My Councillor report covers the period from 8 March to 5 April. It has been prepared for the April business meetings of the Waitematā, Waiheke and Aotea Great Barrier Local Boards.
The purpose of my report is to detail my main activities and to share information with the public and local boards in my ward regarding governing body decisions, my attendance at events, regional consultations, media updates and key issues.
Deputy Chair, Environment and Climate Change Committee (photo right with the Chair Richard Hills doing a final shout out to give feedback on the Annual budget)
- Co-Chair, Hauraki Gulf Forum
- Member, Auckland City Centre Advisory Board (ACCAB)
- Board Member, LGNZ National Council and Auckland Zone co-chair
- Member, Auckland Domain Committee
- Member, Appointments and Performance Review Committee
- Member, Joint Governance Working Party
- Member, Climate Political Reference Group
- Member, Waste Political Advisory Group
- Member, Future Development Strategy steering group (new this year)
- Public consultation on the Annual Budget 2022/23 closed on 28 March.
- As part of the consultation process council held several webinars on Waste and Climate where I was a panel member.
- I attended the Pasifika Fono, an online forum for Pasifika community members to give feedback.
- I also attended presentations by regional stakeholders.
- Helicopter activity – Resolutions from the Aotea/ Great Barrier, Waiheke and Waitematā and Local Boards.
- The report due to go to the Planning Committee 30/03 has been deferred until May.
- Cr Darby and I requested that a Helicopter Practice Note regarding the relevant provisions and considerations of the Auckland Unitary Plan and the Hauraki Gulf Islands be developed by the Resource Consents team.
- Auckland Transport’s parking strategy was endorsed to go out for consultation (Good for Auckland parking: my speaking notes in support).
- NPS-UD – The committee endorsed public consultation on the pre-notification engagement. The timeline is to be confirmed.
Environment and Climate Change Committee
- The committee adopted a new Water Strategy for Auckland. The vision of the strategy is “te mauri o te wai o Tāmaki Makaurau, the life-sustaining capacity of Auckland’s water, is protected and enhanced”.
- The strategy is designed to guide the council group in relation to its responsibilities and aspirations for water over the next 30 years.
- The meeting was also an opportunity to acknowledge the death of young bike rider Levi James and to have, a heartfelt discussion that brought home the costs of delaying “genuine streets for people” ( Our Auckland: Auckland Council launches Ngā Tiriti Ngangahau – The Vibrant Streets Programme).
- Half price public transport fares started on 1 April for three months. However, unfortunately the price cut excludes the Waiheke ferries because the route is not a contracted service within PTOM. I am supporting the local board in the on-going fight to bring Waiheke in line with PT fares across Auckland.
On-line meetings continue including the Waiheke Community Forum, Local Board meetings and all workshops and committee meetings.
City Centre Safety
Safety in the city centre is an on-going concern. I attended a Friday night “walkabout” with new Acting Area Commander and the Mayor with Cr Darby of some of the hot spots (more details below)
I attended as a member of LGNZ’s National Council, the Local Government/Central Government Forum Plenary Session on 1 April chaired by the PM. The theme for this year’s forum was Working together in a time of major change.
The Auckland Arts Festival
The festival went ahead with a limited programme due to current covid restrictions. I was fortunate to see Live Cinema: The Little Shop of Horrors – Lockdown edition online at the invite of the festival.
City Centre Resilience
The resilience of the city centre has faced one of its toughest tests in recent years due to COVID-19, and efforts are being made by many organisations including Heart of the City, Britomart, Auckland Arts Festival, NZ Fashion Museum, Auckland Council and city centre businesses to bring back its mojo. (Our Auckland: City centre dresses up for fashion shoot)
Work will begin in April to update the Myers Park underpass This project has been a decade in the making so I’m very excited to see it go ahead.
Hauraki Gulf Forum
The Hauraki Gulf Forum submitted in favour of a complete closure of the Hauraki Gulf’s scallop fishery. We also want to see scallop dredging gone for good. The Minister’s decision on 29 March to close the scallop fisheries is a big step forward but concerningly still leaves open two areas of the Gulf to commercial and recreational dredging. (Press release: Partial closure of Hauraki Gulf scallop fishery puts Hauturu/Little Barrier at risk)
Key decisions from the Committees of the Whole
The minutes for all meetings are available on the Auckland Council website. The following is intended as a summary only of key decisions.
Environment and Climate Change Committee – 10/03/22
- adopted the Auckland Water Strategy
- approved the “Too Much Water – A statement of Auckland Council’s current role and direction” as an accurate representation of council’s current response to the water-related impacts of climate change
- approved the Whangaparāoa Pilot Shoreline Adaptation Plan
- endorsed the proposed Regional Streets for People projects for management and delivery by Auckland Transport, on behalf of Auckland Council. (Now named Ngā Tiriti Ngangahau – The Vibrant Streets Programme see Attachment 1)
- approved the Auckland Council submission to the Department of Conservation on the proposed Hākaimangō-Matiatia marine reserve application, northwest Waiheke Island (subject to minor editorial changes)
- approved the forward work programme as agreed to at the meeting, to October 2022 including a new item added at my request to develop berm planting guidelines.
Finance and Performance Committee – 17/03/22
- received a presentation from Eden Park Trust Board
- confirmed the 16 July 2020 approval to dispose of 4 Blomfield Spa, Takapuna as it is not required to be retained by council for open space or recreational purposes
- received the Auckland Council Group and Auckland Council quarterly performance reports for the six months ended 31 December 2021, noting that the results for the six months ended 31 December 2021, confirm many of the pressures anticipated in our Recovery Budget.
