Election 2016

Set down for decision Tuesday night is an application for a 6 storey building with 33 units, 6 shops, basement car parking and the waiver of parking spots for the shops and visitors, plus a loading bay. The site is along McKinnon Road between Wheatley and Jasper. The officer’s recommendation is to approve a permit.

We highlight this item for several reasons:

  • McKinnon is one of the smallest ‘neighbourhood centres’ – now officially an activity centre. Yet according to council’s planning scheme it sits well below its so called ‘urban villages’ of Bentleigh, Carnegie and Elsternwick. Thus we have the insanity of council’s application for height limits of 5 storeys in Bentleigh and now six storeys is viewed as acceptable in McKinnon!
  • Readers should also remember Amendment C143 where councillors changed an advertised amendment from Mixed Use Zone of 4 storeys in McKinnon Road, to a zoning of General Residential Zone (3 storeys) because they argued that 4 storeys was too much. Community opposition does work wonders!
  • This application is supposed to have 6 shops ranging in size from 53 square metres to just over 90 square metres. McKinnon has no bank, no supermarket, no butchers, no fruit shops, no clothes shops, and nothing really except cafes and more cafes. How much employment will be generated by a 53 square space is debatable – especially since council’s consultants predict a decline in ‘retail’ of thousands by 2036.

We have commented time and again on the lack of transparency in council officer reports for applications. This report is no different –

  • Instead of highlighting the number of one bedroom, two bedroom apartments proposed, the report lumps together the number of 1 and 2 bedrooms so that it is impossible to determine the percentage of one bedroom compared to 3 bedrooms. Worse still is the inclusion of totally illegible plans. When council spends millions on IT systems, surely it can provide images that are capable of being read. Is this deliberate?
  • The application has a deficit of 9 car parking spaces for its shops and 2 spots for visitor car parking. The recommendations on shop parking are far from transparent when we get sentences such as – Given the location of the site and proximity to residential areas, it is recommended that all visitor car spaces (6), and at least two car spaces for each commercial space be provided onsite. What is not spelt out is that this only totals 12 parking spots when the legislation required 16. Thus a waiver of 4 spots and no mention of loading bay or any reason for this largesse!
  • The traffic department’s view is also bereft of justification. All we get is this single sentence – Transport Planning is satisfied with the number of customer car parking spaces that has been provided for the shops
  • The best however is to be found in this incredible paragraph that is meant to justify everything but which conflicts completely with the current planning scheme –

The proposal has an overall maximum height of 19.96 metres. While the proposal will undoubtedly be taller and more robust than adjoining existing development, it is considered that it represents what policy expects in terms of change given the size of the site, the emerging built form in the immediate area and its strategic location. 

Where in the planning scheme does ‘policy’ envisage buildings higher than the major activity centre of Bentleigh?

Where in this area is there another building of this height?

Why is it acceptable to have a six storey building towering over a three storey building at its rear, when council first refused a permit in Caulfield North because it was to be a mere 2 storeys higher than its surrounds?

Nor are we talking about a really huge site. It is barely 1150 square metres and of course is not mentioned anywhere in the report!

Nothing changes in Glen Eira’s pro-development agenda. Officer reports are abysmal, deliberately vague and most importantly either conflict with the planning scheme itself or provide practically nil justification for the final recommendations!


We’ve pinched part of a dialogue from the Facebook page of the Glen Eira Residents’ Action Group, featuring Newton Gatoff and Jamie Hyams.

HYAMS: It’s (election results) not unbelievable when you look at the latest community satisfaction survey, which is run by the State Government and therefore independent of Council. 56% said Council’s performance was very good or good and 11% said it was poor or very poor (32% said it was average and 1% didn’t know). The survey represents all age groups and suburbs.

GATOFF: I’m not sure the “community satisfaction survey” is borne out by the election result, but when a community elects a majority of new Councillors, it tends to reflect a call for change – In Kingston where the Council had structure plans, collaborative community decision-making and transparent Council meetings, the electorate re-elected every incumbent who stood. Yes, there are many good things being done by good Officers in Glen Eira who get well paid to perform. The Councillors can save their chest-beating for when we have a planning scheme which is fair and a level of governance which responds to the vocal minority. This is not a private club membership; it is an honourable non-executive role which should be performed with sincerity and humility but above all in reflection of the community’s wishes. So congratulations Jamie, you were re-elected again, and I for one will be calling on all three of my ward Councillors to give as much airtime to residents who need your help as you do to celebrating statistics. My commiserations to you Neil, it is not a generous process and I realise how hard it can be 1st time around, but I would invite you to remain a voice of sense and reason in whichever municipality you find yourself in.

