How not to repair a Heritage Dunger in Christchurch…. 4 years on.

Today, like so many Christchurch people, I have been reflecting on the last four years. It is a poignant sort of day,  even the sky has been weeping for the 185 deceased and the 400,000 living victims still struggling to recover, many of us still with unresolved Insurance, employment and housing issues.

Today is “Road Cone memorial day”.  The city is bedecked with flowers in every road cone, (and we have thousands of them!) placed by citizens grieving for the deceased, the hurt, the walking wounded, the frustrated, trapped and generally P.. off….  The cones are a symbol of remembrance, sadness and frustration.

 

Christchurch road cone Memorial day.

Christchurch road cone Memorial day.

There is a palpable sense of loss in the city today.  I am watching the tourists wander up and down High Street taking photos. I wonder what they think as they look at the street. High Street is the last area in the city to remain in the same condition as it was on the 22 February 2011. Still behind the Red Zone fencing trapped in a time warp. And it is so easy to fix!  It could so easily be a showcase area of the city.

4 years progress in High St for CERA/CCDU.

4 years progress in High St for CERA/CCDU.

Now 4 years on from the 22nd February 2011 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch I ask  “What have we achieved”?

Millions of dollars have been spent by the government. (I am not quite sure where all the money has gone).  Almost all the projects that CERA has initiated are either stalled, delayed or on “hold”.

  • “The Avon River Precinct was due to be finished by the end of this year, but the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) has extended that timeline to mid-2016”.  (Incidentally, I notice that buried in the article on the delayed Avon River project is a comment worth noting: “Landscape architect Di Lucas said the work on the river was substandard, particularly the “in-stream” work that had included substantial use of volcanic rock in what was a soft sedimentary system”.  Whoops!  Link here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/64820533/Delayed-Avon-River-Precinct-revamp-threatens-tourism
  • The Convention centre: Looks like more like a white elephant every day.  Link Here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/10661310/Convention-centre-might-be-white-elephant
  • Covered Stadium:  Think “Definitely White Elephant”, a permanent $253 million stadium, with a completion date pushed out to 2019.
  • Public Spaces: “construction of public spaces in the south frame between Madras St and Hagley Ave now happening in 2016
  • Delayed:  “the development of recreational and commercial attractions for the Square also rescheduled to finish, six months later than planned, in the third quarter of 2016”. And they still have not made a decision about the Cathedral! The Cathedral is actually in my opinion a “no brainer”. It is the heart and soul of the city.  Get it sorted.  It does not have to be repaired exactly as it was, but elements of the old building need to be retained.  It is repairable!  Look at the roof line, its near perfect.
The Christchurch Cathedral in the square. Why not repair the heart and soul of the city???

The Christchurch Cathedral in the square. Why not repair the heart and soul of the city???

  • Now 4 years down the track, the plans for the south frame have been radically altered.  Link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/65097936/Land-prices-shrink-Christchurchs-south-frame The CCDU has spent $25 million purchasing land for public works in the frame (excluding the innovation and health precincts) but the land designation has been fully, or partially, lifted on 54 per cent of the properties. The final plan for the frame is still to be developed. “It’s been a protracted, frustrating process. We’ve been in negotiations [with the CCDU] for years but we’ve never been offered any money for our sites””.  Many of us have been now told that the designations on our buildings have been lifted.  This may sound like good news, but in the meantime many of the building owners have made plans to relocate or close down.  Now they are being told that this confiscation is not going to happen, or in some cases, only a proportion of the land will be taken.
  •   We have now been told that it will be another 9 months plus in limbo land before we get told the layout of the lane ways that run through the south frame.  (This means that we are still unable to rebuild our toilet block at the back of our building).  This effectively renders our building un tenantable.  Despite being earthquake strengthened and repaired.  At this rate this will mean an un tenantable building for effectively 6 years.  (5 waiting for CCDU to come up with a plan and 1 year to build.)

 So whats new in High Street??? Nothing much.

  • No Amended Building Consent yet….. The CCC is threatening to cancel our Amendment.  Again!  (It will make their figures look better!)
  • Therefore No gib on the ceiling yet…..  This building consent issue is pure insanity. ( I was told by a leading Engineer in the city recently “that I was not alone in my frustration”.  I was told it is a common problem, totally ignored by the powers that be.
  • No lane way plan, another 9 months-1 year to wait before CCDU gets its act together.
  • No parking wardens, yet…. much to our irritation, as long-term parking by the poly students is causing us grief.
  • The near constant smell of sewerage at the back of the Duncan’s Buildings is unpalatable…. say no more!
  • Apparently the street scape plan for High Street is due in 3 years…..
  • No information from CCDU about the fate of the 7 Duncan’s Building units that they own…. No repair strategy in place….
  • Now This:  Roger Sutton resigns. Link Here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/63292588/Roger-Sutton-resigns-with-regrets   “He may well be proud”….under CERA’s administration, the National government has been responsible for the largest and most rapid social disruption/dislocation of the poorest sections  (East siders) of the population that has every occurred in any city in New Zealand in recent times. The Speed with which this dislocation occurred, the bullying and misinformation that we were given, the unnecessary suffering and pain that was inflicted will remain with these displaced people for many years.  The number of our elderly who died prematurely as a result of this dislocation is a sad indictment of the way this was handled. It was and is still a form of prolonged TORTURE. I personally see nothing that I could be proud of in the way this event has been handled.  And people wonder why we are grumpy???
  • This resignation has been closely followed by that of Warrick Issacs.  Did he jump or was he pushed?  I wonder???   The Press coverage of this Issue was totally unbalanced and Issacs has stated that he: “had found dealing with the heritage issues challenging”. “It’s been the hardest part of my job, having to make those decisions knowing they are not going to please everybody.  Yeah Right that made me choke on my wheatbix.  I might point out that he did not, as far as I know, challenge any of the section 38’s (demolish orders) that were put in front of him.  And he signed off over 1000.  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/65992629/Rebuild-chief-Warwick-Isaacs-quits-for-Stonewood-Homes-role

Now its Minister Brownlee’s turn…… I am waiting……..

