The Idiots Running Our Council

Well I read this with interest today:

Stormwater bill may limit green ambitions

By Bernard Orsman

5:30 AM Thursday May 31, 2012
Auckland faces a $9.9 billion bill to bring the flood-prone stormwater system up to scratch and cope with growth over the next 50 years. Photo / Thinkstock

Auckland faces a $9.9 billion bill to bring the flood-prone stormwater system up to scratch and cope with growth over the next 50 years. Photo / Thinkstock

Auckland Mayor Len Brown has promised to turn the Super City into an eco-city, but is pegging back spending on the city’s rundown and flood-prone stormwater system.

Before the global financial crisis the seven former territorial councils budgeted $105 million a year on stormwater.

Mr Brown’s 10-year budget contains between $65 million and $85 million a year on stormwater.

At Tuesday’s launch of the Auckland Plan – a 30-year blueprint for the Super City – Mr Brown said a key issue was a strong commitment to environmental action and green growth.

The city faces a mammoth $9.9 billion bill to bring the stormwater system up to scratch and cope with growth over the next 50 years – a job officials say will take 200 years at current levels of spending.

Rest of Article

And I just shake my head at this kind of lunacy.

Len (and the rest of his band of planning numbskulls) says we should have a green city.  But to him and the rest, green means building a new train line and buying some shiny new engines and carriages to go on it, whilst sewerage runs out into our harbours because the pipes haven’t been upgraded.

This is in no way green.  For a number of reasons:

  1. You’re solving a problem whilst a bigger one is just let run.
  2. You’re spending heaps of resources, energy etc. to build the new stuff.
  3. The new infrastructure will also need maintenance, but we can’t even maintain what we have!

It’s like Dunedin building the new stadium.  Heaps of people told them it wouldn’t pay it’s way, it’d cost heaps to run etc. but of course they were labelled as negative dream-stealers etc.  And so of course, its running at a huge loss every year because there’s not nearly as much demand for it as the idiot ‘build it build it’ brigade thought there would be.

And so coming back to Auckland, the situation is simply that we have more infrastructure than we can maintain.  So why are we building more?

Let’s translate this to a household budget: We have a big house that is crumbling down, and we can’t afford to fix it.  So what do we do?  We add on a new front room of course!  A brand shiny new front room that everyone will see.  And we can say ‘Look at our fantastically modern house’ and everyone will agree that indeed we do have a wonderful house.  We just have to be careful not to let them go around the back…

So while we don’t have the money to maintain the older bits of the house, we’re going to borrow some money and build an extension!

And then at some point, we’re going to run out of money and plead poor and expect a bailout from someone, somewhere.

If we really want to be green and build a liveable city, then surely separating sewerage and stormwater would be a good start!

 

 

Why are State Owned Energy Companies Driving Prices Up?

Interesting article from Stuff:

Rival firms blame Meridian Energy

HAMISH RUTHERFORD

Last updated 05:00 28/05/2012

Meridian Energy is believed to be exploiting its dominance in the South Island to manipulate the price of reserve generation, causing a major disconnect between the two islands and prompting an investigation by the regulator.

Since early May, South Island wholesale electricity prices have typically been two to three times those of the North Island, and were above $500 per megawatt hour for extended periods last week.

While the problem has been caused at least in part by low hydro levels, the HVDC – the line which exports power between Haywards in Lower Hutt and Benmore in the Waitaki Valley – has been operating far below capacity.

Rivals are pointing at state-owned Meridian, New Zealand’s largest electricity generator.

So this SOE is acting pretty ruthlessly it seems.  Like a private company intent on making as much money as possible – at the expense of it’s customers, the NZ public.

Now of course this is one of the companies being partially sold shortly.  Are they trying to get their income levels up as much as possible prior to that sale taking place?  Are they trying to make themselves more valuable by screwing their owners (the NZ public) so that when the public buys half of them they have to pay more for the privilege of doing so?

