Thursday, June 7, 2012

Snowy, Red Zone Avonside, Christchurch Quakes

Wed 06.06.12. Transit of Venus viewing was No Go, as it snowed all day in Christchurch. Ashburton & Christchurch were the coldest places in NZ: 1C (One News).

At 6.30 am, while driving Luke to his Hornby work, it was already sleeting & raining in the dark. The digital temperature sign by Copthorne Hotel, Memorial Ave, showed minus 1C.

Fetching Luke from Hornby that afternoon was no problem as snow on the road was still slushy. The Press 07.06.12 reported that Wed 06.06.12 was the coldest day recorded in Christchurch in 130 years.

Leah drove through snow for a late 11 am start at her London St school. One child arrived in Leah's class. Parents decided not to bring kids to school - too snowy, slippery road dangerous. That night, about 10 cm of snow lay in our Burnside garden. 

Thurs 07.06.12. As the snow iced overnight, wheels spinning, I battled to drive my car out our Burnside driveway. Luke & Leah had to push a bit. Driving Luke to Hornby work, was like driving on glass. Late Wed afternoon, I did lots of garage drying out & snow digging on the driveway.

Most schools were closed. Late school start, 11 am, I drove Leah to her London St school. Only 7 kids arrived at school for a couple of hours' lessons. Leah said, "It's the third year running, my teaching's disturbed by natural hassles - quakes then snows."

As the day was too short for my snapping pics of the snowy, red zone CBD, I did a short circular walk in snowy red zone Avonside: Swanns Rd Bridge - Retreat Rd - Avonside Dr along Avon River stop bank, returning to my car parked between Swanns Rd Bridge & Avonside Girls High.

Images, quake damaged Swanns Rd:


07.06.12. Black swans, Avon River, nr Swanns Rd Bridge


07.06.12. Snowy Swanns Rd Bridge



07.06.12. Quake spalled concrete span at abutment join, Swanns Rd bridge


07.06.12. Snowy Avonside Dr view of Swanns Rd Bridge

It was a crisp, sunny afternoon, blue skies & a snow mattress contrasting the horrors of red zone, Avonside, quake trashed roads & evacuated, quake trashed, red zone housing. Snow the equalizer covered everything: bridges across Avon River, roads, pavements, riverside footpaths, liquefaction mud, demolition sites, quake-flung bricks & quake-scarred, boarded housing, useless power lines.

Images, quake damaged Avonside Dr:


07.06.12. Snowy red zone house, Avonside Dr, nr Swanns Rd Bridge. The house was demolished


07.06.12. Quake tilted power pole & blue water pipe on snowy pavement, by red zone housing, Avonside Dr, nr Swanns Rd Bridge. The housing was demolished






Some anti-burglar / anti-hooligan tricks red zoners used, giving the impression houses were still inhabited: cars in driveways, curtains opened, No Junk Mail signs on letter boxes.

Avonside Dr: Near Swanns Rd Bridge, next to a broken window house, a neighbour's house sign read: 

          HAVE A
        CARE WE
       STILL LIVE
             HERE
BEWARE THROWING
STONES MAY AFFECT
  YOUR BREATHING!


07.06.12. Snowy red zone housing, Avonside Dr, nr Swanns Rd Bridge. The housing was demolished


07.06.12. Quake tilted house & window sign, snowy red zone house, Avonside Dr, nr Avonside Girls High. The house was demolished





07.06.12 Stone thrown, broken window, snowy red zone house, Avonside Dr, nr Avonside Girls High. The houses were demolished

Evidence of abandoned housing near Avon River was everywhere:

Red stickers on doors, showing houses too dangerous for habitation;

Less walkers & dog walkers on Avon River banks;

Green stickers on windows, showing power cuts;

Snow capped rubbish bins in front gardens;

Few snowy footprints in streets or gardens;

No car tyre tracks in snowy driveways;

Boarded doors & windows;

Snow capped letterboxes;

Broken chimneys;

Buckled walls;

Cracked walls;

Tilted houses;

Few pedestrians;

Garages without houses;

Low hanging power lines;

Fence cordons across properties;

Street flooding & muddy, icy pools;

Ongoing demolitions of red zone houses;

Few cars or cyclists on quake trashed roads;

Roadside plastic portaloos, different colours;

Roadside plastic sewage tanks, green or black;

Blue, plastic, water pipes along snowy pavements;

CERA contractor vehicle touting house alarm fix-its.

