Wednesday, September 4, 2013
NZ National Govt's Land Grab, Red Zone & Frame
Red zoners were piggies in the middle, with bullying NZ National govt one side & delaying insurers the other side. NZ National govt had already done deals with insurers, so that NZ National govt spent next to nothing, but grabbed red zone land it expediently decreed & insurers got their profits, as insurers used Canterbury quakes as an excuse to increase premiums throughout NZ.
Recap of NZ National govt's residential red zone offers to acquire over 7 000 properties:
CERA's Offer 1 to red zoners: NZ National govt used taxpayers' money to "buy" red zoners' land with red zoners handing over their property insurances to NZ National govt.
NZ National govt later used insurers' payouts to recoup taxpayers' money spent.
CERA's Offer 2 to red zoners: NZ National govt used taxpayers' money to "buy" red zoners' land, then red zoners negotiated with insurers for their house payout.
Thus NZ National govt land-grabbed all residential red zone land - over 7 000 properties along riversides & in the Port Hills.
If quake shocked, residential red zoners didn't comply, NZ National govt threatened to stop services after expiry of its offer deadline, leaving bitter-enders in slum conditions in quake broken homes without electricity, water, sewage connections & rubbished roads. NZ National govt also threatened compulsory acquisition of red zone residential land if property owners didn't comply.
Most red zoners succumbed to the bullying, took the money & left the red zone. Never mind lost equity. Some red zone housing was undamaged, just the land was damaged by quakes, leaving perfectly good housing gone to waste.
What was the point in buying land or property in NZ, if NZ National govt so easily use quakes as excuses to "take" landowners' properties? That happened in Canterbury & 3 years post 04.09.10 quake was still happening, while the rest of NZ looked on & did nothing.
Besides residential red zoning, CERA's TC3 green zoning of 28 000 residential properties was more piggy in the middle strife, with TC3 green zoners in the middle, battling dithering EQC one side & tardy insurers the other side, for repairs or rebuilds, having endured two winters in crap housing since the 22.02.11 quake. Another tale of woe for quake stricken Cantabrians.
Red zoners were paid out according to 2007 RV, which was unfair due to post quake inflation of the housing market. There was some housing development on Christchurch fringes, but NZ National govt & Council hadn't released 8 000 new sections for sale & development. Due to shortage of sections & housing, NZ National govt had decreased housing supply, thus increasing demand for sections, new housing & rentals. This inflated Christchurch housing market, although salaries didn't increase in NZ's low wage economy. Some red zoners couldn't use NZ National govt settlements to buy like-for-like in Christchurch & left Christchurch to rebuild smaller elsewhere. Some red zoners trucked their undamaged houses from the red zone & erected them elsewhere.
CERA minister Brownlee's response: There was no housing crisis & the market would decide. The market decided alright: Our rent increased twice since the quakes due to rates & insurance increases, according to our landlady. The first post quake increase caused our rent to be 54% of breadwinner Leah's net salary. The last post quake increase caused our rent to be 59% of Leahs's net salary.
Despite Leah's professionalism & dedication as a teacher working more than 8 hours a day & going far beyond the call of duty during quakes, her salary had not kept up with NZ National govt caused inflation in housing & other markets. After paying rent & bills there was no money to save for a house deposit. Never mind having lived 18 years in NZ. Before I stopped working in NZ, my wages were in a similar parlous state. Never enough to save for a section or housing.
We feared for our sons' futures. So far, Jake had worked for 8 years in the hospitality industry & had never been able to get ahead. Son Luke ditto, so far 2 years in the joinery industry. Their low wages in a low wage economy stank. They spent their wages on rent & daily necessities. Saving for house ownership was impossible for them.
Put another way, Harcourt's, Christchurch Development Manager, Chris Kennedy's take on the real estate market:
Three years on, who would have thought the real estate market would have been producing the results we are seeing today. Harcourt's average sales price is in excess of $425,000, the average number of days a property is on the market is down to a staggering 24, and subdivisions are popping up all over the province. Auction activity is now producing just over 24% of our listing stock, up from 11% in 2010. Harcourt's stock on hand has reduced to just over five months worth at current levels of sale, and the shortage will continue for some time yet...
The Reserve Bank's announcement about loan-to-value restrictions means more pressure will be put on those endeavouring to enter the market. Make sure you get sound financial advice and keep working towards home ownership... (The Press 07.09.13).
