Porirua City’s Long Term Plan: submission guide!

LTPs are always pretty important but the 2024-24 one is extra so. Make sure your submission’s in by 5pm Friday 26th April – as little as 10 minutes with this post by Porirua resident (and TW convenor) Isabella

This post has some submission tips (AKA the thinking behind the submission guide), then the actual content. If you’re short on time and want your submission to generally “thumbs up” the things that’ll advance Porirua’s prosperity, fairness and overall sustainability (and share the view that getting transport roughly right is a Big Deal), just jump to the typing cat.

If you’ve more than 10 minutes for your submission, swim around in the online hub with all the stuff, including council’s engagement documents (espcially useful: consultation document) and an explanatory video. (There’s also a “story” function where you can put your 2c (!) about the whole thing. Hmmm. Seems like just inviting “the comments under a Stuff article” but if you’re bored…)

LTP submission tips (Porirua 2024-coloured)

Nationwide, this is the “whiplash” LTP – councils thought getting water assets sorted by Three Waters, only to have that removed without replacement and now they’re in a limbo waiting for “what next”, while the pipes still need fixing right NOW.

SO principles for sensible submissions: 

  1. Understand that there can be no new projects – so if asking for any additional stuff, suggest some areas you’d be happy with them wringing out to get money for it (see 2, and 6)
  2. Be sanguine about council’s powers and discretions. And that within “roading”, for example, there’s lots of baked-in assumptions from council about “what the community wants” – so it’s really important to give your comments about what you want to see, especially if you can (nerdily) speak to those background strategies and funding allocations.    
  3. Ditto for local spatial planning and strategy, unless your council’s already done a great city strategy (tip: the LTP is a budgeting document, not a strategy document – it should be executing the 20-30-year direction of travel that council has generated by a proper strategy process.   A citywide spatial plan, if done well, is a partial substitute. (Spoiler: Porirua’s growth plan isn’t).  
  4. Be sanguine about the popularity of rates rises but also be sanguine about the general vibe of the time: firstly, that the funding of core infrastructure is borked in this country and councils are bearing a disproportionate amount right now; secondly, that all other councils are doing similarly (which they are, incl everywhere in the Wellington region). 
  5. Be aware of the psychological threshold of left-number bias or left-digit effect. Essentially, for most people’s brains, if a cost (or rates) rise doesn’t cross a psychological threshold – i.e. going from a “1-something %” to a “2-something %” it’s much more tolerable than one that does.
  6. Be smart (or at least sound pragmatic and sensible) about council finances.  Firstly, it’s still way cheaper for councils to borrow and for specific things that’s legit (generally: capital works, not day-to-day operations).  Secondly, if something you believe in is also financially prudent, lead with that!  
  7. Encourage bringing forward good stuff that’s proposed for outyears. Councils that have their houses in order will be better positioned to engage productively with the central government’s big changes to the infrastructure funding landscape (like “city deals”). Key things to have in order: having data on the city’s important states and trends, and having strong strategies with the golden thread all the way down into operations. Crucial to this is the city’s own clear vision about what pathways – and their urban form consequences – the city doesn’t want).
  8. Porirua City Council is deeply rubbish on emissions-reduction, so frame accordingly. PCC’s Biggest Move for emissions reduction, despite the city’s emissions profile (and our neighbourhoods and lives) being defined by private-car transport (see p7), is… wait for it… improving waste to landfill. And this despite the very strong moral arguments1 for emissions-reduction, quite apart from the practical liveability and prosperity arguments. Sadly, this sucking is significantly thanks to councillors (and staff) thinking we, the residents don’t care about emissions reduction and believe there’s no other benefit to a more accessible and liveable urban form. So, while it’s useful to remind them in your submission that you do care, actually quite a lot, it’s pushing the proverbial uphill.  Definitely talk about mitigation but where you can, lead your suggestions with other rationales especially financial prudence livebility and appeal of Porirua for current and future residents  

Submission guide!

Logistical options: you can submit in writing or video.

They’ve made the written form pretty light which is handy, tho annoyingly there’s no “other” option for your connection to the city.

All the below material will go in the box about “comment on any other part of the consultation document or supporting information”. The rubbish scheme is fine, frankly, no biggie – I ticked Yes and didn’t bother going into anything else (apart from a dig about how little else we’re doing on climate-change mitigation).

Specific comments: 

I strongly support water-metering being brought forward.

I strongly support the introduction of volumetric charging for water in a way that’s not regressive.  This is an extremely doable thing. 

Our (imminent) future selves will thank us for both these moves (as Kāpiti residents are now smugly congratulating their (recent) past selves)  

I strongly encourage hard scrutiny of transport spending, so at the very least we start properly sweating our road-corridor assets (see “Transport: Getting More from what we have”, below). 

This will require innovations and (currently) unusual approaches but this is entirely appropriate given that the proverbial chickens are coming home to roost from our decades-long “Ponzi scheme of growth”.  

I support the removal of spending on Karehana Bay flood-protection works.

I support funding the establishment of the multi-use community facility in Eastern Porirua 

On overall spending

I strongly support maintaining the breadth of activities that council provides, and I do not support any proposals to cut cultural, social and environmental spending.  

