Monthly Board report December 2016

This is my final report for 2016.  In it I focus on the transport issues I have continued dealing with in the transitional period between the end of last term and before board responsibilities are confirmed at the December board meeting.

I also highlight end of year activities and events as a busy year comes to a close.

Many thanks to everyone who works to support the board over the year.  A special shout out to all those who take the time to read monthly reports!

Season’s greetings and best wishes for 2017.

Transport Porfolio

Feedback to Auckland Transport

I responded on behalf of the Board to the following consultations. The feedback is available on the Auckland Transport Update – December 2016 attached to the Board’s agenda:

  • Bullock Track intersection improvements
  • Grey Lynn cycleway consultations that went out for public feedback in September
  • Great North Rd, King St and Dean St roading changes

Parnell Rise buildout

Parnell Rise build outAn issue has been dragging on for some time regarding the greening of a pedestrian buildout on Parnell Road/Parnell Rise installed by Auckland Transport in 2015.  Auckland Transport, at the request of the community, agreed to add greenery to the buildout. A tree pit in this location is not possible due to underground utilities however Auckland Transport has refused to go ahead with raised planters until Auckland Council agrees to fund the consequential opex.

The attached photo provided by the Parnell Community Committee shows why greenery in this location is needed to improve the amenity of the street environment and stop illegal parking.

We are working to resolve this issue in Parnell and at other locations and as a result are also proposing to add the following advocacy item to our Local Board Agreement 17/18 (to be consulted on in February).

Street trees and greenery – Auckland Transport to provide opportunities for greenery in every streetscape improvement and renewal and Auckland Council to meet the consequential operational expenditure for maintenance.

wilson-car-parkingPonsonby Car park

Wilson’s parking has installed signage at the Auckland Transport controlled car park on Pompallier Terrace that is deceptive as it gives the impression the area allocated to P60 parking is pay and display. I was alerted to this issue by a constituent who observed drivers feeding Wilson’s parking meter to park in the free parking spots. The Auckland Transport parking team are currently investigating.

Ponsonby Residential Parking Scheme update

Now that the Freemans Bay Residential Parking zone is in operation Ponsonby residents have complained to me about the difficulty of finding parking and have requested that the Ponsonby scheme, consulted on earlier in the year, get underway.  Auckland Transport parking team recently provided the following update:

AT is aware that the effect of parking displacement would be likely and has tried to minimise the period of time between the Freemans Bay parking zone going live and being able to install the proposed Ponsonby parking zone.

 There are however considerable pieces of work which have to be completed before a parking zone can be implemented and have endeavoured to proceed as quickly as we can using our available resources.

 AT will send a letter out in the week commencing 5th December inviting permit applications. This will provide details of this process and when the application window closes.

 We expect the residential parking zone to go live by end of February 2017.

Countdown Development on Williamson Ave

Williamson Ave new tree pits
Williamson Ave new tree pits

I have raised with Auckland Transport a number of issues regarding the safety and amenity of the street environment surrounding the Countdown development on Williamson Ave.  The developers have complied with their resource consent requirements so it is now for Auckland Transport to resolve issues that have come to light since completion.

The response I have received from Auckland Transport is attached.

I also secured three new tree pits on the kerb extension between Williamson Ave and Rose Road.  Two of the new tree pits have been planted but one remains empty due to drainage issues that are being followed up.

Berm Planting

Berm garden Freemans Bay
Berm garden Freemans Bay

There is a great deal of community interest in gardening on the grass verge.  We have been waiting for some time now for Auckland Transport to confirm the rules that apply.

The Board passed a resolution in December 2014 supporting the development of guidelines. Local Boards gave feedback in September 2015 to Auckland Transport rejecting the first draft. We have been waiting since then for an updated version to comment on. We’ve been told the guidelines are now ” imminent”.