HYAMS: Responding specifically to Newton, yes there were only four incumbents returned, but Michael Lipshutz resigned, Kelvin Ho had only been a councillor for a few months, Oscar generally didn’t identify with Council’s successes and while Thomas was a valued and constructive councillor, as an endorsed Greens councillor, his fortunes were more closely tied to the regard voters had for his party. That leaves only five of us whose re-election reflected the community regard for the Council, and four of us were re-elected. It was a great shame that Neil Pilling, who was a fair and diligent councillor who had the respect of his colleagues, was not returned.

Newton, having read your recent and earlier posts, and also listened to your performance on J-Air radio, there seems to be a theme that the wider community doesn’t really know what’s good for them, so Council should listen to the “vocal minority”. I find this to be quite elitist and undemocratic. I’m on council to represent the whole community, not just those who make the most noise. You also attack us for having implemented height limits in all residential zones, and for not having structure plans, the main feature of which would be height limits, in commercial zones. I would think that you can complain either about us having height limits or not having them, but when you complain about both, you just appear to be criticising us for the sake of it.

You say we brought in the zones without consultation and should therefore apologise, but the zones were the direct result of consultation in the form of the 2010/11 Planning Scheme Review, and apart from one block in Caulfield North, it was a direct translation from the Minimal Change and Housing Diversity Areas and Urban Villages to the corresponding Zones. I refer you to my earlier more detailed post on this issue, posted on 10 October. Councils tend not to consult when implementing to the letter the result of a previous consultation, and certainly don’t apologise for it.

I agree that we do need structure plans in commercial zones, and implementing these is one of the priorities of our planning scheme review. However, up till recently, our policies generally provided the necessary protection from overdevelopment in these areas, and this only changed when various VCAT members took it upon themselves to disregard these policies.

CAMDEN – Delahunty, Silver, Sztrajt


ROSSTOWN – Esakoff, Davey, Anthanasopoulos


TUCKER – Hyams, Magee, Taylor




Firstly, a hearty congratulations to all newly elected councillors. Residents have ‘spoken’ and their votes indicate a strong desire for change in Glen Eira. There’s also been a non too gentle reminder to the returning incumbents – Esakoff’s primary vote went from 34% down to 23%; Hyams from 23% down to 16% and Magee’s also declined by 0.5%. Only Delahunty’s percentage vote increased from 24.51% to 25.48%.

In a remarkable turn of events, it would appear that Joshua Bonney has officially withdrawn his nomination for the current council election. Since this was post nomination date, his votes will still count. Bonney preferenced Magee second, Okotel third and Karlik fourth.

Today is the last day for residents to get their votes in – although many have undoubtedly made up their minds and already cast their votes. It’s now time for reflection as to the entire process and its potential outcomes.

The Age ran a story a few days ago on council elections and the associated ‘problems’. We will go a step further and state that much needs reforming, especially the legislation governing council elections. It is not enough that candidates have the choice as to whether or not they tick a box on some useless questions. Nor is it satisfactory that candidates are asked whether or not they are ‘endorsed’ by a political party. The Greens are the only party which officially endorses individuals. Labor and Liberal do not. But this doesn’t mean that these major political parties don’t influence the candidates or get involved in what happens in council chambers – Skyrail being the perfect example. Even asking whether or not a candidate is a member of any political party is not enough. The example of Esakoff’s campaign and her claim to be ‘independent’ shows how inadequate this is!  What this election has shown above all is the (deliberate?) impotence of the legislation.

Remember the de-facto How-To-Vote cards? When Liberal candidates can nominate Vote #1, Vote #2 and Vote #3 on their candidate statements, and the VEC can rule that this is okay, then there is something drastically wrong with our system. And since the Bayside Libs did exactly the same thing, we can only conclude that the ‘orders’ came from on high from headquarters! And what influence did the Labor party have on awarding preferences to their members?

In Glen Eira dirty tricks have been abundant –

  • Posters torn down
  • Stooges and trolls operating to their heart’s content on social media
  • Flyers distributed which allege collusion between Labor candidates and sporting clubs
  • Candidates’ billboards advertising real estate agents

It has been a dirty campaign where the gulf between the incumbents’ statements on their flyers and their actions are miles apart. If Magee can state that he supports 3 and 4 storeys in activity centres, yet in chamber supports 7 storeys for Carnegie, then truth has no value. Nor do Hyams’ claims to be working for the ‘community’ hold up to scrutiny when his voting patterns on so many issues clearly show how one sector of the community can so regularly outweigh the wishes of the majority of the community. Pilling of course is the classic case of someone elected on Green credentials, only to become a ‘turncoat’ and basically align himself with the conservatives time and time again. Yet this hasn’t stopped him from producing flyers and posters which are still green in colour – but without naming the Greens.

Here are some suggested reforms that we hope will improve both the quality of candidates and the electoral process. We welcome your thoughts!

