brought in.

Taking a look on some comments that was coming in the media and social media – it would be apparent (despite Brian Rudman being the flag bearer of the Centre Left Stalinist approach) that there might be some serious opposition from people. You can see the comments in the NZ Herald through the hyper-link at the top of the post. For oppositional councillor and possible mayoral candidate (?) Cameron Brewer, this is what he had to say on Facebook after the passage of The Auckland Plan:

Auckland Council signed off its 30-year spatial plan today, with just three councillors voting against it – Dick Quax, Christine Fletcher and myself. I raised concerns about achieving such ambitious intensification targets when the trend has gone back to standalone housing; on-going affordability; adequate supply of business land; the protection of heritage in our high res areas which will come under a lot more development pressure; and the fact that the Mayor has failed to bring the Government to the table in signing up to his overly ambitious social, cultural, health, education, and environment targets prescribed in the plan. 
I pointed out that the Government wrote a foreword in the draft Auckland Plan, but they are absolutely nowhere to be seen in final document despite the Mayor promising us it would also be a collaboration. Without the Government, this plan is screwed – particularly when you consider their imminent legislative changes to rein in local government. Council officials put up amendments right at the very end saying they would seek greater alignment with Wellington, but for me it was too late. Without Government, this plan is sadly not worth the paper it’s written on.

(I have been told that there were five councillors voting against it, just awaiting conformation on that one)

So it seems we still have some work to do in getting Auckland moving forward. The first attempt via The Auckland Plan seems to have failed, lets hope the second and final attempt does not!

VOAKL will continue to run commentary on The Auckland Plan through to the 2013 local government elections

Do I Support The Auckland Plan

For or Against The Auckland Plan

 

Found out tomorrow morning at 7am when I spell out whether I support or am against The Auckland Plan

 

Here at VOAKL – An Average Ratepayers view of Auckland