AT has found themselves in an unnecessary pickle over the whole issue. If AT had just recognised Local Board’s place making role in the first place and involved boards in the drafting of guidelines we could have had this all sorted ages ago. The most recent article to appear on this issue is below (Central Leader, 2 December):

Central Leader berm article Gardening on the wild side

Meetings and workshops: 14 November until 13 December

  • Local Board Chair’s Forum on 14 November
  • Waitematā Local Board workshops on 15, 29, 6 December (final workshop scheduled for 20 December)
  • Weekly Chair’s meeting
  • Meetings with board members to discuss portfolio roles
  • Monthly meeting with the Local Board comms adviser
  • Meetings to finalise the Annual Plan consultation material
  • Meetings with Business Association representatives from Parnell, Newmarket and K’rd to discuss the new board
  • Governing Body & Local Board Chairs Joint Meeting on 17 November
  • LGNZ Zone 1 meeting in Whangarei on 21 November
  • Waitematā Local Board business meeting on 22 November
  • Health, Safety and Wellbeing learning session for elected members on 24 November
  • Meeting to discuss the format of the Citizenship ceremony
  • Domain Committee site visit on 1 December for the WWI Centenary Memorial (I was appointed Deputy Chair of the Committee at our November business meeting)
  • Walk through of the draft findings from the Facility Partnerships Policy research discovery phase.
  • Community Recycling Centre briefing with all three local boards to provide an update with progress that has occurred over the last few months.
  • Catch up with the Auckland Council COO (Dean Kimpton plans to meet all board chairs at least once a year)
  • Auckland City Centre Advisory Board meeting
  • Ponsonby Business Association Board meeting
  • Stakeholder Engagement Workshop for Ellen Melville Centre & Freyberg Place on 7 December
  • Meeting to discuss development of ASB Tennis Arena
  • Chair’s Forum on 12 December
  • Waitematā Local Board business meeting on 13 December

Events and functions:  15 November until 13 December

  • Myers kindergarten centenary with Mayor Phil GoffAuckland Conversations  –  Living by the Water at Shed 10 on 15 November
  • Herne Bay Residents AGM on 16 November
  • Opening of Taste Auckland at the invitation of ATEED on 17 November
  • Western Springs Community Recycling centre Open Day on 19 November
  • Richmond Rd School Gala Day on 19 November
  • Joined the Auckland Kindergarten Association in celebrating the 100-year anniversary of Myers Park Kindergarten on 20 November (photo right with Mayor Phil Goff)
  • Civic Trust AGM on 20 November
  • Grey Lynn Park playgroundSite visit to St David’s Church for local board members at the invitation of Paul Baragawanath
  • Consular Corps Flag raising event celebrating the 35th Anniversary on 25 November
  • Opening of the Lego Christmas Tree in Aotea Square on 25 November
  • Opening of the Grey Lynn Park playground on 26 November (photo with board members only)
  • Grey Lynn Park Festival on 26 November
  • Bike Auckland final meeting of the year on 28 November
  • Launch of Silo Theatre’s 2017 season at Q Theatre on 29 November
  • Griffiths Garden opening on 30 November
  • Western Park Playground opening Opening of the upgraded Western Park playground on 30 November
  • Grey Lynn Residents Association AGM on 1 December
  • First Thursdays on K’rd on 1 December
  • Franklin Road lights light up on 1 December
  • Lightpath Te ara i whiti  1st birthday celebrations on 1 December
  • Opening of the Silo season at the invitation of Fresh Concept
  • Ponsonby Market Day on 3 December
  • Welcome for the new Italian Ambassador Fabrizio Marcelli at the invitation of Bernadette Luciano, Honorary Consul at Ferndale House on 4 December
  • Lightpath 1st birthday celebrationsOutlook for Someday Awards 8 December (I also attended my last meeting as Trustee of Connected Media in November)
  • Opening of Stage One Glenn Innes to Tamaki Drive cycleway on 9 December
  • Splice Christmas picnic on 10 December
  • Summer Reception at Auckland Museum & farewell to Roy Clare on 12 December

 

griffith-garden-opening
Griffith Garden opening

Griffiths Garden opening: A pop up garden featuring seating, picnic tables and play equipment, garden shed for gardening tools and bike repair gear. Also a community fridge, sponsored by the Love Food Hate Waste project. Donors will be able to leave unwanted food items for others to make use of. The community fridge pilot will be in place until Christmas.

