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Paying for a Mission Bay Streetscape Upgrade

Tomorrow is already going to be a fairly big day at council. Councillors will debate the much needed Skypath, the error ridden Annual Plan and of course plenty of discussion about Len Brown. However there is yet another topic on the agenda that I think needs some attention. It relates to Mission Bay footpaths and in a “planets must be oddly aligned” type of situation, it even sees me agreeing with the Orakei Local Board.

At the heart of the matter is the streetscape. The local business association have realised that the footpaths outside of the business areas are not ideal, both in width and finish and want them upgraded. Apparently they first asked for this back in 2007. In terms of width, part of the problem comes from the businesses that use the footpaths for outdoor dining. That helps activate the street and make it more interesting but narrows space for pedestrians to get past. As more and more people visit Mission bay this issue is likely to get worse. As you can see from these images courtesy of oh.yes.melbourne there is only really enough width for about three people between the kerb and tables.

The business association want to fix this so the proposal is to:

  • Replace the existing asphalt footpaths with stone in areas A, B and C as shown in the map below
  • Extend the footpath out over the carparks on section D which is between 81 and 97 Tamaki Dr. It would be done by one of three options (more on this soon).

Mission Bay Footpath upgrade proposal

Yes you read that correctly, a local business association and the local board are supporting that carparks be removed outside of their shops so that there is more space can be created pedestrians. Considering how hard some of the other business groups fight to retain parking this is a very positive step. As mentioned  there are three different options for section D that have been suggested which range from shifting the existing kerb out and changing adjusting the cross fall of the footpath through to a parklet type solution.

Mission Bay Footpath extension options

It all sounds pretty good to me but I hear you asking how much will it cost? Well the cost over 10 years including capital costs, interest costs and operating costs (above a normal footpath) for the most expensive option (Option 1) is just over $1 million. Based on other comments it seems Option 1 is the preferred one.

Mission Bay Footpath costs

$1 million is not exactly break the bank type spending considering how much we can put into other transport projects but that doesn’t mean money grows on trees and is just lying around waiting to be spent. Also I’m sure there are a heap of other local centres that would love that kind of money to be spent on them and so working out priorities is probably quite difficult. However the business association have a way around that too and are proposing that businesses in the area be charged a targeted rate to pay for the upgrade. This seems like one of those win, win, win type deals with the potential benefits being listed as:

  • a wider and more attractive public streetscape for the large and increasing number of domestic and international tourist that visit the area
  • an enhanced setting for hosting regional events along Tamaki Drive
  • enhanced economic development opportunities for local businesses in the area
  • an improved town centre for local residents, at no extra cost to residential and other business ratepayers within the Orakei Local Board area.

It all sounds good but there’s a problem. Council Officers don’t like the idea because it seems they don’t want to go through the process of doing formal consultation and setting up a targeted rate. They say that targeted rates are usually charged to businesses improvement districts (BID) but due to much of the land in Mission Bay being owned by the same company, the business association doesn’t qualify as a (BID). They also say that Retail Holdings Ltd – the main land owner in Mission bay and the primary beneficiary of the upgrade – can easily afford the upgrade on their own right and so should just talk to Auckland Transport directly.  The council officers say that the businesses are just trying to use the council as a new source of capital. That might very well be true but at the end of the day this is about upgrading a publicly owned footpath and business association should really be treated in the same way as they would should each building be owned separately. A targeted rate in this instance seems fairly appropriate.

The Orakei local board have ignored the recommendation not to support the targeted rate and so are now asking the governing body to add the rate to the 2014/15 annual plan. They have even noted that Retail Holdings Ltd have agreed not to pass on the targeted rate to their tenants. 

As mentioned, to me the project looks like a win, win win type deal. The footpath would be upgraded and widened by removing car parks while the businesses are putting their hands up to pay for it as they obviously see the value of the idea. The council should approve the targeted rate and get the upgrade done now, before the businesses change their mind.

29 comments to Paying for a Mission Bay Streetscape Upgrade

  • Fred

    Although it pains me to agree with the Orakei Local Board about anything, this seems like a total no brainer.

  • TheBigWheel

    There was a bit of a fracas a few years ago when $ 5 m was allocated to upgrade Judges Bay before the RWC 2011, consuming the entire budget for any other upgrades to Eastern Suburbs beaches for years. It was all a bit odd when you think of the relative numbers of visitors to Mission Bay for example rather than Judges Bay. And of course most of the time you can’t actually use the nice new beach or swim in Judges Bay because of the E-coli levels. Which was hardly surprising. I recall a few questions were raised at the time about whether it was all straight up.. maybe if EY need a new assignment they could review all the relevant documents.

