Submission to authority
My municipal contribution for this month (Auckland City Council Long-Term Plan 2006-2016 submission, for what it's worth) was squeezed into the tiny little windows provided on the city council's website. The Council's position is obsessed with rates and rates increases which pre-supposes that it is the only real issue and that their current staff/management/systems are operating acceptably: they are not. The bureaucracy seems very heavy, the officers intransigent, the elected leaders easily distracted, the minor decisions and planning like tree plantings, curbing, footpaths etc. usually very poorly made - but there is no place for us to put that.
There are so many issues that need addressing the last two points in the copy of my submission (below) probably seem minor. But the apparently small issues are usually city-wide problems. For example: I note that the local bluestone volcanic curbstones opposite the Town Hall on Queen Street are being ripped up (where are they going? who is taking them? Why? $?) and being replaced by Chinese stone (that's what a Council staff member told me) that is being scuffed to make it look more like the curbstones that they are replacing !? Yes, it sounds idiotic, it sounds like a supreme waste, a totally unnecessary, unwanted and inappropriate mistake, but I'm seeing it with my own eyes.
There are trees planted almost at random at completely wrong locations for their type, like the one on the corner of Ponsonby and Jervois Rd outside the Gluepot building - so it obscures the historic 3 lamps on the awning and will grow to obscure everything. There are pohutakawa being planted on narrow footpaths right next to the curb where they will inevitably have to be cut down at the point where they start looking good because there isn't enough room for them (see top of New North Rd - compared with the exact place a pohutakawa should be on the Khyber Pass-Symonds St. intersection where there is plenty of room and it would look great and that is where they have planted a boring, shedding, cold plane tree). Also many park benches are actually facing the street instead of facing the park - duh.
The other issue is the estimated growth in population from approx. 430,000 to 500,000 in 2016. The first issue is where they are going to live? - cheap, shitty, slums at the present. The second issue is who are they and who will they become? The % of Asians goes from 30% now to approx. 36% of total pop. in 2016. They don't have the estimates for anything beyond that probably because they will pass the Pakeha/European pop. share shortly thereafter and they don't want to freak out the white ratepayers. Since our non-immigrant natural increase is zero that means all these extra people will be immigrants. Auckland cannot get to grips with aspects of it's heritage if it is overwhelmed with so many immigrants who cannot possibly integrate properly at such high numbers. Why they can mention "Maori", "Pacific" and "Asian" by name but not mention "European" (only a reference to "pioneers") and recognise their place in the heritage/cultural/community order of things is inconsistent. How does an acknowledgement of the fact of "diversity" end up becoming a policy to maintain "diversity"? Isn't one of the important values also "integration" with the existing community by adopting their practices? With so much churn (gross pop. movements) of over 33% in 2001-2006 (according to the ACC's figures) we have a huge transient pop. who can often vote etc. and yet know precious little about where they (temporarily) live, most do not know their way around geographically let alone culturally - and that's just the taxi drivers! The pop. is thus "unstable" being rootless, potentially alienated even from "their own" community.
Many immigrants are elderly and do not understand English etc. and are basically, literally peasants - is this making us a unique Pacific city? - unique in a good way? But the council must deal with the highest % of immigrants in the country (as well as internal migrants) with little assistance from central govt. Public transport patronage is increased because of immigrants/foreign students but without a corresponding increase in quality or timeliness of services - a rail system would be helpful.
I don't see why we have to increase pop. numbers in this confined area with big infrastructure/political/traffic problems on a seemingly infinite basis. The increase in pop. will obviously have an impact on our quality of life - not just by cultural differences/habits but by the volume of numbers. Do we have an "optimal" pop. density? A related issue is with big numbers of transients landlords will flourish while home-owner-occupiers will be on the decline - meaning run-down dwellings and under-investment in housing stock generally. Why would you bother to get involved in anything other than your own non-English speaking cult/cultural group/gang if you know you will only be living in one part of the city for a few years? If your intention is to move on then participation and the necessity to integrate or adopt to local customs etc. will always be low - as will be your expectation and inclinations to bother to learn any of the history of the area and it's people etc.
Are we all happy that by 2030 Asians - and mainly one's born and raised in Asia will be the largest "ethnic group" of the population on the current elite consensus of keeping a high immigration policy? And that by 2050 fully half the population in Auckland City? Must the city be an immigrant city as it was in the distant past and has become since the early 90s? Proposals to formalise ghettos like making Balmoral into "Chinatown" would be a chronic mistake. When the govt. is intent on ensuring that immigrants and their kids keep as much of their foreign-ness as possible how will this change us? When I see Chinese and Korean language signage everywhere, and I do mean everywhere (on and in buildings, in shops, vehicles, notices, grafitti etc.) across the city and big Chinese flags proudly displayed down Dominion Rd and Chinese laterns strung down Queen St for a whole month c/o the city council I do wonder at the wisdom of importing everything from China.
---------------------------SUBMISSION TO ACC-------------------------------
1. Meaningful widening of Dominion Road for future lanes of traffic and parking over next 30 years to create a world class retail boulevard. 20m width all the way to Richardson Rd. Start from city-Balmoral Rd. City-Balmoral RD cost: $50-$70m - possible parking metering to raise revenue & increase rates from raising value of property & re-sale of new properties with frontage after annex.
2. Need co-ordination of undergrounding of overhead wires and footpath upgrading. Costs could be put on to utility companies. Legislation to enable this possibly for parliament to enact to assist. What is Minister for Auckland's job? Every new footpath in area where overhead wires exist MUST BE UNDERGROUNDED at same time. Aim to have all Isthmus fully undergrounded in 30 years. Possible ability (via legislation) to rate overhead wires (& exempt only underground utilities) to encourage them underground.
3. Lobby Govt. to create a Transit Authority for the entire Metroplolitan area to have own legislation to build rail system only with own dedicated financing, accountability etc. - nothing at all to do with buses or ferries or anything else - just the rail system to keep focus.
4. A system of emergency sirens. Primarily to alert public to a tsunami or volcanic warning - can be tested every ANZAC Day at 1pm to begin/end 1 min. silence & to mark formal end of commemoration activities/restrictions and beginning of normal activities. Sirens that cost approx. $4k can be heard for 5km therefore to cover all of Isthmus area + Waiheke Island @2km coverage per siren @95% pop and 1km coverage along coast @ 100% coverage to 2km inland = approx. 40-50 units. @$4k each = $160k-$200k. But the method of switching them on and off would probably cost at least this along with suitable independent (battery) power to each. So too with poles on which to put them - or tops of buildings. Total cost approx. $2-3m.
5. Auto-dial emergency system to alert public to tsunami/volcano natural disaster via cell phones and Telecom dialling all landlines with a recorded message. Cost -? Govt. could force them to provide this service?