Councillor monthly report June 2022

My Councillor report covers the period from 7 May to 10 June. It has been prepared for the June business meetings of the Waitematā, Waiheke and Aotea Great Barrier Local Boards.

The purpose of my report is to detail my main activities and to share information with the public and local boards in my ward regarding governing body decisions, my attendance at events, regional consultations, media updates and key issues.

Positions

  • Deputy Chair, Environment and Climate Change Committee
  • Co-Chair, Hauraki Gulf Forum
  • Member, Auckland City Centre Advisory Board (ACCAB)
  • Board Member, LGNZ National Council and Auckland Zone co-chair
  • Member, Auckland Domain Committee
  • Member, Appointments and Performance Review Committee
  • Member, Joint Governance Working Party
  • Member, Climate Political Reference Group
  • Member, Waste Political Advisory Group
  • All Councillors are members of the Planning, CCO Oversight, Finance & Performance and the Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committees

Summary

  • Consultation on council’s preliminary response to the NPS-UD and MDRS closed 9 May. The feedback will help inform council’s proposed changes to the AucklandUnitary Plan that are required by government to be notified in August.
  • Hauraki Gulf Forum co-chairs and Executive Officer with Ministers Allan and Parker

    As co-chairs of Hauraki Gulf Forum, myself and Nicola MacDonald visted Wellington 11-12 May with Executive Officer Alex Rogers to meet in person with our Ministers, and separately with a variety of members of Parliament from across the House. I stayed on in Wellington to attend the LGNZ Metro meeting on 13 May. The Forum’s public meeting was held on 23 May in Taupiri.

Engagements and events attended during the month included:

  • 10 May the CCO Oversight Committee visit with Auckland Unlimited to the Aotea Centre
  • 13 May joined the panel (photo above) following an international launch of a Lancet publication series on Healthy and Sustainable Cities where members of AUT’s Te Hotonga Hapori team participated and contributed data for Auckland in this international collaboration. The panel of IMBS member Tony Kake, AT Board Director Abbie Reynolds, VC Damon Salesa and Urban Designer George Weeks were invited to reflect on the findings.
  • 19 May official opening of the new Auckland Central Library living “green” roof installed as part of repair work on the building.
  • 24 May attended Auckland’s Future, Now conference hosted by Auckland Unlimited (morning sessions)
  • Also on 24 May paid respect to kaumatua Joe Hawke with a delegation from Auckland Council (see below)
  • 25 May opening of the stage 2 of Glen Innes to Tāmaki Drive Shared Path – Te Ara Ki Uta Ki Tai
  • 26 May community meeting hosted by the Minister of Conservation, Hon Kiri Allan on Waiheke
  • NZ Muslim Association president Ikhlaq Kashkari, his sister and her husband together with Councillors Efeso Collins and Paul Young

    28 May Eid celebration dinner at the invite of the NZ Muslim Association

  • 30 March attended the City Centre Residents Group meeting at the Ellen Melville Centre to hear a presentation on Koi Tū report, Reimagining Tāmaki Makaurau
  • 3 June Objectspace opening for twisting, turning winding: takatāpui + queer objects exhibition
  • 4 June opening of the New Lynn to Avondale shared path by the Minister for Transport and Mayor
  • Also on 4 June SEVEN METHODS OF KILLING KYLIE JENNER at Basement at the invitation of Silo Theatre
  • 5 June attended the anti-war march for Ukraine at the Auckland Museum cenotaph for the speeches including from Mayor Phil Goff, Hon Priyanca Radhakrishnan and MP Ricardo Menéndez March honouring all the innocent victims and to express solidarity with Ukrainians.
  • Also on 5 June visited Taste of Pasifika at the Cloud with the Mayor and City Centre Residents Group representative Antony Phillips
  • 8 June attended the opening for Auckland Museum’s Ancient Greeks exhibition
  • 9 June Leaving reception for Her excellency Laura Clarke who is departing Aotearoa after 4.5 years as the British High Commissioner and Governor of the Pitcairn Island at the Auckland Art Gallery
  • 10 June attended the Mayor and councillors’ site visit to Watercare’s wastewater pump station at Ōrākei

Governing Body meetings – Key decisions

The minutes for all meetings are available on the Auckland Council website. The following is intended as a summary only of key decisions.

On 19 May Finance and Performance Committee

  • Received the Auckland Council Group and Auckland Council quarterly performance reports for the nine months ended 31 March 2022. Noting that:

o Results for the nine months ended 31 March 2022 confirm many of the pressures anticipated in our Recovery Budget and was further exacerbated as the full impact of the Omicron variant took hold affecting usage of facilities, venues and public transport

o Uncertainty and disruption caused by both the COVID-19 pandemic and unfavourable economic trends has placed pressure on the operations and finances of the group and council for this period

o Despite a challenging environment, capital investment delivery for the council group was 74 per cent or $1.48 billion of the $2 billion budget for the period

o Progress of $83.5 million (92.8 per cent) achieved towards the council’s $90 million operating budget savings target for the 2021/2022 financial year

o Customer satisfaction targets across many of our services were met despite the impacts of COVID-19, although challenges related to the high demand for consents and staff shortages have impacted regulatory performance, for which there are improvement initiatives in place to address this

o Regional parks had over five million visits for the nine months ended 31 March 2022 which is on track for record visitation to regional parks in the financial year.