    The Mission Bay plans are good, especially because as you say they have the support of the local BA and LB. They’re probably also just a start, in that if they work well, no doubt they will be extended in the future.

    But why should you be surprised that this is happening in the Orakei LB area?

    It’s often been noted on this blog that improving PT or cycling or pedestrian amenity isn’t necessarily about left v right. The Orakei LB and their predecessors have chalked up a few results: Orakei Boardwalk, Pt Res bridge, Orakei Boardwalk extension, Hobson walking path (Currently in construction), Colin Maiden Park http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/AK1312/S00566/colin-maiden-park-to-stay-in-public-ownership.htm ..and I think they’re getting more “enlightened” in this regard.. now they’re pushing the Purewa Valley / Hobson cycleways and Tamaki Drive improvements which look good from a cycling / walking perspective.

    On the other hand, a few years ago the Orakei LB railed against the Remuera Road bus lanes and wanted them taken out, then changed to T2.. ended up with T3, which seems to work well. And the last thing the Remuera BA wants to see anything less than four lanes of cars squeezing through their town centre. I kind of sympathise with them though.. their view is so obviously stupid and self-defeating.. Remuera town centre is frankly a hideous and unpleasant place to spend any time in.. fumes, noise, cars everywhere, very low amenity for anyone wanting to walk around and dispense their cash in shops or cafes.. it as though they’ve been nobbled by a few influential types who care more about charging about in their 4WDs than about the businesses they represent. One day they’re figure that out, and call for more footpaths instead of more car parks.

    Anyway my point is.. take any LB, and I would think, if they’re effective and organised and they’re really listening to what people want, they will generally support the kind of outcomes this blog supports. If they don’t well that’s their problem. It’s the non-democratic, or remote, or otherwise unaccountable NZTA, AT, Central Government, yes and their engineers and planners (I think especially their engineers and planners) holding back progress that we need to address.

    • No the surprise is that a business association is advocating for the removal of carparks, that is something we don’t see happening often. Most business associations would act as if you just told them you wanted to chop a limb off if you suggest that to them. As for the Orakei LB thing, it wasn’t a political thing but they have generally advocated for the kind of thinking on urban development that I don’t agree with i.e. lower densities through very low height limits, Remuera Rd Bus lanes etc. (BTW they are still pushing for a downgrade to T2).

    • Greg N

      I don’t think OLB can claim total credit for Council buying Colin Maiden Park from The University (which is fantastic news BTW).

      OLB were involved as its in their area (just), but I am sure that as the Chair said the residents submitted on the UP helped the council ensure CM park stayed a park by buying the land.
      I think the University needed the money but also wanted a park too as they centralise/shift focus to their new Newmarket site.

      But its a good job all round that it stays put.

  • TheBigWheel

    True, the OLB is advocating against higher densities, the opposite of what I want.. but probably what most people tell them. Or at least most people of the demographic who can be bothered going to meetings and ranting on about slums and writing letters. And in a classic C&R sort of way they were even trying to drum up support for a local rate to bring back berm mowing, which of course makes them look like complete plonkers.

    My guess they’ll live with T3 on Remuera Rd, I think they’re split on it.. they’ve had correspondence for and against.

  • Greg N

    I’ve no problem ripping out a few car parks on Tamaki Drive, my question is why stop at Area D, why not do the A and B ones as well?

    Accepting that both B & C have bus stop(s) on them now for the St Heliers Bay and Mission Bay buses that use Tamaki Drive.
    And the C are is a pretty wide footpath now, but could be made more attractive.

    My reaction is that the business who benefit from using the public spaces now, should pay more for the improved benefit.
    Yes they pay a table and chair tax to the council now, but that would not cover the true costs of losing the access to the public footpath we all face as a result – as you can see here, its half the footpath that is lost.

    It appears their landlord is not taking the view that the business who create the problem should pay and will pay the targeted rate themselves.
    Which does indicate that the land owner should pay for the upgrade themselves but as this is a public space, its an interesting issue which is no doubt why the officials are all in a fluster.

    Can’t fault the OLB’s thinking on this one though, less car-parking on that side of the road will more than repay the local business with more foot traffic,who are more likely to stop and spend than those just driving through.

    All we need now is some bus priority measure to make the use of PT along here the best option.

    • Patrick Reynolds

      Yes and a two way cycle lane instead of the on street car parks on the other side of Tamaki Drive. Good start though. Of course more space for people on the footpath means more business. Which is great. Cars take up a lot of space delivering very few people over a day for such important high density hospo place.

      Get it done.