This is all pretty nonsensical but it’s actually pretty similar to what we’ve seen in other areas over the last few years with the bigger players consistently screwing over the smaller investors and the public to make money.

Bill Wants More Houses Built

From Interest.co.nz:

Finance Minister English welcomes jump in investor confidence for rental property if it means more house building; Doesn’t see bubble

Posted in Property Updated May 22, 2012 – 01:15pm, Alex Tarrant

By Alex Tarrant

Finance Minister Bill English does not think the property market is returning to bubble territory, and is welcoming signs investors are turning back to property if that leads to more new house builds.

The latest quarterly ASB Investor Confidence Survey released today for the March 2012 quarter showed rental property returned to top spot as the investment believed to offer the best returns for the first time since the start of 2010. Rental property replaced term deposits, which fell to second place above managed investments/superannuation, KiwSaver, public shares, and bank savings accounts.

The ASB Investor confidence index climbed 7 points to a net 12 percent in the three months to the end of March 2012. ASB Head of Wealth Advisory Jonathan Beale said this showed a turnaround in investor attitudes from late 2011, when the December earthquakes in Christchurch and the looming crisis in Europe threatened to topple the local recovery.

“Following the turbulence at the end of last year, 2012 started with a bang, with investor confidence climbing each month until April.  However in recent weeks Greece is back in the headlines as the crisis continues to escalate, and question marks remain about whether this new-found investor confidence will last,” Beale said.

“Kiwis’ enduring love affair with rental property has rekindled after 24 months in the cold. A total of 19 percent of investors now believe rental property offers the best returns, rocketing up from 14 percent last quarter. Meanwhile, Term Deposits have taken a 3 point tumble to second place at 16 percent,” he said.

 

Well f**k me with a pointy stick and call me Susan!  Wasn’t it Bill & John who whacked property investors a couple of years ago?

Wasn’t it them who took away LAQCs (substituting in LTCs), raised GST and removed depreciation on most property chattels?

Haven’t these guys said things along the lines of “We’ve taken $800 million to $1 billion out of that market…” repeatedly since then?

Can’t have been.  No, no, these guys want more houses built!  I must be going crazy…

A priceless piece:

“You want it back to normal. If that lifts peoples’ confidence a bit, then that’s ok.”

Well if you want it back to normal, numnuts, here’s a few things you need to do:

  1. Reform the RMA, don’t just tinker with it.  It’s gotten out of hand.  Councils use it to slow things down, charge lots of fees, and basically make developing property untenable.
  2. Somehow reduce the GST content on residential housing.  15% on every bit of timber, nail etc. is a heck of a lot of tax for the government to be taking every time someone wants to build a house.
  3. Get councils to lower their fees.  This means reserve, development and other financial contributions such as the ridiculous ‘Infrastructure Growth Charges’ charged by WaterCare Services.
  4. Release more land for residential construction.  Yep this means building on some green bits.  Otherwise have the population stay at the same level i.e. zero growth.
  5. Don’t let idiots like Len Brown build super expensive train sets that will do nothing other than raise everyone’s rates by heaps.

Bob Jones’ Lake Idea

When I first heard this I assumed Bob was joking.  Effectively telling the Christchurhers to go and jump in the lake.  Bob does like to take the mick now and again.

But it seems he’s serious about it.  And maybe it’s not a bad idea.

From the Listener:

Bob Jones on Christchurch rebuild: turn CBD into a lake

A radical rethink is needed if Christchurch is to arise triumphant from the rubble, writes Sir Robert Jones.

Christchurch City Council draft central city plan (August 2011).

With the passing of time, we have a better perspective on Christchurch’s CBD rebuilding prospects. The sheer scale is clearer, with some 85% – over 800 buildings covering a 40ha business area – destined for demolition. Last month, when I was shown through by the Christchurch Central Development Unit of Cera, it seemed about half had already been reduced to vacant lots. But familiar now with the impact of the earthquakes, I felt no nostalgia; instead, I felt optimistic that something better could arise.