There will no doubt be arguments for this from Porirua residents and groups, and from central government.  But (as noted in the LTP)  these costs are peanuts in the real context of funding and financing, and in general the (minimal) dollars spent on them have a very high return to the public.  Cutting these will hollow out Porirua and stop it being a decent place to live. 

I strongly support the proposed spending on water infrastructure. We have starved this infrastructure for years and while we can hope for a Three Waters reform, someone has to pay for imminent necessary pipe fixes and that has to be us.  

I support maintaining the buffer for emergency management

I support the proposed raise of the council’s self-imposed debt cap.   

I would support a further 1-2% rates increase if this funding is used to fund operations that meaningfully shift the dial on the chronic car-domination of daily life and neighbourhoods in Porirua  (e.g. a Transport Strategy and supporting documents with strong strategic management, and getting more from transport assets we already have (e.g. propositions below)).

Transport: getting more from what we have

1.I wish to see Council sweating its roading assets harder. 

Sweating in this context means lengthening the time between scheduled resealing / maintenance of road pavement, by doing two things: 

  • By slowing speed limits for general traffic for a few years. (see below for methods). 
    • This reduces accumulating damage to pavements especially at locations of acceleration, deceleration and turning 
    • This prolongs safe navigation of areas of lightly degraded seal   
    • (incidentally, in key areas) this opens up the area of road or street with more space for safer and more comfortable walking, scooting and disabled access especially on wheelibin / rubbish days, and safer and easier road crossing (a major benefit that comes instantly when crossing distances are shortened, and approaching traffic is going slower).
  • By reducing road damage by heavy vehicles on private business (see below for methods). This reduces the extreme damage to pavements from heavy vehicles doing private work such as home builds and commercial deliveries, that’s currently being subsidised by the wider public (a negative externality of this private business).

Suggestions for how to extend pavement life by slowing general traffic: temporarily (for a few years) changing the road / street environment in particular areas where damage is highest or where there are lots of other benefits from slower speeds (eg near schools) so that it’s “self-explaining” and naturally induces slower traffic speeds.  

This means using adjustable, temporary treatments (like safe-hit posts / flexible bollards) to narrow the perceived and actual driving space and sharpen turning angles (see for example the treatments around the Dunedin Schools Cluster).2

Suggestions for how to reduce damage by private-benefit heavy vehicles: 

Council should investigate and pursue things that induce behaviour-change and innovation from operators of heavy vehicles, reducing the negative externality of road damage, and things that recoup to the public some of the costs of road damage from the private beneficiaries (internalising the negative externality of road damage)

There are plenty of innovations and companies themselves should help generate these, but examples using just Council’s regulatory powers could include: 

  • additional TTM requirements
  • (where resource consent is required) something requiring reduced traffic effects 
  • a specific charge associated with a new-build consent 
  • bylaws to limit trips or access by more than a certain number of heavy vehicles per area per month.

2.I want to see council maximising beneficial use of roadworks with a “build back better” approach.

This means wherever a street is being dug up, e.g. for three waters work, and there’s lots of temporary traffic management (TTM), the default protocol is that the surface is reinstated to the cross-section it should have rather than the cross-section it had before. 

There are options for funding this work through the NLTF (e.g. precedent in WC213) . 

The “build back better” can be a rebuttable presumption, but the evidentiary burden should be on those who are proposing to dig up the same bit of street multiple times in a few short years, and/or proposing that Porirua fail to capitalise on the opportunity of more-tolerated roadworks.  (This capitalising is where TTM induces good behaviour-change in drivers (“yes it’s annoying right now to go slow past the school, but it’s for fixing the pipes”), and the built-back-better cross-section locks in that better behaviour as the new normal.) 

Where council hasn’t yet ascertained (e.g. through its fledgling NOF) what a street’s or road’s cross-section should be, it should take a “roughly right” approach and use the Waka Kotahi street design guide.  

(Doing this work, even with a “roughly right” approach, will also strengthen council’s position for contexts where smaller councils or those on the back foot traditionally get pushed around, and are left with “assets”  that stitch us up and lock in poor outcomes for the city.  This is any occasions where council is engaging with bigger, more cashed-up players (such as central government agencies, utility operators, major developers) on city or regional deals, RLTPs, regional spatial planning, greenfield developments.)

Do you have suggestions for a submission? pop them in the comments!

Remember, consultation closes Friday 26th 5pm – get in there!

Image credits:

Pacific navigation banner – uncredited artist, sourced from National Library of NZ – Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa

1: moral arguments for Porirua being strong on emissions-reduction: it’s the city in NZ with the highest proportion of “people who’ll have to deal with the climate mess we leave them” (demographically youngest in NZ), and it’s a city with high proportion of Pasifika people … yep, the folks whose homelands suffer the worst from the developed world’s excessive emissions.

2. Formal speed limit reductions don’t do much in the absence of any other inducements.  So while they would enable (hypothetical) enforcement of slower speeds, it’s not realistic to rely on them alone and best to consider them generally as an optional extra to the physical treatments of a self-explaining slower-street environment. 

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