  • Prospective candidates to nominate 6 months out from the election date
  • Prospective candidates to undertake a comprehensive ‘induction/education’ process at this time and not once they are elected
  • This ‘course’ to be standard across all councils and conducted by ‘independent’ bodies including – Law Reform Commission; Accountants Association etc. In other words covering all the major areas that councils operate within. If candidates ‘fail’ these courses they become ineligible to stand.
  • Standards to be set on all election material
  • Compulsory ‘town hall’ meetings for all candidates 2 weeks out from the election
  • Councils to provide the facilities for these meetings

Much, much more can and should be done. This of course depends on the will of legislators and whether their primary concern is true democratic process and an equal playing field!

Gary Max interview with 2 Glen Eira Residents on elections, and council performance

PS: The minutes for Monday night’s special council meeting have now been published on council’s website. We believe that an all time record has been set in that the meeting lasted exactly 3 minutes to ratify the most important document that a council can produce – the Annual Report! Both Delahunty and Lobo were absent.

The stuff ups with minutes still continue however. Item 4.1 states that the item under consideration is the Councillor Code of Conduct. Yet when it comes to the actual nominated 4.1, it is on the Annual Report. Would whoever is doing the minutes please, oh please, proof read and ensure that  what goes out to the public is accurate and a true record of what occurred!

Small McKinnon street sandwiched by large developments

Sam Bidey, Moorabbin Glen Eira Leader

October 18, 2016 12:00am

PEOPLE living in a small McKinnon street feel they are being overrun by major developments which are changing their neighbourhood character.

Foster St runs parallel to Claire St, where a three-storey 33 apartment block is set to be built, and adjacent to Adelaide St, where a 34 unit, three-storey dwelling has just been approved by Glen Eira City Council.

All but two of the original homes on Claire St have been snapped up by developers who have taken advantage of the new zones which allow a three-storey height limit.

Steve Toth, who has lived in Foster St for 21 years, fought against both the builds that will leave him and his neighbours sandwiched between two major developments.

Mr Toth said he was more understanding about the need for developments than most of his neighbours, but was put off by the size and style of the builds.

“I accept that we are a developing suburb but there has to set backs and it doesn’t have to look so industrial,” Mr Toth said.

“The side facing me (of the Adelaide St development) which is the one I can comment on — looks like the back end of a power station and that’s something we don’t like.”

Mr Toth said the “butt ugly” building proposed from Adelaide St took away from the character of the neighbourhood.

“If you have a look at Adelaide St now you have five of the most unique, nice houses with each one creative and each one different.

“That’s what I find very disappointing — there are five beautiful houses and now we’ll get Lego land in their place.”

Councillors Jamie Hyams and Jim Magee opposed the Adelaide St development at last week’s council meeting.

Cr Hyams said the proposal was “out of touch” with the character of the opposite side of the road and surrounding streets.

He suggested it would be more appropriate if the townhouses were two stories nearest the street with a setback to a third story at the rear of the block.

Mr Magee said the main issue was VCAT would always allow these developments unless the State Government introduced legislation to make them apply the Glen Eira Planning Scheme to their decisions.

Source: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/inner-south/small-mckinnon-street-sandwiched-by-large-developments/news-story/a76b62771c7802de6952cba8c26a9d91


We have had a gut full of the hypocrisy, contradictions, and straight out mistruths that this council and in particular Hyams and Magee keep inflicting on residents via their statements. This is an election period and current councillors are definitely panicking – most noticeably in Tucker Ward. The blame VCAT game continues, as does the promulgation of half truths and deceptions.

Shortly after the zones were introduced, Magee on one application in Centre Road Bentleigh, voted for a permit whilst saying – MAGEE: He will support the application because ‘you can support it without liking it’ and ‘developer does have the right’ to go for ‘the maximum’ and ‘the planning scheme allows that’. So that’s the policy and he will ‘support it’.

VCAT has not set the ‘maximum’ – it is council and its zoning of properties in the GRZ or RGZ. Developers go for broke because of the zoning and because VCAT must resort to what the planning scheme says!

As for Hyams, we repeat his statements from before the introduction of the zones and after their introduction. Contradiction and opportunism certainly don’t appear to worry this councillor who, we remind readers, played an integral part in the introduction of the zones in the first place!

Prior to the secret and devious introduction of the new zones, which is repeatedly heralded as Glen Eira’s crowning achievement strictly because of its height limits, Hyams proclaimed the following (dates are from our postings)

HYAMS: Said that a problem was that if you set height limits then ‘people will build up to that height and you can’t stop them’ but if you don’t have height limits and let each application be ‘judged on its merits’ then you could get ‘better outcomes’. (from our post of 6/2/2013 – ie on application for Glen Huntly Road – 6 storeys and 45 dwellings which got a permit from council.)

