Back to Blog

A game of policy leaves Hamilton architect crestfallen

OPINION: I am not a fan of politics and the games politicians play. I am, however, very interested in policy. This is the framework that defines our future, so it is important to get it right. Over the last year, I have been trying to get my head around how government and council organisations actually create policy. Yes, a lot of good gets done by the public sector – education, health, police, roads, et cetera – the basics generally work well, and compared to Venezuela, we are doing ok...

March 18, 2019

Why good people do bad things to each other

OPINION: The infamous Stanford University Prison Experiment pitted two groups of students against each other.One group was asked to role-play prisoners, and the other group acted as the guards. The supervisors made arbitrary rules, and it didn't take long before the guards started bullying and psychologically abusing the prisoners who didn't follow the rules. The experiment was supposed to last two weeks but had to be abandoned after just six days, with some students traumatised by the experien...

March 11, 2019

Time for council to seek feedback

OPINION: When your waiter or waitress asks you " is everything all right with your meal?", it's because the managers genuinely want to here if there are any problems. Like many Kiwis, I hate complaining. It make s me uncomfortable because I don't like confrontation. But problems can only be fixed if managers know about them, so customer feedback is essential.  Hospitality businesses live or die on good customer service. If you get served an undercooked piece of chicken, complaining not only...

March 4, 2019

Something rotten with the state of building

OPINION: Thank you to all the readers who give great feedback on these columns. Your stories of your own battles with bureaucracy motivate me to keep writing. Suggestions for topics are always welcome, although I have quite a backlog already. After I touched on untreated timber a couple of weeks ago, several people asked for me to expand on leaky buildings. It is a woe-begotten tale of mismanagement on a grand scale. In 1996, the Commission of Inquiry into leaky buildings of the previous decad...

February 23, 2019

Slaves to process are not what we need

OPINION: Serial rapist Malcolm Rewa is currently being tried for the horrific 1992 murder of Susan Burdett. The case is infamous because Teina Pora was wrongfully imprisoned for twenty years and awarded $3.5 million compensation. I do not begrudge Pora one cent of that, but as a taxpayer, I would have preferred no payout - because his case should never have ended up in court in the first place. Pora has foetal alcohol syndrome and a mental age of ten. He confessed to a murder after 14 hours of ...

February 16, 2019

Grim prediction for Hamilton's housing debt

OPINION: In 1998 I wrote to the Department of Building and Housing about what I saw as an imminent crisis in the building industry. One of my builders had contacted me about a project just starting construction. There was no treated timber available in the country, and ordering some required a special production run that would take three months 'til delivery. A change of building regulations by the government had allowed untreated timber to be used in wall framing. This was, perhaps, reasonable ...

February 4, 2019

OPINION: Andrew Bydder wants to hear about rules that drive you up the wall

OPINION: The previous National government set up the Rules Reduction Taskforce which received more than 2,000 submissions from across the country. Their findings were released in the Loopy Rules Report in 2015. "New Zealanders are fed up wasting time and money trying to work with loopy rules," it begins. "Everyone we heard from had tales to tell of loopy rule – requirements that are out of date, inconsistent, petty, inefficient, pointless or onerous. These are the things that really annoy...

January 28, 2019

OPINION: Rates gripe one of many, writes Andrew Bydder

OPINION: It's easy to criticise councils – every week I get enough topics from concerned citizens to fill a month's worth of articles. While each of these people have genuine complaints that deserve immediate redress, my personal goal, and that of the Hamilton Residents and Ratepayers Association, is to achieve permanent positive change. We would prefer to work with council on improvements. One example of this is fixing how rates are calculated. The law defining this is the Local Governme...

January 21, 2019

It's never pretty when bureaucrats and innovators collide

OPINION: Late last year a Port Chalmers resident got into a spot of bother with the Dunedin City Council. He was building a boat on a land-locked section and living in it while working on it. Council building inspectors claimed the structure was a house and it didn't have a building consent. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (which includes the former Department of Building and Housing) investigated and agreed with the council. The Building Act specifically excludes "any ...

January 14, 2019

Hamilton's Land Shortage Problem

OPINION: There has been a lot of criticism of Kiwibuild, some of it fair, and some of it not. The great housing crisis is a media click-bait title for a combination of issues that should not be combined. For instance, it is not fair to complain that Kiwibuild won’t solve homelessness. In most cases, these people need a mental health response or drug addiction treatment, not a new house. Kiwibuild was never intended to address that particular issue.Even focusing on the specific issue of housing...

December 3, 2018

Let's leave the muni pools until there's a better idea

OPINION: Hamilton’s Municipal Pools on Victoria Street celebrated their 100 year anniversary in 2012 – the year council closed them. Now council is applying to itself for a resource consent to demolish the pools, despite opposition led by Sink or Swim, a group of tireless volunteers. Pools are one of those feel-good community assets that attract emotional arguments, such as teaching kids to avoid drowning. I get that. But we still need to balance economic realities. Ratepayers end up subsidi...

November 26, 2018

Everything including the kitchen sink under this rates plan

OPINION: Most people don’t like paying rates. I do – so long as I think I am getting good value for money. I love that portion of my rates going to Hamilton Gardens, the river walkways, and libraries. I’m proud to show visitors around the lake and enjoy evenings out at our live theatres. But nobody wants to pay rates twice. Yet this is what happens with SUIPs, a nasty little acronym that council recently discovered. It stands for Separately Used or Inhabited Part of a rating unit, which is...

