Auckland Transport Strikes Again

This is almost unbelievable, Auckland Transport are stopping work on footpaths, roads etc. for over 2 months while the RWC is on:

 

Builders: Stopwork for Cup is absurd

By Michael Dickison

5:30 AM Saturday Jul 30, 2011

Construction work will halt for two months in main areas of Auckland as the city welcomes visitors to the Rugby World Cup and tries to keep traffic flowing.

Contractors say the move is driving them into the ground, and a workers’ union says it is a poor way to keep up appearances – akin to removing the homeless from city streets “for a stupid game of rugby”.

Auckland Transport says the moratorium on works will cover utility, construction and demolition companies between August 15 and October 30, a total of 77 days.

The city centre, arterial roads and areas around World Cup venues will be affected.

Spokesman Wally Thomas said the moratorium would prohibit new work digging up footpaths.

Rest of Article

 

Man these guys are just so arrogant aren’t they?

This was my favourite quote from the article:

Heb Construction contract manager David Loe said the lull in work was a continuation of the way the Super City operated.

“After the amalgamation [of Auckland councils] there was quite a reduction in work.

They will put it down to efficiencies, but we will call it ‘can’t get themselves organised’,” Mr Loe said.

 

Lol.

 

Good Article from a Developers Point of View

Developers, rise up against the zealots of negativity!

  • DEMOGRAPHER: Bernard Salt
  • From: The Australian
  • July 28, 2011 12:00AM

REGULAR readers will recall my column of July 7 when I called upon the property industry to provide evidence of an “objection culture” within Australia.

My argument being that a culture of negativity now pervades the nation to the extent that in some areas the development industry struggles to deliver projects. Or at least this was the theory I wanted to put to the Property Council congress in Darwin this week.

I wanted real-life examples of a culture of gratuitously blocking or frustrating any form of development no matter how well it might comply with regulations.I got my evidence. In spades.

I articulated my case to an audience that was, at times, deathly silent. In fact at no point in my presentation, well, tirade really, was the 400-strong audience quieter than when I said that perhaps the reason why the development community doesn’t speak out against blatant unfairness is not because no one wants to attract bad press, but because of cowardice.

Rest of Article.

 

Basically this is what’s driving house prices in both NZ and Aussie.  You just can hardly build the damn things.  Either we need to be keeping our populations static or building houses, you can’t have a growing population and an environment where building houses is nigh on impossible without a lot of pain.  And we’re seeing that pain now.

The Council Plays HardBall

Well Auckland Transport reckon I have 3 options:

“We have discussed this matter internally and the options available are:

1. Enter into an airspace Lease and a Memorandum of Encumbrance (MOE). On the MOE we would stipulate on the encumbrance that if any redevelopment took place in the future the balconies would have to be removed.
2. Stopping the road and selling the air space. AT would not consent to this action as it would set a dangerous precedent and would unlikely get through.
3. Request that the balconies be removed.

We would propose that the applicant applies for an airspace lease.”

Aren’t they being wonderfully flexible!

And they’d like to have a meeting to sit down and discuss these options.  Sounds like a fun afternoon, not.

Basically they’re trying to bully me into doing what they want me to do.  It won’t work.

Auckland Council are Lovely

Yep, to see why, look at this:


Well isn’t that nice.  Good things happen when we’re together.  Well, sorry but I’d have to disagree.

And in this flyer it says my rates for the next year will be the same as last year’s but plus 3.94%.  I’ll wait and see…

And I’ve just seen this in the Herald: here.  Apparently it cost $200k, part of the $500k they are going to spend telling us about the new rates.

I agree with Theresa Stratton’s comments regarding how it would have been a lot easier and cheaper to put a note in with rates bills coming out shortly anyway.  But of course she’s a fine one to talk when she took more than $200k as a severance package from Papakura council when it got merged with Auckland council.  Didn’t complain about the cost to the ratepayer then did she?

 

Davo Can’t Afford to Give in on Council Battle No. 7

Well the council forwarded an example lease yesterday.  This is the lease that Auckland Transport require for the balconies which hang out over the footpath.

Oh my God.  The lease is for a balcony in Mission Bay (with the property address and the people’s names blacked out) and it looks like it’s for a restaurant. The lease contains all sorts of things I don’t like such as:

  • The lease is only for a short term.  5 years, with rights of renewal for 5 years.
  • The lease can be terminated at any time and the balconies have to be removed within 14 days by the council for any reason.
  • They are charging a rental of $5500 + GST per annum for the use of this one balcony in Mission Bay.  I guess in Papakura it would be cheaper, but I have 4 balconies, so who knows how much they would charge.
  • The council can review the rent at each renewal of the lease.
  • The council can specify what hours and days the balconiescan be used.
  • The council can state what kind of works can and can’t be done on the balconies, so if I wanted to changed the balustrades for instance, I’d need the council’s permission!
  • They are also controlling noise levels on the balcony in Mission Bay, whether tables are put out there and so on i.e. everything that they can think of, they are trying to control.
  • If I wanted to sell these units, I’d have to assign the balcony leases to the new owners and remain as a guarantor myself.
  • I’d have to take out public risk insurance for $5 million to insure against anyone getting hurt by the balconies.
  • The new titles would have to have an encumbrance on them regarding the lease for the balconies. So that each owner is bound by the terms of the lease.

