CERA–Green Zone community meetings

CERA is coordinating a series of community meetings for green zone property owners. These are an opportunity to hear from and talk with representatives from CERA, Building and Housing, insurers, Council and EQC on the latest information, including the issues facing property owners in technical category 3. The meetings will run from 27 August when more information will be available about flood risk, insurance processes and land damage assessments. People do not need to register to attend. More information is available at www.cera.govt.nz or by calling 0800 RING CERA (0800 7464 2372). Calling the CERA 0800 number is not like calling EQC or your insurance company. You will get real, live and helpful people who do a good job. The meetings will be promoted on the CERA website and through radio and print advertising. August Mon 27

6-8.30pm, Richmond. Shirley Intermediate School, Corner North Parade and Shirley Road, Shirley

Wed 29

6-8.30pm, Avonside. Christchurch East School, 311 Gloucester Street, Christchurch

Thu 30

6-8.30pm, Avondale. Avondale Primary School, 132 Breezes Road, Avondale (click on the link for the September and October dates and venues)

September Tue 4

6-8.30pm, Fendalton. Cobham Intermediate, 294 Ilam Road, Burnside

Wed 5

6-8.30pm, Burwood. Bassett Street Christian Fellowship, 52 Bassett Street, Burwood

Thu 6

6-8.30pm, St Albans. St Albans Baptist Church, 64 McFaddens Road, St Albans

Mon 10

6-8.30pm, Aranui. City East Church, 118 Shortland Street, Aranui

Tues 11

7-9pm, Kaiapoi. Kaiapoi North School, 278 Williams Street, Kaiapoi

Wed 12

6-8.30pm, Shirley. Shirley Intermediate School, Corner North Parade and Shirley Road, Shirley

Thu 13

6-8.30pm, Wainoni. Wainoni Methodist Church, 878 Avonside Drive, Wainoni

Fri 14

6-8.30pm, Opawa/St Martins. Opawa School, 30 Ford Road, Opawa

Mon 17

6-8.30pm, Dallington. Shirley Intermediate School, Corner North Parade and Shirley Road, Shirley

Wed 19

6-8.30pm, Queens Park. Parklands Baptist Church, 180 Queenspark Drive, Parklands

Thu 20

6-8.30pm, Halswell. Saint Mary’s Anglican Church, 329 Halswell Road, Halswell

Fri 21

6-8.30pm, North New Brighton. Grace Vineyard Church – Beach Campus, 111 Seaview Road, New Brighton

Thu 27

6-8.30pm, Southshore. Grace Vineyard Church – Beach Campus, 111 Seaview Road, New Brighton

Fri 28

6-8.30pm, Brookhaven. EFK Samoan Church Hall, 9 Vili Place, Woolston

October Mon 1

6-8.30pm, Merivale/Papanui. Waimairi School, 1 Tillman Avenue, Strowan

Last night's CERA Red Zone workshop

Last night’s CERA Red Zone workshop was an interesting event and, for me and those I spoke with, a useful opportunity to raise issues. The way it was organised and run contributed to it’s success. Definitely time well spent.

Five specialists (banking, insurance, estate, finance, real estate, and CERA) spent time in turn with small groups of residents. The purpose was for residents to be able to put and have recorded questions about their own situation. The most supported questions were answered at the end of the workshop, with CERA undertaking to send participants answers to all of the questions raised. As always the Salvation Army were in attendance with food and drink.

CERA also provided an opportunity for attendees to write down EQC questions which they undertook to pass on to EQC.
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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

CERA's "My Housing Expo"

One of CERA’s first responses to help people in the residential Red Zone is to run a two day expo at the end of the month.

On Saturday July 30th and Sunday July 31st CERA’s “My Housing Options Expo” will be on at the Addington Raceway. In Roger Sutton’s words (media release is here) it will be:

… a kind of one-stop shop for residents affected by the land decisions.

It will be an opportunity for them to talk to a whole range of organisations in one place, as they consider relocation and property decisions.  Government agencies and local authorities will be there, along with business and private organisations such as insurance companies, the Real Estate Institute, banks, architects and designers.

There will also be seminars covering areas such as building a house or renting, buying a property and organising insurance.

We know that people need to have the full range of information and options available to make the choices that work best for their circumstances. 

This is a great idea, however it is a bit too early because many people don’t know their circumstances. One or more of the following issues and situations affect the majority of those the expo is intended to benefit:
  1. the full details of the payout packages have yet to be released (e.g. equity issues, land value, revaluations, the zoning appeal process)
  2. the ramifications of taking either package are not clear, nor of declining them both.
  3. difficulties with insurance companies need to be aired and sorted (reassessing properties previously classified as rebuilds, disputed scope of works documents and costings, pressure on clients to take the first option, mechanisms for dealing with disputes, guidelines/requirements to ensure insurance companies don’t delay those wishing to take the second option to push them up against and past the government’s deadlines for the payout package, etc.)
  4. there are 10,000 in the Orange Zones and an unknown number in the White Zones who won’t know whether the Expo is relevant to them.
Will the expo provide an opportunity to discuss these essential ingredients of the payout package? 
If this is one of a series of similar expos it will be useful. If it is to be a one-off then a disservice is being done to those who are supposed to benefit from this.
It would have been helpful if CERA had contacted a range of community organisations for their ideas on both content and timing. Maybe next time.
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Thank you Gerry

Last night a number of us went to a very useful televised meeting on the corner of Retreat Road and Keller Street. TV One’s Mark Sainsbury was interviewing Gerry Brownlee with local residents, followed by a short interview with Roger Sutton.

We have had meetings in this area before, and ages ago there was one on a hot, dusty afternoon where Roger Sutton rolled out his now famous diagram of Orion’s issues in getting power through the city and into our homes. Organised by local MP Brendan Burns it was a very useful meeting, complete with a side show. The mayor turned up to take part and get into the photographs. An unnecessary distraction, he arrived in an army vehicle, an armoured personnel carrier I think, accompanied by army personnel and a small contingent of Australian police. Brendan Burns came in his little electorate car bearing gifts of dust masks, bottled water and hand sanitiser. Legend has it Roger Sutton arrived on a bicycle.

A lot has happened since then. So many have wanted and waited to see the way out of the misery that parts of the city have become. The package announced yesterday is intended to provide that. A huge amount of effort has gone into preparing it, and the government has done what it can to balance the needs of Christchurch with those of the rest of the country who are helping to pay for it. Behind all this no-win situation has been Gerry Brownlee. While some Redzoners will not be happy with the government’s offering, and many Orangers are wishing it was all done, it does not detract from the fact it is a pretty good package. For the first time in nearly ten months the hardest hit of homeowners have options to restart their lives.

Last night the dignitaries arrived quietly by car. Despite the possibility of an unfriendly reception the Minister arrived with just two of his staff and, if there were any security people present, they were invisible. No fuss, no pomp, and as direct to the point as a politician is able, the minister answered questions about the land package as best he could. When his turn was over he hung around for questions from those present. Having worked in central government I know how hard, unrelenting, unappreciated, and unrewarding working life can be for a politician, let alone a minister with an incredibly difficult portfolio. So thank you Gerry.