  • Considered a number of items under confidentiality (pursuant to section 48(1)), including:

o Council Group Insurance Renewal 2022

o Transit-Oriented Development in the Eastern Busway Corridor

o Auckland Film Studios

o Alternative Commercial Opportunities

On 26 May the Governing Body

  • Approved the 2022/2023 funding agreement between Auckland Council and Independent Māori Statutory Board, which comprises total direct funding of $3,025,326 (operational expenditure).
  • Adopted the Auckland Council and Auckland Transport Ture ā-Rohe mo nga Tohu 2022/ Signs Bylaw 2022

On 2 June the Planning Committee

  • Requested staff to pause any further work on the preparation and notification of a proposed plan change to rezone 1023 and 1039 Linwood Road, Kingseat from Open Space – Sport and Active Recreation pending the forthcoming central government release of the National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land, and the resolution of water supply and wastewater infrastructure issues, and advise the land owners of this direction.
  • Requested staff to instruct the council’s solicitors to lodge appeals with the Environment Court against each of the three decisions made by the council’s independent hearing commissioners relating to Private Plan Changes 48 to 50. (Drury Private Plan Change Decisions)

On 7 June extraordinary meetings of the Finance and Performance Committee and the Governing Body

The main purpose of the meetings was to pass the Mayor’s Climate Action budget 22/23 and a targeted rate (CATR). Following are my comments after the decision: The Climate Action budget will enable more than $1 billion of investment to reduce emissions and tackle climate change across Auckland. Council unanimously declared a Climate Emergency in 2019 and adopted Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan in 2020 led by Cr Richard Hills laying the foundation for change but not backed up with budget.

I have to admit I was sceptical last year when the Mayor first proposed a CATR that it would be possible to achieve support round the table especially as the economic outlook worsened. What has been decisive is the amazing public feedback. A record number of submissions, with 68% support for Climate Action. There was majority support across age, ethnicity and geography. Council’s engagement team have done great work ensuring we heard from a diverse range of Auckland voices and responded nimbly to the challenges of holding community events during a pandemic.

The Mayor’s budget proposal was discussed over 55 hours of workshops led by Cr Desley Simpson. Desley, supported by her Deputy Shane Henderson, was awesome in bringing everyone, including local boards, along on the process. There was ample opportunity to put up alternatives or suggest cuts.

5 Councillors voted against the budget but for CATR even though they know there is no climate action(or investment in their wards) without the entire budget package.

In the finish the clear majority 14-7 supported the Climate Action budget. I think the Mayor can retire on a high. Many thanks and congratulations also to the amazing team behind the scenes led by Matthew Blaikie for building a climate package with the highest impact across Auckland.

On 9 June the PACE Committee

  • Approved the scope to re-imagine Toi Whītiki as an arts and culture sector strategy, developed by council in collaboration with the creative community.
  • Approved the 2022/2023 Arts, Culture and Heritage Regional Work Programme.
  • Approved the Cultural Initiatives Funding grants for marae development and papakāinga/Māori housing for the 2022/2023 financial year
  • Allocated funding from the Regional Sport and Recreation Grants Programme 2022/2023.
  • Approved the reclassification of 30 parcels of reserve land, pursuant to section 24(2)(b) of the Reserves Act 1977
  • Approved submission of a request to the Minister of Conservation to uplift the reserve status on three sites ( 2R Ti Rakau Drive, Pakuranga, 72R Karaka Road, Beachlands, 9R Fortyfoot Lane, Sunnyhills0 that are no longer required by Council for reserve purposes:

Other Meetings – Key decisions

On 16 May the Auckland Domain Committee

  • Approved in principle the 2022 World Rally Championship Super Special Stage and Opening ceremonial to take place in the Auckland Domain on Thursday 29th September 2022
  • Approved in principle the Spring City Music Festival to take place on Saturday 19 November 2022 at Auckland Domain.
  • Endorsed the proposed Community Facilities Regional Work Programme for the Auckland Domain 2022 – 2025
  • Received the overview of council’s response to the protest at Pukekawa / Auckland Domain.

On 23 May the Hauraki Gulf Forum

  • Agreed to strongly urge the Minister of Conservation, Hon. Kiritapu Allan, to place high priority and resourcing on the research and elimination of Koi Carp in all affected catchments, and to have the Department of Conservation liaise with the Ministry of Primary Industries, Ministry for the Environment and Local Government to achieve those outcomes.
  • Approved the 2022-2023 forum’s budget proposal

On 30 May the Auckland City Centre Advisory Board

  • Received the Koi Tū report, Reimagining Tāmaki Makaurau: harnessing the region’s potential.
  • Noted the update on the existing Te whakahou i tō tātou pokapū tāone o Tamaki : Regenerating our city centre programme with a focus on Regeneration Conversations Phase Tahi led by Auckland Council in conjunction with Tātaki Auckland Unlimited and Eke Panuku.

In memoriam

Joe Hawke

Prominent kaumatua, activist and leader of the long-running Takaparawhau occupation, Joe Hawke has left a lasting legacy for Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei and all Aucklanders.

It was an honour to attend his tangihanga held at Ōrākei Marae over a week in May.  The delegation from Te Kaunihera a Tāmaki Makaurau- Auckland Council was led by His Worship the Mayor of Auckland Phil Goff and Councillors, and staff.

A time also for all Aucklanders to reflect on the significant legacy of a great man.

E te rangatira, moe mai rā.

Annette Isby

Talented local artist Annette Isbey passed away in May. I first met Annette in 2010 when I organised an art tour by bike as part of a sustainability week event. She generously hosted us in her studio to talk about her work.

After I was elected I would often receive a call from Annette about the poor condition of the Western Springs bush track though an area that was very dear to her.

I wrote about Annette and the track a few years ago for Ponsonby News.

Western Springs native bush and pine stand update

Bold decision making needed to unleash Auckland’s potential

Tāmaki Makaurau has had an aspiration to deliver a safe, connected cycling network since the former Auckland Regional Council signed off plans in the mid-2000s which were then adopted in the Supercity’s first Auckland Plan.

Since then, funding and delivery has been patchy and compared to many cities worldwide, Auckland’s cycling mode share by distance and trips remains low at 0.4 percent and 0.5 percent respectively.  This is often blamed on the weather and the hills, however international studies show that the biggest factor to determine cycling rates is the availability of safe, connected cycling infrastructure.    E-bikes further neutralise the effect of Auckland’s geography making riding a viable transport option across our region.

