Busytown by Jolisa Gracewood

Read Post

Busytown: Beware of the Leopard

64 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 Newer→ Last

  • Kebabette,

    Kia ora Jolisa. A fascinating read about the kinds of processes involved in ardent citizenship. Best of luck with saving those trees.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 221 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    This is a debacle! And also, I think, occasion for a little pro bono assistance from a locally-living lawyer.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    When I was a little boy I used to do things that I knew were wrong, yes it's a shock I know. When responsible adults caught me and challenged me I would invent excuses, I had a good imagination, I had some really good excuses. But in the end they were only excuses for doing something I knew was wrong.

    Sadly it seems we have employed some naughty little boys to plan our city. They know what they are doing is wrong and they are making excuses, excuses to ignore those that they know are going to tell them off for being naughty little boys who should know better.

    The trees should never have been under threat, the designs should have worked around them from the beginning, the designers know full well they deserve a telling off. They should grow up, accept that they have done wrong and fix it.

    That's what grown ups do.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Disgusting. Councils are traditionally worried about following the letter of resource law because technical flaws have landed them in court when folk disagree with their decisions. It makes for a very unattractive culture around what should be engaging civic processes as Jolisa has so eloquently painted here.

    Resolving this bureaucratic tangle soon enough to make a difference may require political leadership moreso than lawyers. What approaches have been made to the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Councillors, etc?

    The lack of regard for urban design in transport projects was only made worse when the region's councils were amalgamated and most of the transport staff were separated into their own organisation Auckland Transport with a separate mandate and structure from the main Council.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    I'm off to the Hearings Meeting Room for the 9.30 explanation. I can't speak for the other citizen-submitters (not all 22 of whom may be able to be there under the new circumstances), but I imagine that if the submissions are re-entertained, they'll need to entirely reschedule the hearing to allow people to make fresh arrangements to be there.

    Also, never has that other Douglas Adams quote seemed so apt (hat tip to Rob Hosking for reminding me!):

    'This must be Thursday,' said Arthur to himself, sinking low over his beer. 'I never could get the hang of Thursdays.'

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    (Also: that thing where you stay up until 2 a.m. blogging on a school night, then notice that the giant wodge of paper accidentally includes the hourly rate of one of the experts [$190 plus GST] and you try not to do the maths on how many gratis hours all the ordinary people have spent on this, even though you know it's not about the money, money, money).

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Abbie,

    I felt a definite wave of hollow laughter at your story, Jolisa, having been involved in the battle to try and save the pohutukawa that line the river in my local town of Waitara. It is a long story but what do you call the leopard when it denies democratic process? “Make a deputation to Taranaki Regional Council” said all the District Council people. The engineer’s report advocating removal was finally to be tabled, but not in draft form. TRC refused to supply a copy of the report. We applied for a deputation to be heard. It was declined. They went into committee and approved the report in secrecy.

    At the next meeting to ratify the minutes, we applied again to present a deputation. Again it was denied. A few souls turned up to protest (they hold their meetings in the back streets of Stratford 45 minutes away) so all but one councillor entered the building by the back door to avoid us. Some then put down their placards and flag and quietly entered the chamber to listen. The chair put the meeting into committee so they were escorted from the building.

    That’s our Taranaki Regional Council. Above democracy. Above accountability. They don’t even pretend to engage with the community, unless it is the sections of the community which agree with what they have already decided to do. They have decided the matter is closed.

    If PA readers who use Facebook felt inclined to “like” the Save the Waitara Pohutukwa Page (https://www.facebook.com/SAVE.the.Waitara.Riverside.Pohutukawa) it would thrill Margo, who set up that page, to see numbers spike again. It is her first ever political action.

    It may be worth you checking the Significance and Engagement Policy for your council, although it may still be in draft form. I say this because I am plugging through the draft policy for our district council and Auckland’s policy has been sent to me as a good example. Attempting to engage with councils is one of the most disempowering experiences I have had, but sometimes if you bludgeon them with their own policy, it does at least make them nervous even if they immediately duck for cover. And you need a two-pronged approach – one to the paid staff who wield the actual power and one to the elected representatives whom most of us mistakenly think wield more power. I can email you the Auckland one if you want it.

    North Taranaki • Since Sep 2012 • 26 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to Sacha,

    Resolving this bureaucratic tangle soon enough to make a difference may require political leadership moreso than lawyers. What approaches have been made to the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Councillors, etc?

    No formal approaches yet, as it's moving quite fast - have to get dressed and head to town! - but I am hoping the word gets out.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to Abbie,

    all but one councillor entered the building by the back door to avoid us

    How eloquent! Thanks, Abbie - I was thinking of the Waitara pohutukawa while writing last night, and hoping to find a way to link the stories. I'm sure there are others out there, as well.

    Also thanks re the Significance and Engagement Policy - that would be very useful to see. Auckland Council has been so diligent in soliciting feedback on the Unitary Plan, it would be a real shame for them to muff this one.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Abbie,

    the elected representatives whom most of us mistakenly think wield more power

    They are more of a check-and-balance, and in Auckland the Mayor's office has more powers and resources than in any other council.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Abbie, in reply to Sacha,

    That would be "the office" as opposed to the mayor, I assume?

