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Saturday, December 18, 2010

CALM - Computer Assisted Learning for the Mind.

The University of Auckland's Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences has a website, aimed primarily at U of A's students, that combines your computer with their online and downloadable material to provide:
  • Practical techniques in developing positive mind states
  • Practical techniques for managing stress
  • Maintaining healthy relationships
  • Finding meaning in life through religion
  • Finding meaning after adversity
  • Finding meaning in our day to day lives
The home page is here:

These resources may be of some use.

Friday, December 17, 2010

New Rateable Values

The CCC has issued a media release detailing how the new rating values will be set for those areas most affected by the earthquake.
"Council valuers will now update the existing rating valuations, based on an effective valuation date of 2007, on the worst-affected commercial, residential and rural properties. Rates payable for the year starting 1 July 2011 will be set based on these valuations, which will also inform the city-wide general revaluation next year."
To the extent that I understand this, it would appear that the 2007 values (used for the rates for the last three years) will be adjusted for those properties most affected by the earthquake. The adjusted figure will then be used to calculate the rates payable from 1 July 2011 until 1 July 2012. As properties are rebuilt new valuations will be made.

The whole text is available here:

There is no mention of how the valuations will be decided, or if there will be a special appeal process for those who either disagree with the new valuation or feel they should have received an earthquake related revaluation but didn't get one.

In the normal valuation process there is an opportunity to object to a valuation, provided the objection is made within 6 weeks of the valuation being released. Presumably this process will apply to these valuations as well.

You can check out the valuation of your property here: http://ratesinfo.ccc.govt.nz/

Relocation and School Zoning

If families are relocated during repairs, rebuilding and land remediation work does a problem arise over school zoning rules? According to the CCC the situation is as follows:

Will the Ministry of Education recognise the damaged address, currently empty, when a school application is made for children who are currently living out of zone?
If a student is already attending a school then it is not an issue. If a family is relocated whilst restoration of damaged property is taking place, the Ministry expects boards to take a commonsense approach to the individual situation of the family. The Secretary for Education has a discretion to override a school's enrolment scheme in certain circumstances, and if necessary a parent can contact the Christchurch office of the Ministry on 03 378 7788 (response from the Ministry of Education).

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Red Cross Relocation (accommodation) Grants for Tenants and Homeowners

The NZ Red Cross Canterbury Earthquake Commission will be offering grants to those people who have to move from their houses while repairs are being made or land is being remediated.

Although the word repairs is used it appears that those affected by either repairs or rebuilds are covered by this scheme. The grants are available to both tenants and homeowners (owner occupiers).

If you have no insurance cover for relocation costs there is a different, more generous, eligibility criteria (which is reproduced below).

Applications must be on the Red Cross form and can be posted, faxed or delivered in person.  Processing of applications will commence on the 20th of January 2011.

Full information and an application form can be found on the Red cross website here.


Criteria 

NOTES:
  1. This information was correct as at the 16th of December. As time goes on it will be increasingly important to check the Red Cross site for the latest information.
  2. Clause (d) seems harsh as there will be many who live in areas designated as Zone C and won't know the dates and duration for the work to be done for months or even a year or more.

In order to be eligible for a Relocation Grant:
(a) You must have been living at the affected address at the time of the Canterbury Earthquake and must be the owner occupier or tenant on the tenancy agreement.
(b) You may still be living at the affected address, or may have been living in alternative accommodation since the earthquake.
(c) If still living at the address, you have been advised by your insurance company or EQC that you will need to vacate the property while repairs are carried out.
(d) If you have been living in alternative accommodation since the earthquake because your home was uninhabitable, you have been advised by your insurance company or EQC of a date when repairs or rebuilding is expected to be commenced, and a timeframe for completion.
(e) If the expected duration of your stay in alternative accommodation is 3 months or less, then only those who have no insurance policy that covers the cost of relocation will be eligible.
(f) If the expected duration of your stay in alternative accommodation is over 3 months but not more than 6 months then only those who have no insurance policy that covers the cost of relocation or whose insurance cover does not cover the full cost will be eligible.
(g) All those whose expected duration of stay in alternative accommodation is greater than 6 months are eligible.

Red Cross Grants - General

The New Zealand Red Cross has available a number of grants for home owners and tenants experiencing difficulties.

Their website has information on the following:
  • Relocation Grants (accommodation during repairs or rebuilds - for both home owners and tenants)
  • Financial Support Grants (income reduction as the result of the forced closure of a small business)
  • Emergency Grants (for people unable to live in their homes due to damage- for both home owners and tenants )
  • Damaged Home Grants (still living in a home but with loss of water or sewage services - for both home owners and tenants )
Details are available here.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Department of Building and Housing

The Department of Building and Housing was an outfit unknown to me until Sunday evening. According to the Department's website:
The Department of Building and Housing's vision is for a building and housing market that delivers good quality homes and buildings for New Zealanders that contribute to strong communities and a prosperous economy. Here you will find information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weather tight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.
Also on the site is information for people who have been affected by the earthquake. One link leads to a page with advice for those who are rebuilding their homes. It seems to be pretty good stuff although oriented towards those who are organising their own repairs or rebuilding. You can find it here.

A good place to start if an insurance company is rebuilding your home. It will provide insights into what the processes should look like and areas you would want to have documented to your satisfaction. See also the Repairs and Rebuilds Information Pages (on the right) for other DBH links.