We also know there is huge demand to be able to cycle safely.  Where cycleways are built riders flock to them, for example, our North Western Cycleway has had a ridership increase of 128 percent between 2015 and 2019 (as measured at Kingsland).  Most Aucklanders own a bike and a recent survey found 56 percent of Aucklanders would cycle (or cycle more often) if it felt safe.

There is often the misconception that the push is to get everyone onto bikes for every trip.  This isn’t desirable or practicable.  To achieve Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri Auckland’s climate plan transport emissions reduction target of 64 percent by 2030 we need to aim for at least 7 percent cycle mode share by distance. This perhaps sounds like a lot, but it might mean using a bike or e-scooter for just a couple of trips a week or for every trip under two kilometres. It is also about making it safe for kids to get to school independently so we can take a big chunk of the approximately 40,0000 school drop-off trips off the road each day.

It is important to acknowledge there will always be a place for cars to be used in Tāmaki Makaurau, and the good news is more people cycling eases congestion for those who need to drive. It frees up space on our roads for essential trips and freight. More people cycling not only improves liveability, public health, and air quality, it is also good for business and the local economy.

Safe, connected infrastructure benefits everyone including the 30 percent of Aucklanders who don’t drive or can’t drive. Cycleways, wider footpaths and safer connections between our various modes of transport makes our city more accessible for everyone. The idea that roads are just for cars because of “congestion” locks us into transport planning that induces more demand for driving making congestion worse. It is also unfair.

So what is happening to deliver the cycling network – now called the Cycling and Micromobility Network – and provide Aucklanders real options to leave the car at home? $306m has already been allocated in the Regional Land Transport Plan unanimously approved by councillors and supported by all local boards last year to deliver cycling infrastructure over the next ten years.  On 5 May the Planning Committee considered the prioritisation of that funding to provide 45 kilometres of safe cycle facilities, as well as concentrated investment in local cycle connections in four key areas  (how the decision was reported in Greater Auckland).

Even though completing the Network is great value for money, it wasn’t a meeting to approve funding and no additional funding was approved.  But what we do know is that more funding will be needed to reach the 7% cycle mode share by distance goal (estimated to be at least $2 billion) as well as a range of significant policy changes at a national level.

By endorsing the direction of Auckland Transport’s Cycling and Micromobility Programme Business Case, a majority of Councillors have acknowledged the type of investment which will be needed in order to achieve our ambitious cycling mode shift target by 2030. Significantly more funding will be needed in coming years from both Council and Government along with some potentially difficult policy changes to shift New Zealanders’ transport behaviours. With bold decision making and smart urban public policy Tāmaki Makaurau has the potential to unleash significant benefits for all Aucklanders.

First published in Ponsonby News

Councillor monthly report April 2022

My Councillor report covers the period from 8 March to 5 April.  It has been prepared for the April business meetings of the Waitematā, Waiheke and Aotea Great Barrier Local Boards.

The purpose of my report is to detail my main activities and to share information with the public and local boards in my ward regarding governing body decisions, my attendance at events, regional consultations, media updates and key issues.

Positions  

  • At Wynyard Quarter with the Cr Richard Hills doing a final shout out to give feedback on the Annual budget

    Deputy Chair, Environment and Climate Change Committee (photo right with the Chair Richard Hills doing a final shout out to give feedback on the Annual budget)

  • Co-Chair, Hauraki Gulf Forum
  • Member, Auckland City Centre Advisory Board (ACCAB)
  • Board Member, LGNZ National Council and Auckland Zone co-chair
  • Member, Auckland Domain Committee
  • Member, Appointments and Performance Review Committee
  • Member, Joint Governance Working Party
  • Member, Climate Political Reference Group
  • Member, Waste Political Advisory Group
  • Member, Future Development Strategy steering group (new this year)

Summary

  • Public consultation on the Annual Budget 2022/23 closed on 28 March.
    • As part of the consultation process council held several webinars on Waste and Climate where I was a panel member.
    • I attended the Pasifika Fono, an online forum for Pasifika community members to give feedback.
    • I also attended presentations by regional stakeholders.

Planning Committee

  • Helicopter activity – Resolutions from the Aotea/ Great Barrier, Waiheke and Waitematā and Local Boards.
  • The report due to go to the Planning Committee 30/03 has been deferred until May.
  • Cr Darby and I requested that a Helicopter Practice Note regarding the relevant provisions and considerations of the Auckland Unitary Plan and the Hauraki Gulf Islands be developed by the Resource Consents team.
  • Auckland Transport’s parking strategy was endorsed to go out for consultation (Good for Auckland parking: my speaking notes in support).
  • NPS-UD – The committee endorsed public consultation on the pre-notification engagement. The timeline is to be confirmed.

Environment and Climate Change Committee

  • The committee adopted a new Water Strategy for Auckland. The vision of the strategy is “te mauri o te wai o Tāmaki Makaurau, the life-sustaining capacity of Auckland’s water, is protected and enhanced”.
    • The strategy is designed to guide the council group in relation to its responsibilities and aspirations for water over the next 30 years.
  • The meeting was also an opportunity to acknowledge the death of young bike rider Levi James and to have, a heartfelt discussion that brought home the costs of delaying “genuine streets for people” ( Our Auckland: Auckland Council launches Ngā Tiriti Ngangahau – The Vibrant Streets Programme).
  • Half price public transport fares started on 1 April for three months. However, unfortunately the price cut excludes the Waiheke ferries because the route is not a contracted service within PTOM.  I am supporting the local board in the on-going fight to bring Waiheke in line with PT fares across Auckland.

On-line meetings continue including the Waiheke Community Forum, Local Board meetings and all workshops and committee meetings.

City Centre Safety

Safety in the city centre is an on-going concern.  I attended a Friday night “walkabout” with new Acting Area Commander and the Mayor with Cr Darby of some of the hot spots (more details below)

LGNZ

I attended as a member of LGNZ’s National Council, the Local Government/Central Government Forum Plenary Session on 1 April chaired by the PM.  The theme for this year’s forum was Working together in a time of major change.