Given Brownlee's no crisis market, my family hadn't a hope in hell of home ownership.
I drove a circuit of residential red zone by Avon River. There were few houses left in residential red zone streets, even less inhabited. Hundreds of houses had been demolished & replaced with green grass, some shrubs & trees left. I didn't snap many pics as bare land made boring pics. I snapped some examples of demolition sites next to abandoned housing on the roads I drove. From thriving pre quakes suburbs, the shocking reality of CERA's residential red zoning from June 2011, were vast, bare, demolition sites & abandoned houses, awaiting CERA demolitions.
By Swanns Rd Bridge I snapped a couple of quake trashed, wooden houses, awaiting demolition for years. Whenever I drove past, they'd leaned deeper into Avon River swampland near Avonside Girls High.
8 images, Avonside Dr:
05.09.13. Abandoned red zone housing, Avonside Dr, nr Swanns Rd Bridge
Retreat Rd: I snapped some abandoned red zone houses & a demolition site, typical of the dead red zone. A garage had GOODBYE painted on it & a heart.
5 images, Retreat Rd:
05.09.13. Red zone, house demolition site, Retreat Rd
05.09.13. Abandoned red zone housing, Retreat Rd
When I crossed Gayhurst Rd Bridge, demolition land was bare & cordoned on Gayhurst Rd / Locksley Ave cnr, due to CERA's grass seeding. The same further on, at Locksley Ave / New Brighton Rd cnr.
24 images, Locksley Ave:
05.09.13. Gayhurst Rd Bridge view, cleared red zone demolition sites, cnr Gayhurst Rd / Locksley Ave
Along Locklsey Ave I looked across Kerrs Reach to the rowing club houses. Three club houses were destroyed by quakes & were already rebuilt - Avon Rowing Club, Union Rowing Club, Christ's College Rowing. The 2 middle club houses, Canterbury Rowing Club & Arawa Canoe Club survived the quakes intact. Rebuilt club houses were officially opened on Sat 28.09.13.
05.09.13. Locksley Ave view, Avon River, Kerrs Reach rebuilt club houses, Union Rowing Club left, Avon Rowing Club right
05.09.13. Locksley Ave view, rebuilt Christ's College Rowing left, Arawa Canoe Club right, Kerrs Reach, Avon River
Private enterprise rebuilds were quicker than NZ National govt / CERA / CCDU rebuilds. That was seen all over Christchurch, while NZ National govt bureaucrats like Sutton & Isaacs spouted hot air, doing little "ramping up" rebuild. "Ramping up" was CERA spin, bamboozling the rest of NZ that all was well in Christchurch.
05.09.13. Fire razed red zone house & house demolition site, Locksley Ave
05.09.13. Abandoned red zone housing, awaiting demolition, Locksley Ave
Across New Brighton Rd was muddy, shrub-spotty, demolition lands, stretching all the way to Horseshoe Lake swampland. I wandered along Avon River stop bank to Horseshoe Lake outlet, snapping demolition lands the other side of New Brighton Rd, where months ago, scores of abandoned, quake trashed houses had slowly sunk into swamp land.
05.09.13. Quake tilted power poles. Cleared red zone demolition sites, Locksley Ave
05.09.13. Locksley Ave, stop bank view, cleared red zone demolition sites ahead left, Kerrs Reach, Avon River right
05.09.13. Locksley Ave / New Brighton Rd junction view, cleared red zone demolition sites
Once CERA had completely demolished residential red zone housing, the land looked OK. Nothing that post quake, smart engineering couldn't fix, as so many pre quakes, red zone properties were not built to withstand quakes, nor liquefaction, nor lateral spreading. To date, NZ National govt hadn't said what it would do with the residential red zone land it acquired.
