Community Crofting, a new form of lease with security of tenure, opportunity lost

It is my understanding, that in USA, a perfectly livable house on several acres (which I might call a “hobby farm, or a livestyle block, but which some people may call a homestead etc “room for a pony” as Hyacinth Bucket would say on the tv show comedy) I understand that within a short drive to a USA large town or reasonable city would cost about $50,000. In NZ you’d be looking at about $1 million.

Probably even more than that in Aussie and UK. Of course if people live in the USA they risk being shot dead by poolice, no questions asked, if found committing offences like “being black in a public place”. If you’re just being disresepctful to a poolice officer, you may get to survive being tasered multiple times and pepper-sprayed from a giant flyspray size can (none of those little wee lipstick sized pepper-sprays for US “law enforcement”.

It sickens me to my stomach that the NZ govt bulldozed 7,000 houses (in Chch’s ‘red zone”) just as fast as it could get the bulldozers around there, instead of saving say 2,000 of the completely un-damaged, and least damaged houses, and making them available at a ‘peppercorn rent’ for cheap housing under a special  new “community crofting” leasehold arrangement (that could have been devised). A new form of lifetime lease with security of tenure, but without the ability to make a profit from the house. These houses could have been released onto the market, some perhaps incorporating the surrounding empty sections where houses had been demolished, so as to give half-acre and acre lot sizes.

Currently in New Zealand, residential tenants can by evicted with  just 42 days notice. Especially during times of housing availability and affordability crisis, and with many thousands of people on government housing waiting lists, this does not give tenants long enough to secure alternative accommodation.

A golden opportunity was shit out the arxehole and flushed down the toilet, just to prop up and increase Christchurch’s house values. The flow-on effects from Christchurch having a large pool of affordable  rental housing and stable long term communities (that long term, security of tenure that “community crofting” leases  would give), would also have helped reign in Auckland’s rampaging house price inflation (and Christchurch’s not-quite-as-rampaging house price inflation).

Here’s yet another article on the housing un-affodability crisis in Auckland (and to a lesser extent, all of NZ) from the Auckland Herald Newspaper’s NZHerald website.

Balcony collapse (yes, another one) injures 18 in Dunedin

BALCONY COLLAPSE… many sent to hospital. Yes it’s happened again, there’s been a balcony collapse, and 18 people taken to hospital, 2 injured seriously. Now fortunately the balcony was only about 3 metres high, however some of the injured were on the ground underneath it, and were crushed from above.

Previous balcony collapses have happened in Auckland but this was in Dunedin, a known “student” town. A development of several shared accommodations surrounded a common courtyard and a local music band gave an impromptu concert.

Obviously many people turned up with many crowding onto the upstairs balconies of the surrounding 2-storey homes. There’s an article on Chch’s Press newspaper’s “Stuff” website, and I am shocked. I am shpcked at the piss-poor design of bulding apparently come up with by qualified highly paid architects and approved by the local Dunedin Shitty Council authority.

Why do we even have building codes ? I am “NOT” a qualified builder, and if I was building a balcony in an area which say ‘did not’ have building codes, even *I* would have built it stronger than this, or at the very very least, had a warning sign “balcony maximum capacity 6 persons or 500kg” etc

My thought’s go back to a dance-floor at the Christchurch University that collapsed when it had the weight and “impact load” of a whole heap of students dancing on it… derrrrr ! Has no-one ever heard of making things “fit for purpose” ?

If you’re going to build balconies on shared student accomodation in Denedin, expect them to be used by crowds of boisterous young students ! Here’s a link to the article and one photo about the middle of the article shows the original attachment of the balcony, it’s obvious it has no supporting pillars underneath and no diagonal bracings either above or below.

I have always worried about the balcony on the upstairs flat at this address which is a similar design. Sure it’s fine for the weight of 6 people sitting and a clothes airer of washing, but could it take the weight of 20 young students dancing ?

Ben and Olivia buried on land, new book claims.

Scott Watson is GUILTY after all ! The story relates to 1998 (back when I was living in Australia, so I have only heard snippets etc since moving back to NZ). But a young couple disappeared during New Year’s Eve night, of 1998. Their bodies have never been found.