The Auckland Arts Festival

The festival went ahead with a limited programme due to current covid restrictions. I was fortunate to see Live Cinema: The Little Shop of Horrors – Lockdown edition online at the invite of the festival.

City Centre Resilience

The resilience of the city centre has faced one of its toughest tests in recent years due to COVID-19, and efforts are being made by many organisations including Heart of the City, Britomart, Auckland Arts Festival, NZ Fashion Museum, Auckland Council and city centre businesses to bring back its mojo. (Our Auckland: City centre dresses up for fashion shoot)

Myers Park

Work will begin in April to update the Myers Park underpass  This project has been a decade in the making so I’m very excited to see it go ahead.

Hauraki Gulf Forum

The Hauraki Gulf Forum submitted in favour of a complete closure of the Hauraki Gulf’s scallop fishery. We also want to see scallop dredging gone for good.  The Minister’s decision on 29 March to close the scallop fisheries is a big step forward but concerningly still leaves open two areas of the Gulf to commercial and recreational dredging. (Press release: Partial closure of Hauraki Gulf scallop fishery puts Hauturu/Little Barrier at risk)

Key decisions from the Committees of the Whole 

The minutes for all meetings are available on the Auckland Council website. The following is intended as a summary only of key decisions.

Environment and Climate Change Committee – 10/03/22

  • adopted the Auckland Water Strategy
  • approved the “Too Much Water – A statement of Auckland Council’s current role and direction” as an accurate representation of council’s current response to the water-related impacts of climate change
  • approved the Whangaparāoa Pilot Shoreline Adaptation Plan
  • endorsed the proposed Regional Streets for People projects for management and delivery by Auckland Transport, on behalf of Auckland Council. (Now named Ngā Tiriti Ngangahau – The Vibrant Streets Programme see Attachment 1)
  • approved the Auckland Council submission to the Department of Conservation on the proposed Hākaimangō-Matiatia marine reserve application, northwest Waiheke Island (subject to minor editorial changes)
  • approved the forward work programme as agreed to at the meeting, to October 2022 including a new item added at my request to develop berm planting guidelines.

Finance and Performance Committee – 17/03/22

  • received a presentation from Eden Park Trust Board
  • confirmed the 16 July 2020 approval to dispose of 4 Blomfield Spa, Takapuna as it is not required to be retained by council for open space or recreational purposes
  • received the Auckland Council Group and Auckland Council quarterly performance reports for the six months ended 31 December 2021, noting that the results for the six months ended 31 December 2021, confirm many of the pressures anticipated in our Recovery Budget.

Council Controlled Organisation Oversight Committee – 22/03/22

  • received the 2021/2022 second quarter reports of the substantive Council-controlled Organisations and Ports of Auckland Limited
  • approved an amendment to the Watercare Services Limited constitution to remove the restriction on directors serving more than three consecutive terms
  • received update on the implementation programme for the Council-controlled Organisations Review
  • agreed to receive a verbal update in relation to the Auckland Unlimited report: Reimagining Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland: harnessing the region’s potential
  • Considered the agenda item “Defining Auckland Council’s Ownership Objectives for the Ports of Auckland Limited” as confidential due to risks that publicising it may prejudice or disadvantage council’s commercial activities

Governing Body – 24/03/22

  • On behalf of council Fa’anana Efeso Collins and I received the Save our Sands petition

    Accepted a petition from Jessie Stanley relating to Sand Mining from the Pakiri and Mangawhai Embayment

  • unanimously supported the Notice of Motion of Councillor Josephine Bartley to support the proposed private members’ bill: Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Harm Minimisation) Amendment Bill
  • Governing Body meeting during the presentation by MP Chlöe Swarbrick in support of Cr Bartley’s Notice of Motion Notice of Motion of Councillor to support the proposed private members’ bill

    Agreed to timeline for consultation on Māori representation in local government, noting that feedback from the engagement with mana whenua and mataawaka, will be reported to the August 2022 meeting of the Governing Body.

 Planning Committee – 31/03/22

  • endorsed the Draft Auckland Parking Strategy 2022 for public consultation in April 2022
  • Made a series of decision in response to the government’s National Policy Station Urban Development (NPS-UD) including:
    1. endorsed the further investigation of changes to the Auckland Unitary Plan and the Auckland District Plan (Hauraki Gulf Islands Section) to address issues arising from the mandatory removal of parking minimum
    2. endorsed the further investigation of changes to the Auckland Unitary Plan to:
    3. i)           introduce planning provisions for residential private ways to achieve better quality outcomes
    4. ii)         amend the zone provisions to:
  • enable building heights of least six storeys in walkable catchments as required by the Policy 3(c) of the National Policy Statement on Urban Development
  • incorporate the Medium Density Residential Standards in the relevant residential zones, as required by the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021
  • provide for quality-built environment outcomes in residential areas of Auckland as discussed in the agenda report.
  • approved the following policy direction for implementing Policy 3(a) in the NPS-UD relating to the city centre:
  • i)       Fewer, simpler, more targeted controls
  • ii)      Protecting sunlight and daylight to open spaces
  • iii)     Protecting amenity and retaining the “human scale” of streets
  • iv)     Enabling tall slender towers with space between them to allow sunlight, daylight and views to permeate the city centre
  • v)      Protecting local and regionally significant views
  • vi)     Protecting the outcomes achieved by the existing city centre precincts
  • vii)    Protecting the relationship between the city centre and the Waitemata Harbour
  • viii)   Protecting historic heritage in the city centre
  • ix)     Promoting climate change resilience.
  • approved in principle the removal of the general building height and floor area ratio standards in the city centre, and the application of alternative built form standards in line with the principles set out above.
  • endorsed “Thriving Town Centres – Guidance for urban regeneration in Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland” (Attachment A of the agenda report) as a guidance document for Eke Panuku.
  • In confidential the Committee endorsed the Auckland Council’s preliminary response to the NPS UD for pre-notification engagement. The timeframe for this engagement is not yet confirmed.