  • Victoria Square:  For some mysterious reason the “powers that be” in charge of CCDU has decided to revamp Victoria Square.  Go figure.  Why mess with it at the moment, save the money for something useful.  Sure fix the river bank and do repairs but spend 7 Million?  Why???  The public up roar about the waste of 7 million dollars warms the frozen cockles of my heart.  I just do not get it, can they really not read the mood of the Christchuch people??? Link Here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/10627083/Victoria-Square-revamp-startles
  • A comment by “darkhorse” on stuff, sums up Christchurch and says it all really.  link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/63769088/Sensitive-meeting-off-limits-to-public   “In the same time that this lot have been trying to fix the city Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin had fought and won the second world war while at the same time transforming all of the major technologies of the day including inventing the jet engines, the computer and the atomic bomb.  Simple difference is that they were leaders with courage and vision where as this lot are just hopeless muddlers..”

SNAFU

I wish I had a $1 for every photo the tourists take of our street, it would pay for the repairs of one unit at least! There are hundreds of tourists coming to our end of High Street every day.  It has become the “show case” area of the city.  All for the wrong reasons.

Limbo land  4 years progress for CERA/CCDU.

Limbo land 4 years progress for CERA/CCDU.

Innovation Precinct update… “why are we waiting?…

Innovation precinct Plan Due:  September,  October,  November, December 2013, January, February, March, April, May?? Nope it’s today the 3rd June 2014 at 4.33pm

The rumours about Vodafone in the innovation precinct have been bubbling away for months and all the while CERA/CCDU/MBIE has been delaying the release of the “Innovation Precinct plans” until they could “find, bribe, con, secure” – take your pick, an anchor tenant. Looks like Vodafone is to be the “anchor tenant” they have so desperately wanted. Why they needed an anchor tenant is a bit of a moot point, but it was the only way they could stick with the “Innovation Precinct” moniker.

Is it not ironical that CERA/CCDU/MBIE have the power to hold up all the other building owners in this precinct for over 3.5 years while they mess around trying to prove that they know what they are doing. While they have been stalling they have been playing with people’s livelihoods.  It looks like an orchestrated manipulation of the market designed to force the building owners into selling out (as we pay rates and expenses etc on useless un-tenantable buildings.)  It seems to me that this was not the way to get progress in this zone.  They have deliberately slowed progress.  Is this really the function of central government? I think not.

And then they wonder why the land owners are refusing to rebuild and co-operate!  Amazing stupidity really.  They are still playing some mysterious game.  It is called selling the land off to the rich landowners in the city and forcing the small ones out. The same game they have played across the city for 3 plus years.

It appears that a developer has finally managed to get Vodafone’s signature on paper. I have not seen cast iron confirmation of this.  I bet there was a sweetener! I believe that the owner of the land has sold to a “middle man” who has on sold to Vodafone.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/10095283/Vodafone-tipped-as-innovation-anchor-tenant

Look at the great glass structure that we are going to get.  Thank my lucky stars that we are not opposite this monstrosity! Link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/10103341/Giant-screens-on-Vodafone-building

Now you tell me why we had to wait 3.5 years for CERA to release the Innovation Precinct plans?  Waiting for one anchor tenant and holding up all progress until it was signed sealed and delivered makes no sense to me at all.  The silence has been deafening.

So presumably, this deal should be confirmed today. Link here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/10111599/Rebuild-at-a-turning-point[  

Based on this we should get the Innovation Precinct details released this week. Make a bet on Thursday/Friday.  CERA/CCDU always releases information late in the week. It stops protests.

Now while you peeps in other parts of the country may think that this is all a Christchurch problem, I need to point out that you need to remember, that this is a NATIONAL government orchestrating all this.  The actions that they have taken here will be used as a blueprint for any other disaster that will occur in any of our main cities. This scenario is easily transferred to Wellington or Dunedin, both of which have a large number of buildings that are unreinforced masonry ie brick and are on small land parcels.  It is not just the buildings that the government wants down it is the amalgamation of small land parcels.  This is not good for small land owners. It is also about a re distribution of wealth.

My guess is that many building owners in Christchurch will never vote for national again.

Christchurch is a NATIONAL DISGRACE

Just remember:

Southern NO response – owned by the government

EQC  owned by the government

CERA owned by the government

CCDU owned by the government

MBIE owned by the government

All organisations tasked to help us, but who have failed us miserably.

The sun is shining, it is freezing. And we are still above ground!

8.30pm update: 

Well wonders do never cease. Vodafone is confirmed as an anchor tenant and within hours (4.33pm) of this confirmation the long awaited Spatial Document for the “Innovation Precinct” has been released. Along with an accompanying email. My guess about the release of this document was out by 2 days! My bad!