Images of quake damaged Retreat Rd:


07.06.12. Snowy red zone house, cnr Retreat Rd / Avonside Dr, nr Swanns Rd Bridge



07.06.12. Snowy red zone, cnr Avonside Dr / Retreat Rd, nr Swanns Rd Bridge


07.06.12. Snowy red zone, bench beside Avon River, cnr Avonside Dr / Retreat Rd. Snowy River Rd on opp bank

Retreat Rd: Some green zoned, some red zoned, in the borderland by red zoned housing in the Avon River horseshoe bend. I detoured twice off the circular walk: Silverdale Pl off Retreat Rd & Bowie Pl off Avonside Dr. Only one man shovelled snow off his driveway in Silverdale Pl. Most neighbouring houses were abandoned.


07.06.12. Snowy, red zoned, Retreat Rd


07.06.12. Snowy house, Retreat Rd



07.06.12. Snowy portaloo, Retreat Rd


07.06.12. Snowy red zone house, Retreat Rd


07.06.12. Snowy Retreat Rd & Keller St cnr




07.06.12. Earthquake sign on power pole, snowy Retreat Rd & Patten St junction


07.06.12. Plastic sewage tank, cnr snowy Retreat Rd / Patten St

Images, snowy, quake damaged Silverdale Pl:


07.06.12. Snowy street signs, cnr Retreat Rd / Silverdale Pl


07.06.12. Snowy portaloo, snowy Silverdale Pl


07.06.12. Plastic sewage tank, snowy Silverdale Pl


07.06.12. Snowy red zone house, Silverdale Pl



07.06.12. Snowy Silverdale Pl view of snowy Port Hills


07.06.12. Snowy, quake trashed, red zone house, Silverdale Pl



07.06.12. Quake buckled, house wall, snowy red zone, Silverdale Pl




07.06.12. Snowy, quake trashed chimney, red zone house, Silverdale Pl



07.06.12. Red stickered, red zone house & quake taped window, Silverdale Pl


07.06.12. Electricity cut, green sticker, red zone house, Silverdale Pl

Images, quake damaged Retreat Rd:


07.06.12. Snowy red zone, cnr Highbury Pl / Retreat Rd


07.06.12. Quake trashed, boarded chimney, snowy, red zone house, Retreat Rd

Council flats, corner Retreat Rd / Avonside Dr, were all boarded closed, although some were green stickered. They'd been closed since the 04.09.10 quake. What a waste!


07.06.12. Snowy red zone, cnr Retreat Rd / Avonside Dr, nr Gayhurst Rd Bridge


07.06.12. Snowy red zone, Avonside Dr view, across Avon River, to snowy Dallington Tce left & Gayhurst Rd Bridge


07.06.12. Quake crack by front step, closed Council flat, cnr snowy Avonside Dr / Retreat Rd. The Council flats were demolished


07.06.12. Outdated, faded, green sticker, Council flat, cnr snowy Avonside Dr / Retreat Rd


07.06.12. Serial quake closed, Council flats, cnr snowy Avonside Dr / Retreat Rd. The Council flats were demolished

Bowie Pl was serial quake damaged since the 04.09.10 quake. Post 04.09.10 quake, I'd coolpixed Bowie Pl council housing, all 32 flats, liquefactioned & boarded closed.

Despite Christchurch post quakes housing crisis, 21 months later Bowie Pl was still closed, a padlocked chain across the road & flats still yellow stickered, boarded, closed. Many of the flats looked habitable, despite some liquefaction mud under snow. What a waste!

Images, quake damaged Bowie Pl:


07.06.12. Snowy red zone, Avonside Dr stop bank view across Avon River to snowy Dallington Tce


07.06.12. Serial quake closed, padlock chained, Bowie Pl & serial quake closed Council flats


07.06.12. Snowy & icy red zone, boarded, serial quake closed, quake bent, Council flats, Bowie Pl


07.06.12. Snowy red zone, serial quake closed, boarded, Council flats, Bowie Pl





07.06.12. Yellow sticker, serial quake closed Council flat, Bowie Pl


07.06.12. Snowy red zone, serial quake closed, boarded, Council flats, Bowie Pl





High tide Avon River looked OK, ducks & Canada geese swam downstream towards Kerrs Reach.

CERA minister Brownlee's idea was to straighten Avon River by Kerrs Reach, to encourage water sports back again. (He touted that idea again in Dec 2013. The idea had expanded into making Christchurch the "Sports Capital.")

Meanwhile the housing crisis continued, while CERA was supposed to be sorting housing RECOVERY, but wasn't.

Mon 10.06.12. The Press business section reported the farcical new housing situation: "The first 3 months of this year saw local councils issue consents for just 60 new homes in the region, double the 30 issued in the last quarter 2011, according to Statistics New Zealand...