Note: After 11 hours the committee was closed with agreement to defer the Auckland Cycling and Micro mobility Programme Business Case and the report responding to resolutions from the Aotea/Great Barrier, Waiheke and Waitematā Local Boards regarding concerns about helicopter activity to the next Planning Committee meeting

City Centre Safety

The visibility of crime and anti-social behaviour and the perception of safety are ongoing issues in the city centre brought about by several factors including lockdowns, the emptying out of people (workers, international students etc) with eyes on the street, and emergency accommodation bringing new people into the city centre with no place to go during the day.

The City Centre Community Safety Taskforce led by council’s community team has been given additional resourcing and is working on several actions across multiple agencies including Heart of the City, residents, MSD and the Police. At the last meeting on 25 March participants reported the city centre has turned the corner and things are improving.  We are likely to see further improvements as university students return from 4 May and restrictions are lifted.

Meeting the beat Police on Fort St during a Friday night “walkabout” with the Acting Area Commander, the Mayor and Cr Darby of city centre hot spots

Also, on 25 March I attended a Friday night “walkabout” with the Acting Area Commander, the Mayor and Cr Darby of city centre hot spots.  What we heard is that police resourcing has ramped up since the end of MIQ and the worst of the outbreak that had a big impact on staffing numbers covering shift work.  The Area Commander has introduced beat police who are out in the city centre on foot and in patrol cars.  Fort St is one problem area that has been a focus of operations.

In response to requests for the return of a city centre police station the Commander explained that the way people now interact with the police and contact the police makes a bricks and mortar police station unnecessary and not a good use of resources.  For example, people will use their own phone on the spot rather than run to a police station. Police can now gather evidence and respond in lots of different ways backed up by units in patrol cars and the eagle helicopter.

A police station might be a visible way of giving people comfort that the police are actively working on crime, but it doesn’t serve the same purpose as it once did in terms of how police can effectively respond and how the police can be contacted.

Following the walkabout, we have followed up on the need to improve the design of the Fort St area through a CPTED review.   This is being worked on by Council and Auckland Transport.  Te Komititanga, Wynyard Quarter and Vincent Street are areas I have also been focused on following concerns raised by residents.

On Vincent St I have secured the placement of physical barriers to deter illegal parking. The rocks have been funded from the city centre targeted rate.

Rocks provide a physical barrier to deter parking on Vincent St, City Centre, Auckland

Councillor report February 2022: The year ahead

This is my first Councillor report of 2022.  It has been prepared for the February business meetings of the Waitematā, Waiheke and Aotea Great Barrier Local Boards.

This month I look ahead to what is coming up this year relevant to my various positions*. There is still a great deal of uncertainty about how the year will shape up but the on-going response to the pandemic will continue be a central focus.

There is also no escaping that this year is election year! In September I will be standing again for the position of Councillor for the Waitematā and Gulf ward.

Climate Action (Deputy Chair, Environment and Climate Change Committee)

In all my decision making across all my Governing Body work I ask the question whether the recommended approach puts us on a pathway for meeting our ambitious emission reduction targets.  The Transport Emissions Reduction Plan progress report received by the committee in December 2021 confirmed Auckland’s emissions are not remotely tracking in line with the target to reduce emissions by 50 percent by 2030.

A big challenge that tests the wider council family is how to move away from business-as-usual thinking.  For example, the Eastern Busway project builds in not just PT but a significant widening of general traffic lanes based on “modelling” for growth.  I have asked the project team to explain what has been modelled based on the inputs required to meet emissions targets by reducing vehicle trips.  A decision on the project goes to the AT Board on 24 February.

Another significant opportunity to deliver on Auckland’s Climate Plan Te Tāruke a Tāwhiri comes with the refresh of the Cycling Business Case due with the Planning Committee in March. It will require a massive step up in budget, delivery, and ambition to provide the safe infrastructure needed to provide a genuine alternative to driving, especially for local trips. How Auckland Transport undertakes renewals is another area where I have been pushing for a change in approach from “like for like” renewals that fail to leverage opportunities for safer, climate friendly streets and a reduction in costs.

Some of the key pieces of work coming to the Environment and Climate Change committee this year include:

  • Climate change adaptation targets
  • Corporate sustainability strategy
  • Draft National Adaptation Plan released for consultation in August (TBC)
  • Final Emissions Reduction Plan to be released in May
At Black Bridge Nursery on a visit in September 2020 with Cr Richard Hills and Council arborist Howell Davies

As Deputy Chair of the Committee, I have worked with Chair Hills in support of the Mayor’s proposed Climate Action Targeted Rate (CATR) over 10 years that will fund $574 million directly and seek to unlock a further $471 million from Government subsidies and other sources to help us meet our climate commitments.

It will see more than $600 million invested in 10 new frequent bus routes and 69 improved bus routes, as well as 79 additional electric or hydrogen buses. This will deliver improved services available to more than a million Aucklanders and see 170,000 more people brought within 500m of a frequent bus route. $122 million will go towards replacing aging diesel ferries, which contribute 21 per cent of public transport emissions, with low emission ferries.

  • Cycling and walking will benefit from a $228 million investment in new infrastructure and improvements or extensions to existing routes, making our streets safer for our kids to walk or cycle to school.
  • Around 15,000 native trees between 1-1.5 meters tall will be planted on streets and in parks, playgrounds and road reserves, while thousands of additional trees and plants will go to extending bush remnants. Our planting programme will focus on low-income areas that currently have a low tree cover.
  • The CATR proposal is going out for consultation as part of the Annual Budget 22/23 from 28 February until 28 March https://akhaveyoursay.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/. I will be taking part in a range of programmed consultation events including in person on Aotea Great Barrier on 12 March (subject to traffic light settings).

