Seasons Greetings

Seasons Greetings to all

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful Summer Holiday.

For me (and Rebekka) we are going away to Tauranga to unwind, refresh and enjoy some annual leave before 2012 and the challenges it brings with it (moving into our first house next month)

In the mean time, View of Auckland takes a wee break until I return from leave January 4th and then again in late January as we move house.

Season Greetings

I am honestly excited here, 2012 will be a great year for many reasons. Both mine and Rebekka’s careers’ with Veolia Transdev Auckland (metro rail) continue to progress with Rebekka taking her promotion up as Customer Information Officer (The Red Coats) at Britomart; while I continue exploring new opportunities with the company and other things.

Away from work, I will be focused intensely on the Auckland Council as the Draft Auckland Spatial Plan become finalised and realised as well as the first Long Term Plan for the Super City. Through this Blog I will be delivering commentary and discussion on issues in Auckland, bringing in external academic information to provide a balanced approach to the major debate out there (Sprawl or Compact). This blog is in its infancy, but I am confident it will grow and debates and discussions will get going.

So Merry Christmas to all
And be seeing you soon in 2012

-Ben-

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The Port of Auckland and The Spatial Plan

We Need to Answer a Question

That question is: What is the future for the Port of Auckland.

I threw a per-verbal bomb amongst the pigeons today and posted on my Facebook to Councillors George Wood and Cameron Brewer this:

George and Cameron : I am going to throw a per-verbal bomb amongst the pigeons here. I think we need to come to an absolute FULL STOP on the Spatial Plan (The Draft Auckland Plan) until a question has been answered first: that being the Port of Auckland.I think an enquiry needs to be held into port on where to next with it. Do we: 1) Status Quo, 2) Relocate to Tauranga or Marsden Point, 3) Rebuild in South East Auckland.
This I believe needs to be done in order to best serve the city and New Zealand. Any recommendation and decision on the port will have major implications for Auckland and could even force a rewrite of The Spatial Plan. What we can not do is go on business as usual. The Port is sick and she needs a doctor
This I believe needs to be done in order to best serve the city and New Zealand. Any recommendation and decision on the port will have major implications for Auckland and could even force a rewrite of The Spatial Plan. What we can not do is go on business as usual. The Port is sick and she needs a doctor

It is a question that has to be answered sooner rather than later for the sake of Auckland and New Zealand




Port of Auckland Enquiry

Port of Auckland is sick and is not reaching its full economic potential (regardless of the union workers striking or not). Port of Tauranga effectively out-performs Auckland on just about every level. Something needs to be done to our port in Auckland in order to achieve its maximum economic benefits for the city and wider NZ.

Port of Auckland

If an enquiry (most likely an Independent Enquiry fail that a Commission of Enquiry) were to be held this question should be ask:

 Do we: 

  1. Status Quo business as usual, 
  2. Relocate to Tauranga or Marsden Point, 
  3. Rebuild in South East Auckland.



What I did not ask was who should own the port to allow maximum economic performance. Should the Auckland Council own all 100% of the Port, sell down to either 51%, 49% or 25%, or sell the entire thing off (privatise). That question should also be looked at into the enquiry. 



Effectively in holding an enquiry into the Port of Auckland, it will and should put the Draft Auckland (Spatial) Plan on hold. On hold until recommendations are made by the enquiry and Auckland Council goes through the decision making process of the recommendations and adopting them into the Draft Auckland Spatial Plan (as well as the Long Term Plan)


The Draft Auckland (Spatial) Plan needs to be put on hold as any decision on what to do with the Port of Auckland has serious if not CRITICAL ramifications for Auckland (and NZ) for well over the life of the  Plan (30 years). Jobs, development, infrastructure, activity would all change if options such as relocation or rebuilding the port were enacted on.


Possible Rebuilding Site for Port of Auckland

But in any case something needs to be done to fix our sick port soon. It can not afford to drag on without costing the city dearly.

The Draft Auckland Plan (Serial) (Intro)

The Draft Auckland Plan Series

Over the next two to three years up until just after the 2013 Local Election (where Auckland elects its second council and mayor), I will be writing a series on issues that will be or are affecting Auckland.