A quick peruse of the document shows lots of pretty pictures and “spatial” concepts.  At first glance it is short on detail. I still can not work out what sort of access we get to our building from the proposed rear lane way.   Until this detail is clarified I can not proceed with repairs in this part of the building.

ho humm, think of all those high paid CERA/CCDU/MBIE planners spending years on preparing this document….. on high wages!

Good afternoon
 
The purpose of this email is to provide you, as an owner of a property within that part of the South Frame bordered by Montreal, Tuam, Manchester and St Asaph Streets, with an update on progress within the Innovation Precinct.
 
Today Minister’s Brownlee and Joyce released the Spatial Framework for the Innovation Precinct, the following link will take you to the document  http://bit.ly/T8mcsL.  In addition to the release of the Spatial Framework, the government announced its support for the development of an innovation hub within the precinct.  Start-ups are significant idea generators within innovation precincts but often can’t afford the high rental cost of new builds.  The innovation hub offers the opportunity for lower rentals.  Support such as this, in a knowledge rich environment among other innovators will  help start-ups flourish and ultimately see the innovative ecosystem grow.
 
Also announced today was the news that the Innovation Precinct is going to be home for the Government’s new Information Communications Technology (ICT) Graduate School programme, a programme that will also be rolled out to other main centres in the country.  This programme will deliver industry – focused education and research and will connect tertiary education providers and graduates with key ICT firms.
 
In addition to the Government’s commitment to the Precinct, Vodafone also announced their new South Island headquarters, along with the international incubator hub ‘Xone’, will be based in the Innovation Precinct.   The ‘Xone’ incubator hub is one of only six in the world and will be a first for New Zealand.  The ‘Xone’ incubator offers advice, support and assistance to technology start-ups with a focus on mobile platforms, consumer electronics, smart charging etc.
 
Regards
 
Christchurch Central Development Unit
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA)
Private Bag 4999, Christchurch 8140

How not to repair a heritage building in the Christchurch CBD part 137

  • Locked out of undamaged factory for 1075 days – (since Feb 2011)
  • Do we still own our building????    Now 548 days since designated “South frame, Innovation Precinct” – only 1279 days to go before we get told if we are going to be compulsorily acquired by CCDU.
  • Innovation precinct Plan Due:  September,  October,  November, December 2013, January, February ????  Rumour has it not till March !!!!!
  • Building Consent for my new house 63 working days so far.- rumours are its close.

Still waiting……

An Interesting article by John McCrone on the Innovation Precinct and its slowly evaporating ideals. Link Here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/9575704/Is-the-citys-blueprint-dream-evaporating

There are a number of comments that resonate with me.

“Then there is the innovation precinct. This is a difficult proposition both because the two blocks of buildings, most of them badly damaged, are divided among a much greater number of land owners, and also because the area had an established identity that owners would naturally seek to rebuild.

Laurie Rose, chair of the High Street Precinct Group (Interesting, I did not know that this group still functioned,  gee I wonder if I am a member?) says pre-quake, the corner of the city around McKenzie & Willis, with its cluster of heritage buildings ripe for renovation, had been developing a relaxed, mellow feel.”

“Rose says fashion business had become a feature and there was talk of a fashion incubator as a natural connection to CPIT. So, left alone, owners would have picked themselves back up, collected their insurance and got on with rebuilding more or less what had existed.”

“But now the CCDU has dropped its paralysing designation over the area. Owners are being expected to build back a hi-tech precinct, but if the tenants are to be mostly small start-ups, it seems unlikely they could afford the rents on new buildings.”

The point Laurie Rose makes is very valid.  The tenants of the Epic Innovation hub want cheap rents and “free” land.  Building new buildings and having cheap rents do not go hand in hand.   If they want cheap rent they will need to move out of the CBD.

“Lisle Hood, developer of the Lichfield Lanes project, centred around Poplar St, says the CCDU is trying to drive a square peg into a round hole.

Hood says perhaps the CCDU will get half what it wishes for. It might find one or two large corporate tenants to kickstart a transition – Vodafone is one of those known to be looking. But equally, there is the chance that the whole precinct idea might be quietly allowed to evaporate.

Hood says the CCDU has already started lifting designations on individual properties like the C1 Cafe and Alice in Videoland. Bit by bit, the plan could fragment. The spatial plan, if it is ever released, will be the test.

However in the end, says Hood, by taking over control of central Christchurch, instead of making its recovery faster, the bureaucrats appear to have achieved the opposite.”

This was a good article addressing some of the issues.  I think that John McCrone’s highlighting off some of the problems in the Innovation Zone is starting to make the Council stand up and take a harder look at the area.

Johnny Moore has been busy thinking again.  Link here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/columnists/johnny-moore/9614956/Chch-doesn-t-need-perfect-planning

He refers to the city “lurching drunkenly along the rebuild path”

“While the official rebuild lurches and staggers along like an old drunk walking home, great things have happened despite poor decision-making; and it will be years before the old drunk is fumbling with his keys at his front door. In the meantime, we need to nurture and foster projects that are putting Christchurch on an international stage.”

he also comments on  “the institutional rebuild. Nobody overseas is excited about the bland precinct plan or an overpriced stadium. The brutal, homogenized city presented to us in the media every day is uninspiring and normal.”

Incidentally the consensus of opinion in the city is that the stadium is a dead duck.  Repair the one we have and leave that project for later on.  It is unaffordable and the designation on that area is stopping development.

