Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Unitary Plan and grown-up conversations

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  • Matthew Hooton,

    As flawed as it was in some ways, the government’s 2010 super-city legislation laid the ground for that by requiring the oversight of an independent panel rather than council-appointed commissioners.

    This is an interesting comment and one I broadly agree with. But isn't it interesting that not only don't we want councillors making long-term decisions about Auckland, we don't even want council-appointed commissioners making decisions about Auckland?

    What does this say about our confidence in local government democracy? Is there any real point in all this voting nonsense for a bunch of candidates who are mostly overwhelmingly uninspiring muppets and/or has-beens? Maybe we should follow Singapore and just abolish local government altogether. There are major geographical differences obviously but not a major population difference (Singapore has a few hundred thousand more people than NZ.

    Twenty-plus years working with politicians at both levels, and I have greater confidence in even the most middling MP to at least try (or feel they should ay least pretend!) to act in the public interest than I do in any local councillor or board member. I find it difficult to think I could be more cynical about anything or anyone than I am about the the Wellington political class but, on reflection, it turns out I am.

    If this perspective seems radical refer back to Russell's comment that I have highlighted.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2007 • 194 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Matthew Hooton,

    This is an interesting comment and one I broadly agree with. But isn’t it interesting that not only don’t we want councillors making long-term decisions about Auckland, we don’t even want council-appointed commissioners making decisions about Auckland?

    My point was more that the quasi-judicial process makes feckless political attacks harder. But I do think it's true that a similar process has worked pretty well in the case of the Wellington flyover debate and the Waterview Connection (which was officially considered by a Board of Inquiry, but the chair was an Environment Court judge).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    The rhetoric has changed; witness Granny's headline this morning. Instead of the sky is falling and the world is heading to hell in a hand-basket headlines, they now say thousands of homeowners will reap billions in up-zoning. What a difference a USB stick makes.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 659 posts Report Reply

  • Kevin McCready,

    An adult conversation would include getting to grips with population planning instead of accepting population growth as inevitable.

    Auckland • Since Jun 2013 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Matthew Hooton,

    Maybe we should follow Singapore and just abolish local government altogether.

    I thought this was to be an adult conversation. That's not going to happen in a country that has not yet reverted to fascism. Hopefully that doesn't happen.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    An adult conversation would not include lies through omission of the fact that up-zoning of a property is not followed by a bulldozer and a wrecking-ball to enforce said up-zoning. Oh, and should also include the denunciation of anyone who tries to claim that their objection to up-zoning is "property rights".

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    And it's worthwhile to note that sometimes independent commissioners get it wrong, horribly so and to a degree that begs questions. For example, in face of a well organised and resourced community group that demonstrated a feasible (not fanciful) development that was fully compliant with the underlying mixed use zoning (big box retail, apartments on top), commissioners, lead by Mr G Hill granted discretionary consent to a non-complying big box retail development (Bunnings, Great North Rd). My point here is they could have said no quite legally, and indeed were given every chance by the residents association to do so, and yet they did not.

    This was astounding. If Commissioners were given every chance to say no by a suite of perfect conditions, and they chose not to, what hope is there for a well designed city? Instead, we get a big box car orientated retail development on Great North Rd, that is simply a big box, adding nothing to the urban fabric of this inner city site.

    What is equally puzzling is that Bunnings has experience of designing and operating in mixed used developments in Australia, and there are examples of big box/residential mixed developments by the dozen overseas, the famous one being of course the Canadian Tyre development in Vancouver.

    Given this example, I'm super happy that at least the IHP hasn't buggered things up when there was opportunity to do so.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 659 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Christopher Dempsey,

    The rhetoric has changed; witness Granny’s headline this morning. Instead of the sky is falling and the world is heading to hell in a hand-basket headlines, they now say thousands of homeowners will reap billions in up-zoning. What a difference a USB stick makes.

    The Herald's position has been pretty incoherent, largely as a result of one reporter writing crazy scare stories on behalf of alarmists. Meanwhile, the official editorial stance has been broadly supportive of the UP. It's a bit of a mess.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Glenn Pearce, in reply to Russell Brown,

    My point was more that the quasi-judicial process makes feckless political attacks harder.

    Doesn't the quasi-judicial process just give the opposing councillors (and local board members) somewhere to hide now?

    "it wasn't us" "we tried"

    Given the time constraints and level of detail in the recommendations they really have no viable alternative but to accept the recommendations?

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 499 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    The main nimby lobbyists are pondering a legal challenge to the hearings panel's work.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    And more non-grownup behaviour from some bigots on the inside.

    Councillors Mike Lee, Dick Quax and Cameron Brewer are mounting an attempt today to move the scheduled debate of the plan recommendations away from a committee which includes two members of the Independent Māori Statutory Board.

    They began pushing last week for the meetings to be conducted by the council's governing body group instead. All councillors sit on both groupings, [so] the only difference would be to exclude the Māori board members - who consider the plan debate to be at the core of their role.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    And more non-grownup behaviour from some bigots.