A man, Scott Watson was accused of their murder and subsequently found guilty at trial and sentenced to jail, minimum non-parole period 17 years (expires this year).

The disappearance happened in the area of “Marlborough Sounds”, a large rural coastal area of many deep fiords and bays at the top of the South Island. Scott Watson owned a small sailing yacht. Much was made about testimony from witnesses as to whether the boat a young couple were seen on board was a single masted yacht or a double masted ketch.

In a new book  (“Elementary”) released today , based on 7,000 pages of police evidence which became available, is according to the author Ian Wishart, proof that Scott Watson did indeed commit the murders.

Note that the author previously wrote a book some years ago, claiming police had prosecuted the wrong man and that Scott was innocent. The author tells how aspects like “group think” and “contamination” of witnesses’ memories occurs over time, especially as people take in what is presented in the media.

In one example he points out that one guy gives an elaborate and detailed description of the fittings to the back of a yacht in a later statement , while in his original police statement he says that at 4am it was so dark he could barely make out the shape of a boat at all, and never actually saw it from the rear at all.

The Auckland Herald newspaper has a link to ZB Radio which has a video of the interview conducted with author Ian Wishart…

Undamaged houses demolished, to drive up house prices

I am one of a new generation of Kiwis that just can’t see any useful future for me in Christchurch or New Zealand.

The system is rigged against me in every way, where I get paid minimum wage and get hammered with maximum tax and student loan repayments, and the government is bending over backwards to prop up house prices as they continue to spiral upwards, to continue to buy the votes of the 61% of people that already own housing and just screw the 39% of people, especially singles, childless and low income earners who do not.

(oh what a golden opportunity was just bulldozed away… of the 7,000 houses in the Govts self designated “Red Zone” that were just demolished and sent to landfill (just a handful of houses were relocated and transported away, and very few had materials salvaged from them, save for some copper from hotwater systems)… the Govt could have made the 1,000 or more of the undamaged and least damaged houses available to first-home buyers and disadvantaged second-chance home buyers on a special new invention of a long term “Crofters’ lease” )

We know that elsewhere when something is seen as having potential as “AN INVESTMENT” then the price of that item becomes doubled, five-pled, or even multiplied 10-fold, when compared to similar “non investment” items.

If we had a new class of housing that we could buy, but NOT make a profit on (thereby taking all the profiteers out of the system) We just don’t know what the exact price would settle at (I’d suggest it may be one fifth of current prices), but the Govt could create a class of housing from which a profit simply cannot be made. But the houses and land would still be available for people to “buy/lease” and have long term security of tenure over, leading to stable long term communities and all the social benefits that we know come from such.

If people could buy a home for one fifth the current price, then that gives them far more money to invest in all those things the govt WANTS them to spend money on, things like retirement savings accounts (in NZ called Kiwisaver and in Australia called Superannuation) and company shares of new start-ups. More money to invest in education, eco organic Walnut orchard plantings, or re-afforestation of degraded land for future plantation based sustainable forestry. solar panels for their roof, money to donate to charities, at home and overseas, to help give the disadvantaged a hand up.

Currently people often spend $20,000 “doing up” a kitchen, because they want to get an extra $30,000 more when they sell the house. If they knew that the selling price of the house would be the same price they bought into it at (with the Govt statutory “Crofters’ Lease” authority taking ALL of the profit) then folks would just spend on their hosue what it genuinely needed to improve it’s function and comfort as they lived there. So the kitchen would get $3,000 spent on it to make it nicer, plus some ceiling insulation could be installed to make the house more pleasant to live in and have lower energy bills for 10 months of the year. But as it was their “own” home they could fit upgraded door locks or nail up a bookshelf without pleading for a landlord’s permission first.

(The current system means huge environmental costs to the planet, as some homes get huge amounts of money and resources expended on them to “do them up” yet often fundamental flaws are un-addressed. In Auckland, many old houses get fully refurbished just prior to sale and demolition, simply to “get a better price”, even though the buyer just wants the land for a new build .)