Griffith Garden will also become a central teaching hub for the city bee collaboration project, ‘For the love of bees’ in 2017. The Garden is the brainchild of the Auckland Design Office and is funded from the City Centre Targeted rate.

I spoke at the opening to acknowledge all the people making cool, innovative, creative things happen in the city centre.

Pop up Griffith Garden

 

Monthly Board report November 2015

This report provides highlights from my Waitematā Local Board activities during October 2015. It is included on the agenda of the Board’s November business meeting.

Penelope Carroll (Massey University) and children from central schools present on the children’s audit carried out as part of the Freyberg Square consultation
Penelope Carroll (Massey University) and children from central schools present on the children’s audit carried out as part of the Freyberg Square consultation

Highlights

Public Forum

Public forum at the Board’s October business meeting was one of our most interesting and thought-provoking with seven presentations covering a range of projects and issues. We are really fortunate that people in the Waitematā Local Board area are willing to take the time to engage with local government through our public forums.

Charlotte Fisher and Erwin van Asbeck bring along the litter collected from a Herne Bay beach to highlight local stormwater, sewage and pollution issues.
Charlotte Fisher and Erwin van Asbeck bring along the litter collected from a Herne Bay beach to highlight local stormwater, sewage and pollution issues.

Friends of St Davids, Grey Lynn Surrey Crescent shopsworking group, Hauora Gardens at Studio One, Brian McClure a local business landlord and the Grey Lynn pump track society also presented at the public forum.

Presentations that were tabled are available on the Council website.

Berm planting

Auckland Transport has done a great job sparking interest in berm planting!  Local Board feedback on Auckland Transport’s draft berm planting guidelines was made available in October (our feedback was attached to the October agenda) leading to media coverage extending all the way to the BBC and a NZ gardener petition.

Disappointingly Auckland Transport incorrectly claimed in the media that the draft had been provided to local boards in confidence. Throughout the development of the draft guidelines AT has shown a lack of understanding of Local Board’s placemaking role and processes.

Photo Credit: Nick Young
Photo Credit: Nick Young

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ponsonby Road feeder lane
Ponsonby Road feeder lane

Ponsonby Road safety improvements

A new feeder lane and advance stop boxes (“fresh Kermit) have been installed on Ponsonby Road as part of Auckland Transport’s resurfacing project.

Report back: Future of Cycling symposium: Challenges and Possibilities

I attended the Future of Cycling symposium hosted by the University of Waikato and Cycling New Zealand at the Avantidrome in Cambridge on 2 October 2015.

The symposium was a first for bringing together academics, sports administrators, cycle advocates and representatives from transport agencies to discuss a range of cycling related issues and opportunities.

The symposium was opened by Andrew Matheson, CEO of Cycling NZ. He shared some interested statistics from research Cycling NZ has carried out:

–       23% of adults get on a bike at least once a year

–       Half have high engagement with cycling

–       High engagement riders are estimated to save our health economy $1 billion per year

I was particularly interested in presentations about safety and making cycling an everyday transport option.  For example from a  report back from the Cycle Safety conference in Germany we heard about new bike technology to make cycling safer for older people (in Holland cycling injuries and fatalities are very low by international standards but older people make up the largest and growing group of victims). It was recommended that rather than follow the lead of Europe we need to find our own safety solutions to meet them in the future.

Gerry Dance from NZTA reported that we are now “riding with a political tailwind” due to the increase in cycling investment from the government.

I attended the symposium with members Christopher Dempsey and Rob Thomas. Registration of $80 was paid from the Board’s professional development budget.