How is progress on our building?

Slow progress.

Upstairs floor is being sanded as we speak, in preparation for occupation.

Down stairs is on hold as we wait for the Building Consent paper work to catch up.

Now to complicate the situation.

The Building consents department has sent me 2 emails, cancelling any building amendments (2) that we may have in progress with them. Both emails came within minutes of each other. One consent dating to January 2011 (just before the big February quake.)  And the other December 2012 (relating to extra strengthening work on the roof and walls.)

“Final Reminder.” 139 High Street

AMENDED PLANS SET 2 TO ABA10098971 FURTHER EARTHQUAKE STRENGTHENING- Historical Reference ABA10113681

Amendment On hold –  Final reminder

This is a final reminder that your Amendment is On Hold.
We have not received the requested information and cannot complete processing your application. The time frame in which to supply the requested information will expire on 24 January 2014.

Please provide the items requested within the time frame indicated. If you do not provide all the information within this time frame the BCA (Christchurch City Council) may refuse this building consent application under section 50 of the Building Act 2004.

The reason for the refusal is due to being unable to grant a consent under section 48 and section 49 of the Building Act 2004.

This letter is sent to the applicant and the owner, where possible.

Yours faithfully   Building Approvals Officer   Christchurch City Council

Interesting!

Call me suspicious but how come this has happened?

1. Final reminder?  I have not seen any previous reminders? We had an email conversation a month ago when I tried to get an exemption to gib the ceiling. But that’s it folks!

2.  We have had 12,000 earthquakes, we have been locked out of our building for months on end, and you want to cancel our amendments so that your figures look better? For heavens sake, show some understanding of the situation of the building owners trying to repair a heritage building. How hard was it for them to pick up the phone and find out why we are having trouble? It is very easy to send an email, but perhaps if they checked out the reality of the situation they might just like to reconsider the issue?

I have had to call in some assistance with this problem from the Heritage team at the CCC. Who are suddenly showing an interest in the street.  I am accepting their assistance gratefully.

The Heritage team at the council are proposing “some transitional work along High Street.  A key part of this work is to open up, as much as possible, the block of High Street that your building is in to create quality access to encourage more cyclists and pedestrians
to use this route.

We understand that you are very close to having your building open again
and we hope that this work could assist in bringing customers back to
this part of the city.”

Urban Design and Regeneration Unit
Strategy & Planning   Christchurch City Council

Hopefully some sort of reprieve can be negotiated!  (hot off the press: this has now been sorted, I think)

There is a deeper issue here…

There seems to be a lot of posturing going on in the Building Consents Department.  The truth of the issue may be that they are desperate to “improve” their clearance rates. Perhaps to justify the installation of the Crown Manager? The International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) cancelled their accreditation.  “IANZ scrapped its backing over fears the council was granting consents that could potentially put people and property at risk” link here: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10894535

Then we find out that  “The review showed more than 98 per cent of the resource consents received during 2012/2013 were processed within the statutory timeframes, and that minor issues which did exist were within the council’s capacity to resolve.”link here: http://nz.news.yahoo.com/full-coverage/a/-/article/20147407/christchurch-consent-problems-minor-adams/

The only problems that they has identified are procedural issues. They have discovered no dangerous buildings or flawed consents.

So why did the building consents department lose it accreditation?  And why did the government install a Crown Manager, Doug Martin, to oversee the department?

I am not capable of making a through analysis of the issue. But this take over has been another political decision made in Wellington. Why?  The question one must ask is: Now that they know that the Consents Department was making only “minor procedural errors” why has this expensive Crown Manager remained in place?? Certainly they face a tsunami of consents as this “supposed Rebuild” begins, but I am sure a Crown Manager will not be making the Consents Department a comfortable place to work in.

The word down here is that this is trial run for a massive nationwide shake up all Building Consent departments in all the Councils. We will watch with Interest.

On the subject of the Government, has any one else noticed how they are keeping quiet on the Christchurch situation? It is very obvious to Christchurch peeps that Gerry has “had the word” and been told to lower his profile, Sutton is almost invisible, even CERA/CCDU/ The Property Group have managed to keep a lower profile.

One could suspect that National MP’s has told them to pull their heads in till after the Elections.

But I would say that!

A much more interesting issue is detailed in the Press this morning.  Another building owner bemoaning the lack of tenants for his new CBD building. Link here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/9664423/No-tenants-left-for-the-CBD

“Property developers warn buildings with “A-grade” rentals in the central business district cannot compete for tenants against cheaper, already-completed developments elsewhere. The warning comes as some developers and investors take their plans and money elsewhere in the face of high construction costs, reluctant tenants and uncertainty over car parking.”

What a surprise.  As I have repeatedly said,  CERA/CCDU locked out the building owners for 2 years, gave us no certainty, and still insist on persisting with the designations on our building.  Ho Humm where have they been?  For heavens sake, admit that you have stuffed up and find some solutions.  It’s not rocket science.

Gerry says there was still “high levels of confidence among local investors.”  ???  hello? The number of projects that have been abandoned is starting to mount up.

Its simple really

As “Property investor and former director of Harcourts Stephen Collins said the outskirts of the central city, had flourished in the “early days of recovery” while the CBD was effectively closed for business.

“People had to make decisions . . . there’s only so long businesses will be happy working in adverse conditions before they move on.”