    They lost.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    The main nimby lobbyists are pondering a legal challenge to the hearings panel’s work.

    Which is great. They actually have to put on grown-up pants and go make a case to a court, instead of just broadcasting misinformation.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Great. Still, hasn't Lee become a disappointment in his dotage?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Matthew Hooton,

    Maybe we should follow Singapore and just abolish local government altogether. There are major geographical differences obviously but not a major population difference (Singapore has a few hundred thousand more people than NZ.

    Wow. Way to make a false equivalence. Singapore is a city state of 687 sq km with 5,674,472 people in it (according to the CIA. Mind you, they also still think Rodney Hide and Jim Anderton are still political leaders in NZ, but I doubt that SG has managed to increase its land). In land (i.e. infrastructure) terms, that is local government. Big population and high density, but centrally located because no choice, right? Unless they invade Malaysia - so not going to happen.

    Auckland is 1,890 sq mi (which is the administrative reach and responsibility of the council). The population is much more spread out, which is actually more costly in terms of infrastructure provision than high density is. And Auckland council already did do away with local government to create the SuperCity - something for which, I seem to recall, you were an avid cheerleader.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    They actually have to put on grown-up pants and go make a case to a court, instead of just broadcasting misinformation.

    And get costs against them when they lose.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to nzlemming,

    Yes, the population is actually the only point of similarity between the nations. Radically different geography, demographics, history, culture, economy. Also politics: NZ has been a democracy for over a hundred years, with leadership changing every 2-3 elections. Singapore has continually "elected" the People's Action Party (PAP) since 1965. You judge for yourself how democratic any country could be that has not had power change hands for 50 years. On a backdrop like that, abolishing local government would be a matter of the PM deciding to do it one day. In NZ, it's a process that would take a hell of a lot more than that.

    Then, since NZ is actually a much larger country, the government would have to create something that basically took the place of the local government, to administer all the things currently done by it all around NZ. Maybe a ministry for every city. So they wouldn't really be abolishing local government. They would just be seizing it.

    But we digress. Back to the adult discussion about things that actually might happen.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • llew40, in reply to Sacha,

    With respect, Mike Lee has been a disappointment for much longer than this .....

    Since Nov 2012 • 140 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    Also politics: NZ has been a democracy for over a hundred years, with leadership changing every 2-3 elections. Singapore has continually “elected” the People’s Action Party (PAP) since 1965.

    And wards that have the temerity to vote the "wrong" way tend to find that maintenance goes undone and services degrade. People learn pretty quick.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Yes, where to start with the undemocratic nature of Singapore? But let’s not, because it’s a derail.

    ETA: My gf of 8 years in my 20s wrote her doctoral thesis on this. The number of times I had to proofread stuff about Singapore and its system! She was fascinated by the mechanisms of control that were exerted. The one I found most interesting was what she called "Manufactured discourse", in which people would disagree with each other in public about how the awesome the government was. Some thought it was super awesome, whereas others thought it was just simply not repressive enough and let kids get away with murder, and only rated as quite awesome. Meanwhile you need police permission to assemble more than 5 people to talk about anything more interesting than shopping. Which would seem to be the nation's only past-time.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Howard Edwards, in reply to BenWilson,

    Remind's me Jimmy Fallon's parody of the Trump University student survey questions, which included the following:

    On a scale of 9 to 10, how would you rate Trump University?

    Which of the following words best describes your experience at Trump University:

    a) Awesome!

    b) Awesome!!

    c) Awesome!!!

    b) Awesome!!!!

    Albany • Since Apr 2013 • 66 posts Report Reply

  • Angela Hart,

    Given that intensification has to happen, how much thought will go into making the new dwellings accessible? I mean, given that a lot more two and three storey residential buildings are going to go up, has anyone really thought about what that means for people who can't use stairs?

    It is already quite difficult to find accommodation for a wheely in Auckland.

    With a significant increase in multilevel dwellings comes the risk that wheelies will be able to access an even smaller proportion of residential dwellings, comprising apartments in high rise buildings with lifts and the small proportion of homes which don't have steps impeding access. Access issues are likely to affect every one of us at some time in our lives, and I can see intensification making the existing problems a whole lot worse if nothing is done about access.

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey, in reply to Angela Hart,

    It is deeply worrying. If it is any consolation, the notion of universal design is creeping into resource consents, through officers questioning how the proposed design incorporates universal design principles (of which, they form a non-statutory guideline to the RUP, IIRC).

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 659 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Christopher Dempsey,

    it will be another 'leave it to the building act' factor - and we've seen how poorly that is honoured/regulated currently.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • kw, in reply to Russell Brown,

    There are parts of New Zealand where this also sometimes seems to be the case. Not that those of us in centres that don't vote National are paranoid or anything...

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2014 • 30 posts Report Reply

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