National gave unto Christchurch an uber-agency charged with sorting out Christchurch's rebuild: CERA. They're supposed to be the ones coordinating across the myriad agencies who, acting in uncoordinated fashion, might inadvertently be hampering recovery. Or at least that's what I thought their job was. And that's basically what the "About CERA" page says.
Last night, CloseUp interviewed the Haywoods. It would be hard not to have heard their story if you've been paying any attention to the rebuild. David Haywood was one of the first blogging about the September 2010 quake. He's often been the go-to guy for media looking for somebody intelligent to comment on post-quake life in Christchurch.
His family's older villa sat on red-zoned property in Avonside. They loved their house, but they couldn't keep it on the property. And, given the difference between their expected insurance / government payout for their property and what they'd sunk into the place, they wanted to move their old house to a new section.
But there aren't any new sections in Christchurch where people can move an older house. Because Council has been ridiculously stingy in allowing land to be zoned for residential use, there's scarcity. When sections are scarce, it's the top end of the market that gets satisfied first. What can developers do to make scarce and expensive sections even more valuable for rich folks? Add on a bunch of covenants making sure that poorer people can never move there. And so most developments have covenants on them preventing people from moving older houses onto those sections: you have to build new. And so David and Jen Haywood and their family had to go pretty far out of Christchurch to find a place where they could put their house. They blogged and tweeted the whole move; it also was covered on the news a month ago.
CloseUp interviewed the Haywoods. David talked about the 500+ hours he's had to put into sorting through the myriad regulations across insurance, EQC, Council, and so on. A whole bunch of very nice historic homes are being bulldozed because most people don't have David's tenacity.
Then CloseUp cut to Roger Sutton, head of CERA. Here's the video.
Roger Sutton, head of CERA, the agency that's supposed to be in charge of sorting out the tangled mess, claimed to have no knowledge of David Haywood's problem. He seemed surprised that problems of that sort could exist.
I really don't know how somebody who's the head of CERA could be unaware of problems of this sort.
"The first I heard of this and the difficulties was today."
And now that it's pretty much too late, he's going to get a couple of initiatives going. The regulatory mess that the Haywoods faced is what I'd thought CERA were supposed to be fixing when they were established.
What a colossal failure. Every time I think I've sufficiently adjusted my expectations downwards, they manage to find a new way to surprise me.
Here's Jen Hay's twitter feed. You'll learn more about what's going on in Christchurch by reading her than by talking to Roger Sutton. And read David Haywood too.