So this is all pretty crap, but it gets worse.  Because to set up this lease I have to firstly pay Auckland Transport a deposit of $1000 and they give no guarantees as to whether they will even grant a lease, let alone what the terms and conditions of any granted lease will be.

And so then I have to pay for both sets of lawyers (mine and Auckland Transport’s) to thrash out an agreement.  But of course they will draw up the lease in the first instance and also they don’t care whether a lease is done or not, whether I get my unit titles or not and so they can be quite hard.  So I imagine any agreement entered into would be very much in the council’s favour.

But of course the bigger issue is that I’d actually be losing property rights by signing something like this.  Right now I have the use of the balconies, I don’t have to pay anything to use them and the council can’t force me to remove them or indemnify them or anything else.

So I’m going to fight this.  And I reckon I’ve got a good chance of winning!

A Motivated Dude

This is an interesting article on a guy called Lang Walker in Aussie:

Building blocks of an empire

  • Bridget Carter
  • From: The Australian
  • July 23, 2011 12:00AM
110723 Collins Square

Walker Corp’s Collins Square project, Melbourne Source: Supplied

Lang Walker

Lang Walker attributes his success to an ability to see a project finished. Picture: Aaron Francis Source: The Australian

AS a school-leaver from Cronulla, Sydney, Lang Walker discovered he had an uncanny ability to turn an unattractive piece of dirt into real estate people wanted to buy.

Holding down as many as six jobs at once to pay for what was shaping as a lucrative hobby, Walker bought blocks of land for about $1500 and, once he had “dressed them up”, sold them for about $4000.”I was very entrepreneurial and went off buying and selling things and did all sorts of stuff,” Walker says.

The early deals seeded a business empire that would span the east coast of Australia and overseas, and one with a pipeline of planned projects worth at least $4.3 billion.

A relentless worker and tough deal-maker, Walker started work with his father, Alec, now 101, in the late 1960s in their small plant hire and earthmoving contracting business.

Rest of Article

 

The part that I laughed at was this:

Walker says the biggest challenge facing his company and others in the industry is obtaining development approvals.

Lol, even the big guys find it hard to get projects started because councils won’t release land etc.

And this is what we’re seeing in NZ too:

Walker believes the federal government has not placed enough emphasis on housing and describes the affordability issues as “unbelievable”.

“For a young couple to get set in Sydney, you can’t,” he says. “It is almost impossible.” The NSW government needs to release more land to create more competition, a move that would bring prices down, he says.

Oh and he currently has 40,000 blocks of land for development…  I guess these bits don’t have approval for development yet.  40,000! Far out!

 

Davo May Lose Council Battle No. 7

Well, the advice from the surveyor and the independent planner I’ve been using is that the council may well be able to force me to enter into a lease agreement with Auckland Transport to have my balconies where they presently are if I want unit titles.

This is despite the fact that:

  • I have a resource consent allowing me to have the balconies there.
  • I have signed plans from the councils accepting the balconies design.
  • The district plan requires me to have balconies for the apartments.
  • The district plan outlines how the balconies can be put into verandahs and my balconies comply with this.

So needless to say, it makes no sense to me, but I may have to cave into their ridiculous demands.  What it means though is that each title will have an encumbrance on it (to the council) along with a lease for the use of the balcony…  not exactly desirable.

$10 Billion of Renovations in NSW

Saw this article today: http://theage.domain.com.au/real-estate-news/diy-fever-strikes-after-nights-on-the-couch-20110722-1hrd8.html

Looks like the Aussies are doing a whole lot of DIY at the moment. It’s difficult and expensive to move so people are just doing up their places and staying in a lot of cases.

We have seen this in the past in NZ.  Not what I would have expected in a downturn actually… you’d think when money was tight people wouldn’t take on a renovation job at all, they’d just make do with what they have and pay down debt.

Enterprising and energetic of people to do so though.

Inflation

Well according to the papers, inflation in NZ is running at around 5.3% per annum: link.

And so what is causing this? Well it seems to be food, electricity and petrol price increases.  Oh and of course the government raising GST.

So what are the powers that be going to do about it?  Raise interest rates so that everyone pays a bit more on their mortgage of course!  So along with higher weekly food, petrol and electricity bills, you’ll have a higher mortgage payment. Fantastic.

And of course things like rates are increasing faster than inflation too.  It’s all pretty inescapable for the average joe public.

The other thing about inflation is that it rewards borrowers and punishes savers.  If you’ve got $x in the bank and you’re getting 4% interest per annum (before tax), but inflation is at 5% then you’re actually losing money.  Your $x will become $x-e at the end of they year, where e is some small amount.

So obviously the government, reserve bank etc. want us to all go out and borrow lots of money right?  And then we can watch our debt get inflated away.  But they keep saying they want us to save…