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Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Notes from the Red Zone meeting on the 13th of February

For those who couldn't make it to the Red Zone meeting last night the following is a summary from my notes and recollection.

There were 6 topics for the evening:
  • Zoning criteria (Mike Shatford)
  • What has happened to the land (Mike Jacka from T&T)
  • The Crown Offer (Michelle Mitchell) 
  • The Property Clearance process (Michelle Mitchell) 
  • Support Available (Michelle Mitchell) 
  • Questions (Michelle Mitchell).
Zoning criteria - more or less the standard stuff, but not in line with what Cabinet agreed. No surprises for anyone. The main message was that land damage was the key factor

What happened to the land - brief, generalised, and not clear for some. The problem Tonkin & Taylor had to assess was the extent of large lateral spreading around the river and old river terraces (Patton Street). The outcome was to put the area into the Red Zone. It was not economic to repair the area as to do so would require large scale works to deal with flooding, crust depth and infrastructure problems. All this would exceed the cost of zoning everyone Red

Land assessment was done in three phases: quick wide area assessment after the major quakes, more detail obtained from individual properties on a quick assessment basis (in, look around, peer over the fence and out sort of stuff), plus individual EQC land assessments. The last bit is unlikely to be correct as EQC have not yet done assessments in this area. Don't think much credibility was attached to what was said.

The Crown Offer - this was the most contentious bit so have put the detail at the end.

The issue of who owned what after exercising an option was raised. The answer was the Crown owned both land and buildings at the end of each of the options. The question of Option 3, dealing with EQC under its own statute, receiving a payout, and maintaining title to the land was raised. The repeated CERA response (Ivan Iafeta) was the meeting was to discuss only the government options. It will probably be raised at the first workshop.

Property Clearances - the basic stuff. The difficult area was that of chattels and fittings. People in character homes wanted to save features that were historically or personally significant. There was no clear advice on this as it is an insurance issue. Probably would be a better topic for a workshop meeting with insurance company representatives present.

In this context the appeal process came up. The answer (Michelle) was that such a process has not yet been established within CERA. Anyone present who was interested in lodging an appeal was invited to fill in a standard CERA info slip with their details. Considering the Press in December reported one person who had had an appeal rejected, there is a gap between what CERA says and what it is doing.

Support available - briefly touched upon in the context of temporary housing and accommodation support (see below for more on this).

People were encouraged to visit the CERA hub at Avondale if there are questions (here). Ring first to make an appointment.

Questions - most of the questions were a carry-over from what started in the Crown Offer discussion.

Unknown to practically everyone was the totality of the deadline of the end of April 2013. This engendered a lot of comment and anxiety that late additions to the Red Zone category were being disadvantaged by having less time to deal with their problems, consider their options, and then move out. The date may have been appropriate when first set, but there have been developments exacerbating the situation including start-up delays because of on-going aftershocks, an absence of affordable land and/or housing, restrictive covenants on new subdivisions that exclude a large proportion of those looking at rebuilding (e.g. minimum house sizes well in excess of that the insurance company is prepared to build), lack of infrastructure around subdivisions, lack of affordable existing houses. Advocacy is needed in this area.

Associated with the April 2013 deadline is the expiry of the temporary accommodation supplements. With the best will in the world many Red Zoners will not have their situations sorted by that date. Even if they have completed their sale to the Crown, building delays will mean many are unlikely to have new accommodation for quite some time after that. As a consequence they will be servicing both a mortgage and temporary accommodation. Had zoning been decided in June they could have been closer to completion than they now can be. Advocacy is needed in this area too.

Associated with both the process, and the anxiety over timing, is the shadow of EQC and the insurance companies. A number of those present reported a sudden lack of interest in them once the announcement was made. Some have been told by EQC it was now happy with the assessments they had made to date (irrespective of how inadequate or incomplete they may be) and would not be proceeding with sole or joint inspections.

NOTE: subsequent to the meeting we visited EQC at the CERA hub this morning. It seems the information given out by EQC in recent days is unlikely to be correct. There will be some work done on assessments "if needed". More clarification should come at the Red Zone workshop to be held in a couple of weeks.

Getting this right will be crucial as there are serious consequences for many people. EQC

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