Also in the consultation is a proposal to move to a region-wide rates-funded rubbish collection service with a choice of three bin sizes (with different pricing for each) to accommodate different household needs. Standardised services and charges across the region will mean everyone pays the same for the same size bin no matter where you live, which is more equitable. The proposed rates-based service is also more cost effective than the currently planned pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) model with prepaid bin tags or bags.

One-day collection of rubbish washed up on Hauturu Little Barrier Island in January 2021

In December I was a signatory to council’s feedback on the Ministry for the Environment’s proposals for a new waste strategy and the issues and options for new waste legislation (Te kawe i te haepapa para – Taking responsibility for our waste).  Council’s submission noted the need for greater ambition from government to make Aotearoa a world leader in a circular economy approach.  The submission will be available on the Committee’s agenda in March.

Berm planting guidelines

Berm garden on Richmond Rd originally planted by my mum and Grey Lynn 2030 volunteers

A long-standing initiative I have been working on is the development of berm planting guidelines that recognise the community and environmental benefits of appropriate planting on Auckland’s grass verges or berms (also called nature strips).

Auckland Transport has resisted various attempts to develop guidelines and move beyond a prohibitive and prescriptive approach.  I hope to see that change this year with a request to bring the issue to the Committee.

Restoring the health of Hauraki Gulf, Tīkapa Moana, Te Moananui-ā-Toi ( Co-chair, Hauraki Gulf Forum)

In the first NZ Listener editorial of the year we (co-chairs) had the opportunity to highlight the positive impact of iwi-led rāhui and fishery closures are having in helping to heal the Hauraki Gulf, Tīkapa Moana, Te Moananui-ā-Toi.

This marked a positive start to what will be a big year for the Forum as we progress our goals to protect and enhance the Gulf.  At our 28 February meeting we will be considering options to upgrade and strengthen the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act. There are likely to be amendments to the Act as a result of the Resource Management and Conservation reforms and as a result of proposals from Revitalising the Gulf. However, there is no process at the moment for a full review of the HGMPA. The Forum is just updating our advocacy position on legislative changes we think are necessary and looking at models of co-governance such as the Waikato River model.  The steps towards forming an advocacy position on how the Act could be strengthened in the best interests of the Hauraki Gulf has been underway for some time and through three separate reviews.

Consultation on the draft Regional Parks Management Plan

The Forum is looking to support the proposal in the draft Regional Parks Management Plan currently out for consultation to investigate including regional parks that contribute to the coastal areas of the Gulf into the Marine Park.

This has created some controversy because it has been incorrectly reported the proposal will in some way give control to the Forum over regional parks. In fact, if it did go ahead, it would mean that Council as owner and administrator of regional parks would have to recognise and give effect to the purpose of the Park.

Takahē walks across our path at Tāwharanui Regional Park

The purposes of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park are—

(a) to recognise and protect in perpetuity the international and national significance of the land and the natural and historic resources within the Park:

(b) to protect in perpetuity and for the benefit, use, and enjoyment of the people and communities of the Gulf and New Zealand, the natural and historic resources of the Park including scenery, ecological systems, or natural features that are so beautiful, unique, or scientifically important to be of national significance, for their intrinsic worth:

(c) to recognise and have particular regard to the historic, traditional, cultural, and spiritual relationship of tangata whenua with the Hauraki Gulf, its islands and coastal areas, and the natural and historic resources of the Park:

(d) to sustain the life-supporting capacity of the soil, air, water, and ecosystems of the Gulf in the Park.

Feedback on the draft plan is open until 4 March https://akhaveyoursay.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/regional-parks-management-plan

Whale tales

The move to red traffic light setting on 23  January has had a huge impact on the summer of events lined up for Auckland. Cancellations include Fashion Week, Pride Festival, Movies in Parks, Buskers Festival, Waitangi Day festivities and most of the Auckland Arts Festival programme.

One event continuing until April is Whale Tales, a public art trail across Tāmaki Makaurau to raise awareness of the vital work WWF-New Zealand does to look after our ocean, including our beautiful Hauraki Gulf and its endangered resident, the Bryde’s Whale.  In the pic a Whale Tale at Western Park, Ponsonby Road

Local Government Reforms (LGNZ National Council member and Auckland Zone co-chair)

A big part of council’s work this year will be responding to the Government’s reform agenda that is continuing at pace.

Three Waters

At Watercare’s Māngere Wastewater Treatment Plant with Cr Josephine Bartley

The council consulted with Aucklanders from 3-19 December 2021 on the Three Waters proposals to ensure the region’s views on the proposed new entity were represented when the working group on representation, governance and accountability reports back to the Minister of Local Government. An independent poll of more than 2000 people was also carried out for council by Kantar Public to ensure the views of a representative cross section of Aucklanders were heard.

The results show Auckland Council’s views on the government’s proposed three waters reforms are strongly backed by the public.

LGNZ sought a delay to the legislation last year until after the Working Group reports back at the end of February.  It is not about “stopping three waters” when there is a compelling case for change but ensuring the new model is fit for purpose and accountable.

Housing

The Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act was passed into law in December.  The new Act brings into effect Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS) relaxing key design standards in Auckland’s current Mixed Housing Urban Zone.  The Act removes council’s ability to include standards more restrictive than the MDRS giving rise to concerns regarding the potential for poor quality outcomes.  The MDRS applies across all residential zones except Aotea and Waiheke (this was a positive change made to the Bill) and predominantly rural areas with populations less than 5,000.

The Unitary Plan change incorporating the MDRS requirements must be notified by Council by August this year.  I am working to ensure that a more focused pre-notification engagement around key topics (such as council’s proposals in relation to Special character areas) takes place despite the more challenging timeframe brought in by the Act.  The Planning Committee are due to be advised of the revised timetable shortly.

(Photo taken by my mum from her balcony at Co-Haus Grey Lynn.  This type of housing will be enabled under the new Act. Full disclosure: I live around the corner in a special character zone.  I think we can work towards a win-win of more housing AND heritage protection of what all Aucklanders value).

