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Chc Recovery: Peoples Preferences Always Trump Policy

Christchurch Recovery:
Peoples Preferences Always Trump Policy

Hugh Pavletich
Cantabrians Unite

26 December 2012

Marta Steeman of The Press reports... FORSYTH BARR BUILDING MAY BE REPAIRED...

From the date of the first earthquake event 4 September 2010 - over two years ago now – the priority should have been – how can the “new Christchurch” be best developed and governed to better cope with adverse events going forward?

The focus should have been on elementary “risk management”.

Remarkably...this has STILL yet to happen.

It is even more remarkable, when there had been an awareness of the earthquake risks for decades prior to the current series of events – as this television documentary from the mid 1990’s illustrates ... v=NkTy6ogLDX8&lc=nTT73t5-ILJS8Mj8jY1kyjc2KZlR0Xb6ZkTdlcvA9gU&feature=inbox
But the risks were in large measure ignored by the Authorities, as Joel Cayford explained with COUNCILS FUDGE CHRISTCHURCH SEISMICITY July 2011 ...

The most destructive 22 February event went on for around 40 seconds.

How will Christchurch cope when the major Alpine Fault “let’s go” (it’s not “if”...its “when”) and the shaking lasts for 3 or 4 minutes?

How much more of Christchurch will liquefy?

Would you like to be in the “restored” Forsyth Barr building when that happens?

At the same time – July last year – I wrote within am Interest Co NZ article CHRISTCHURCH: COUNCIL STALLED RECOVERY...

“Reality bites
Unlike the Japanese, who are well prepared and educated about earthquakes and have remarkable risk management procedures in place to deal with them, New Zealand on the urban governance and planning fronts, is nowhere near where it should be.
Indeed – if this becomes a $30 billion event, it would likely have been much less at something below $15 billion, if there had been sound urban governance and planning preceding it. If it works out to be a $20 billion event, it would likely have been below a $10 billion one.
This is without considering the massive and often unnecessary “disruption costs” and the realities of the poorly understood Broken Windows Fallacy (YouTube video). The destruction of the capital stock “costs”. People and businesses rarely come out of an insurance event “making money”.
These major unnecessary poor quality urban governance and planning costs can in large measure be attributed to:
(a) Strangling land supply at the fringes, driving fringe serviced residential section / lots costs up from approximately $30 - $60,000 to $200 - $300,000 and beyond, which in turn ripples through land values within the rest of the urban area...refer Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey ... )
(b) Inappropriately financing infrastructure required for new development, loading the capital costs (with subdivision and builders margins) in to the house purchaser, then forcing them to “gift” this infrastructure to the utility providers.
(c) Poor planning degrading the performance of the residential construction sector, so that construction costs on a per metre basis are currently double what they should be. This “degradation” and the downstream degradation ( e.g. leaky homes, finance companies going to the wall, cowboy construction culture etc) were covered within an earlier article by the writer - Houston, we have a (housing affordability) problem |
(d) Because of these factors above, the age and quality of the Christchurch housing stock is considerably poorer and less seismically resistant than it should be. Including too the new stock (referred to as “bubble stock”), which has been built well outside conventional Development Ratios (refer the Definition of an Affordable Housing Market at Performance Urban Planning ....
.. .
New residential stock, such as that at Rolleston on the good ground coped remarkably well (as did most housing west of Hagley Park and in other areas) – even though it was located at the end of the first event of magnitude 7.1 on 4 September 2010.
(e) Council planning and the idiotic Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy ... (of which current Mayor Bob Parker was the major cheerleader) had effectively “banned” the provision of affordable land on the good ground at the southern, western and northern fringes of Christchurch, severely inflating the price of fringe lots / sections (a – above) and forcing development to the poorer quality swampy ground to the less favoured east. Sound geotechnical and engineering advice was persistently ignored by local politicians and urban planners, who’s only interests were in"birds and bees" issues....refer...QUAKE HIT RESIDENTS MAY SUE COUNCIL...
(f) Christchurch urban planning and the regional Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy, through inflating land prices and artificially making housing considerably more expensive, forced greater intensification and CBD living. The earthquakes have proven that “density is deadly”. Natural hazards risk management was never considered. Earthquake and liquefaction risks were well understood within the development and engineering communities in particular.
(g) The Christchurch City Council had a long and sorry history of standing in the road of the demolition of much of the old (gerry built) commercial stock, it considered “historic” - that clearly was not. This gross over listing of historic buildings meant that there were not sufficient resources available for the necessary and adequate seismic upgrades of “truly” historic buildings, such as Christchurch Cathedral, the Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament and the Arts Centre.
It degenerated pretty much in to a “power game”, with the drummed up active support of some of the “beautiful people” of Fendalton and Merivale, keen for commercial reasons to be seen as politically correct by the Council bureaucrats. This assisted in “smoothing the waters” for other developments requiring consent.”
To date with the “top down” approach, the recovery process has been glacial.
International evidence is very clear, in that the “bottom u[“ approach is the only way to get robust recoveries underway.
The contrasting experiences of the “bottom up” Joplin, Missouri and the “top down” Tuscaloosa, Alabama tornadoes recovery experiences as reported in the Wall Street Journal April this year illustrate this...JOW JOPLIN IS BEATING TUSCALOOSA ...
Cantabrians Unite with CHRISTCHURCH THE WAY FORWARD ( ) outlines what needs to happen, to allow a robust recovery to get underway, so that Christchurch is clearly seen as a resilient and opportunity City going forward.

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