Dunedin dots remain but ineffective 10 kph limit to go

Dunedin City Council received a lot of criticism and ridicule last month when dots were painted all along the main street and a 10 kph speed limit (lowered from an already low 30 kph) was imposed to encourage pedestrians too use the street to improve social distancing.

Traffic light phasing was also changed, doubling the time for pedestrians to cross, but this was reversed when it was discovered that this clogged the streets up with cars more. This should have been predictable. And lowering the speed limit to a hard to sustain crawl also meant cars were there longer.

The speed limit proved to be impractical and was often ignored. Police said they had more important things to do. Despite this the council considered speed bumps last week – Speed bumps decision by council soon

The Dunedin City Council is expected to receive data today which will help it decide whether the social distancing measures in George St are still necessary.

DCC chief executive Sue Bidrose said a decision on whether to go a step further and place speed bumps in George St would be made in the next two days.

“When we came up with the plan for George St, we were still in lockdown, so we didn’t know how much social distancing people would feel that they needed to do.

“So now we will know. We can have a look at the actual data, we can have a look at the actual pedestrian numbers and traffic numbers, and make a decision about that social distancing need.

So they had guessed it may work. It didn’t. People stayed on footpaths instead of doing detours out into the traffic if other pedestrians came towards them.

Yesterday:

However, council chief executive Sue Bidrose said it took council staff about a week to 10 days after the measures were implemented to determine there was ‘‘no desire’’ for footpath users to adhere to social distancing recommendations while shopping downtown.

That contradicts her statement as above – according to what she said yesterday she should have already known last week that pedestrians didn’t want to use the street among traffic instead of the footpath.

ODT:  ‘Are you mad?’: Councillor slams choice to keep CBD dots

The 10kmh speed limit in George St will go; the coloured dots will — temporarily — stay; and free parking will remain in the city centre until the end of the month.

Dunedin City Council voted to end its ‘‘Safer CBD’’ Covid-19 response ‘‘as soon as is practicable’’ in a 14-1 vote this afternoon.

Cr Carmen Houlahan — the lone dissenting vote today — said she was voting against the proposal not because she was opposed to moving the speed limit in George St from 10kmh back up to 30kmh — but because she had ‘‘serious, serious concerns about leaving the dots in the road’’.

‘‘Are you mad? ‘People will think if the dots are there that it will be safe to walk out there.”

The council may not be mad, but they seem out of touch with reality and the public.

Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said the cost of the programme…had been ‘‘a small price to pay’’ for the precautionary measures.

‘‘It hasn’t been a huge commitment that we made that proved to be unnecessary,’’ he said.

It was an ill-conceived failure.

The ‘‘visceral’’ response the council’s measures had evoked among city residents though had been ‘‘disappointing and a little embarrassing at times’’.

Hawkins should have been embarrassed. I’m hearing that Dunedin people are very disappointed in his performance as mayor, seeming to be fixated on his own pet projects and out of touch with the public.

He also has a poor public profile like in this national coverage: Dunedin’s main street gets Twister makeover, 10km/h speed limit to fight Covid-19

The dots will keep reminding people how out of touch Hawkins and the council is.

7.84% rates rise “a normal part of the cycle”

Saying that a 7.84% rates rise will be “in the lower quartile” won’t mean anything to ratepayers who face increases of $200-400. I am horrified by this level of increase – and it sounds like it is what much of the country should be expecting.

ODT: DCC approves second highest rates increase since 1989

The Dunedin City Council has backed a higher-than-expected rates rise of 7.84%, after agreeing to a series of last-minute funding boosts yesterday.

Plus:

The council has also signed off on a 4% increase in most fees and charges.

The waffle:

But Mayor Dave Cull insists the rates hike, like the fees and charges, are just a normal part of the cycle as cities invest in their futures.

That was within the council’s new self-imposed rates limit of 8% for the first year.

That’s about four times the rate of inflation.

Council chief executive Sue Bidrose said the city’s rates would remain in the lower quartile, while other centres across the country eyed increases of between 3% and 15%.

Lower quartile, about average, that’s tosh when trying to make excuses for an increase of about 8%.

It’s not as bad as 15%, but that’s like saying it’s not as bad getting two teeth pulled by the dentist as getting four teeth pulled.

Mr Cull said cities went through cycles of investment, leading to periods of higher rates increases, but the alternative would be worse.

Those cities that kept rates artificially low by not spending in the short term were eventually forced to catch up, leading to ”massive rates increases” later, he said.