Between the first quakes in September 2010 and the end of April this year, consents for 152 quake- related rebuilds were issued in Canterbury, as well as 149 consents for portable homes in temporary villages."

In 2013 Brownlee used the consents debacle to kick Council's ass. Mayor Parker & town clerk Marryatt were responsible for bldg consents processing & despite the housing crisis, did nothing to speed up bldg consents processing.

Images, quake damaged Avonside Dr:


07.06.12. Snowy red zone housing, Avonside Dr



07.06.12. Quake cracked house, snowy red zone, Avonside Dr



07.06.12. Quake trashed, boarded chimney, snowy red zone, Avonside Dr



07.06.12. Abandoned furniture in garden, snowy red zone, Avonside Dr


07.06.12. Snowy red zone portaloo, Avonside Dr


07.06.12. Snowy red zone portaloo & water pipe on pavement, Avonside Dr


07.06.12. Snowy red zone, Avonside Dr view of contractor house alarm vehicle & snowy Port Hills


07.06.12. Snowy red zone, cnr Morris St & Avonside Dr


07.06.12. Snowy red zone, house demolition site, Avonside Dr



07.06.12. Avonside Dr view of snowy red zone stop bank, weeping elm & quake trashed drain by Avon River. Dallington Tce opp bank


07.06.12. Serial quake trashed house, snowy red zone, Avonside Dr



07.06.12. Avonside Dr, stop bank view of quake trashed, tilted drain by Avon River. Dallington Tce opp bank. The drain was demolished


07.06.12. Serial quake trashed house, snowy red zone, Avonside Dr



07.06.12. Snowy red zone, Avonside Dr stop bank view of quake sunk footpath by Avon River. Dallington Tce opp bank





07.06.12. Red zone Avonside Dr, stop bank view of Canada geese in Avon River, Dallington Tce opp bank


07.06.12. Snowy red zone, serial quake trashed house, Avonside Dr




07.06.12. Snowy red zone, Avon River stop bank view of serial quake trashed Avonside Dr



07.06.12. Snowy red zone, quake trashed house, Avonside Dr




07.06.12. Fence cordoned, serial quake trashed house with broken chimney, snowy red zone, Avonside Dr



07.06.12. Three stickered house door, snowy red zone Avonside Dr


07.06.12. Quake cracked house wall, snowy red zone, Avonside Dr


07.06.12. Serial quake trashed house, snowy red zone, Avonside Dr




07.06.12. Demolition vehicles, house demolition site, snowy red zone, Avonside Dr







07.06.12. Quake trashed, house demolition in progress, snowy red zone, Avonside Dr


07.06.12. Serial quake trashed house, snowy red zone, Avonside Dr







07.06.12. House demolition site, snowy red zone, Avonside Dr



07.06.12. Serial quake trashed house, snowy red zone, Avonside Dr



Landcheck on the CERA website had degenerated to obfuscation. I tried to check zoning of various Retreat Rd, Avonside Dr, Silverdale Pl addresses, even my Burnside home address, but CERA website gave "Address... not found." I found a Bowie Pl address zoned red. CERA webmaster was deliberately obscuring house zoning information. The original Landcheck website had clearly shown address zonings, red, orange, green, white. No search hassles. For something as important as govt land zoning information, CERA was opaque.

CERA website gave the NZ govt land purchase offers, for red zone, insured residential properties, as follows:

"Option 1 -  the purchase price paid for your property will be based on the most recent rating valuation for your land, buildings and fixtures and the Crown will take over all insurance claims for the damage to your property.

Option 2 - the purchase price paid for your property will be the most recent rating valuation for your land and the Crown will take over your EQC claim for land damage. You will retain the benefit of all insurance claims for the damage to your buildings and fixtures and will continue to deal with EQC and your insurer to settle those claims."

Thus red zone home owners lost all claims to their land & the Crown grabbed the lot. Why was NZ govt so anxious to grab prime riverside land all along Avon River?

The evil of red zoning was that NZ govt's / CERA's so-called geotech experts deemed quake damaged land too expensive to fix (without even releasing CERA land assessments to residential property owners) then red zoners were forced to leave their land, whether their houses were quake damaged or not. On my wanderings I'd seen many quake damaged red zone houses & many not damaged at all.

Red zoners were forced off their residential properties by NZ govt / CERA, without CERA releasing the land assessments on which such obscure zoning was based. Thus red zoners were compelled to accept a govt / CERA offer, or deal with insurers, without being provided any land assessment information at all.