The Draft Auckland Plan Serial

The first in my series will be looking at The Draft Auckland (Spatial) Plan – the visionary document setting out Auckland’s goals and visions until 2040 and my submission on the Plan.

The Draft Auckland Plan can be found HERE with accompanying information on dates and the process of the plan through to implementation early 2012. The combined length of all the documents that make up the Auckland Draft Plan is over 800 pages long, however a simple basic Executive Summary can be found HERE and is more manageable at 36 pages long. Have a quick glance through it when you have a spare moment, the upcoming Long Term Plan (draft) which also sets the rates ratepayers pay (amongst other things) will “action” the ideas from the final version of The Auckland Plan, so you might like to know what you are in for.

My Submission (A Quick Summary)

The Draft Auckland Plan had called for submissions into it. For the first time ever I had taken pen to paper (well fingers to keyboard) and wrote a submission to a (local) government document. However time and resources would prove to be one major limiting factor in producing my submission. In a perfect world I would have had nine months and a small army of assistants conducting research, analysis and assisting writing the submission on every key aspect of the Draft Auckland Plan. However this is the real world; where it was just me juggling work and home life (while still trying to have a social life as well) and only having (even after Councillor Cameron Brewer was successful in getting an extension) around 6-8 weeks (with a Rugby World Cup right in the middle of it) to write the submission.

In the end I did compile a submission and one I was quite proud of (being my first one). The final document was 58 pages long with two accompanying documents 33 and 4 pages respectively. The following PowerPoint presentation to the Draft Auckland Plan Hearings Panel was 12 slides long.

In my submission (and will be the focus of this series) I developed a goal where I would like Auckland to be by 2040 and the three chapters of the Auckland Draft Plan I felt most passionate about in getting Auckland to achieve that goal. The goal was:

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 Livable City.

The three chapters I focused on were Chapters Seven (Rural Auckland), Eight (Urban Auckland) and Eleven (Transport)

After the completion of the submission I elected to have my submission heard at a Panel Hearing in front of Auckland Councillors. So after so work I produced a very simple 12 slide presentation as a summary (brief at that) in which I presented to the panel which included Councillors Brewer and Wood.

This is the presentation I gave

Now the presentation embedded here is extremely brief and I did not include transport (10mins plus questions is not a lot of time so I hammered home my main point which was land use).

The full submission can be found HERE
With the supporting documents Tamaki Reconnection and Wynyard Quarter being available by clicking the blue hyperlinks

You can see in the presentation I acknowledge that the car and hydrocarbon based fuels will be around for the rest of century (approximate) and as a result to maintain affordability, all planning should recognise that fact and in sake of affordability you will find people switching to alternative fuel sources as natural progression happens (in other words do not force) and switching to mass transit will also happen naturally (with a small amount of encouragement) as well.

For the rest of the presentation (and the bulk of the submission) I focus on Land Use before moving to Transport.

In brief with Land Use, I had developed a dual model for what would become the LADU – Land Allocation/Development and Utilisation. The two models would be:

  • Centralised Master (Community) Plan
  • Semi Liberal Planned District
Both would follow what would be called the R-LADU-P – Regional Land Allocation/Development/Utilisation Philosophies that would guide the LADU process (regardless of which model) and not be as inhibiting as previous District Plans in Auckland were.
I also advocated for a 60:40 split on intensification / urban sprawl approach to growing Auckland although I am supportive of the 50:50 approach a minority of councillors are advocating for.
Transport wise I developed a three-tier priority system for major transportation projects in Auckland. The rational of my transport idea is quoted below

My Transport Rationale

Maps 11.1 and 11.3 in Chapter Eleven of The Draft Auckland Plan illustrate the Auckland Transit Network and projects through to 2040. In this submission I am tweaking around Council‟s vision into something I believe more viable (economically, environmentally and socially) for the city. My rational acknowledges the fact that I do not agree entirely with the compact city ideal of The Draft Auckland Plan. Rather than this 75:25 split between brownfield/intensification and greenfield split which I see as driving affordability out of households and businesses reach, I advocate (which is also constant with my Land Allocation/Development/Utilisation section of my submission) more of a 50:50 split between the two LADU fields. This 50:50 split would achieve the following: choice of housing and business locations, affordability and economic progress – so as a result transport would be moulded around the 50:50 split.
Apart from a few major things/changes, again I agree mostly with The Draft Auckland Plan‟s vision for Auckland Transport system. Therefore the transport section of this submission deals with those major things/changes and my priority system of what should be done over the next thirty years in Auckland. Again for brevity, this submission focuses on the Central Business District and south (but including areas near the Eastern Rail Line).