Council Controlled Organisation Oversight Committee – 22/03/22
- received the 2021/2022 second quarter reports of the substantive Council-controlled Organisations and Ports of Auckland Limited
- approved an amendment to the Watercare Services Limited constitution to remove the restriction on directors serving more than three consecutive terms
- received update on the implementation programme for the Council-controlled Organisations Review
- agreed to receive a verbal update in relation to the Auckland Unlimited report: Reimagining Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland: harnessing the region’s potential
- Considered the agenda item “Defining Auckland Council’s Ownership Objectives for the Ports of Auckland Limited” as confidential due to risks that publicising it may prejudice or disadvantage council’s commercial activities
Governing Body – 24/03/22
Accepted a petition from Jessie Stanley relating to Sand Mining from the Pakiri and Mangawhai Embayment
- unanimously supported the Notice of Motion of Councillor Josephine Bartley to support the proposed private members’ bill: Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Harm Minimisation) Amendment Bill
Agreed to timeline for consultation on Māori representation in local government, noting that feedback from the engagement with mana whenua and mataawaka, will be reported to the August 2022 meeting of the Governing Body.
Planning Committee – 31/03/22
- endorsed the Draft Auckland Parking Strategy 2022 for public consultation in April 2022
- Made a series of decision in response to the government’s National Policy Station Urban Development (NPS-UD) including:
- endorsed the further investigation of changes to the Auckland Unitary Plan and the Auckland District Plan (Hauraki Gulf Islands Section) to address issues arising from the mandatory removal of parking minimum
- endorsed the further investigation of changes to the Auckland Unitary Plan to:
- i) introduce planning provisions for residential private ways to achieve better quality outcomes
- ii) amend the zone provisions to:
- enable building heights of least six storeys in walkable catchments as required by the Policy 3(c) of the National Policy Statement on Urban Development
- incorporate the Medium Density Residential Standards in the relevant residential zones, as required by the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021
- provide for quality-built environment outcomes in residential areas of Auckland as discussed in the agenda report.
- approved the following policy direction for implementing Policy 3(a) in the NPS-UD relating to the city centre:
- i) Fewer, simpler, more targeted controls
- ii) Protecting sunlight and daylight to open spaces
- iii) Protecting amenity and retaining the “human scale” of streets
- iv) Enabling tall slender towers with space between them to allow sunlight, daylight and views to permeate the city centre
- v) Protecting local and regionally significant views
- vi) Protecting the outcomes achieved by the existing city centre precincts
- vii) Protecting the relationship between the city centre and the Waitemata Harbour
- viii) Protecting historic heritage in the city centre
- ix) Promoting climate change resilience.
- approved in principle the removal of the general building height and floor area ratio standards in the city centre, and the application of alternative built form standards in line with the principles set out above.
- endorsed “Thriving Town Centres – Guidance for urban regeneration in Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland” (Attachment A of the agenda report) as a guidance document for Eke Panuku.
- In confidential the Committee endorsed the Auckland Council’s preliminary response to the NPS UD for pre-notification engagement. The timeframe for this engagement is not yet confirmed.
Note: After 11 hours the committee was closed with agreement to defer the Auckland Cycling and Micro mobility Programme Business Case and the report responding to resolutions from the Aotea/Great Barrier, Waiheke and Waitematā Local Boards regarding concerns about helicopter activity to the next Planning Committee meeting
City Centre Safety
The visibility of crime and anti-social behaviour and the perception of safety are ongoing issues in the city centre brought about by several factors including lockdowns, the emptying out of people (workers, international students etc) with eyes on the street, and emergency accommodation bringing new people into the city centre with no place to go during the day.
The City Centre Community Safety Taskforce led by council’s community team has been given additional resourcing and is working on several actions across multiple agencies including Heart of the City, residents, MSD and the Police. At the last meeting on 25 March participants reported the city centre has turned the corner and things are improving. We are likely to see further improvements as university students return from 4 May and restrictions are lifted.
Also, on 25 March I attended a Friday night “walkabout” with the Acting Area Commander, the Mayor and Cr Darby of city centre hot spots. What we heard is that police resourcing has ramped up since the end of MIQ and the worst of the outbreak that had a big impact on staffing numbers covering shift work. The Area Commander has introduced beat police who are out in the city centre on foot and in patrol cars. Fort St is one problem area that has been a focus of operations.
In response to requests for the return of a city centre police station the Commander explained that the way people now interact with the police and contact the police makes a bricks and mortar police station unnecessary and not a good use of resources. For example, people will use their own phone on the spot rather than run to a police station. Police can now gather evidence and respond in lots of different ways backed up by units in patrol cars and the eagle helicopter.
A police station might be a visible way of giving people comfort that the police are actively working on crime, but it doesn’t serve the same purpose as it once did in terms of how police can effectively respond and how the police can be contacted.
Following the walkabout, we have followed up on the need to improve the design of the Fort St area through a CPTED review. This is being worked on by Council and Auckland Transport. Te Komititanga, Wynyard Quarter and Vincent Street are areas I have also been focused on following concerns raised by residents.
On Vincent St I have secured the placement of physical barriers to deter illegal parking. The rocks have been funded from the city centre targeted rate.