Collins said before the earthquakes the CBD used to boast a range of buildings, from A-grade to C-grade office space, but post-quake it was being repopulated with new, expensive buildings that carried high rents.

Oh well, good thing our building will have a cheaper rent than the new stuff, it may be our saving grace.

Great article, finally some one talks about the counter productive nature of the prolonged lock out, which stopped any proper assessments of buildings that could have been repaired cheaper and faster (which would have kept more of the fabric of old Christchurch.) They thought it was easier to pull them down and build new, CERA/CCDU did not think through the consequences of throwing away 100 plus years of infrastructure and they just thought that it was miraculously going to be rebuilt, brand spanking new and FREE! Paid for by the insurance companies.  ha ha!

This rental issue now is the direct result of this prolonged lockout, when we could not gain access to our buildings using Independent Engineers and they would not listen to any dissenting views from anyone.  ie  Engineers such as Miyamoto Structural Engineers, CORE-( http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/8535100/Owners-slam-rebuild-delays-costs) Heritage, Iconic and many other Groups that tried to get their views across and we were written off as idiots. Including us!

Incidentally,  all of the small trade contractors that come to our building have said the same thing.  Over and over again. They say that “CERA/CCDU have got it wrong”.

Ho Humm life at the bottom of the world is fun!

High Street A National Disgrace- part 135

  • Locked out of undamaged factory for 1037 days – (since Feb 2011)
  • Do we still own our building????    Now 510 days since designated “South frame, Innovation Precinct” – only 1317 days to go before we get told if we are going to be compulsorily acquired by CCDU.
  • Innovation precinct Plan Due:  September,  October,  November 2013 December????  Rumour has it not till march !!!!!

Still waiting……

It is now 3 years on… and what has been achieved in High Street and Christchurch?

Well… the Press has just done an editorial on the “doughnut city centre.”   This has made me laugh. The property developers amongst us have been talking about this for 3 years.  It seems incomprehensible that it has finally dawned on the “powers that be” that this is what they have created.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/editorials/9545999/Editorial-Re-Start-deserves-help-to-continue

The article is referring to the re-start mall. The editor makes the comment:  “Without it there would have been practically nothing to suggest that a vibrant, dynamic, interesting city centre might one day rise from the ruins and Christchurch would have been in real danger of becoming, for some time at least, a doughnut city – a city with a hole in the middle.”

We all know the city has a “hole in the middle”.  It is simple:  Basically the Red Zone lock out stopped development in the central city area.  Access has been the issue, or more importantly the lack off.

Also John McCrone has written a very thoughtful article in the press.  Well worth reading.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/9517254/Is-the-rebuild-worsening-poverty-in-Christchurch

I rather liked Gary McCormick’s comment about Christchurch people’s perceptions being changed: “Radio personality Gary McCormick struck a convincing note in saying that the recovery experience – particularly the insurance wrangles – will leave Christchurch changed in ways the Government does not yet seem to realise.”

“We’ve turned Canterbury people into a group who were formerly pretty respectable, decent, by and large white and middle-class people who thought the system worked for them, into people who have no faith in the system at all.” 

This is going to have long-term implications.  We no longer have faith in any authority to make the correct decisions for us.  The list of the failures is comprehensive:  A short summary looks like this:

  • Insurance companies.
  • Insurance Brokers.
  • EQC:  The government made no attempt to sort out our EQC troubles.
  • Lawyers: many of whom have failed their clients in assisting to resolve their Insurance issues.
  • Politicians: None of whom served the people well.
  • Local body politicians, ie Christchurch City Council, The Mayor, the City Manager.
  • Heritage!  There is not much left, they pulled it down. The silence from the Minister of heritage has been deafening.  And “Just when you thought you could relax and forget about heritage battles for a few weeks the document we have been waiting to see for two years finally arrives, the Ministry of Culture and Heritage’s draft Heritage Buildings and Places Recovery Programme for Greater Christchurch.  You can download the draft from the MCH web site at http://www.mch.govt.nz/Draftheritagerecoveryprogramme. A rapid skim of the document suggests that it is too little too late and that it is more than anything, an exercise in window dressing. Submissions are due in March 2014 so its eventual ratification will probably coincide with the completion of CERA’s Heritage Demolition Programme.”)  Comment courtesy  of Ian Lockhead
  • CERA, CCDU, The Property Group.  All bodies tasked by the Government to assist recovery.  They used a “top down control approach”.  It was a bully boy tactic and has alienated a huge proportion of the community.  Our new Mayor Ms Dalziel  “slammed the Government for imposing a top-down bureaucratic model when the experience of every other world disaster is that recovery plans should form from the community up.”
  • The “purchase” of 10,000 family homes.   If you estimate that there were 4 people in each house. That is 40,000 people that have been removed from their houses.  In some cases, this was not necessary.  Approximately 10% of the population, now angry and bitter.  These people have been forced to purchase in the outlying suburbs of the city.  They now pay rates in Rangiora, Waimakariri, Timaru.  This has devastated the cities rate base. Also the loss of rate base in the CBD will be hurting the coffers off the city council badly.  (The next move for the Government will be the merging of the outlying areas into a “super city”.  They have no choice. They have to claw this money back.) They have already begun this procedure by seconding CERA staff members to the local health board.
  • Housing shortage: The rapidly rising cost of rental accommodation in the city is hurting families.  A rent freeze needed to be put into place.  Many land owners have been gouging. Rental accommodation is almost impossible to find for many of the cities less wealthy, non working inhabitants.  As I am finding out.  This also has caused a lot of resentment. The Government has for 3 years stated that there is “no housing crisis”. yeah right!
  • The Red Zoning of properties.  In some cases 3 years has passed and people have been told only a few days ago if they are allowed to stay or go. In some cases red zoned houses have been re-zoned Green.
  • Add to this the fact that many of us have been living for 3 years in appalling conditions.  We have spent 3 years waiting for our homes to fall apart in the next big quake.  There appears to have been no attempt made to sort out the worst cases first.  The Insurance companies repaired the cracks in the houses in Bishopdale and Fendalton first and ignored the East side and the Hill suburbs, where the damage was most severe.
  • There is now a distrust of Engineers, Builders, Painters, Plasterers, house assessors etc The quality of some of the repairs/cover ups leaves much to be desired. To be “Fletchered by EQC”  is a new verb in the city.
  • Business leaders. The lack of advocating for the small land owners was obvious.  This was motivated by self-interest and there was an obvious “winners and losers ” game played here.  Add to this
  •  The Bullying tactics by CERA towards the building owners: we all were threatened with lookouts, restricted access, holding up of consents, confiscation of buildings and land. The manner in which it was done was a deliberate strategy. Basically done to manipulate the property market and land ownership. (I note that one major property owner was told that if he did not demolish 2 buildings he would be locked out of the city for 3 years, another was told that they would withdraw building consents if he did not co-operate.) We have been locked out for 3 years.  Makes you wonder????? Definition of malfeasance: “wrong doing, especially by a public official” 