  • Gary Young

    Wishful thinking I know but how about ripping out all the carparks on the clearway sections of Tamaki Drive and extending the Wynyard tram to Mission Bay.

    I can imagine MB becoming a mini version of St Kilda in Melbourne; a pleasant precinct of beach and cafes and bars at the end of the line from the CBD.

    One can only dream….

    • TheBigWheel

      +1.. tram all the way to St Heliers

    • St Kilda is the terminus of a tram and light rail line that pass through dense inner city old school neighbourhoods across it’s entirely length. Mission Bay is basically the first stop out of town on a route that is otherwise ocean right along one side, and the bay, cliffs or parkland on the other.

      In other words, the St Kilda lines are busy in their own right beacause they have so many busy stops along the way, St Kilda itself is just a happy terminus but one that probably couldn’t sustain a tram line alone.

      A Tamaki Dr line would generate close to zero patronage in it’s own right, and there is no way one stop at Mission Bay could justfiy all that trackwork. Compare that to Dominion Rd, downtown to Mission Bay is same distance as downtown to Mt Roskill.

      The former would leave Britomart area, then run alonside the fence of the container terminal with perhaps one stop near vector arena, it would then run 6km to Mission Bay basically without stopping (probably with token stops at the mini golf course, Okau Bay and Kelly Tarltons that never really do much). So a line with a total of five stops, four of which do bugger all.

      Send the same to Mt Roskill and it runs 1.5km up Queen St, with four or five stops in the densest concentration of activity in the country, then you have another 5km along Dominion Rd with another six or seven stops replacing the busiest bus corridor in the city. End result is a dozen very busy stops that are well used in both directions at all times of day.

      Same cost to build and operate, but Queen-Dominion would have twenty times that patronage and fare revenue.

      If we are going to build a tram and want it to be remotely worth the capital and operating expenditure, it simply must go on a busy dense corridor to work. If someone comes up with some funding to run a fun tourist type tram as a tourist service that we are happy to subsidise purely for placemaking reasons then sure, but there are probably much better ways to spend our tourist promotion budget than with hundreds of millions of infrastructure and loss making capex.

      • TheBigWheel

        Last time I looked there was a wee bit more going on than “one stop at Mission Bay”..

        Despite what (some of) the (generally older and more vocal) locals say about intensification, the Eastern suburbs are growing quickly, especially if you want to include Tamaki redevelopments, Stonfields and other parts east. Basically every route between the Tamaki River and the city north of SH1 is getting busier. I’d say it’s well worth investing to make the arterials that we have work really well.. because the alternative is the Eastern Motorway.

        Besides, Tamaki Drive is unique in that it’s a destination as well as a transport corridor. Is there a better north-facing waterfront street anywhere else?! Yet today most of it is a car park. A FREE car park! So yes we need to think also about people heading out to the beaches, or walking along the seafront, as well as commuters.. this afternoon, the queue of cars heading east along Tamaki will be pretty continuous from Quay St to St Heliers. Maybe a tram would be more like the Glenelg tram as James says below than St Kilda.. I know, a bus is more economic, but it doesn’t have the same ring about it.. the “Glenelg bus”.

        That said, Tamaki Drive is also one of the two or three major commuting routes from the east, chokka most days and the stats show 75% of people in single occupancy cars in peak hours, which is just nuts. As a place, Tamaki Drive would so much be better if half of them felt they had a better option, whether by bike or PT. Today, the bus services along there obviously aren’t hitting the mark.

        • Where? seriously where would a Tamaki Drive tram stop between Britomart and Mission Bay, how many people would actually use those stops every day? The only way I could see it work is if all eastern bus services ran to Mission Bay and terminated there, for a transfer to the tram. That could justify a 6km line effectively service one major location, if that location was co-located with a major bus terminus.

          Glenelg is exactly the same as St Kilda, it runs across the Adelaide CBD then stops 16 times on the way to Glenelg, each stop surrounded by homes and businesses.

          My personal suggestion is that we get some bus lanes on Tamaki Dr and operate the route with some compact hybrid double deckers (say an ADL Enviro 400 or similar). That would be several hundred million cheaper than a tram, and still give a quick and relatively congestion free trip in a ‘cool’ vehicle that takes advantage of the views (views from the top deck would be awesome).

          Then if we really supercharge demand a tram could go on the list, but I can’t ever see it ahead of the likes of Queen St or the really busy isthmus arterials.

