To whom it may concern: My name is Hugo Kristinsson and I want to express the concerns I share with many other people in Christchurch. We have had major earthquakes that seriously damaged our homes. On the positive side, we had very extensive insurance cover, in fact about as comprehensive insurance cover as anyone could buy. The land was weak and caused damage to our houses. Some areas were red zoned, others TC3. TC3 was green zoned based on that the risk or the land damage could be mitigated. I think the zoning decisions made by CERA are highly questionable. The sustainability of building or repairing on some of the worst affected land is in question here. Where land has subsided below the high tide close to waterways, groundwater poses a serious threat. What options do you have when water comes from below you home? The only possible outcome is that your house is going to sink. Worst affected properties are facing serious risks such as Flooding, Subsidence, Liquefaction, seismic and rockfall risk. If these risks can’t be mitigated sustainably the land is practically in same category as red zoned land. This applies, for example, for the ongoing flooding issues in the Flockton cluster area and the proposed stormwater solutions in South Brighton. The Flockton cluster does not have a buffer for stormwater, and the council simply does not have a solution to this problem. In fact, parts of this area should really have been zoned red in my opinion. Another area is South Brighton, where there is subsidence below the high tide level on the estuary side. The solution proposed by SCIRT,
on behalf of CCC, is to install a stormwater basin close to the river. This is an area where the groundwater is only a few centimetres below the high tide. The lowest part of the basin is to be below the mean high tide mark and it is proposed to pump groundwater back into the river. This is in a sandy area and the groundwater flow will be constant. This area should also have been zoned red in my opinion, In sandy soil, this will progressively generate an underground river and the proposed solution is likely to fail. In the design risk assessment, for the basin the assumption is made that sea level rise will be 50 cm by the year 2100. The probability of this assumption being wrong is 1% because it has not happened before. Consequences of this assumption being wrong is a total failure of the project. How can the authorities turn a blind eye to facts. Latest predictions for sea level rise for planning are 1.1m The Government defines the red zone as areas where: 1.
land repair would be prolonged and uneconomic;
land has suffered significant and extensive damage;
most buildings are uneconomic to repair;
4. there is a high risk of further damage to land and buildings from aftershocks, flooding, or spring tides; 5.
infrastructure needs to be completely rebuilt;
6. land repair solutions would be difficult to carry out, prolonged, and disruptive for landowners; and 7. rebuilding is unlikely in the short to medium term because of the obstacles posed by the significant land or infrastructure damage and high risk of further damage. http://www.oag.govt.nz/2012/canterbury/part5.htm#para544
Points 2. 4. 5. 6. and 7 apply to many TC3 properties, so there is no difference in practice between TC3 categories 8 and 9 and the Red Zones. And the fact is that Council does not have a solution for areas like the Flockton cluster, South Brighton on the estuary side, Port Hills and various other places that CERA has zoned TC3 specially category 8 and 9. Many people find this unacceptable. CCC offering sandbags as a solution where streets and houses flood with grey water, puts health risks on the residents. I also believe that the sewage pumps are unsustainable. Once again I would question the zoning decisions. Where land has subsided, groundwater is higher and the land strength is weaker. Building upon such land would involve a considerable systematic risk. After the February earthquake, a rapid assessment was made, since insurance companies needed to lodge their claims with reinsurance companies. EQC were transparent about the recovery and published a map that showed how much they had claimed, and what the extent of the damage was. This map is on page 4 of this document. Properties are marked with a black dot. EQC determined that $2,000 per square meter would be their best estimate for the cost of rebuilding. They lodged their claims with their reinsurers based on this assumption. Reinsurance companies settle claims from insurance companies on the basis of best estimates. http://cera.govt.nz/sites/cera.govt.nz/files/common/tonkin-and-taylorland-damage-presentation-ccc-area-23-june-2011.pdf Reinsurance companies paid out approximately US$ 13b for the Canterbury earthquakes in 2011.