05.09.13. Locksley Ave stop bank view, Kerrs Reach, Avon River. Avonside Dr, Avonhead abandoned red zone housing on opp bank
9 images, New Brighton Rd:
05.09.13. Avon River stop bank view, New Brighton Rd & cleared red zone demolition sites, going towards Horseshoe Lake red zone
05.09.13. Avon River stop bank, W view towards New Brighton Rd / Locksley Ave junction & cleared red zone demolition sites
05.09.13. Avon River stop bank, E view, New Brighton Rd & cleared red zone demolition sites left, Kerrs Reach, Avon River right
05.09.13. Avon River stop bank view, New Brighton Rd & cleared red zone demolition sites, going towards Horseshoe Lake red zone
05.09.13. Stop bank W view, Kerrs Reach, Avon River left, New Brighton Rd right. Cleared red zone demolition sites ahead & right
05.09.13. New Brighton Rd stop bank, SE view, Kerrs Reach, Avon River. Red zone abandoned housing, Avonside Dr, Avonhead on opp bank
*Wandered Avonside Dr, Retreat Rd, Locksley Ave, New Brighton Rd.
There were many ideas for red zone land use from citizens, one being the Avon Otakaro Park along riversides. A petition, with 18 500 signatures, for the Avon Otakaro Park was sent to NZ National govt a couple of years ago, but it sank into a void. Given PM Key's recent spurning of citizens' protests & over 300 000 signatures for a referendum against asset sales, what chance did Avon Otakaro Park have?
Having got away with it's land-grab in residential red zones, NZ National govt played piggy in the middle with CBD's commercial property owners in CCDU's CBD Frame. NZ National govt Frame offer one side, public land use of the CBD Frame the other side.
CCDU had harped for months about the Margaret Mahy Family Playground it would make in the N Frame by Avon River bank (completed in 2016) while citizens just wanted Centennial Pool repaired at the playground site.
So far, NZ govt had not explained exactly what the N, E & S Frames were for, but did it's gun-at-head, highwayman act on commercial property owners, trying to force them to accept CCDU's low Frame offers:
"It is not our preference to go down the compulsory acquisition path, but when we have already purchased most of the land we need, the city can't afford for the rebuild to be held up. [There was little rebuild in the CBD, 3 years post 04.09.10 quake, many demolitions still to go]. The properties are needed for projects that are going to benefit everyone living and working in greater Christchurch." (CERA media release, 5 September 2013). It was bullying of CBD commercial land owners, like residential red zoners were bullied into accepting CERA's land offers with threats of service losses & compulsory acquisition.
So far, NZ National govt / CCDU came up with the following reasons for the Frame:
1. Land Bank to increase the value of core CBD properties. Fine if one owned land in the core CBD, lousy if one owned property in the Frame.
2. Make clean-green Parkland in demolished Frame land. Expedient "City in a Garden" twaddle, if CCDU bought Frame land was resold for commercial purposes.
3. Keep some commercial properties in the Frame, like Les Mills Gym, but exterminate CCDU spurned Calendar Girls. CCDU boss Isaacs moralized like bishop Matthews.
4. High density housing in Frame land, as CCDU forgot that lots of housing was needed for a thriving CBD. (So-called housing CCDU had planned in its Blueprint was an international competition for mixed housing on a small piece of land near Latimer Sq.)
Early days in the CBD red zone, niche re-openings, I recalled CERA boss Sutton hailing the re-opening of Les Mills Gym & Calendar Girls. Now Calendar Girls was out of favour for CCDU. CERA had no fixed plans, just vacillations, leaves in the wind.
Across the road from Calendar Girls, also in CCDU's demo-happy sights was i-Stay Apartments, cnr Liverpool St & Cashel St. A while ago, someone had suggested i-Stay Apartments be accommodation for rebuild workers, as there was so little accommodation for rebuild workers in Christchurch. As mentioned above, the snag with CCDU's Frame was that Isaacs & Co didn't communicate what CCDU was buying Frame land for? Never mind post quake rebuild, Westende House, a block away on Worcester St / Manchester St cnr would be demolished by CERA for Manchester St widening.
CCDU misused taxpayers' money to destroy perfectly good bldgs in CCDU's Frame land, like Westende House & Calendar Girls. The Frame was CCDU's bully playground, not yet a kids' playground, nor parkland.
2 images, Greers Rd:
05.09.13. Local govt election boards, Greers Rd
Meanwhile on my Fendalton walks, like the rest of Christchurch, garden fences were festooned with Council & Community Board election posters, mostly grinning heads. One yuppy councillor's slogan: YOUR CITY, YOUR MONEY, YOUR FUTURE. He'd given his slogan some thought, unlike present councillors Gough, Reid & Co, who'd voted for town clerk, Marryatt's salary increase, which caused 2012 public protests & lately suspension of Marryatt on full paid holiday, for 2 months, while lawyers sorted out Marryatt's golden handshake, golden parachute & more baubles from the public purse for Marryatt's consents & insurance incompetence.