Will they be held to account? I wait with interest.

The reality of the new Christchurch is that “the new wealthy” will be the builders and developers,  a whole new wealth class have been created. The old order has been eroded and replaced.   A pity it had to be done off the backs of the small land owners and home owners.   (The number of new “4 wheel drive Utes”  in the city sends a shiver down the spine of every homeowner.  We know that it was our insurance money that paid for it.)

That sure as heck does not give us a lot of people in charge to respect does it?

One of the other comments in this article by John McCrone also follows the same theme:

“Massey University professor Bruce Glavovic, the country’s top recovery expert as the Earthquake Commission (EQC) chair in natural hazards, was equally forceful.

“How is [Cera] going to capitalise on local culture and knowledge? How is it going to mobilise local capacity to rebuild? How is it going to enable local communities to make choices that will build safer and more sustainable communities?” Glavovic asked.

One of the untold stories of the earthquakes is the way Glavovic quickly found himself sidelined along with others who had the temerity to criticise the Cera approach.”

It was not only Professor Glavonic who was quickly sided lined by CERA.  Anyone who had any ideas, that did not comply with CERA’s view was quickly sidelined or worse still rubbished.  CERA knew better.  They refused to listen to the overseas experts who had experience in disaster recovery. They tried a new untested New Zealand “number 8 wire model”  It did not work and now they refuse to back track and admit that they got it wrong. There are many other well-known names in the same boat as Professor Glavonic…. Ian Athfield (a leading Architect) Kevin McLeod (Urban planning/design),  Kit Miyamoto (engineer) and the list goes on.

On a lighter note!  Hows progress on the building?

I have finally got the upstairs plastered.  It is in the process of being painted.  Then I can get the electrician in and the floor sanded.

I have called in additional labour, in the form of a semi retired builder friend, who has advanced progress markedly by finishing the jobs that no one else wanted to do.   Just minor issues, like toilets, showers, kitchen, windows, stairs etc…

Incidentally there appears to be “cherry picking” of work by some contractors in the city and in our case it is slowing the repair process.

We have just spent the weekend chasing a leak in the ceiling, onto my new gib….. damn….  What fun.

High Street is a Disgrace.  It looks like Beirut.  The lack of progress by CERA/CCDU et all is astounding.

There is a great job opportunity for someone to stand in the street and explain to the incredulous passersby and tourists what is happening to the area.   I can not explain it. Although I try.  We have tourists taking photos of the mess all day every day.  These are the pictures that our tourist visitors are taking home.

Unfortunately no one else seems to have the answers either. Certainly it appears that Gerry’s “God like powers have departed him.”

HIGH STREET IS A NATIONAL DISGRACE.

The answers are blindingly obvious.

  • Remove the destroyed Fire damaged Billens building.
  • Facilitate the repairs of the heritage buildings.
  • Review the party-wall legislation, which is toothless.
  • It is well worth restoring, this section of the city is now unique.
  • Force the recalcitrant land owners to repair or vacate.
  • Review the 5 year compulsory land designation. Tell the landowners what our fate is. Tell us what the infamous “Innovation Precinct” means.  And realise that this is a heritage block.

For all our sakes.  DO SOMETHING.

A Happy New Year to you all.

May 2014 be a year when we begin to make some progress.

P.S. One wonders. If monumental failures like Bob Parker (the ex-mayor) merits a Knight hood, what can they possibly do to reward Gerry Brownlee (The quake Czar)  Sainthood perhaps??

CCC Building consents………. For the record, no improvements here….

5.00 pm Wednesday 20th November 2013.

Mea culpa, Mea culpa, Mea culpa,

Grirr, that was fun was it not.  Building consents duty officer at the city council!  Unhelpful people.  I was attempting to see if we could get an exemption so that we could proceed with the gibing of our ceiling. It is holding up progress on the whole building.   One would think that that was not too hard!  Ceiling?  Gib… standard regulations….. 2 layers 16mm fyreline……   a no brainer…… will be signed off by Engineer anyway….