November 12, 2018

Developer fees put ratepayers at risk

OPINION: A Christchurch woman recently made national headlines with a story about the granny flat she got built for her deaf brother. A council planner told her the council fees would be $1,500, but it ended up over $23,000 – for a small 1-bedroom unit on her own land. $1,500 seems reasonable for such a simple job.  The planner can do a copy-paste report in an hour, and we all know the council will have another hour for “administration” to email it. The granny flat is a prefabricated ...

October 22, 2018

Hamilton planning has got out of hand

OPINION: Which of these houses is better ... according to Hamilton City Council planning rules? One is a home I designed, with a nice front lawn and garage out of sight at the back of the house. It is warm and inviting. The other is the Outcasts gang headquarters in Norton Road, with a gate and intimidating fence, although the razor wire was removed a few years ago. Congratulations to the Outcasts! Why? Because their front door faces the street. My one's door faces th...

October 15, 2018

Council Spends $6.49m for "River Dream" Buildings valued at $4.3m

OPINION: On the eve of a national conference for ratepayer groups gathering to address serious concerns over "out of control" spending by councils', Hamilton Residents & Ratepayers Association President Mischele Rhodes is assessing options, which include approaching  the Serious Fraud Office to investigate why it is that the Hamilton City Council would consider paying up to 56% more than independent market valuations for the River Dream properties? She refers to the NZ Herald article 4 Octo...

October 12, 2018

Mixed-use development now all the rage

OPINION: Last week's column was about the history of council planning. It affects us every day, having had a big impact on our house designs, sections, roads and where we work. Some people reading this are about to embark on the Monday morning commute across Hamilton's bridges and wonder why their CBD office or Te Rapa factory couldn't have been on the same side of the river as Rototuna. The zone system that planners dictated is to blame. A new buzzword - mixed-use development - ...

October 8, 2018

Andrew Bydder: Planners eroding public choice

OPINION: The late great legendary architect Sir Ian Athfield famously said in 1987: "Planners and local authorities are stupid. Absolutely stupid! They have these rules and they're not worth a tin of s---. They're rules for rules' sake. They don't have any validity. They're changed all the time. So the clever and competent in the architectural profession are the ones that know the rules instead of being clever and competent architectural designers." (quote lifted from Te Ara – the Encyclopaedi...

October 1, 2018

Andrew Bydder: Housing crisis is all about land and how councils regulate it

OPINION: Which is worth more: a million-dollar section with a $100,000 house or just a million-dollar section? The answer is the million-dollar section and the reason is capitalisation.  Anyone buying the section wants to put a big flash house on it, not a small, simple one.  A $100,000 house isn't going to cut it, so the buyer will have to spend $10,000 demolishing it before building their dream home. The section was undercapitalised. Back when I was at university, land was cheap...

September 24, 2018

District Plan's pointless rules

OPINION  Dear Richard Briggs, This is a formal and public complaint about a Hamilton City Council employee, namely the chief executive. The Local Government Act 2002 Section 42 Part 2 (c) and (d) means you are responsible for the performance of all other employees. So even though you had nothing to do with the following, you get the complaint because you get the big bucks. Don't take this complaint personally. You have actually taken some good steps recently with a commitment to save $10 m...

September 17, 2018

DHB staff need to be accountable

OPINION: Yet another public-sector cost blowout has hit the news. This time it's the Waikato District Health Board and its alterations to the old Farmers building on the corner of Anglesea and Collingwood streets. No stranger to problems with failed computer systems, dodgy CEOs and the Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre being declared unfit for purpose, the DHB has already seen the building's budget double from $7.7 million to $14.7m in July 2017. Now, faced with another huge cost increase...

September 10, 2018

Councils generally pretty powerless

OPINION: Most Kiwis find the structure of the United States government confusing. As well as a president, they have two parliaments, together known as Congress but divided into the Senate and the House of Representatives. Also, the 50 individual states (with some exceptions) each have two more parliaments and a governor. The states have regional governments in the form of counties. There is a federal court system that covers all the states, and another court system within each state. This...

September 6, 2018

Where does the money come from?

OPINION: Hamilton City Council's 142-page 10-Year Plan is available on the council's website. It is very nicely presented and well written in accessible language with clear charts. Staff have done a good job on this and I thank them. It should be compulsory reading for all citizens, but really, who has the time? We rely on elected councillors to represent our interests so we don't have to worry how the city's soon-to-be $800 million debt can be repaid. But there are a couple of good reasons...

August 27, 2018

Council's Business Cycle

One principle of business cycle economic theory is that governments can take a longer term view than the free market, and can act in an opposite way to the business cycle. When the economy is in recession, government (and councils) should increase spending and hire more people with job creation schemes. Then when the private economy is expanding, the government (and councils) can cut back without causing hardship. The cutbacks allow revenues to build up as a buffer against the next downturn. Ham...

August 26, 2018

Hamilton City Council Under Review

The Hamilton Residents and Ratepayers Association Incorporated is a group of people who want the best for our city. Hamilton is a great place to live and work, and we want it to get better. None of us have the time to keep up with everything the council does, but as a group, we can share the tasks and keep each other informed. We are worried about council spending. We are not anti-growth. We are not anti-debt (if it is a good investment). We simply want value for money. The rates rises are hurti...

August 26, 2018

Claudeland's was never a good idea

The building cost $68.5 million and opened in 2011.  According to the council-commissioned 2009 business case, it was supposed to host 316 events in its first year and generate a $1.1 million surplus. It sounded like a great investment. But according to a $30,000 review initiated by Julie Hardaker when she was elected, those figures were not accurate. To quote a news article of the time, “Hamilton City Council staff told the original author of the business case, Campbell Consulting, to in...

August 20, 2018 Posts 1-25 of 30 | Page next
 

This product has been added to your cart

CHECKOUT