Big Price Gap

I’ve often thought about this:  How will people who have lost their houses in the Christchurch earthquakes be able to afford a new one?

 

And this article sums it up:

Quake-zone double whammy

By Anne Gibson

5:30 AM Monday Jan 23, 2012
Christchurch must have affordable housing for those who face renting or leaving their ruined properties. Photo / APN

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Christchurch must have affordable housing for those who face renting or leaving their ruined properties. Photo / APN

Thousands of older Christchurch residents are doomed to rent for life, says Hugh Pavletich, a city resident and Demographia’s co-author.

“The quake-damaged homes in the red zone have an average value of $295,000, based on the 2007 rateable value. How can these people afford to buy new houses on the fringes for about $450,000 when the median household income in the east is only about $45,000? The political authorities both locally and nationally have failed since September 2010 – some 17 months ago – to address this extremely serious issue,” he said.

How indeed, this will be solved, I have no idea.

Financial Settlement with Auckland Council

As indicated in this post on this site, I have now reached a financial settlement with Auckland Council.

This was Auckland Council compensating me for my time (and the professional people I had to employ on my behalf) over the last battle which was about airspace rights and balconies.  Search on the Davo Tries Again tag (by simply clicking it at the bottom of this post) if you want to read the whole story.

But basically, the council decided that even though they had given me resource consent, building consent and CCC for these balconies, that I was impinging on their airspace and therefore I had to cede the balconies to them, enter into leases with them to lease the balconies back off of them and pay them an annual rental plus setup costs of around $10k for the privelege.

So at the start of this ridiculous battle, I notified the council that I would be charging for my time spent in fighting this.  And once I was proved correct, I would invoice them for my time and other costs incurred.

And so after months of fighting with the council, I was indeed proved correct and proceeded to invoice them.  The items on the invoice were 2xplanner’s time, 1xRMA lawyer’s time, and my time.  It totaled $12,100 including GST.

Now, at this point I need to give credit to those who helped me fight this fight with Auckland Council and their CCO Auckland Transport.  The main 2 were Calum Penrose and John Robinson, both members of the Manurewa/Papakura local board i.e. councillors with Auckland Council.  Without their help, I wouldn’t have been able to win this battle.  These guys are sensible, stand up guys who go in to fight for their constituents.  I only have the highest praise for them.

Secondly, there were 2 independent planners I consulted with and a lawyer in the law firm I’ve dealt with for years who provided opinions, legal precedents and so on which proved emphatically that the council was incorrect in it’s assertions that they could charge me for the use of some airspace that they had already given me permission to use.  I wont’ name them here in case they do not wish me to.  But if you’re looking for a good planner or RMA lawyer, email me and I will provide details.

The other people who were helpful were council staff.  I won’t name them, again in case they would not want me to, but they were very helpful.  They are right up the top of the organisation and sort out the problems created by the staff lower down (in my experience, the planning staff at the Papakura office).  The main guy I dealt with there is very professional, fair and basically just gets things done very quickly.  I haven’t met him but when I picture him, I think of the Michael Clayton from the eponymous movie.

Anyway, so I invoied the council $12,100.  They came back and offered $7625, which was based on them paying all of the professional’s time and half of my time.  I accepted this.  Why? Well for these reasons:

  • If I didn’t accept their offer, I’d have to take them to court.  Now I could have taken them to the disputes tribunal and maybe I would have won more.  Maybe I would have lost totally, who knows?
  • Not many people get money out of the council, so I was glad to get some at all.  The payment was made ‘ex gratia’ (which means ‘by favour’) ie.e they were not admitting fault but agreeing to pay me something at their discretion for my troubles.  I didn’t agree with the principle of this, but these things are all swings and roundabouts.
  • The council are not keen to be seen to be paying for people’s time in battling the council. Why? Because of course, they would be paying out millions each year.  The council staff regularly overstep their authority and try to make people do things they have no right to insist upon. And so if everyone pursued them for costs every time this happened, they’d be up a certain creek without a paddle.

And of course, this development has left me broke!  And so I’ll freely admit I could use the cash!  And I’d rather take the ‘bird in the hand’ that is $7625 than spend months more chasing the ‘bird in the bush’ of $12,100.

So there we go, I think it’s important for people to know that if the council jerk you around enough, you can get them to pay for that.  You have to advise them upfront that you are recording your time, others time and so on i.e. give them notice that you will be charging them at the conclusion of the ‘battle’.  And then you send them an invoice at the end!

But of course things would be much simpler if they would only do their jobs properly in the first place.  Council planners especially need to remember that they are not little Gods of their patch and can’t do whatever the hell they like.  They can only do what is fair and reasonable –  and what is allowed for in the various bits of legislation and district plans.

I’ll be happy to answer any questions anyone may have.

 

Trees

On the 1st January 2012, the regulations around the trimming an removal of trees changed.  The government introduced the Resource Management (Streamlining and Simplifying) Act of 2009 which was presumably meant to simplify things like taking out a problem tree i.e. the property owner would be able to make these sorts of decisions without getting a team of council people involved.