October events and functions

In addition to Local Board workshops and meetings I attended:

  • Cycling symposium in Cambridge on 2 October
  • Pecha Kucha Maritime edition at the Voyager Museum 8 October
  • Art Week opening at Silo 6 on 9 October
  • Auckland Refugees Council AGM on 10 October at the Grey Lynn Community Centre
  • Kelmarna Spring Festival on 11 October
  • Ponsonby Business Association Board meeting on 14 October
  • Introduction to Local Board members by the new Panuku Development Agency
  • At the Beach NZ Fashion Museum launch at Voyager Museum on 15 October
  • Spring Fling in the Myers Park underpass on 16 October
  • Diwali Festival opening ceremony in Aotea Square on 17 October
  • Grey Lynn Farmers Market AGM on 18 October  (I have now resigned from the Grey Lynn Farmers Market management committee after 5 years as Chair )
  • Bikes vs Cars documentary screening on 18 October
  • Ports of Auckland community reference group meeting
  • Presentation by the world homeless expert Dr Sam  Tsemberis, Pathways to Housing, NYC  at Merge Café hosted by Lifewise on 20 October
  • Opening of the Screenies International children’s film festival at TAPAC on 22 October
  • Inner city network meeting to discuss neighbours day 2016 preparations
  • Ponsonby Business Association AGM on 27 October
  • The Lesson opening night at Basement Theatre on 27 October
  • Franklin Road community liaison group meeting on 28 October (to discuss the latest options for the upgrade of Franklin Road)

Berm planting guidelines

Berm firth roadAt the Waitematā Local Board’s December meeting the Board unanimously passed the following resolution:

b)     That the Waitematā Local Board

i) Supports encouraging and enabling community use of berms as much as practicable

ii) Supports the development of berm-planting guidelines, which would include:

  •    Benefits of appropriate berm planting
  •    Safe depths to dig to
  •    Ideal plants in a number of categories – natives, food, trees
  •    Maintenance expectations, including in regard to safety eg height
  • Role of Local Boards in acting as a key conduit for Auckland Transport to have community relationships around berm planting
  • Working with neighbours

iii) Requests Auckland Transport develop berm planting guidelines in conjunction with Local Boards

iv)  Requests Auckland Transport report on progress to the Board’s February meeting

Herne BayBackground

In July 2013 Auckland Transport standardised the urban berm moving service so that generally all owners and occupiers adjacent to road side grass verges (berms) are responsible for maintenance. Auckland Transport has provided various exceptions such as on road corridors through town centres and on steep sections.

Following an increase in residents informally planting on the berms Auckland Transport undertook in February 2014 to draft guidelines. These guidelines have not yet been forthcoming, even in draft form, although the Community Placemaking Champions group of Local Board members (of which I am a member)  was recently briefed that “private” berm guidelines will be released for consultation in 2015.  “Private” applies to people who wish to plant a berm that is adjacent to their existing property, and will not cover community groups or gardening collectives who may wish to plant on berms.

The champions group has recognised that the guidelines provide an opportunity to support the “placemaking” function of berms and to foster the many benefits.   For example – litter reduction, storm water management, streetscape amenity values, community development and the promotion of bio-diversity.  Guidelines can provide a best practice framework for street planting while minimising the impact on the road corridor. For example the City of Sydney Footpath Gardening Policy  allows residents and businesses to put planter boxes on the footpath and/or carry out gardening on footpath verges outside their properties under certain conditions.

Hepburn StreetAuckland Transport’s approach to the guidelines (including advice currently on AT’s website which incorrectly states berm planting is prohibited) suggests that the draft guidelines are not being approached from a placemaking perspective but mainly to identify what is not allowed in the road corridor for safety reasons.

Local Boards are best placed to develop the guidelines with Auckland Transport and to assist with the smooth implementation.  I therefore recommend that the Board confirms support for encouraging and enabling community use of berms as much as practicable and directs Auckland Transport to develop appropriate guidelines in conjunction with Local Boards.

Selbourne St

Beautiful Waitematā berms

Since Auckland Council stopped paying for the grass verges/berms to be mowed in October last year the landscape of our streets has been changing in new and beautiful ways. Yes there are some scruffy roadsides (and as a Board we have been following up with Auckland Transport to maintain berms that have no obvious “owner”- the NZ Herald has reported on this today) but for the most part as I travel around the Waitematā area I have been impressed with what’s starting to grow and how well cared for our neighbourhoods are looking.