“Profits” from house sales would help fund the “Crofters’ Lease” statutory authority (after an initial seed funding from the govt, for the first generation of house purchases)

Of course that first generation of house purchases could have been simply gifted to the Crofters’ Lease authority from the lesser damaged, indeed many undamaged RED ZONE houses. But it was Govt policy to bulldoze 7,000 houses as soon as possible, so as to place Christchurch and NZ house prices under increasing upward pressure.

The Govt had a stated policy of ‘not wanting Christchurch house prices to fall, after the earthquakes’.

Politicians in Wellington and councillors at Christchurch City Council, laugh all the way to the bank on their fat salaries and supplementary allowances and freebies, even though these people have a lack of forward vision, and have failed their voters and citizens.  The existing homeowners, 61% of the population laugh all the way to the bank on tax free profits, and everyone else is considered a worthless runt, a serf, a peasant, a land-begger, tenant scum. 39% of the population is thrown on the scrap-heap.

The opportunity we had for Christchurch city and New Zealand to pioneer a new form of home ownership that gives stable societies and neighbourhoods at minimal cost has just been pissed away under the bulldozers.

Christchurch… not enough houses, but a glut of office-space (albeit without any parking)

An article on the Christchurch Press newspaper/Stuff website, by Marta Steeman on 24 January 2015 said this…

“…Anyone who’s driven along Durham Street North, which flows into Cambridge Terrace, recently can’t help but be struck by the boom in commercial construction along the strip on the western edge of the Avon River.

The buildings jostling for space and attention sit just outside the CBD, a much smaller area than it used to be after being redefined by the Government’s blueprint for the rebuild of the city. And that’s important because the area is free of the Government prescriptions imposed on the blueprint development, developers say…” (Quote ends)

(A link to the full article appears at the bottom of this article, but here is just one of the comments that was posted below it)

ChrisW1970 7 days ago (as of 31/01/15)

I for one am glad that the private sector have been able to get some traction on rebuild projects. If you look at government and CCDU precincts, progress is minimal, compared to across the river west of Durham St. By exerting such a high level of control, CCDU and government/local authority have only served to add unnecessary delays and costs to anchor projects – frankly I think the best thing to do now would be to disband the bureaucratic stinking colostomy bag that is the government run CCDU, and open up ALL the anchor projects to private tender – that way you might actually see some anchor projects completed this decade, and for less money than will be if CCDU and government are allowed to continue to operate in the bumbling and useless manner they have been… of course the CCDU website claims things are going swimmingly on their projects…nonsense! The lack of visible construction works tells a different and more truthful story… (Quote ends)

When I first heard about the much vaunted CCDU Blueprint, in mid 2012, I immediately had major misgivings.

As I saw it, it was a government land-grab, for upto 60% of the CBD area, and as the land was to be seized under special CERA laws, property owners had even less rights than if it was taken under longstanding PUBLIC WORKS act rules.

I thought “Yeah mate, Wellington’s just gonna steal the land, then sell parcels of it off, probably back to its mates, at whatever price it chooses.”

And it seems as if I was 100% correct, going by the following article by Georgina Stylianou from the Stuff website on 31/01/15.

“… The Press understands Fletcher Building, which will wind up its work with the Earthquake Commission this year, is the front-runner among the shortlisted firms being considered by the Government to develop the east frame…

…Last year, CCDU planning general manager Don Miskell said residential land was cheaper than commercial land so the Crown may not recoup the money it had spent buying land in the east frame… (quote ends)

Commenting on the other article, about the Government’s mate, Fletchers, being the front-runner for getting handed over a bunch of, previously other people’s properties, for less than, even the bargain basement price that CCDU gave as “compensation” for stealing people’s freehold land off them.

The prices the government pays for land are secret, however some landowners have said that “negotiations” started with them being offered 10% of the land’s original RV (Ratings Valuation) and eventually the government would creep upto a figure of about 90% of RV. (If you don’t accept the 90% offer, then under the CERA/CCDU blueprint law, the government simply takes your land and gives you nothing).

The problem comes when the old owner seeks to buy new land, similarly zoned, close in to the city, and finds they have only a half to a third of the price of replacement land (it’s not rocket science… remove 60% of the supply of any product and the price will go through the roof, doubling or tripling, what would you expect !).