I recalled the last time I was in Christchurch, as guest speaker – ironically, at the request of its engineers – for the opening of the huge Inland Revenue building. (To its owner’s delight, it’s now destined for demolition.) It was a Friday night and I strolled the streets, shocked at the empty shops and absence of 5.00pm traffic. This was pre-earthquake, a central city with its life wheezing from it. In that sense the earthquake has been a deliverance.

Well I think this idea has some merit.  I also think it will never happen.  I think it will be such an untenable idea to those in that area to say that their CBD was and always will be, stuffed.

What Chance Did this Boy Have?

Some time ago the nation was disgusted by the sexual and violent assault of a 5 year old girl in Turangi.

Well that boy had no chance in life with a father like this:

Man ‘like a dog’ as he bashed partner

MIKE WATSON

Last updated 05:00 10/05/2012
Mark Marino

MARK MARINO: Barked and growled during “cowardly” attack on woman.

A Mongrel Mob gang member barked and growled like a dog as he repeatedly kicked and punched his partner around the head and face during an assault in her home.

Mark Marino, 45, of Turangi, was sentenced to jail when he appeared in Taupo District Court yesterday on a charge of assault with intent to injure at his partner’s home in January.

Marino is the father of Raurangi Marino, 16, who was jailed for 10 years in March for a sexual attack on a 5-year-old girl at a Turangi holiday park in December.

Mark Marino was arrested the day his son was sentenced. He had been drinking before arriving at the Turangi home of his partner, with whom he had an on-off relationship for five years, the court was told. They sat around the kitchen table talking but, midway through the afternoon, Marino began barking and growling.

Rest of Article

I’d call this guy a mongrel, but he’d probably like that.

What on earth can we do with people like this?

Good Article on Auckland Rental Property

From Impression Real Estate’s site:

Good Time to own existing Auckland Rental Properties

Rental demands in Auckland city are growing.  No one can argue that the current supply simply can’t keep up with demand.  With the release of the Demographia International Housing Affordability survey of 325 cities and regions, Auckland was classed as “severely unaffordable”, ranking worse than the two most unaffordable cities in the United States, Los Angeles and New York.  In fact, New Zealand is ranked the third least affordable.

Rents continue to increase and building in Auckland is said to be as difficult, expensive and time consuming as ever.  According to Trade Me, Auckland renters have found a four per cent rise in the past three months, and a seven per cent raise in rents from last year.

With no new major apartment developments on the slate, and no firmly set plan for Auckland’s future, one thing is certain, property value will continue to rise and vacancy rates for rental properties will continue to decrease.  It is a simple problem of supply and demand, with limited quality builds, high compliance costs, and an array of other factors that Mt Hobson Group, Auckland’s leading town planning and resource management firm, discusses in its bi-weekly newsletter.

In fact, we’ve been saying that council absolutely must cut the red tape for us to see any kind of decrease in property value and any kind of increase in building. Many builders with the capability to build large apartment developments in Auckland have expressed anger at Council interference. The Safari Group (known for their wonderful work at turning the Heards factory into nice Parnell apartments) recently made headlines on their proposal to build a five-storey Quest Hotel opposite Victoria Park. The hotel could be used for affordable, temporary, long-term accommodation.  The Group expressed serious frustration at politicians that they say are currently “hijacking” the development. 

Another argument that we see as valid can easily place blame on the government. When they decided to remove the depreciation allowances that property investors could claim, rents rose to make up for the removal of depreciation.

Hamish Firth, the Principal of Mt Hobson Group notes that the change to supply and demand is unlikely to change any time soon.   “A new district plan is not due out for a year and while there is a real desire for additional density, the process of getting the new vision to an operative process may be 3-8 years away.”