Then there was the NZ govt / CERA iniquity of 28 000 green-blue zoned, TC3 houses, where green zoners were stuck on quake damaged land, which Tonkin & Taylor engineering firm deemed OK to fix. But expensive new foundations had to be constructed during repairs on TC3 green-blue zoners' land. Some TC3 green-blue zoners' houses were more quake damaged than red zoners' houses, yet TC3 green-blue zoners were forced to stay by CERA / govt decree on quake crapped land.

There was no right of appeal for any land zoning by CERA, only omnipotent, non negotiable CERA review. (The review was a belated ploy by CERA to obviate court action by disgruntled red zoners, after 1 000s of red zoners had already accepted the NZ govt / CERA offer). Someone in The Press / Stuff Co comments section observed that criminals had more rights, like right of appeal, than red zoners. No wonder red zoners contemplated appeals to the queen, or the UN, or contemplated class action. (The latter soon evolved & carried on for years).

So far all over Christchurch, over 7 000 houses were red zoned uninhabitable by CERA, due to land damage by quakes. 16 months post 22.02.11 quake, CERA still dithered over rezoning Port Hills white zone properties.

People had evacuated many red zone houses, yet 21 months post 04.09.10 quake, CERA, Council & developers had not replaced evacuated houses with an adequate & timeous, housing rebuild programme. The low housing supply enabled the housing, rental market to increase rents & rake in filthy lucre. That affected our family.

Never mind red zoners & other zoned home owners battling EQC & insurers for pay outs for repairs or rebuilds & paying mortgages & rates for evacuated housing. There was some Council rates relief, but insufficient.

Instead CERA & Council wittered about grand plans for the CBD rebuild, like a roofed stadium, new convention centre, various sports facility rebuilds, while home owners of quake trashed housing suffered CERA neglect. Homeowners, unable to cover increased housing costs, slept in cars, garages, tents, caravans, broken homes.

NZ govt land grab: The snag with NZ govt's red zone land / housing offer to red zoners was that NZ govt only offered crappy rateable value, not market value. If red zoners opted not to battle with tardy insurers for pay outs & accepted NZ govt offer, NZ govt took over red zoners' land rights & insurances & used home owners' own insurances to pay out red zoners. Insurers & reinsurers laughed all the way to the bank, having saved big bucks by cosy dealings with NZ govt.

Never mind deliberate delays by insurers (to force red zoners to accept the cheapskate govt offer, as  deadlines loomed for red zoners to evacuate properties) & threats by CERA to stop services like water, sewage & electricity, if red zoners opted not to deal at all & stay for good on their quake damaged (or undamaged) properties. Never mind property owners who had no insurance.

Still, after about 10 500 quakes, many so-called red zone houses looked liveable, just like our green zoned, Burnside rental. How many sound, red zone houses would be relocated for resale, or just demolished? NZ govt's small costings on infrastructure rebuild (see letter below) & NZ govt's excuse for red zoning - infrastructure would be too expensive to rebuild on quake damaged land, were reasons for the red zoning of sound houses, which had survived over 10 000 quakes.


07.06.12. Serial quake trashed, Medway St Footbridge, between Avonside Dr & River Rd, snowy red zone. Medway St Footbridge was deconstructed & stored at Ferrymead Heritage Park




07.06.12. Serial quake trashed house, snowy red zone, Avonside Dr




07.06.12. Quake displaced porch, serial quake trashed house, snowy red zone, Avonside Dr



07.06.12. Quake displaced brick, serial quake trashed house, snowy red zone, Avonside Dr



07.06.12. Quake skewed window, serial quake trashed house, snowy red zone, Avonside Dr



07.06.12. Wood braced, house wall, serial quake trashed house, snowy red zone, Avonside Dr



07.06.12. Fence cordoned, serial quake trashed house, snowy red zone, Avonside Dr


07.06.12. Post demolition, garage sans house, snowy red zone, Avonside Dr


07.06.12. Serial quake trashed house, snowy red zone, Avonside Dr



07.06.12. Weeping elm by house demolition site, snowy red zone, Avonside Dr


07.06.12. Serial quake trashed house, snowy red zone, Avonside Dr







07.06.12. Snowy red zone, Avonside Dr stop bank view of downstream Avon River. Snowy red zone River Rd right



07.06.12. Serial quake trashed house, snowy red zone, Avonside Dr










07.06.12. Snowy red zone, Avonside Dr view of snowy red zone Bracken St & snowy Port Hills



07.06.12. Serial quake trashed house, snowy red zone, Avonside Dr



07.06.12. Avonside Dr view of snowy red zone Monkton Pl


07.06.12. Serial quake trashed house, snowy red zone, Avonside Dr


PM Key posted us a National party pamphlet, "Investing in our Future BUDGET 2012 at a glance," an Ilam constituency survey form from CERA minister Brownlee, "Building a Brighter Future for Ilam" & a form letter from Key dated 5 June 2012, boasting about disbursement of taxpayers' money in the Canterbury rebuild as follows:

"Dear Mr & Mrs Esslemont and family...