Some owners or organisations have been right royally screwed over by the government land seizures. The Deaf Society should have been laughing all the way to the bank, as insurance paid for a full rebuild, no expense spared, of the CBD headquarters, but with the government seizing their land, they are only entitled to a far lesser “indemnity value” payout. So these people have effectively been dis-enfranchised from, and lost the benefit of, having a “full replacement, regardless of cost” insurance property.

And don’t even get me started on the debacle over the historic MAJESTIC HOUSE building. This multi-storey building on Manchester Street was repairable for about $15 million (a full re-build would have cost an estimated $60 million), however the owners “Majestic Church” had to take whatever CCDU was prepared to offer in “compensation” for the land, and a lesser indemnity value insurance payout on the building. Since shortly after the February 2011 earthquake, they have been meeting in a refurbished car-sales showroom on Moorhouse Avenue, but the site has almost no parking and they are forced by council rules to pay for parking some distance away. Insurance has been covering some costs, but the church, wanting to settle into a permanent and more appropriate environment, purchased land elsewhere in the Western CBD (part of the 40% remaining that the government didn’t steal) and was intending to re-build its church there, however Christchurch City Council have denied it the necessary planning permission on the basis that “it’s a residential area” (and obviously churches cannot be in residential areas, can they ?).

Here below is the link to the article about the East Frame and Fletchers likely involvement.

Here is a link to the full article on the STUFF website about the expected glut of high-priced office space …

General Election 2014, result is a bad omen for Kiwis on the bottom half of society. OPINION

OPINION… Right that’s it, New Zealand really is a basket-case. That John Key and his mates in the National Party have won another 3 years in power. That’s another 3 years of misery and lack of affordable housing (or any housing at all) for many Christchurch people. Even my local electorate went to the sitting National candidate with a much increased majority of more than 2,000 votes (the electorate boundaries had changed quite substantially, however pundits had said that would make a swing back to Labour, even more likely).

Well at $14.25 per hour minimum wage…that’s what most hardworking Kiwis can earn under this Gestapo-like regime… it’s time to start clearing out my junk, don’t buy anything else, sell the stuff I’ve got, and prepare to head back to Aussie.

There is simply NO HOPE for the future. Unless you’re qualified in the building and construction trades… where there is a few years more work avalable in Christchurch (3 and a half years on from the Earthquakes, some 60% of insurance claims have been finalised… however finalised in many cases means “paid out in cash” and people still living in garages waiting for houses to be re-built (because in order to make the numbers look good, they prioritised minor repairs like paint and wallpaper first and major repairs and rebuilds, have been pushed to the back of the queue. There are concerns that, although the govt has REDUCED the building codes several times already, to allow previous non-legal fixes to be done to houses (it’s saved the insurance companies squillions) that Some of the major repairs undertaken have been dodgy and set up a future disaster of failing houses, just waiting to happen.

Under National’s regime they previously used, never before used powers, to un-seat our elected commissioners at Environment Canterbury (our local regional council which is responsible for everything from ensuring our heavily polluted rivers get cleaned up, to running bus services). The govt installed their own mates in control, and then billed us for their huge wages. They promised they’d allow us to have democratic elections for our local representatives again in 3 years. 2 years later, they said they really liked having the direct control over the entire Canterbury region and said they’d be delaying our regional elections for another 3 years at least… all the while the prime minister’s new mates keep handing out water use consents to farmers and irrigators and they haven’t even cleaned up the existing pollution to waterways, aquifers and wetlands. The Labour party had said, that if elected, Canterbury people would get regional council elections re-instated immediately.