          • Tom

            Hm, I hear you but we can do several stops easily on that stretch:

            1) Britomart
            2) Parnell Baths / Judges Bay,
            3) Okahu Bay
            4) Kelly Tarltons
            5) Mission Bay
            6) Kohimarama
            7) St Heliers

            Probably wouldn’t be that busy during work hours, but it would help with the rush hour traffic and would bring more people to all of these spots instead of them just going directly to Mission Bay. Don’t see it happening for a simple reason – we would probably need to remove all parking on Tamaki Dr to fit in the lines. Unless we go for the on-street tram lines. The hills at the Strand intersection and the Hobson Bay bridge would be problematic as well.

          • Yeah you can do the stops, but think about what is at each one.

            Parnell Baths, a little bit of use from a few dozen houses within 500m walk, might get slightly busy on summer weekends when the baths are open.
            Okahu Bay, again a handful of houses on one side within an easy walk, and might get busy with beachgoers on summer weekends.
            Kelly Tarltons, no houses, no shops, no offices, totally dependent on one relatively small aquarium.
            Mission Bay to St Helliers: getting into normal catchment territory here, however every stop has half the potential due to the harbour, and the other half is relatively constrained by hills.

            All up that would be about 9km tram line to pick up three half-normal stops and a scattering of things that might get a bit of use on fine weekends in the summertime. Nice idea, not a good use of funds.

            FYI hills aren’t a problem, we used to have trams going straight up Queen St to K Rd, far steeper.

          • Bryce P

            Cool buses would fill the gap nicely for now. Make it like the Link or something. Frequent and create priority. The other concern I have about tram lines is the issue it would present for cycling events that use Tamaki Drive.

          • Bryce P

            In fact, a cool PT line along here could realistically lower traffic volumes if connected to Britomart in a visible way.

          • Well that is exactly what the New Network does, turns all the main bus routes into a network of Links. Fast, frequent, direct and legible. Not just Tamaki, but every main route in the region!

            Do that, and maybe brand it special or use fun double deckers, but just do that really!

            Is a single traffic lane each way not enough for a cycling event?

          • Bryce P

            Yes, plenty. I just had an image of the tracks in the middle of the road quick could be troublesome but not insurmountable when the time comes.

          • Bryce P

            Lots of buses use that route now but someone wanting to head to Kelly Taltons or St Helliers would likely find it confusing.

  • James

    St. Kilda is a pretty major suburban centre which happens to be next to the water. I don’t see any similarity between St. Kilda and Mission Bay ever eventuating.

    If you want to emulate a beachside Australian suburb via a tram line then Glenelg in Adelaide would be much a better example, in my opinion.

  • Dennis

    Currently AT is fiddling with Kupe St at the corner of Kepa Rd for no apparent reason there being no problem to fix. Perhaps the money would have better spent on Mission Street scape

  • Luke E

    Wow, I can’t believe I just read a story about s business in Auckland wanting less parking outside it. Actually had to scroll back up to check I didn’t read it wrong before posting this.

    The Council should be bending over backwards to apply a targeted rate! Come on!

  • Owen Thompson

    We were in Mission Bay one Saturday afternoon recently and the crowds on the footpath are awful. All the tables and chairs should be removed from the public footpath, so that the public can easily walk past. There is little enough parking as it is, considering the numbers of people there daly.

    • Is this a version of ‘No one goes there anymore- it’s too crowded’?

      So Owen you conclude there is:
      A. Not enough parking
      B. Too many people
      C. Too many cafe tables on the the street

      Don’t the people want to go there in part at least for the al fresco cafés? Yet you think these should be removed rather than a few car parks to accommodate all the people. Your plan would surely work as the place would be much less worth visiting without the the cafés and more parking. By extension: Why not do away with all the cafes, the cinema and everything and make it into one vast car park, then there would be no difficulty find a car park or walking on whatever pavement was still there? Killing the attraction to ease driving is what happened to most cities in the second half of the 20th century including Auckland, and it sure works as fewer and fewer bother going to parking and highway ravaged paces. This idea is an elegant illustration of the observation that the more you make a place accessible by cars the less desirable you make the place to visit.

      I think we can safely conclude that if the building owners are not only asking for more walking amenity and less parking but are prepared to pay for it the change then that’s probably is the best way forward in this case. Perhaps a whole lot of those people are getting there without driving, or the owners are counting on them doing so more in the future? That would be best.

      Unless of course you hate crowds or popular places, in which case just stay away.

    • James

      As a resident of the area I can tell you that there is plenty of on-street parking – if you are willing to walk a few hundred metres from one of the streets set back from the beach. Wider footpaths can’t come soon enough!

  • Starnius

    So Council declined this, and is asking for the local business to create/join a BID (Business Improvement District) instead to fund it…

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