In Council, a Crown Manager (CERA lackey) sorted out Marryatt's consents processing debacle, on exorbitant salary of course, paid by taxpayers. Council was useless at stopping NZ National govt's pillaging of Christchurch's residential red zone land & CBD Frame land.
Fri 06.09.13. I parked my car on Hereford St by Latimer Sq to snap pics of Les Mills Gym & Calendar Girls environs, bordered by Hereford St, Madras St, Cashel St & Liverpool St. Looking W, I snapped IRD bldg left on Cashel St & silvery, shiny, Cardboard Cathedral right on St John's demolition site, cnr Hereford St / Madras St.
I entered the Cardboard Cathedral for the first time. Two black-suited old men, each wearing a red sash across their shoulders kept watch, while gawpers wandered the Cardboard Cathedral. The concrete floor was bare. E & W side walls started up as gutted, shipping containers, painted white & arranged lengthwise as E & W wall bases. They formed offices, storeroom, chapel & kitchen, with vertical cardboard rolls as entrance.
9 images, Hereford St:
05.09.13. Hereford St car park view, abandoned IRD bldg left, Anglican Cardboard Cathedral right
05.09.13. Hereford St view, Anglican Cardboard Cathedral left, Les Mills Gym middle, Calendar Girls right
Above the containers, brown cardboard cylinders, covering a steel frame, formed many brown arches & an A frame roof, covered in firm, transparent, plastic panels. From outside, the roof tilted gently upwards S.
Inside, unvarnished plywood chairs in the nave formed pews. White, folding, metal chairs formed extra back pews. S black wooden boxes formed a stage for the altar. A moveable organ stood on top. A long, brown, tubular cross hung on the white S wall, below the A frame, tent shaped roof. A smaller bronze cross stood on the altar. A carved wooden lectern stood in front of the stage.
05.09.13. Interior, Anglican Cardboard Cathedral, cnr Hereford St / Madras St, Latimer Sq
On entering the Cardboard Cathedral, the tubular cross on the S wall drew my vision up to the roof arches. Turning around, looking at the N wall, above the glass doors of the foyer, coloured glass, triangular window panes, arranged in opposing rows, formed a bigger triangle, soaring to the A frame roof. The transparent roof allowed natural light into the cathedral. At night the transparent roof allowed artificial light in the cathedral to shine outside, causing the roof to glow.
05.09.13. Interior of Anglican Cardboard Cathedral, cnr Hereford St / Madras St, Latimer Sq
At the back of the nave, NW cnr, by one of the shipping container offices, stood a light / sound console for concerts.
05.09.13. N window, Anglican Cardboard Cathedral, cnr Hereford St / Madras St, Latimer Sq
The Cardboard Cathedral, makeshift cathedral, was quickly built to give quake shocked Cantabrians security & hope. Like a large, general purpose school room, with moveable screens & moveable, wooden stage blocks. It was built in record time, ahead of commercial CBD properties & CERA's dithering over its CCDU Blueprint.
I crossed Madras St to the CTV fence cordoned, demolition site, where 115 people died in the collapsed & fired bldg in the 22.02.11 quake.
5 images, Madras St:
05.09.13. Madras St, Anglican Cardboard Cathedral, W view, CBD E Frame: Arrow House demolition site & Les Mills Gym left, abandoned i-Stay Apartments middle behind, Calendar Girls right
05.09.13. Madras St, Anglican Cardboard Cathedral, SW view, CBD E Frame: CTV demolition site & abandoned IRD bldg left, Arrow House demolition site & Les Mills Gym right, abandoned i-Stay Apartments behind
05.09.13. Madras St view, E Frame: CTV demolition site, Les Mills Gym behind, Calendar Girls & Torrens House right awaiting demolition
Cashel St: I wandered past dusty, abandoned, IRD bldg & lively Les Mills Gym.
Cnr Cashel St / Liverpool St: S beyond a cordon fence, I snapped ruined, brick bldgs on Bedford Row, by abandoned Majestic Theatre & demolition sites either side of Lichfield St & demolition sites continuing to Tuam St by steel braced McKenzie Willis bldg. W I snapped abandoned i-Stay Apartments.