Then post zones we get this diametrically opposed statement –

Hyams – ‘The new zones are limiting development’ because of the height limits and that ‘anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t know what they are talking about’ or ‘is deliberately seeking to mislead you’.(25/9/2014)


Residents will remember the GESAC basketball allocation fiasco where the Oakleigh Warriors were given the lease of the newly created basketball courts instead of the local McKinnon Basketball group. The arguments presented by Paul Burke at the time were that the Warriors had promised council more money and about 120 hours filled in court time. We also believe that the ombudsman became involved in this decision. Public questions followed, none of which were satisfactorily answered –  for example: are the Warriors paying their weekly rental? are they meeting the stated court hours?

Well now it appears that:

  • Council could be owed thousands and thousands of dollars that the Warriors have not paid on their weekly rent
  • Bob Mann is now gone
  • McKinnon Basketball has been granted access to GESAC
  • Does any of this account for GESAC’s stated loss of $340,000+ from the anticipated income?
  • What does this say about the ‘business plan’ instituted by Newton, Burke and the councillor group? What ‘evidence’ was supplied at the time to ensure that the Warriors could afford what they promised? and
  • How much have residents forked out over the years in subsidising another woeful decision from this administration and councillors?
  • Will this council produce figures that clearly reveal all income and expenditure on GESAC? If not, why not?

Here is the Leader’s version of events –

Oakleigh Basketball Association slammed by messy off-court chaos

OAKLEIGH  Basketball Association is in tatters with financial and governance issues meaning hundreds of children have been forced to leave the league.

The association, which last year had more than 500 junior players, has had its operations put on hold by Basketball Victoria after an inquiry.

Some players have been transferred to the McKinnon Basketball Association, while representative players had the option of trying out with other associations or establishing an Oakleigh team in the McKinnon or Port Phillip associations.

Glen Eira Council reached a deal with McKinnon which will see the association have use of the Glen Eira Sports and Aquatic Centre basketball courts this season; the courts would usually be used by Oakleigh.

Basketball Victoria manager Stephen Walter said he initially stepped in to resolve a governance issue as two committees had claimed control of the ­association.

“There were lot of families leaving the club or they just weren’t re-registering; the club had lost critical mass to run a domestic competition,” Mr Walter said.

Tony Pitara, who was president of one of the club committees, said he had identified a tax debt at the club, dating back to 2009 and that was being addressed.

Mr Pitara said he respected Basketball Victoria’s decision, but was confident that had the club sorted out its internal “politics”, it could have found a solid financial footing in two to three ­seasons.

Karen Wilson, vice-president of the newer committee said she had been informed the debt was in the region of a “manageable” $70,000.

But she said the sacking of the head of coaching had created dissatisfaction and prompted the establishment of the second committee.

Cheltenham mum Rosey Cooke, whose son Andrew had played at Oakleigh for five years, said parents weren’t consulted.

“The kids don’t understand all this business — they just want to play ball,” Ms Cooke said.

Source: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/inner-south/oakleigh-basketball-association-slammed-by-messy-offcourt-chaos/news-story/5e556fc1430a1dbbaa4f4e27ccc34a23

We’ve received this email from a resident asking for Tucker Ward candidates’ responses –

Dear Candidates,

As you are a candidate for Tucker Ward, I would like to hear your views about the following local problem.

If you visit Mckinnon station and walk along Nicholson street, you will see exposed pilings, both within the station and external rail corridor. The job to rebuild Mckinnon station and reinstate appropriate aesthetic finishes to the rail corridor is clearly unfinished and not done to an equivalent standard as Ormond Station.

Since the beginning of the level crossing removal, we have been asking what the final structures will look like. Early on, we were told there would be a concrete wall with additional fencing for safety and screening. This has not been the outcome.

In the rush to re-open McKinnon station first, the completion of the concreting and aesthetic finishes were not completed. Not only are the exposed pilings and partial concreting unsightly, but the incomplete nature of the works appear to be unsafe (e.g., the exposed sharp edges of the metal pilings). This will inevitably encourage vandalism, which has already started.

However, the job is finished according to the Level Crossing Removal Authority, with the exception of some revegetation along parts of the rail corridor. They claim that Glen Eira Council have signed off on the “design”, including the exposed pilings and partially concreted beams. This clearly contradicts the concrete covering of these same structures that have been done at the Ormond location.

Most of Bent Street and Nicholson Street have already been sold for development. There are simply not enough long-term residents left to garner interest in this local issue.

So my question to you is: What will you do, if elected, to ensure the Level Crossing Removal Authority really finish McKinnon station and the surrounding rail corridor?

Kind regards,


Resident of Nicholson Street McKinnon, Tucker Ward

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