    North Taranaki • Since Sep 2012 • 26 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Abbie,

    Imagine if it was the current PM.. :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Abbie, in reply to Sacha,

    I think the difference between the current PM and local government is that in the former case, he is synonymous with his office. In the latter it is often that the elected person is the front veneer whereas the backroom just continues as it always has done. Several councillors have told me how they despair at ever managing to get any change once elected. This is why I have given my partner clear instructions to shoot me on the spot should I ever be flattered into putting my name forward as a candidate.

    North Taranaki • Since Sep 2012 • 26 posts Report Reply

  • Duncan McKenzie,

    IANAL but ...

    Invite the Council to consider three or maybe four things

    Do the RMA regulations require an accurate application number on the submission form? (The answer is no - Councils design their own form which follows the regulations but often seek additional information).

    Do the submissions clearly identify the aspects of the proposal that are being opposed (The answer seems to be yes - submitters clearly oppose removing the trees),

    Did the wrong application number disadvantage any party in that they failed to be informed about your submission (I am guessing no - NZTA would have seen everything).

    Also worth considering - did any advice you received from the Council (help desk or web site) lead you to use the wrong number?

    In the end, the Council has to weigh up what is the greater risk - hearing you guys, or refusing to hear you and having the hearing possibly invalidated.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 53 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari,

    what a depressing situation, trees vs car - the odds were so stacked against them... and even more so it seems :(

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 540 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Wow, we're talking about the trees whose bases are right beside the footpath? What possible reason is there to take them down? Surely the motorway isn't going to be widened right up to the footpath beside Gt North Rd? (and even if it was, there would still be separation, presumably full of flora like everywhere else in the country). I can understand taking out the treeline on the other side of the car park. The ones along the cliffline that could actually be hindering the motorway development, and are not particularly significant in any case. But that particularly beautiful boulevard beside Western Springs, a place where large numbers of people go walking every day, and especially large numbers whenever there is an event on at the multiple sites right there? Eh? Only a Vogon would destroy that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I looked at the issues around the redevelopment of this intersection back in June. This is the problem with the trees.

    The trees could stay. The main problem is that the plans call for Great North Road to be raised 1.5m at the intersection, to ease the transition to the new bridge. That puts traffic turning left over the bridge from Great North Road in potential collision with the lower branches of the trees. It may be possible leave the trees and simply remove the lower branches. That’s under debate – some proposals save the trees, some don’t. Treehuggers should consider the branch-removal options, I think.

    I absolutely get the need to redevelop this intersection as a response to the Waterview Connection. It's a problem most days as it is, and when SH20-bound traffic is eventually funnelled through it (to save the Point Chev town centre turning into a thoroughfare) it will actually be unusable unless it's improved.

    The problem is that transport planners gonna transport plan -- and that means that other considerations, like amenity, get sidelined. The trees aren't the only thing being sacrificed here.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    From the hearings room... The Waitemata Local Board argues that alternatives allowing for tree retention were never properly explored, and that Auckland Transport is engaged in a "backfilling" exercise to justify a foregone conclusion.

    Furthermore, the "desired outcome" has been designed around a worst-case scenario for the two hour peak traffic window westbound. Option 6, which keeps the trees for example, achieves similar effects.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Treehuggers should consider the branch-removal options, I think.

    Well that's hardly a big ask, since they prune the trees all the time anyway. They're only that shape at all because they were pruned into it. Otherwise there would be pohutukawa branches sticking out onto Gt North Rd right now. Most likely, pruning them would make them bigger.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Jolisa,

    Furthermore, the “desired outcome” has been designed around a worst-case scenario for the two hour peak traffic window westbound. Option 6, which keeps the trees for example, achieves similar effects.

    I saw an email from one of the planners that really illustrated the problem -- they didn't see it as their business to consider anything but the most optimum flow of cars.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    What possible reason is there to take them down? Surely the motorway isn’t going to be widened right up to the footpath beside Gt North Rd?

    Not the motorway. In the plans, Great North Road heading away from the city gets an extra lane turning left over the (soon to be double-width) bridge over the motorway before turning right onto the onramp West.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    they didn’t see it as their business to consider anything but the most optimum flow of cars

    Biggest problem with transport culture infecting the key agencies: their unit of attention is the vehicle, not people or goods, and certainly not places other than as things you whiz through. It's like none of them have ever stood still without a metal shell wrapped around them.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Sacha,

    Oh OK so it's only those 6 trees then? And presumably keeping them would mean they were then up against the curb rather than on the other side of the footpath? As they are along long stretches of Tamaki Drive.

    Not sure I have an opinion any more, other than that the process of public engagement seems awful.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    Those are beautiful trees, and I can't imagine why they're not protected. Leaving aside their beauty, I thought it'd be glaringly obvious they help screen Western Springs park from the motorway noise and fumes. Sure, there's a busy Great North Road in between, but 4 lanes going at most 50km/h is not the same as the direct impact of the motorway.

    As for the wank about reference numbers when the intent of the submissions is crystal clear, yes, your reference to Mr Adams is sadly spot on.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to BenWilson,

    Only a Vogon would destroy that.

    This article also brings to mind another H2G2 gem:

    "There’s no point in acting surprised about it. All the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display at your local planning department in Alpha Centauri for 50 of your Earth years, so you’ve had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaint and it’s far too late to start making a fuss about it now. … What do you mean you’ve never been to Alpha Centauri? Oh, for heaven’s sake, mankind, it’s only four light years away, you know. I’m sorry, but if you can’t be bothered to take an interest in local affairs, that’s your own lookout. Energize the demolition beams."

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.