7 images, Cashel St:
05.09.13. Cnr Cashel St / Liverpool St, S view, CBD E Frame demolition sites & abandoned bldgs. Majestic Theatre right behind awaiting demolition
05.09.13. Cnr Cashel St / Liverpool St, S view, demolition sites & abandoned bldgs in the CBD E Frame. Steel braced McKenzie Willis right, Port Hills behind
05.09.13. Abandoned i-Stay Apartments, CBD East Frame, cnr Liverpool St / Cashel St
Liverpool St: Behind Calendar Girls I looked N across demolition sites, incl Arrow House demolition site, to the silvery, shiny, Cardboard Cathedral. I yelled at 2 teenage boys chucking stones at windows of an abandoned bldg between Calendar Girls & Les Mills Gym. They fled.
05.09.13. Liverpool St, CBD E Frame view, Calendar Girls left, demolition sites, Madras St & Anglican Cardboard Cathedral middle
Both sides, Hereford St, 2 anarchic shocks: 1. Youths chucking stones. 2. Across the road, state sponsored anarchy, Torrens House, a CERA demolition in progress. Several diggers & workmen destroyed the E Frame bldg. Twisted steel reinforcement rods hung from gaping, concrete floors / roofs.
7 images, Hereford St:
05.09.13. Red, high reach digger. Hereford St view, Torrens House demolition in CBD E Frame. Anglican Cardboard Cathedral middle beyond, Calendar Girls right
Beyond Torrens House demolition were more demolition sites, stretching to E Fram Westende House rebuild; quake trashed, abandoned Trinity Church / Octagon Restaurant; Cathedral Junction undergoing restoration; abandoned Design & Arts College & restored Pacific Tower (Rendezvous Hotel) soaring above the lot.
05.09.13. Cnr Liverpool St / Hereford St view across CBD E Frame demolition sites to core CBD: Abandoned Design & Arts College & abandoned Trinity Church / Octagon Restaurant middle, restored Cathedral Junction & restored Pacific Tower (Rendezvous Hotel) right
*Wandered Greers Rd, Madras St, Cashel St, Hereford St.
NZ National govt had booted out homeowners from the residential red zone with threats, including compulsory acquisitions & cheapskate offers. NZ National govt tried similar cheapskate offers with commercial property owners, & threats of compulsory acquisitions in the CBD Frame.
The CBD Frame had been under NZDF military occupation, incl variable checkpoints, for 28 months post 22.02.11 quake, citizens forbidden, in the CBD red zone, only CERA passed contractors given access. If Council & CERA had their ways, the red zone CBD would've been a tourist attraction with CERA walks & bus tours & Council's natty red zone maps & red zone map boards on cordon fences.
Mayor Parker had wanted to put ruined Christchurch Cathedral inside a glass box for tourists to gawp! The Wizard had hibernated at Timaru for over a year post 22.02.11 quake, before protesting & slagging off bishop Matthews & her Cardboard Cathedral, with tourist claptrap to save his ruined cathedral, which he'd maligned for decades, jabbering from a ladder for anyone who'd listened.
Red zone irony: NZ National govt wanted the residential red zone to be bare wasteland, without people, after massive shaking & liquefaction. NZ National govt wanted the CBD red zone & Frame to be rebuilt & repopulated, after massive shaking & liquefaction above the CBD Fault.
In reality, NZ National govt cared little about rapidly rebuilding quake trashed, Christchurch CBD, or rebuilding quake trashed red zone suburbs & TC3 green zone suburbs. NZ National govt just wanted the land. NZ govt's cheapskate offers in the residential red zone & red zone CBD did massive social & commercial harm, using Civil Defence, NZDF, cops, CERA, CCDU, EQC, Fletchers, SCIRT. Never mind private insurers aggravating social costs with delayed payouts, or repairs, or rebuilds.
So far, 3 years post 04.09.10 quake, there was much quake destruction & NZ National govt destruction, but little rebuild in the CBD.
Tuesday 10.09.13, One News: PM Key announced that 1 700 govt employees would be working in the CBD by 2016 near Cashel Mall retail precinct. (New ECAN offices & new Justice & Emergency Services Precinct). NZ National govt departments' moves would take about 20 years! (The Press 11.09.13). There were no office bldgs near the retail precinct yet. NZ National govt's time line for CBD recovery was slow, after CERA's swift demolitions.
