|Cr Bill Faulkner
Tauranga City was presented with three plants by Auckland City Parks Services.
This gesture arose out of a staff visit to view Auckland Parks and how they operate. I’m hopeful the recent Auckland local government reforms and pending reforms across the country are not reflected in the plants being dwarf white voodoo lilies. We were told they have an ‘unpleasant odour’ too. Seriously though, this gesture is appreciated and there is plenty to be gained by sharing information and experience.
Nikki Wilkins from Acorn Foundation addressed elected members with an update of this community foundation charity fund. Public-minded citizens can bequeath all or part of their estates to Acorn, which will invest the funds and donate proceeds to charities directed by the estate to general community benefit. The fund already has $6.2 million invested since starting in 2003. It’s currently returning 8.2% of which 1% is for administration, 2.2% for capital growth and 5% for community benefit.
A question was asked about structures on top of the Mount during receipt of minutes from the Mauao Steering Group. This committee oversees administration of the Mount. The understanding is there are to be no additional structures. Wayne Moultrie drew a few chuckles when he told us there had been a ‘strategic sidestep’ to leave this matter for the new committee. Some sort of plaque had been discussed for four years with no result.
The city waterfront upgrade progress was reported. The northern reclamation is open to the public already and the southern reclamation is expected to be finished in June. These reclamations were made in the early 1960s. No resource consents, no consultation – it just got done. This RMA stuff is not all good. You would never be able to get this done today. I learned to sail in this area before the reclamation and it was a dirty muddy area and, in my view, filling it in benefited the city.
Staff told us there had been great cooperation between the regional council and TCC to facilitate the upgrade. That’s good. But on another plane I ask why the regional council needs to be there at all? I know the legal reason but TCC is quite capable of fulfilling these functions.
Part of an elected members function is to help citizens with issues with the bureaucracy. Last week I received a call for help for a major problem arising through council’s planning department. This one was hard to believe. I’ll keep it simple, as it did get complicated, and I don’t have the room for all detail.
A builder had had his consent rejected because the house plans for a group of houses he was/is building didn’t have the living rooms facing the street. According to ‘good urban design’ principles and CPTEDs (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) there must be passive surveillance both from the house to the street and from the street into the house. Sounds great for peeping toms too, doesn’t it?
At the meeting between the builder and staff I raised the possibility that the people living in the house might like to have some sun too. Yes, came the reply, but the urban design principles stood and had to be complied with. The builder had a consent and that required street surveillance. A compromise got thrashed out, principally because the builder has no option. If he went for a new consent it would take time and money. Lots of it. And all this is in your best interest of course.
Urban design was foisted on to ratepayers with the absolute promise (verbal – which counts for nought, see last week’s column) that this ‘initiative’ would be educational, advisory and voluntary. Yeah right! It’s back door regulatory in my view when an applicant gets ‘advice’ that urban design principles will assist the consent application. I’ve raised this serious matter with elected members and the CEO. If you have experienced issues similar to this, give me a call. Believe me, if this carry on gets regulatory traction they will be telling you what door knob you will have.
Incidentally, according to the new rules we would be unable to build our house today, despite the fact we’ve lived here happily for the past years – we don’t know the hidden dangers we’re facing. Oh dear!
At Airport Committee we were told that despite a slight drop in passenger numbers, the business is doing well. Surplus to end of March is $1.1 million and on budget. This operation is non ratepayer funded and is supported by a user pays airport and leases off surrounding land. The committee comprises three from the private sector and three elected members. The trend in the business is growth and we are contemplating baggage handling extensions this year in anticipation of that growth. It’s a good amenity for the city providing a large green space in the middle of the city. The best bit being it’s self-funding and providing recreational activity of a wide-ranging nature on a user pays basis. A few other organisations could follow the example.
This week’s mindbender from Ashleigh Brilliant – I try to take one day at a time but sometimes several days attack me at once.