Resource Management Reform

One of the key issues that I have pushed, along with Cr Hills and the Mayor, through the reform process currently underway has been the need to reinstate tree protection at the earliest opportunity.

The beating heart of Tāmaki Makaurau (member of the Auckland City Centre Advisory Board and member of the Auckland Domain Committee)

Fort Street pocket park

In December it was announced that the last three stages of the Wai Horotiu Queen Street Project – from Shortland Street to Mayoral Drive – would be delivered in one cohesive design with construction starting in January. The design will move towards a safer, greener people- focused street with no general traffic. I am pleased to see the project progress and that Eke Panuku is now the lead city centre agency.

At the beginning of the year I met with David Rankin, CEO of Eke Panuku to discuss key city centre issues in the next couple of years and how well the different agencies work together. (David and Eke Panuku reps are meeting a range of stakeholders on this topic).

Parking enforcement and management is one of the areas I am looking to Panuku to focus on so that it is aligned with city centre priorities. Illegal parking in the Domain and improving safe connections is also an issue I have been working on via the Auckland Domain Committee.

A highlight from the end of last year was the Dame Whina Cooper Tunnel Boring Machine breakthrough at the new Aotea Station after it left Mt Eden on its 1.6km journey.

CRL tunnel breakthrough December 2021 with MP Chloe Swarbrick

The breakthrough on 22 December meant the project team were able to enjoy a well-deserved Christmas rest before starting on the second CRL tunnel this year.

Focus on the Waitematā & Gulf Ward

I am fortunate to represent a ward covering three local board areas that includes the city centre, central suburbs and gulf islands.  I respond regularly to local issues and support the local boards to progress their priorities. I value the positive working relationship I have with all three local board chairs and the ability to work together on local issues I can progress through my work on the governing body.

In addition to initiatives outlined above here are some of my ward priorities for the year:

  • Working with local boards,  Quiet Sky Waiheke and the Herne Bay Residents Association to limit the proliferation of helicopter movements
  • Work towards the introduction of coastal occupation charges so that council has the ability to charge an annual fee for structures that occupy public space in the coastal marine area such as marinas
  • City Centre safety and noise issues
  • Destination management plans for the Gulf Islands
  • The successful redevelopment of the Downtown car park and Wynyard point (photo right).
  • Implementation of Access for Everyone
  • Business support in response to the ongoing pressure of the traffic light settings including the provision of additional space for outside dinning

There will be region-wide initiatives that arise as the year progresses for example targeted free fares.   I will continue to report monthly on my activities

* it is not possible to cover everything coming up during 2022 and all priorities.  I will however try to keep this report updated here with new initiatives and developments  as the year progresses

Good for Auckland parking

Since I was first elected in 2010 I have taken a keen interest in the topic of parking.  I advocated for the removal of parking minimums in the Auckland Unitary Plan and initiated a Getting Parking Right for Auckland seminar targeted at business associations in 2013.    I’m convinced by the substantial body of evidence that reveals the rich rewards available to cities that get parking management* right.   Parking is one of the biggest levers available to local government and has system-wide implications.  It is also a topic which provokes emotive headlines that politicians find hard to ignore, heated public meetings, and many complaints from constituents.

At the Planning Committee on 4 November we considered the objectives and principles, as recommended as a package by the Auckland Transport Board, that will form the strategic direction underpinning the development of the 2022 Parking Strategy.

Here is a fleshed out version of the points I made at the meeting in support of the recommendation. Greater Auckland has also reported on the meeting here.

The opportunity

O’Connell St, City Centre, Auckland showing before and after once parking removed to create space for people

I started by thanking the Auckland Transport Board for doing the  ground work ahead of the council committee meeting.  We were only being asked to endorse the AT Board’s recommended strategic direction so that a parking discussion document can be prepared.  We were not signing off on the removal of parking or a final version of the strategy.  We are only at the starting point of consultation to inform a refresh of the existing 2015 Parking Strategy.

If we get the strategy right, parking management can be a key lever to reduce our carbon emissions, increase mode shift and encourage active transport, improve safety, reduce transport inequity and reduce congestion across the network.  We will have the right size tools to respond to growth and increasing intensification.  It will be good for business and good for Auckland.

“War on cars”

Elliott Street shared space blocked to people and deliveries by parked cars

Our shared spaces, footpaths and public squares are increasingly filling up with parked cars.  Illegal parking is going unchecked on our grass verges and on busy arterials.    Driving is heavily subsidised and drivers have become used to the idea that parking in the public realm is largely “free”.   There are NO signs  that Auckland Transport is anywhere close to waging a “war on cars”.  The cars in Auckland are doing just fine and driving is fully supported as a major part of the transport system.

Examples of illegal parking

In fact, rather than an attack on cars, an effective parking strategy, as proposed by the AT Board, is pro-driving. It will reduce congestion and improve connectivity and access to the places drivers want to go.  It is pro-communities, pro-equity, pro-children , pro-city building and good urban design.  It is also positive for the 30% of Aucklanders who don’t drive at all and those needing space for access (whatever the mode and personal ability).

It’s a “radical plan”

The parking strategy report that came to the Planning Committee grabbed headlines as a “radical plan to remove parking on many of the city’s roads to make way for more bus lanes and cycleways” (NZ Herald, 2 November 2021 )

The current Parking Strategy 2015 was arguably “radical” for Auckland or at least  progressive for its time. The strategy provides for parking to be de-prioritised and for road space to be allocated in favour of active transport, PT,  and the movement of people and freight.  What is being proposed now is not new or “radical” but a refresh of the existing strategy to give AT a clear mandate to implement the very parking management tools AT already has available.

If anything it is “radical” to NOT effectively manage parking to achieve Auckland’s strategic objectives. It is “radical” to give away a valuable resource for free.

It is also not “radical” to take a decade to implement the strategy, as proposed by AT, when many of the parking management tools have already been in place for over 6 years.