CERA's Greater Christchurch Recovery Update, Issue 25, September 2013, boasted about INNOVATIVE WAYS FOR RECYCLING HOMES IN GREATER CHRISTCHURCH: A firm was deconstructing non damaged, red zone housing & flat-packing house parts into shipping containers for relocation & cheap rebuilds. CERA boss Sutton:
"That can reduce the amount of demolition waste going into landfill by 15 to 20 percent. Plus materials are being re-used that have real value for other people."
Another article boasted: RED ZONE HOUSES ON THE MOVE. State controlled Housing NZ was moving some red zone houses to Rolleston Prison, where cheap labour prisoners would repair 150 houses over the next 5 years, for later relocation & reuse by Housing NZ. The red zone houses included not only Housing NZ houses, but also houses owned by insurers. So insurers got cheap prison labour too.
Regarding relatively undamaged housing: "At the same time, other houses are being shifted from the Christchurch residential red zone to new sites in the city where they are being repaired ahead of new tenants coming in..." Some undamaged red zone houses would be relocated by Housing NZ for its tenants too.
Regarding red zone housing, there was a huge disconnect between what CERA minister Brownlee said & did. Over 6 months ago, Feb 2013, Brownlee bollocked Council for its slow repairs of social housing for the poor. Only now, Sept 2013, did Brownlee's CERA crow about Rolleston prisoners fixing red zone housing for CERA & insurers. Why weren't Rolleston prisoners fixing Council housing 6 months ago?
Brownlee was wasting taxpayers' millions of dollars by fighting Council instead of working with Council. The Crown observer & later Crown manager pertained, first regarding Council communications, then the Council consents debacle. Why didn't Brownlee step in & sort out Council in 2012, when there were many public protests about Council?
Brownlee had said there was no post quake, housing crisis, despite NZ National govt forming the residential red zone & CBD red zone.
CERA's November 2013, Issue 27, Greater Christchurch Recovery Update boasted about how many red zone houses CERA had demolished, but couldn't say what NZ National govt would do with all its land-grabbed, red zone land:
Crown-owned property clearance progress in the residential red zone
The clearance of more than 3 000 Crown-owned flat land residential red zone properties was completed by the end of September.
The next goal is to clear 5 000 Crown-owned properties in the residential red zone by April 2014. To achieve this, property clearances are set to increase over the coming months. This will mean more trucks, more demolitions and relocations and a noticeable increase in work activity across the residential red zone.
To date, of the 7 414 residential red zone properties eligible for an offer, 7 159 have signed a Sale & Purchase Agreement and 6 902 have settled with the Crown and vacated their properties. By 31 January 2014, all property owners who have sold their property to the Crown should have left the flat land residential red zone.
CERA didn't say that red zoners had to sell their properties to NZ National govt under shocking circumstances & red zoners were threatened compulsory acquisition & / or curtailment of rateable services like road maintenance, water, electricity, sewage connection, rubbish collection, if they didn't sell to the Crown.
Why didn't NZ National govt let red zoners just deal with their insurers?
CERA's rag didn't mention the recent High Court ruling that red zoning was unlawful & that CERA minister Brownlee was appealing the ruling.
CERA was formed for RECOVERY, but CERA / CCDU was slow with recovery of its core CBD. Private sector bldgs went up quickly along the fringes of CCDU's core CBD, like in Victoria St & Moorhouse Ave. The contrast between private sector speedy, rebuilds outside CCDU's core CBD & NZ National govt's / CERA's slowness in core CBD rebuilds was stark.
Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.
See CERA's Decisions reached on properties in the Frame as rebuild progresses, 5 September 2013.
See 20 000 people for city centre (The Press / Stuff Co).
See Strip club owner delivers warning to Christchurch Council (The Press / Stuff Co).
See Worst hit people still without help (The Press / Stuff Co).
See Govt pumping 1700 pay packets into CBD (The Press / Stuff Co).
See Brownlee slams council inaction on housing (The Press / Stuff Co).
See Social housing is Council's shame - Brownlee (The Press / Stuff Co).
See Green space shrunk down to narrow corridor (The Press / Stuff Co).