Rebuilds

Some of those of us who know, or anticipate, they will have to rebuild are keen to do so in a way that is environmentally friendly. On a separate Information Page (see on the right) is a list of resources that may help you get going.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Repairs

When an assessment has been made homeowners are put into one of the three categories (below $10,000, between $10,000 and $100,000 or above $100,000 - plus GST) and eventually the money arrives, followed at some stage by the assessment.

Few of us have much, if any, knowledge on how damage should be fixed, what that will cost, or even if the damage assessment is correct. There is a lot of information available but finding it can be difficult.

We are starting to locate useful stuff and new information pages will be set up on this blog regarding Repairs, Rebuilding and Land Remediation. Links to the pages can be found to the right.

I am most grateful to the man who rang me on Sunday night with a whole lot of pointers to where stuff can be found and who can help. A specialist in building matters his call was in response to an e-mail he received "out of the blue" from me. What a great country we live in.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Road renewal and pothole fixing

The CCC has added more to its webpage Answers to questions raised at recent Council community meetings. This time it covers the planning and timetabling of renewing and repairing roads. The full text is below. The basic points to be taken the new information is:
  • Road renewal will not occur until after sewer and storm water drains are renewed.
  • Road renewal will not start until land remediation has been finished.
  • Resident participation in renewal planning will not occur, roading will be reinstated to the way it was (i.e retain the same street layout). Reinstatement will invariably mean that upgrades or improvements (e.g. speed restricting road designs) are unlikely to be made.
  • Where choices need to be made Council will make these and inform residents about the selected option.
  • Potholes will continue to be repaired as before the earthquake - notify the council of a problem and they will fix it.
  • Child safety issues associated with paths and parks that have been damaged will be done by contractors as part of the Council's infrastructure rebuilding programme.
What is the road renewal timeframe?  Road renewal will follow pipe renewal works.

Are they going to wait for land remediation to occur before roads are replaced?   Yes.

Will the Council repair the roads and underlying ground to prevent vibration damage in the future?  All repairs will have road shape designs and requirements to minimise traffic-induced vibration.

What say will we have in selecting or advocating for a permanent solution and can there be improvements to parking etc?  Asset renewals will generally replicate assets that existed prior to 4 September 2010 using good practice methodologies. Asset renewals will include optimised decision-making and the installation of "modern equivalent" assets, e.g. new style flat street channels as appropriate. Residents will be informed about the selected option.

Can the Council seal the potholes as they appear?   Yes, please report them to the Council on Ph 941 8999.

When infrastructure is done will they upgrade at the same time?  Designs will generally replicate what existed prior to September 2010. Some "modern equivalent" assets will be installed, e.g. new style flat street channels as appropriate. Each site will be considered separately.

Can we get some interim repairs done to the roads in the meantime as they are dangerous?  All emergency work has been completed and all roads should now be safe for the posted speed limits. Final solutions/ timing will be determined by the contractors repairing the Council's infrastructure in each area.

Will streets be redesigned to stop speeding when they are reconstructed?  The street layout will be a renewal of the original layout. Speeds will be monitored following all works and action taken if speed is an issue in the future.

Why is the Council not telling people when the water will be turned off?   There are two reasons for turning the water off: for reactive repairs when there is a burst pipe for instance or for planned work, for instance for the connection of re-laid mains. For reactive work when the Council's contractor turns the water off they ring the Council call centre to let them know so if anyone calls in in there should be a record that the water is off and for how long it is expected to be off. It is not possible or practical to send notices, or inform everyone, every time the water has to be turned off for reactive purposes. For planned shutdowns the contractor doing the work should deliver notices to each household at least 24 hours in advance to notify the residents of the upcoming shut-off.

Can something be done about paths, and safety for kids in parks? Facilities are broken and paths muddy, creating a health and safety issue.   This will be addressed by the contractors rebuilding the Council's infrastructure.

Will street design stay the same?   Yes, the street layout will be a renewal of the original layout.

Community Law meeting

Community Law Canterbury held a meeting in the afternoon of Friday the 10th, which I attended. The brief of the meeting was:
Community Law Canterbury’s initial response to the quake was to provide an immediate availability for both information and advice and to provide fact sheets in relation to topical legal issues related to the quake. We also attended community forums and begun work on compiling a legal resource manual.
We are currently undergoing an analysis of our own client’s needs to date and wish to learn more from our community as to what its present legal needs are and how we can best contribute with legal help.
To that end we invite you to a meeting at Community Law Canterbury, 281 Madras Street, on 10th December 2010 from 3pm to 5pm. The focus of the meeting will be for us to briefly introduce our response to date and our anticipated further legal needs but more importantly to hear from you as to what types of legal issues your organisation has been confronted with or any legal difficulties you or your clients have experienced
A large number of people attended, most of whom represented support groups from a range of organisations. It was a bit surprising that the issues canvassed ranged well outside the legal area however it certainly helped provide a context from which Community Law can work out where best it can make a contribution.

I was too busy paying attention to take notes however there will be minutes provided in a week or two which I will distribute to those who are interested.

One piece of information provided via a member of the Ombudsmen's Office was that EQC is about to set up a complaints procedure with dedicated staff (who should have been appointed by now). Will try to find the details and post them here.