Now I’m not sure how I feel about this.  On the one hand I certainly don’t want to see the chainsaws fired up and trees disappearing all over NZ.  But on the other hand, the idea of having to apply to the council to remove a tree, have them send a team of people around, then go away and have several meetings about it, and write a decision report on it – which they hand to you after you’ve paid their fee (and before you know what the decision is) is plainly ridiculous.

But the Auckland Council is not conflicted in any way.  They know what should be done.  They know what’s best for us.  This from their site:

Changes to tree protection rules from 1 January 2012

In 2009, Parliament amended the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) to remove general tree rules in urban areas from 1 January 2012.

Many people thought this meant that any tree could be cut down from 1 January 2012. This is not the case. Due to a decision by the Environment Court, a number of general tree rules will continue to be enforced. Therefore, you may still require a resource consent from 1 January 2012 before you can carry out any tree work on your property.

Notice how the 2 sentences I’ve highlighted in red are basically opposites of each other?

So parliament tries to streamline things and the Auckland council subverts this. Why?

Well they would say they want to preserve the trees in the Auckland area.  But a cynic might say they just want to keep the gravy train that is fees based around trees going along, that and the whole control issue this council seems to have.  That is, they want to control as much of our lives as possible.

What does everyone think?

Interesting Article with Gerald Celente

I was reading this article today.

It’s about a guy called Gerald Celente who is well know in financial circles, and how he lost a whole lot of money in the MF Global meltdown.  They basically went into his account (which was a cash account) and took the money!

Anyway, this bit was pretty relevant to my post on the revenue gathering activities of the NZ Police a couple of days ago:

Gerald:  I know. As I’m saying the whole system is corrupt from top to bottom. All you have to do is look at the facts. I just got a ticket. I didn’t obey a stop sign and I have been driving for almost 50 years with no violations. So I get written up for $160. $160 for not obeying the stop sign. And this kid, 22 year old perfect little Nazi, I said to him, can I talk off the record here a little bit after I get this ticket. I said this is a lot of bologna. You are breaking people like me for this. I’m fortunate I can afford this. There was a time in my life when I couldn’t. How about all of these people where that kind of money means putting food on the table? And that is all this country has become. And the police should be ashamed of themselves some of these police. The violence that they are using to break up peaceful protestors. They got enough body armor to walk through the battle of the bulge unscathed and look what they do they protect Wall Street. They protect Wall Street. They become nothing more than enforcers for the criminal financial crime bosses and their enablers, the politicians. Look at the scandal that just came out—that continues to come in and out of the news again and again— about the insider trading that goes on throughout congress.

This is how I feel about getting a ticket.  It’s a lot of money for basically making a very small mistake.  And I can afford to pay $120 for my little lapse of concentration, but what about the families down the socio-economic ladder?  Who struggle to put food on the table?

These tickets should not be issued at all unless the driver was doing something really dangerous or reckless.  Otherwise it’s really just totalitarianism in my book.

Another Good Article by Matt Taibbi

I really like Matt Taibbi’s articles over at The Rolling Stone.

In this article, The Meaningless Sideshow Begins, he talks about how the wealthy basically buy elections in America.

This paragraph is particularly good:

Most likely, it’ll be Mitt Romney versus Barack Obama, meaning the voters’ choices in the midst of a massive global economic crisis brought on in large part by corruption in the financial services industry will be a private equity parasite who has been a lifelong champion of the Gordon Gekko Greed-is-Good ethos (Romney), versus a paper progressive who in 2008 took, by himself, more money from Wall Street than any two previous presidential candidates, and in the four years since has showered Wall Street with bailouts while failing to push even one successful corruption prosecution (Obama).

Both camps got given lots of money last time around by Wall St banks and their lawyers.  As they will this time.  But interestingly at a court in Montana:

HELENA — The Montana Supreme Court restored the state’s century-old ban on direct spending by corporations on political candidates or committees in a ruling Friday that interest groups say bucks a high-profile U.S. Supreme Court decision granting political speech rights to corporations…

Are things going to change one day in US politics?  Will the best candidate and not just the best fundraiser win?

NZ Police Revenue Gatherers?

Well just got caught doing 66 km/h down a hill in a 50 km/h area in Auckland.

And of course got issued the ticket.  No discretion ever gets shown these days.

And the guy was just sitting there catching car after car I imagine.

So annoying, you do everything you can to be a law abiding citizen, pay your taxes and so on and as soon as you step slightly outside the law, bam! They have you!

I read the other day that the NZ Police issued twice as many tickets in 2011 as they had in 2010.  Which shows that a) The tickets obviously aren’t working and b) They are just a revenue gathering exercise.

Oh well Happy New Year to the NZ Police.  Here’s a suggestion, why don’t you spend more time solving actual crimes, catching actual criminals than making law abiding citizens into criminals?