”They pay the price in the end. The idea is to try to keep it smooth, but every now and then you have got to invest,” he said.

More nonsense. I think that rates have been rising ahead of inflation for yonks.

This is budget day news. I don’t expect to get any joy from the Government today either, but the budget shouldn’t be this bad.

Dunedin council admits flooding fault

The Dunedin City Council has admitted that a blocked pumping station meant that the flooding in South Dunedin last year was about 20 cm deeper than it would otherwise have been if the pumping station was fully effective.

This was revealed at a public meeting where anger at the council was expressed.

RNZ: Dunedin council concedes flood worsened by faulty pumping station

South Dunedin residents have been waiting for a year for its council to front up for the flooding – and last night it did so en masse. At least eight city councillors, the chief executive and her two deputies were quizzed by 200 locals about what happened last June, and what will stop it happening again.

Chief executive Sue Bidrose told the crowd of 200 people the council had reports showing the flood was caused by more rain falling than the stormwater system was designed to cope with.

But Dr Bidrose made a major concession, saying the council now accepted a key pumping station was blocked, adding an extra 20cm of water to the area.

20 cm makes a big difference as to the severity of flooding or whether houses got flooded at all.

Surrey Street, South Dunedin.

Surrey Street, South Dunedin. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

She said the council was fixing the pumping station, had all the drains and mud tanks in South Dunedin fully cleared and had new procedures when heavy rain was forecast.

Checking that flood protection was in good working order prior to forecast heavy rain seems a fairly basic thing. That new procedures are required to remedy fundamental flaws does not give one confidence in their council.

I think Sue Bidrose is generally doing a good job trying to sort out problems in the council. There seems to be less public confidence in the mayor.

But it will take more than her words to sort out the ill feeling with residents, who said they felt neglected and betrayed by the council, and especially by Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull.

Shortly after the flooding, Mr Cull linked the event to climate change and warned South Dunedin may have to beat a managed retreat.

Local woman Kathinka Nordal Stene said she was shocked Mr Cull undermined the community at the time when it most needed his support.

Kathinka was a neighbour of mine in Central Otago when I was very young and she was quite a bit older. I don’t remember much of her, but good to see her in action on this. Her mother was prominent in  protest against the flooding of Lowburn through the Clyde dam last century.

The ODT also reported on the meeting: Anger about South Dunedin’s future

Unanswered questions about the long-term future of South Dunedin and the city’s response to climate change loomed large at a heated public meeting last night.

Attendees heard about the short-term measures the council had taken or was about to take to ensure South Dunedin’s infrastructure would run at full capacity should there be a repeat of last June’s devastating flood.

But the meeting was at its most heated when the long-term future of the area was discussed. Council representatives said it was too soon to say how it might respond to the difficult issues posed by rising sea levels and groundwater caused by climate change.

Ironically…

…SDAG spokesman Ray MacLeod finished the meeting by praising some of the council’s short-term measures, but had harsh words when it came to what he perceived as a “green” agenda on the council.

This agenda had resulted in a council policy of “strategic withdrawal” from South Dunedin “by stealth”, Mr MacLeod said.

Perhaps a fairly Green leaning council that has been seen to have put a priority on cycleways through South Dunedin (that were poorly designed and had to be rebuilt so fire engines could use the streets) could shift focus to pedal powered boats, although mobility scooters are probably more relevant to South Dunedin than bike power.

Seriously, what is particularly concerning is that a Green council that has stated an importance on preparing for climate change was so poorly prepared for a bit of heavy rain.

Council chief executive Sue Bidrose earlier said there was no such plan, but both she and Mayor Dave Cull, whose speech was read out by Acting Mayor Andrew Noone, said such an option could not be counted out, given the serious threat posed by climate change.

There has been more threat from basic council ineptitude.

But it is no wonder some of the many residents of South Dunedin are concerned about the council not counting out a plan for a “strategic withdrawal” from South Dunedin.

Much of the South Dunedin area was swamp in the 1800s before being drained.

Prior to European settlement, much of the area of The Flat was poorly drained and marshy.

Much of the swampy land of The Flat was drained through the efforts of Chinese settlers were notable among early residents in the St Clair area, and largely through their effort the swampy land inland from the beach was drained and converted into market gardens.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Dunedin

There have been potential problems with drainage, low level land and high water tables long before ‘climate change’ and rising sea levels were raised as a potential future problem.