In addition, Firth notes that the resource consent process may be eased by regulating the amount of detail and reports so that resource consent will take just as long but with a shorter processing time.  “New apartments need to meet larger minimum size guidelines and it would seem these do not stack up for an investment return.  Existing built stock in good CBD locations should remain in good demand due to the lack of additional stock being built by developers.”  A good time perhaps to pick up a few more investment properties for the portfolio.

 

And this is what I have been thinking and saying for some time, since I developed the apartments at Papakura. They are just so horrendously expensive to build!  And the returns so low that almost no one is doing it.

And this will change over time, but it will take a long time.

An Extra $5million for What?

More in the Herald this morning on Auckland Council’s rating increases:

Swney has little sympathy for Westfield stand

By Anne Gibson

5:30 AM Monday May 7, 2012
Alex Swney, chief executive of Heart of the City. Photo / APN

Alex Swney, chief executive of Heart of the City. Photo / APN

An Auckland inner-city advocate has hit back at mall owner Westfield over its rates rise complaints.

Alex Swney, chief executive of Heart of the City, said the irony of a suburban property owner carping about the rises from July 1 was inescapable because central business district (CBD) businesses had been rated on a different basis to the suburbs for years.

“At its height, our member businesses were paying twice the suburban business rate in the dollar,” Swney said.

“Now, with the arrival of the Super City and rates equalisation that goes with it, suburban businesses – especially the malls – are complaining about the same level of rates that we have been paying for decades.”

His comments follow Westfield’s Justin Lynch presenting to Auckland Council last week about the rates bill soaring from $11.4 million to $16.9 million.

Well I disagree with Alex on this one. yes the rates out in the burbs are lower but this is for very good reasons such as:

  • The values of the properties in teh suburbs are lower.  And generally rates are based on land value.
  • Heaps of spending goes into the CBD area compared to the suburbs.  There is just a never ending huge flow of money going into improving the CBD.  Street/path upgrades, waterfront upgrades, historic building upgrades (e.g. the art gallery) and so on.  Building owners and tenants in the CBD get the benefit of that.  And just look at Len Brown’s future plans.  Billions no less to be spent in the CBD.  Bugger all gets done in the suburbs by comparison.
  • Retailers have huge pedestrian flows in the CBD compared to suburban locations.  And it’s a most desirable (THE most desirable) place for office premises.  So again this helps the tenants and owners pay for the large rates bills in the CBD.

What a Bunch of Arseholes!

Just look at this from the Herald:

Clampers show war veteran no mercy

By Nicholas Jones

5:30 AM Monday May 7, 2012
Henry Raynel spent more than an hour in the cold with his car clamped. Photo / Dean Purcell

Henry Raynel spent more than an hour in the cold with his car clamped. Photo / Dean Purcell

An 88-year-old war veteran was forced to pay a fine after his car was clamped for being in a mobility space – even though he had a valid parking permit.

Community anger boiled over in Manurewa last Wednesday when a large group of passersby joined Henry Raynel, 88, in support after his car was clamped in the Southmall carpark.

Police were called and threatened to arrest the wheel clampers, but Mr Raynel eventually paid $80 to get home after more than an hour spent in the cold.

Mr Raynel had parked in a mobility space outside New World supermarket and said he was clamped because he displayed his valid permit on the wrong area of his dashboard.

He said a raised display screen meant the permit could not be seen from one position in front of the car, but was clearly visible from every other angle.

NZ Wheel Clamping refunded Mr Raynel’s fee the next day – but the company says no permit was displayed and is considering laying a complaint against police.

Mr Raynel, who lives alone at Elmwood retirement home after his wife died seven months ago, said the wheel clampers could not be reasoned with.

“I got a real shock, having my bundle of groceries to put in. I said, ‘Look, my card is on my dashboard, come and have a look.”‘

Emma Diack, 32, joined a large crowd of angry bystanders who tried to pressure the clamper to let Mr Raynel go without a fine.