The money was paid out and, after that, all pretence at transparency disappeared and accountability was removed. Our claims were to a large extent put on hold and EQC was released from its obligation to settle claims promptly. TC3 category 8 and 9 homeowners are told they will learn about their land at the end of 2014. So we live with our unsettled losses. While the authorities, EQC and the insurers have our insurance money. Then the government decided to modify the Building Act. Changes were implemented to remove the liability risk the government faced in the leaky homes debacle. These changes were subdivided into several different amendments, which were introduced as Building Act amendment bills. Because of the reduction in liability, it was necessary to include mandatory written contracts for building work to ensure consumer protection. These changes are covered in Bill no 4. The other bills that increase the vulnerability of residents and release the building consent authority and contractor from accountability have all been passed. After being passed by parliament, 14 months pass before they become law. These changes are now becoming law. Bill no 4, which contains our consumer protection, was somehow "missed out". It is still waiting to be debated in parliament and if is ever passed, it will be a further 14 months before it becomes law. The new changes to the Building Act include two new kinds of
building consents that do not require any inspections and absolve the building consent authority of liability. The latter is no longer required to ensure the durability of building work. This opens the door to unsustainable practices, such as repairing structural elements in a house without checking for land damage. One by one, all the risks against which we insured our home values are being transferred back to us. PMO guides that MBIE has drawn up and that the council distributes to all Project Management Offices (PMOs), EQR and insurance companies, are not officially published anywhere. No one is responsible for this document, which is always in draft format so that it can always be amended at short notice. Use of this document may breach the building code and it is not officially published anywhere. I find it totally unacceptable to use a document as a guide for our recovery for which no-one is accountable. Because of unsustainable practices, we could our lose equity, as we may not to be able to insure our homes in the future. This is happening in the Flockton cluster area, where 30 homes have now been refused flood insurance. Other areas are still awaiting the insurance outcome. Christchurch land is the most investigated land in the world. Our damage was caused by the land, which failed and caused the damage. Some land is damaged beyond repair. Considering the latest update from the council regarding a probable change in sea level of up to 1.1 m by 2100, it is clear that the lowest lying areas will not have a long life and it is questionable whether council can guarantee 50-‐year durability by issuing a standard building consent.
I should also point out that low-‐risk and simple building consents carry no liability and can easily be signed without any fear of repercussions. These changes and the PMO Guides have now made it possible to repair houses that had been claimed as total losses. What is more, all mandatory accountability has been removed. If residents do not insist on invoice receipts and contracts, no documentation is required. There will be no accountability. The government has taken over our Building Consent Authority so that the council is no longer involved in this transfer of risk for our home equity. All the risks have been mapped and all the data is available. One significant component of our building regulations is the district plan. This includes a list of known risks and hazards. Amongst other hazards it lists liquefaction risk, a hazard that makes the land unbuildable. Subsidence, flood risk, and rock fall - all of these risks and more will be on the district plan. All such hazards can be issued on a LIM if a building consent is issued and will affect the home equity of the affected residents. Council has stated that they will publish the district plan in the middle of next year. The worst affected properties, where land damage is such that the land cannot be economically repaired are being “repaired” by both EQR and insurance companies. When EQC finally settles the land claims, it will become evident that it is more economical for EQC to pay out the land in view of what it would cost to repair.
Residents in this situation will be left with a significant loss in the value of their homes and are unlikely to get insurance because the land has not been remediated. . In my opinion, the council has failed to protect some Christchurch residents. And allowed a shabby treatment on the part of the government. When the council lost its building consent accreditation, the government strategy became much easier to implement. These decisions are all in the best interests of the government, not of Christchurch or its residents. I cannot see how such watering down of regulations can be beneficial for the rebuild. The quake outcast case that has recently been appealed will go to court in October. It will determine whether the government is liable for properties that cannot get insurance. In my opinion, this case is not really about the $8m compensation that residents are asking for. It is about whether the government will be liable for the properties in TC3 that will be refused insurance following the repair due to these unsustainable practices. The amount of money involved in this scenario is much bigger. I took these concerns to the CERA community forum on 6 June 2013, which is in place for the Minister to consider input into decisionmaking by community and cross-party forums. http://issuu.com/brightsidepublishing/docs/repairfmafinal_2 Below is the purpose of the CERA community forum.
Part 2: Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act. Functions and powers to assist recovery and rebuilding Subpart 1—Input into decision making by community and cross-party forums 6 Community forum 1. The Minister must arrange for a community forum to be held for the purpose of providing him or her with information or advice in relation to the operation of this Act. 2. The Minister must invite at least 20 persons who are suitably qualified to participate in the forum. 3. The Minister must ensure that the forum meets at least 6 times a year. 4. The Minister and the chief executive must have regard to any information or advice he or she is given by the forum So far they have not published any minuets and if you look on their last minuets from March they are withholding most information from the public. There has been no sign of any improvement in the transfer of risk. My question to the people in Christchurch, and for that matter every other New Zealander. Do you find this acceptable as a precedent for how disasters should be handled by an elected government? I decided to stand for Mayor in the current local elections to ensure a sustainable rebuild and protect the residents from these unsustainable practices. Hugo Kristinsson www.votehugo.co.nz