Bringing the community along

One of the reasons given by AT for the need to refresh the 2015 Parking Strategy is to provide a “new community mandate”, to “reset expectations” and “set out the need for change”.  The report notes that “Our community’s receptiveness to change is diverse. The approach to public engagement will aim to take our communities with us through the changes arising from the parking strategy”.

There are many examples of how the community has already been brought along  as a result of the current strategy and in response to a growing city.

Drivers are enjoying the benefits where parking has been removed on key arterials to speed up their trips.   It is not necessary to undertake expensive road widening if space is re-allocated from parked cars such as proposed for Great North Road. AT’s Future Connect enables Aucklanders to understand the long-term network plans and where parking is likely to be removed in the future.

Many residents were outraged when the first residential parking scheme was trialed in St Marys Bay almost a decade ago to cope with the influx of all day commuter parking.  That scheme proved extremely successful and has served as the template for a city-wide roll out.

It has been well signaled since 2015 that residents of new apartments will not be eligible for residential parking permits.   In the city centre and central suburbs there is no longer an expectation that vehicle storage will automatically be available on public roads for free.

Business Associations were once very skeptical about the benefits of paid parking have been won over by the results. It is good for business to use demand responsive pricing to encourage turn over and to allow customers to purchase the parking they need. There’s is a heap of evidence from NZ and across the world to share with businesses about the economic opportunities of re-allocating road space to PT, active modes and extended footpaths.  (for example the success of the Karangahape Road street upgrade).

Commuters who once used the residential streets of Ponsonby, Grey Lynn and Freemans Bay to “park and hide”  have discovered the expansion of PT services such as the new bus service to Ponsonby Rd from Kingsland station and the competitive price of PT once parking is no longer “free”. Commuters on Waiheke are used to paying for parking at Matiatia implemented to manage the demand. The same approach at all of Auckland’s crowded park and rides located next to frequent PT and served by feeder services will benefit all commuters  (*once commuting returns to pre-covid levels of course).

Its all coming too fast 

In the debate committee members raised concerns that with the NPS- UD allowing increasing intensification (with no parking minimums) this is not the time to push ahead with the parking strategy.  That we are “making life hard” and “creating a situation”

The NPS-UD is the reason more than ever to push ahead with implementing the parking strategy. Intensification is coming whether we like it or not and we have to proactively plan now how we use the public realm to the benefit of all Aucklanders.  There needs to be a really clear signal to the market that car storage has to be factored into any decision making when purchasing or renting a home.  On-road parking can no longer be advertised as guaranteed “free parking”.  As the report states “Roads are critical assets and valuable public space. They serve a range of purposes, principally movement and places, and they need to cater for all modes, rather than just prioritising cars. The way in which road space is allocated is critical as it should be used, and useable, for all Aucklanders, regardless of their travel choices.”

It is difficult for those caught in the transition.   It is a transition that has been happening for over 3 decades. It was a transition for residents who moved into the city centre during Auckland’s first apartment explosion in the 90’s  expecting to park for free on-street.  It has happened for commuters who accepted a job presuming all central residential streets would remain “free” .   It has been a transition for residents living on key arterial roads like St Lukes or Manukau Road who can no longer park on street.

During the debate I also mentioned that part of the transition will be encouraging residents to use their off-street garage space for parking rather than the storage of stuff (85 % of houses are estimated to have off-street parking available). Councillors for Manurewa-Papakura Newman and Dalton were right to point that many garages are actually homes.

We don’t solve Auckland’s housing, congestion and inequity issues by  pushing out the implementation of the strategy. We don’t help drivers or improve PT by clogging up arterials with parking.   We don’t serve our communities by hiding how much parking is subsidised or  by accepting a poor return on valuable assets (AT was unable to provide information on parking subsidies or the net parking revenue but from the report it appears to be very low rate of return compared to other cities)

We have to provide the right incentives, services, facilities,  information and support to Aucklanders as we transition to a low carbon transport system and an intensified city.  Importantly it will all happen with public consultation.

One of my constituients wrote to me  with “Any councillor who supports AT’s latest madness is equally mad”.  To the contrary, I think it is the AT Board members and Committee members who supported the strategic direction who are completely sane to make evidence based decisions and to embrace a parking strategy that is Good for Auckland.

*Note

“Parking management” is used to refer to the range of tools available to manage parking such as paid parking, park and ride services, residential parking schemes, enforcement, removal of parking on arterials etc

Further reading 

 The hidden climate costs of America’s free parking space  The Guardian, 5 November 2021

Parking kills businesses, not bikes or buses  Newsroom 5 November 2021

Climate change:  Auckland’s puzzling political parking own-goal Stuff 9 November

Karangahape Road records retail high before bracing for lockdown Our Auckland 7 September

Time to spark a mini revolution in Auckland

This post is based on a twitter THREAD explaining why the time has arrived to spark a mini revolution in Auckland. It is a call to arms via the triennial Entrust Election ballot box. It starts with with a bit of history of why this is also personal.  
Campaigning for the Entrust (AECT) election in 2009 at the Howick Market

In 2009 I stood as a independent for the Entrust (then AECT) election for the 5 elected trustees. Through Entrust, the people of Auckland own 75.1% of Vector. I figured as a former Vector lawyer I had a fair shot. Little did I know that the election is a complete rort.

The current C&R trustees pocket between $55k – $165k in their roles. There’s infighting, climate change denialism, sexism, and pork barrel politics (more here on why it is important to care about Auckland’s most “boring” election).
Voting papers were mailed out from 14 October to the person whose name is on the electricity bill (whether you are renting or house owners) within the  Entrust District.
My household’s voting papers arrived on Friday (addressed to my partner because his name is on the power bill). I’m super excited to be voting for the
More for You, Better for Climate team of Emma McInnes, Rohan MacMahon, Lance Wiggs, Dewy Sacayan and Leon Wijohn.