Nope “we are not amused!”

I hope they send me a wee survey to see how I think they managed my call. Probably like EQC my name will be deleted from those surveyed. lol.

Rigid, inflexible, unrealistic and lacking understanding of the issues of repairing an old dunger. I am still not sure that they want us to repair it actually.

One would have thought that given the exceptional circumstance in the city that a little flexibility was in order.  Instead I was made to feel like a criminal for asking for some leniency in what was actually not really as big a deal as they were making out.  For heavens sake we are talking gib here, not structural steel. I thought that the point of it all was to assist the building owners to move forward and “meet the needs of the city”, cut the red tape and inflexibility.  The Building consents department know that there is a city-wide problem with the DEE’s, a solution is: to use their brains and look at each case on a case by case basis.

I was amused by his challenging me on the fact that we are at 73% of the NBS. I think he thought I had made the figure up. I resent the implication.

It is interesting to note that I was told yesterday, by the Insurance Company, that many of the large project management companies have been routinely getting exemptions.  Oh the power of being a big company.

I was left with the feeling that it was all my fault that we did not have a DEE, it was my fault that we wanted to amend it, again…, and that it was pure incompetence on my part in  wanting to amend it a third time. Mea culpa, Mea culpa, Mea culpa.  I am also responsible for 12,000 earthquakes.

Anyway:  The up shot is: that they would not help us in any way. Very helpful.

I told him “I hated dealing with the building consent department as they were so anal.”  He put the phone down.  Good oh!  Does not help the progress of repairs in the city in any way.

I had hoped that they had improved procedures after the last time we dealt with them in  2010 when we got our original building consent. Looks like status quo and that no improvements have been made.  Mind you, I am somewhat confused as to why on the CCC website they have a Form B-004 called “Application for an exemption from building consent”.  It was not explained to me how in my case this would not apply! I am also aware that retrospective consents are common.

Some one prove me wrong please.  But it seems to me that as one of only a handful of building owners repairing a heritage building in the city a little bit of assistance would not be out-of-the-way. Or even an unreasonable request.

Why am I bothering???????  Some one remind me please??????

All it means is that the ply stays on the front of our building and I start to get the graffiti pen BACK out.

By the way, won’t I have fun when they put the tram down our street, I might just put roller doors on the frontage, nice bright lime green ones, that we leave down all day!  Don’t temp me!

By now the powers that be will have worked out that they can not put the tram down Tuam Street, as originally planned, (as it be facing 2 lanes of ongoing traffic.) The only option is to send it down High St and then send it back again down the other end of High Street.

Same crap, different day, different government department.

Hot off the Press!

9425777

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/city-centre/9425736/Park-bench-dedication-to-Gerry-Brownlee

Could not have put it better myself.  Not Guilty.   This time……..

This photo is courtesy of the press:

9356893http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/9426651/Brownlee-slams-council-housing-failure

From the man that reckoned that there was no housing crisis in the city to the man now berating the new council for “not acting fast enough”.  Go figure!

Limbo on High- after 998 days…….

Locked out of undamaged factory for 998 days – (since Feb 2011)

Do we still own our building????    Now 471 days since designated “South frame, Innovation Precinct” – only 1356 days to go before we get told if we are going to be compulsorily acquired by CCDU.

I did have to chuckle when I saw Roger Sutton say that “Quake repairs ‘not fast enough’  Link here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/9395681/Quake-repairs-not-fast-enough-says-Sutton

He was mainly referring to residential repairs.  He is correct of course.  There would be very few residents on the east side of Christchurch who have not had an abysmal experience with EQC and their insurance companies. The lack of action by Government in sorting out the Insurance Industry and EQC is shameful.

Closer to home for me is the lack of progress on the Port Hills claims, it is an example that should never be repeated in New Zealand.

Roger Sutton also: “denied claims from MPs that Cera had a culture of knocking down buildings that didn’t fit the city’s blueprint.  

Hello?????   Calendar Girls building, Westend Building, Bicycle Thief to name a few. In the East frame,  NG building and Cassell’s are still threatened. And many others were pulled down before the blue print was released.  Very convenient for CERA.

Than we get: “Many buildings throughout Christchurch might appear solid enough, but the costs of rebuilding them did not stack up, he said.”

Humm: this hoary old chestnut,  they seem to think that if they repeat this often enough we will believe them.  The figures in many cases stack up.  Repair is cheaper. The costs of building foundations now make this comment even more relevant. (This is not so in all cases of course.)  In many cases buildings were pulled down before comprehensive assessments were done. In some cases before the owners were even informed.  “Make safe procedures” were also “performed” on many buildings, they were poorly thought out and in some cases far exceeded what was necessary.

Finally! yeah ha!

as of this morning,  Cunliffe breaks his self-imposed silence on the Christchurch situation: The headline?  Cunliffe’s recovery criticism ‘ridiculous’. 

(Funny is it not that Brownlee always attacks anyone that makes a negative comment about the situation in Christchurch. Typical of the bullying tactics that have been used by the Insurance companies, EQC, CERA, CCDU and others.)

Link here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/9397762/Cunliffes-recovery-criticism-ridiculous

There is obviously a by-election coming in Christchurch!  But the silence of the opposition parties has been disturbing me for 3 years.  He remarked:

“I’m putting the Government on notice. I will be asking a hell of a lot of questions about the Christchurch recovery.”