Our commitment to the rebuild of greater Christchurch is central to our plan. We promised to stand shoulder to shoulder with Cantabrians and we are continuing to do so. Our progress includes:

* Setting aside $5.5 billion for the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Fund and establishing the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA). More than $3.4 billion of the Recovery Fund will have been spent by next year to support the rebuild, repair, and growth of greater Christchurch.

* Repairing over 15 000 homes and 12 000 sqm of road, installing 12.6 km of wastewater pipe and 9.5 km of drinking water pipe and demolishing over 80 percent of unsafe buildings.

[Take a day's drive on quake-crapped roads & walk around the eastern suburbs Key & you'll see what a sideshow plate spinner you were. 15 000 repaired homes Ha! Sewage excavations around town yes. CBD demolitions yes, but few suburban housing demolitions. 9.5 km water pipe so what? When I worked for DeBeers Kleinzee, SA, I used to drive past a water pipe 100s of kms long, bringing water from the Orange River, Namibia, through semi desert to Kleinzee mining town. That was De Beers private enterprise, not govt backed. Pull the other one Key!]

* Making purchase offers to more than 6 000 residential red zone homeowners, two-thirds of whom have accepted.

[If true, those 2/3s homeowners gave their land rights to the Crown, under duress, with no buy back option, accepting a NZ govt land grab].

* Fast-tracking planning permission to make thousands of new residential sections available in new subdivisions on safe land.

[So far nothing happening].

* Completing $165 million worth of infrastructure repairs [Where?] and undertaking a further $40 million each month on average...

[Small expenditure on infrastructure repairs, so far. CERA's no infrastructure repair threat for residential red zones was used by CERA for residential, red zone, duress sales.]

National will continue to work tirelessly to deliver our plan to build a brighter future for Cantabrians and New Zealanders."

As there was little rebuild going on in the CBD where was all the money going?

Why were things taking so long?

Brownlee's & Key's future for green zone Ilam was bright, but it was opaque for residential red zones elsewhere. What was Key's & Brownlee's bright future for Avonside, residential red zone & other residential red zones scattered around Christchurch & beyond, like Port Hills suburbs, Lyttelton, Kaiapoi, Spencerville, Brooklands, Pines Beach, Kairaki Beach?
 
Nearly 2 years post 04.09.10 quake, Christchurch roads were still crap - pot holes, switchbacks, patches, raised manholes, infrastructure excavations, detours, cone cordons. Eastern suburbs including Avonside, still used portaloos. Little rebuild was going on. The red zone CBD was a demolition wasteland, with high rises still to be demolished. The red zone CBD, still taboo for citizens, was still surrounded by cordon fencing, checkpointed by NZDF soldiers.   

So far, there were few residential sections available in Christchurch's housing market, due to Council restricted supply & besides land sections would be too expensive, if NZ housing bubble continued: "Today housing is rated 'severely unaffordable' at 6.3 times household earnings." (Cantabrians Unite website). Thus buying a new, overpriced section, at current market price & rebuilding (even with tardy red zone, rateable value pay out) was too expensive for most hard working Cantabrians.

Tue 12.06.12. 2.34 am, 4.2 mag quake, 9 km depth, within 5 km of Christchurch. (Geonet). Woke us up. Sounded like a train rumbling by.

Wed 13.06.12. 2.15 am, 3.8 mag quake, 6 km depth, 10 km S of Christchurch. (Geonet). Didn't wake us up.

Coda: Wed 07.01.14. When I drove around Avonside red zone, many of the houses were demolished by CERA, leaving weedy demolition sites, bordered by ramshackle fencing or overgrown hedges. Most of the houses still standing were boarded state houses, all of which were more dilapidated since I'd last wandered by.

Content & pics copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Rowing groups call for top watersports complex (The Press / Stuff Co). 

See The new New Zealand land wars (The Press / Stuff Co).  

See Subdued pickup in building consents (The Press / Stuff Co). 

See Red zoners may appeal to United Nations (The Press / Stuff Co). 

See CERA offer to insured residential property owners in the residential red zone (CERA). 

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