The three-tier system as below

Priority One (To be completed by 2018)

  •  Building of the Eastern Highway (to the Sub-Regional Standard Option as mentioned in Section 3.5 of the EASTDOR Final Report
  •  Realigning the Westfield Diamond
  • Relocating or adding rail stations
  • Re allocating bus routes, improving bus feeder systems to rail stations or bus RTN systems
  • Feasibility Study of the Airport Rail Line including freight option
  • Starting the bus RTN roll out especially along State Highway 20, 20A and 20B
  • South-to-Manukau Rail Link Completion

Priority Two (To be completed by 2025)

  • Completion of Inner City Rail Link
  • Third Rail Line from Port to Papakura
  • Airport Rail Line (if deemed feasible)
  • Second Harbour Crossing
  • South West Rail Line (if freight is still moving to Northland)
  • Rail Electrification to Hamilton (not mentioned or included in this submission)

Priority Three (To be completed by 2040 or optional)

  • Botany Rail Line
  • North Shore Rail Line
  • Upgrade Eastern Highway from Sub Regional Function option to full Regional Function option
As you can see with both land use and transport, I go for a multi-prong best of both worlds progressive approach in getting things done for Auckland while not breaking the bank AND still able to realise The Goal that I mentioned earlier.
It will be interesting to see what the Auckland Council adopts into its final version of the Auckland Plan and how it will influence the Long Term Plan.
I wait with anticipation in the New Year to see which way the Council takes Auckland
In my next post on The Draft Auckland Plan Serial, I will begin expanding on Chapters Seven and Eight of the Draft Auckland Plan (Rural and Urban Auckland) and my submission onto those chapters.
In the mean time be on the look out for “Shout-outs” and “Leisure” posts – adding some variety to ones day.

First House and Me

Leading into the first series of this Blog

Over the last six months, Rebekka and I went through the motions of looking for our very first house. After considering the options (budget, location, type, etc..) we began looking around Papakura for a house we can call home. Surprisingly the house we ended up came about after turning down one house that needed doing up and a vendor that would not move on price and trying another real estate by chance while checking out a cottage.

Rebekka and I met up with the real estate agents and we checked out two houses (within 5 minutes of each other) that were both within our maximum budget range. Irony would have it that these two houses both had a trade-off against one another for things we liked and did not like. One house had a heat pump connected to a multi-ducted HRV system, an alarm and generous section – however NO GARAGE. The other house had a heat pump but not HRV, no alarm BUT a garage. In the end we went with the one with the garage and began the bidding process. Long story short we ended up with the house (Brick and Tile, three bedroom, double garage with workshop, medium size yard, heat pump etc..) for a good price of $283,000. We go unconditional within 48 hours of me writing this blog and we get the keys 4pm Friday 20th January.

Now I thank you for the congratulations and well done’s here and in advanced, but you must be wondering where I am going with this. It is the fact Rebekka and I are now (well will be on settlement day) proud (first) home owners means we now have a mortgage and pay rates to the Auckland Council. Simply put: WE ARE RATEPAYERS!

And SOLD

WE ARE RATE-PAYERS

From 4pm 20 January Rebekka and I will no longer be paying rent as we become ratepayers in our first house. Being a ratepayer means I am now acutely aware that every year X amount gets paid to Auckland Council and being politically active as I am, I want to know where my rate payers dollars are going to.

Councillors Cameron Brewer and George Wood of the Auckland City Council can testify to the fact that I stated when I gave my presentation to the Draft Auckland Plan Hearings Panel: “Rebekka and I are now first home owners, as we are now ratepayers while I am aware of the mechanics of Auckland Council, I am now ACUTELY aware of where my ratepayers dollars are going.” It was a message of me being concerned about where my hard-earned dollars are going, as well as being sympathetic with other ratepayers of Auckland in getting best value for dollar out of our rates.