“It was just a bizarre situation … he is 88. It was night as well … and here he is standing in a carpark, it was freezing, and there was no way this guy was going to take [the clamp] off.

“[The clamper] said, ‘Well, I’ve already knocked [the fine] down from $180 to $80.’ It was like, are you absolutely serious?”

Several people offered to remove the wheel and put their own spare tyre on the car, and a hat was passed around and enough money donated to pay the fine.

But Mr Raynel declined the offer and paid the $80 himself, before police turned up and told the clamper to refund his money.

NZ Wheel Clamping owner Gordon Ward was called to the carpark but refused to give any refund.

Yesterday the company’s group manager, Sean Hika, said agents did not have the authority to take a clamp off without payment or give on-the-spot refunds.

“What I’m hearing is that the police turned up but wouldn’t contact the call centre … all the negotiation and discretion is held with the call centre, not the people on the ground.”

Mr Hika said his agent had photos to prove no permit was displayed on the dashboard.

The company had requested a meeting with the police area commander and were considering laying a complaint.

“The police showed up and got involved in a civil matter. And they threatened to arrest my guys on a civil matter – a completely over-the-top reaction.

“[Police were] completely wrong in terms of the law. The guys were doing their lawful duty … we clamp cars that park outside the rules of the carpark.”

Last month Mr Hika contacted the Herald to complain of a “mob mentality” that had seen his workers spat at and threatened with violence.

The Herald was contacted by more than 60 people with complaints against the practices of NZ Wheel Clamping staff after a series of articles on wheel clamping.

Consumer Affairs Minister Simon Bridges has met the company and others in the industry to draw up a voluntary code of conduct.

By Nicholas Jones | Email Nicholas

 

Well if I was there I would have joined the crowd railing against these guys too.  Too bloody lazy to even look along the whole dashboard.

Good on the police for getting involved, this is just getting stupid.

Seal Levels Not Rising – Yet

More evidence of the Global Warming scam:

 

Sea-level rises ‘may not be as high as worst-case scenarios have predicted’

New research suggests Greenland’s glaciers are slipping into the sea more slowly than previously thought

Damian Carrington

guardian.co.uk, y

Greenland glaciers : Icy water in the fjord of the Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier in eastern Greenland

Icy water in the fjord of the Kangerdlugssuaq glacier in eastern Greenland. Along with Antarctica, the loss of ice from the huge Greenland ice cap is the biggest direct contributor to rising sea levels. Photograph: Jefferson Beck/NASA

Sea-level rises are unlikely to be as high as worst-case scenarios have forecasted, suggests new research which shows that Greenland’s glaciers are slipping into the sea more slowly than was previously thought. But the scientists warned that ice loss still sped up by 30% and is driving rises in sea levels that endanger low-lying coasts around the world.

Rest of Article

Don’t you love the whole “Sea levels aren’t really rising like we said they would, BUT it’s all about to speed up, so WATCH OUT!!!!” line of argument? It’s just so obviously a rort.

Roller Door Issues Sorted (Again)

A while back I blogged about the problems I was having with a couple of roller doors supplied and installed by Metalbilt.  And how these problems were resolved in a very satisfactory manner.

Well a couple of weeks ago another problem came up with one of the doors. The photo electric cells that make a beam across the door (so that if a car is stopped under the door, the door doesn’t come down on it) failed.  And so they had to be replaced.

And the Metalbilt service team came along and said I have to pay for it… but it was still under warranty…

Anyway I can happily report that the problem has been fixed and Metalbilt are picking up the cost of that.  So they are a good company to deal with.

I’ve also been working with new security company who look after the door control system, security systems at my place etc.  I blogged previously how Edge Security were the worst company in the world to deal with and now they have actually been bought out.

So now I use FortLock Security and the difference is like night and day.  FortLock are generally very very good, so I can recommend them too!