There have been other spin offs too. The bees and butterflies are new beneficiaries  enjoying all the roadside food from the flowing berms (one of my neighbours has been leaving a patch of meadow grass for the bees).  Maintaining the berms encourages neighbourly interactions as I have seen on my own road. My neighbour mows our berm as we don’t have a lawn mower. I took the opportunity to meet new neighbours when they were outside planting their berm. Other neighbours finally got talking again after a long running dispute.

It’s also made me appreciate how many residents have been proudly looking after their berms for many years despite it previously being a paid service (not surprisingly as the contractors often did a very poor job).  It was only in the old Auckland City Council area that berms were mowed at ratepayer expense- the rest of Auckland can’t figure out what the fuss is about.  I am all for Auckland Transport maintaining verges that are not getting looked after (usually for very good reasons) but I think we should enjoy, encourage and celebrate our new urban landscapes that have been liberated from expensive Council mono-mowing.

More information

Berm mowing responsibilities on Auckland Transport’s website

Alternative ideas for berm mowing – Auckland City Harbour News, 9 October 2013

Tips for planting bio-corridors – Grey Lynn 2030

Update

Pimp my berm – berm planting in Elleslie on Seven Sharp 12 February 2014

Planting bio-corridors on the berms

berm guerilla garden Richmond roadA Grey Lynn 2030 project

Spring is here and the grass is growing. Around our neighbourhoods the berms (grass verges) are looking either very shabby or immaculately well kept. This is because from 1 July Auckland Council stopped mowing the grass and the service has been brought into line with the old council areas of North Shore, Waitakere and Manukau (saving ratepayers

around $3m per year). Officially we are now all “responsible” for taking care of the berms adjacent to our properties with some exceptions. The details are on the Auckland Transport website.

Many residents prefer to maintain “their” berms as they can do a much better job than the contractors. It is also an opportunity for neighbourly interactions and to look out for elderly residents. A few years ago Grey Lynn 2030 started a project to create bio- corridors on the berms. We think the new mowing arrangements are a perfect opportunity to revive this project for the benefit of the environment and our community.

The goal is to create a beautiful and diverse urban landscape that supports a rich mix of flora and fauna; where nature is visible and celebrated; with streets where people, plants, birds, bees and insects flourish. By thinking about the berm as a “bio-corridor” we will end up with beautiful streetscapes; a perfect habitat for birds, bees, native invertebrates (such as lizards) and urban insects. Berms that are planted with suitable species support local pollination and bird life, reduce stormwater runoff and soil erosion, improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

If residents start taking responsibility for planting and maintaining the berm outside their own house it is hoped that over time gardens will form a continuous corridor in any street. In the same way as the Franklin Rd Christmas lights, each house will have a different garden but together they will form a congruous whole. The gardens combined will be visually stunning and create a cohesive landscape that is pleasant to walk and play in.

Grey Lynn 2030 encourages you to only plant what you are willing to take responsibility for and to avoid trees and structures. Ideal plants include hardy, low maintenance, flowering perennials and small shrubs. Native plants provide habitat and food for native flora and

fauna. All year round flowering plants are ideal for bees. For example; lavender, hebe, native grasses, pohuehue (muehlenbeckia) manuka, swan plants, wild flowers, borage, nasturtium and comfrey.

If in doubt contact Auckland Transport and stick to the following guidelines for planting on berms:

  • Only low-level planting should be used. This should not impede pedestrians, restrict visibility or create a safety hazard for motorists or cyclists.
  • The planting must not affect the operation of utility services which are often located on the verge.
  • The planting should be maintained regularly.
  • Trees, large boulders, shells and similar, harder landscaping measures should not be used.

While there is some effort involved to start, once established planted berms will be low maintenance and much less work than lawns! We look forward to seeing a whole new urban landscape flourish.

This article was first published in the October edition of Ponsonby News