It was the fact that Rebekka and I became ratepayers that had a massive influence on my submission writing to the Draft Auckland Plan. In developing my submission I was drawing on four aspects that I like to see Auckland achieve:

  1. Affordability restored to housing and businesses
  2. Freedom of choice on residential dwelling type
  3. Freedom of transportation choice reflected on dwelling type, job and location
  4. A few truths
A copy of my submission can be found HERE
Rebekka and I were lucky to get our first house in a decent location for around $40-60k under the inflated market value. However I know there are many people who are not so fortunate.
In brief, my submission was my opinion (backed with academic material) designed to achieve a goal for Auckland:

 The Auckland Plan should have One Goal: 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 Livable City.’

That goal I see as the best way (with it being followed on through the Long Term Plan) in achieving best value for my rate payers dollar in making Auckland a prosperous and vibrant place for two million people.
The next series posts will be a break down of my comprehensive submission (and supporting documents) to the Draft Auckland Plan. The series will then move through a series on the Long Term Plan that is the action plan and budget for Auckland over the next ten years.
Your feedback and discussion are welcome as the first series gets under-way, just remember the rules please.

An Introduction

Auckland since 2010 thanks to one Royal Commission of Enquiry into Auckland Governance and some good old fashioned central politics in Wellington has been united under a unitary authority.

Gone are the days since 1989 where Auckland had five city councils, three district councils and one regional council. Auckland now has one single authority – the Auckland Council led by just a single mayor. Affectionately I give the name The Auckland Senate to the council and Praetor to our mayor who reside of the City State of Rome (this is while the Emperor (the Prime Minister) has his throne in Wellington). That single authority along with the hulking bureaucratic bodies called the Council Control Organisations are “in charge” of spending our ratepayers dollars in making this city work. (For more on Auckland Council, click HERE )

Per the Local Government Act (Auckland Governance) 2009, the authority and the bureaucracy are required to produce a set of documents that will guide their “intentions” over a time frame. For the Council Controlled Organisations (CCO’s) this is done through their Statement of Intent which is produced around and up to every ten years and reviewed annually. For the authority that is Auckland Council two primary (and a pile of secondary) documents set out and guide the governing body for periods from one year, right up to thirty years.

The thirty year plan is the Spatial Plan, more commonly known as The Draft Auckland Plan provides a series of aspirational  goals that city wants to achieve or see itself by by 2030. The Draft Auckland  Plan and supplementary documents can be found HERE. A warning though, it is a fair bit of light reading at a combined length of around 800 pages long.

The Ten Year Long Term Plan (or simply Long Term Plan) is the action plan that oversees and budgets activities of Auckland Council and its bureaucracy over a ten year time frame. Simply put; The Draft Auckland Plan is the vision, the Long Term Plan tries to action activities to lead to the achievement of that vision (including funding and setting rates). The process leading up to the implementation of the Long Term Plan (and subsequent Annual Plans) can be found HERE.

Now I personally recommend participating when plans such as the Draft Auckland Plan and Long Term Plan are drawn up. Submissions have closed for The Draft Auckland Plan, and hearings for business groups, lobbyists, members of the community/public, etc.. have already closed and been heard. We are waiting on the final version of the plan to come out from Auckland Council sometime early next year. However public feedback and submissions on the Long Term Plan is still to happen and will do so from February 2012. Keep an eye out at the Auckland Council Website or your local community newspapers for more information on times.

Remember:

What’s in it for you?If your kids play sport at a local park, you own a property, run a business, enjoy Auckland’s magnificent land and seascapes or use any council services – getting involved by having a say on the draft LTP is important for all Aucklanders.

When The Draft Auckland Plan was published and called for submissions, I spent many an hour producing my submission to the Plan. My submission and its supporting documents should provide an insight how my views and aspirations for Auckland. In time through this blog I will be expanding on my submission as well as presenting external material and providing commentary and debates on issues around Auckland. Especially as the Draft Auckland Plan and Long Term Plan get finalised and adopted, as well as local government elections in 2013.

The links below will direct you to my submission and supporting documents. Also as time allows, more works by myself or others will be linked into my blog.

Supporting Documents (opens in separate window)

Tamaki Transformation Program Assignment

Wynyard Quarter Assignment

PPT to the Draft Auckland Plan Hearing Panel