Oh, a glossy brochure came in the mail the other day, another “Recovery Update” (Sept 2014, pp 6&7). Because Christchurch Shitty Council prior to the earthquakes had employed some North Island dude (because he was such an amazing manager, he was worth the more than $ 500,000 annual salary), well he presided over the council under-insuring it’s assets by more than half. (not surprisingly really, he was double-dipping as he was collecting a fat juicy wage as being head of the board of the insurance company too), Well Christchurch city ratepayers had already been having rates rises of 3 or 4 times the rate of inflation yearly, even before the EQs, The brochure says if we want to avoid year-on-year rates rises of 25% to 30%, and keep the annual rates rises down to ‘just’ 10%, the council will need to cut services and flog off their few remaining assets to meet an $ 800 million shortfall. Spendthrifts, I can see $ 400 million in savings just by cutting 2 items. They want to build a new covered sports stadium…something we never had before and will be used (if we’re lucky) about twice a year for rock concerts, there’s over $250 million (note the old football stadium is available to be fully repaired under insurance, but they have since built a new “temporary” stadium anyway (that has a 20 plus year lifespan). Plus they want to build a new “metro sports facility”, and that’s another $ 150 million. Oh both of those new “anchor” projects are to be on someone else’s freehold land that the govt have either recently stolen, or soon intend to steal, from their pre-earthquake owners.

Except for a handful of rich people at the top of society…There simply is NO HOPE for the future. New Zealand is rooted.

To all of the Kiwis out there who are not one of the privileged few, there is one message and one message only from this election… renew your passport and zip off overseas as fast as you can go !

Rolf Harris convicted of historic sex offences in UK court

A court in UK has recently found Australian born entertainer Rolf Harris, guilty of a string of sex offences that the court was told occurred between 1968 and 1986. Mr Harris is now in his 80’s and is liable to a prison sentence of many years.

I am always worried when I hear about cases where there is no actual corroborating evidence, simply a conflicting testimony of “he said, she said” about events that allegedly occurred some 20 or more years ago.

Maybe I’ve seen too many episodes of “C.S.I.” on TV, but I want to see DNA tests, surveillance video, still photos of injuries or other evidence and doctors examination reports.

If the person, in this case Rolf Harris, was accused of possessing a stolen TV back in the 1980’s, a far more minor crime, it would never have gotten into court, and certainly never have won in court, because of “lack of evidence”.

I am concerned that someone can be sentenced to 15 years in jail for rape or other sexual offences, on a charge where there isn’t enough evidence to send them to jail for 3 months (if they were being accused of just having possessed a stolen telly, 20 years ago).

Up until just a few years ago, almost all western nations had a “statue of limitations” which for offences other than murder, generally ran for about 7 to 10 years. This limitation had been brought in many decades (or a century or more ?) earlier in part at least, because of the recognition that it is far harder for an accused person to mount a satisfactory defence after such a long period of time.

Governments the world over, have entire departments dedicated to do nothing but store records (things like police files and other documents, receipts and diaries etc). Most average citizens have nothing more flash than a shoebox full of receipts in the hall cupboard. When moving houses things often get lost. People that own their own home live an average of 7 years at each address, people who rent are often forced to move VERY much more often.

What chance does a person have to prove “No Your Honour, I was 700 kms away on that day, at a concert, here is my ticket stub from May 13th 1963”. The statute of limitations existed for a good reason. If you want to claim that someone has done you wrong, it is my opinion that you should have only 10 years to lodge a legal complaint. Just how long does it take someone to get down to their local cop-shop ! (Or to put it in wedding-like words “If anyone knows of any lawful impediment, let them speak now, or forever hold their peace”).

It’s simply too easy for someone to come up with a story about something that supposedly happened 20 or 50 years ago, and ruin someone’s life (even if the accused person is later exonerated in court).

I remember many years back, seeing the State Premier of South Australia, strutting on TV news like a rooster, saying he was proud that they were taking cases to court that were 50 years old, on the basis of “he said, she said” and where there was no corroborating evidence.

To deliver justice to all accused persons, legal systems need to be arranged so that those accused, have a fair chance to mount a proper legal defence.

Perhaps governments should provide a free archiving safe storage service, so we can all take our cartons of receipts, diaries, calendars and ticket-stubs etc in, and have the government look after them at their expense ?

UPDATED… Rolf Harris is 84 years old (and as frail as you would expect a man of that age) and the court sentenced him to 5 years and 9 months in jail (although an appeal has already been lodged claiming that is too lenient a sentence). The current sentence might allow him to be released in 3 years under a form of probation known in the UK as “licence”.