I hope he keeps his word.  Three years is too long to wait.

“You have a minister who has the power of God, who is a human wrecking ball cutting a swathe through the centre of the city.”

“He was visibly gobsmacked when he looked at the central business district and could see little progress three years after the earthquakes first struck the city.” 

Gosh he must have come and looked at High Street.  Our own personal Limbo land”   trapped in a 3-year-old time warp, by CERA/CCDU and Building owner apathy.

I am thinking of renaming our block ” Limbo on High Street”.

Hows Progress on the building?

I am currently busy painting the ceiling in the toilet block. What fun!

In the weekend we are planning to sort out some frontage issues.

Overall? Stalled by:

  • the plaster not turning up
  • the builder not turning up
  • a lack of scaffolding for the plasterer. ( Out of stock!)
  • the lack of Engineering sign off
  • the lack of amended building consent
  • the lack of certainity on the fate of the “Innovation Precinct”

status normal!  Christchurch is stuffed.

ho humm

Detailed Engineering Evaluations….. DEE’s

Ah ha, finally, some one is talking about the Detailed Engineering Evaluations (DEE’s.)  Now that has taken nearly 3 years.

Link Here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/9200180/220-Chch-buildings-urgently-closed-by-Cera

This is an issue that has caused us massive grief.  By my calculations there are over 10,000 DEE’s required in Christchurch.  There are approximately 60 Structural engineers in the city.  Each DEE takes a full weeks work and that is for a “simple” building like ours. We are not talking multi storey stuff here!  By my calculations, that will mean it will take approximately 3.2 years for the Engineers to do the ones that are required now. ( And i believe that now every multi story unit in the city will need a DEE- that should bring the figures up to 60000??? that’s a guess by the way!) That leaves the Engineers no time to design solutions or any other foundation work. Which is what they should be doing and is what we desperately need in the city.

(Incidentally CERA has been waiting for our DEE for over 2 years??   even I can not remember any longer. I believe it is imminent, but I would say that wouldn’t I)

The other option to a DEE is a IEP. (Initial Evaluation Procedure) For those of you wanting to dig deeper: Link here: http://www.dbcon.co.nz/structural-engineering/the-iep-and-earthquake-assessments-how-the-process-works/

In a nut shell:  DBCon Chartered Engineers has this to say about IEP’s:

“This was devised as a filtering tool to see which buildings warranted further investigation. Unfortunately it has become a defining test. We say unfortunately, because it is a very crude procedure. It is based on the age of the building, the materials used, the type of soil, and a huge fudge factor at the end. The output from this procedure is a percentage of the New  Building Standard (NBS), which is the earthquake resistance you would expect that from a similar building, built to today’s requirements. Anything less than 33% is deemed ‘earthquake prone’, between 33% and 67% is called ‘earthquake risk’ and above 67% is considered satisfactory. We are finding that most buildings built before 1970 go straight into the earthquake prone category.”

“If the earthquake assessment shows some strengthening is required of the building, then the strengthening will need to be designed. However, it is a challenge to the Engineering Profession to design this strengthening work as an economic solution that allows the building to continue in service and still pay a reasonable return. Unfortunately in some of the smaller provincial towns this may not be possible. The rental income from a two-storey brick-built building may not justify the expense of strengthening it. I have heard that if the strengthening work is more than 33% of the value of the building, it is better to demolish and rebuild. Both repairs and demolition may be difficult or impossible for Historic Listed buildings.

“Generally speaking single-storey buildings are relatively cheap to strengthen if required. The presence of  unreinforced masonry (old brickwork and block work with no steel reinforcing) makes strengthening more challenging.”

Thank you DBCon for a very clear and simple explanation.

So, we have a situation is Christchurch where it is nearly impossible to get a DEE out of an Engineer (and by the way no 2 Engineer’s can agree on the DEE’s anyway. Ask 6 engineer’s and get 6 different figures, this has occurred in Greymouth recently) Chances are also that CERA will reject your DEE if it is not “acceptable” to them, this is also common practice for them.

Cera pulled most of the city down on the Basis of IEP’s,  often done by observations from the street with no detailed checking done.  A unreinforced masonry building is automatically graded at approx 9-10 % of the NBS.  And thus CERA decided in its wisdom that these buildings were unsafe. The logic was flawed and the engineers lacked training and experience.  (Or was it some grand plan???  we will find out in the future!)

There has to be a solution and some middle ground found here.   My understanding is that some Engineers in the city are deliberately not doing DEE’s for some buildings as they do not want to unnecessarily evict the businesses in them.  This has been a bone of contention for some time.  We are a good case in point. Needlessly chucked out of a building strengthened to 73% of the NBS.

incidentally I mentioned this issue to the CCC Crown Manager (Doug Martin) on Thursday last week. He was unaware of the issue.

http://www.ccc.govt.nz/homeliving/goaheadbuildingplannings00/bcactionplan/index.aspx

(On 15 July 2013, Doug Martin was appointed Crown Manager to the Christchurch City Council as a result of International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) withdrawing their accreditation for Christchurch City Council to issue building consents.

The Crown Manager’s Terms of Reference requires an action plan to be developed to make sure that the Council has the correct systems and processes in place to enable the Council to be accredited as a Building Consent Authority.”)

Ho humm. I must confess to being tired of their inflexibility.  May be if they employed some one with decent brains in control of CERA  we might get some sense out of them.