GE Service Performance


Presented below is today’s council Media Release. Please note the following:

  • It’s all about money
  • Not a word about strategic planning and halting the overdevelopment in Glen Eira

Council has distinguished itself by failing to make any public comment on recent State Government changes to planning schemes and legislation. We can only suspect that any criticism of government will not be rewarded by millions as ‘pay off’. There have been innumerable instances where council should have stood up for its residents if ‘advocacy’ was genuine. What we had was absolute silence.

It’s also worth pondering whether these projects do in fact represent money well spent. We remind readers that the Bentleigh Library underwent a million dollar plus renovation in the past few years. Community views on the Carnegie market were never solicited appropriately and the comments that have been received remain highly dubious as to the potential ‘success’ of these grandiose plans.

More importantly however, please compare how other councils ‘advocate’ for their residents when they feel it is important to highlight state government actions that will have a negative impact on their municipalities. Here are two examples from the Mayor’s Blog from Boroondara. Again, no such public comment from Glen Eira and definitely not a word of criticism to be found. As we’ve stated: this isn’t ‘advocacy’ it is a sell out.

The reality of the Victorian Government’s Reformed Residential Zones

Boroondara Mayoral Blog

Thu 25 May 2017

Accommodating Melbourne’s unprecedented population growth is not an easy task. It requires all three levels of government to work together, respectfully.

Unfortunately, local councils and specifically the planning system are unjustly targeted to address a housing supply and affordability problem. The most recent example is through the Reformed Residential Zones.

When the Victorian Government announced the reforms, we sent a letter to inform you about the impact of the reforms to the zone that you live in and asked you to write to the Minister for Planning to express your concerns. Thank you to those who have taken the initiative. Your voice is important in this debate.

It is disappointing to learn that in responding to the community’s concerns, the Minister has attacked Council for representing the interests of our community, accusing us of making “petty political arguments” and calling us “mischievous” and “deliberately misleading”.

Let’s look at the facts.

In the Neighbourhood Residential Zones (NRZ), the limit of two dwellings to a lot has been removed. In the General Residential Zones (GRZ), irrespective of the established character of these areas, the new height limit is 11m with a
maximum of three storeys.* As we outlined in our letter to you, “… the removal of the dwelling density requirement will have a significant impact on potential development outcomes in the NRZ.

The fact that properties within the NRZ can now be developed for more than two dwellings means that the NRZ is going to experience more intensive in-fill development in areas that were previously identified for minimal change. Coupled with the increase in building height, multi-unit development and apartment style development proposals are likely to be the inevitable consequence of the reformed zone.”

Nothing in the above statement is incorrect. In his letter, the Minister doesn’t deny the above facts, but rather deflects from the reality created by the new zones. For the Minister to suggest that the changes to the zones won’t lead to more intensive in-fill development is simply untrue.

The new mandatory garden area requirement introduced by the Minister will have little positive impact on the design of development beyond what is already required under existing planning controls, and will not achieve the protection of neighbourhood character or amenity as stated by the Minister.

There was no opportunity for either Council or the community to comment on the new controls before they were introduced.

Council did provide a submission to the Minister’s Managing Residential Development Advisory Committee, which reported the outcome of the residential zones review to the Minister. However, the Minister’s reforms go much further than what
his own committee recommended.

We are deeply concerned for the future of our City. Victoria needs a responsible longterm strategy for the provision of housing to retain Melbourne’s mantle as one of the world’s most liveable cities, not short-term planning reform that will line the pockets of developers and inextricably change the character of our suburbs forever.

We will not stop voicing our concerns about the reforms. We urge you to do the same. You can write to the Minister for Planning by emailing Richard Wynne.

*This change doesn’t currently apply to our current GRZ1, GRZ2 and GRZ3 areas. However, these zones will inevitably lose their existing stricter height requirements after three years.

Cr Phillip Healey
Mayor

Source: https://www.boroondara.vic.gov.au/about-council/news-and-media/boroondara-mayoral-blog/boroondara-mayoral-blog/reality-victorian-governments-reformed-residential-zones

Victorian Government weakens protection of Boroondara’s neighbourhood character

Boroondara Mayoral Blog

Tue 28 March 2017

The Minister for Planning’s decision to reform residential zones is unravelling the protection of Boroondara’s neighbourhood character.

About 80 percent of our residential area is classified as Neighbourhood Residential Zone where the maximum number of dwellings on a lot is two and the maximum building height limit is 8 metres.

Yesterday, the Minister removed the limit of two dwellings to a lot and increased the mandatory building height limit to 9 metres. The changes were made without consultation with local residents, communities and Council.

The Minister argued that the reformed residential zones “will be fair and provide certainty for all of our suburbs”, “provide for new housing opportunities” and “get the balance right”. We strongly disagree with his argument.

There is no transparency, accountability and justification to the proposed changes. The extensive process of planning work required to introduce the current residential zones by Boroondara and other municipalities has effectively been thrown out at the stroke of a pen. It is heavy handed and unfair.

Council’s planning policies have created capacity for an additional 62,546 dwellings which is more than four times the Victorian Government’s own forecast dwelling need for the area by 2031. These policies have clearly been working as Boroondara has the second highest spend on building projects in Victoria.

What will be certain is that the reformed residential zones will result in more intensive in-fill development in areas that our community has told us they want to preserve. The changes will have long lasting negative impacts on our highly valued streetscapes.

The Minister hasn’t got the balance right. He has tipped the balance in favour of increased density that will only benefit developers and destroy both Boroondara’s and Melbourne’s liveability.

We are deeply disappointed by the Minister’s decision. We urge community members to write to the Minister for Planning (richard.wynne@parliament.vic.gov.au) to voice their concerns.

Cr Phillip Healey
Mayor

Source: https://www.boroondara.vic.gov.au/about-council/news-and-media/boroondara-mayoral-blog/boroondara-mayoral-blog/victorian-government-weakens-protection-boroondaras-neighbourhood-character

PS: Here’s another post that could be compared to Amendment C157 and Wynne’s refusal to grant Elsternwick mandatory height limits. In contrast, our council meekly accepts the outcome it would seem. Since this mayoral post Boroondara has achieved mandatory 3 storey height limits for 15 of its neighbourhood centres.

See: https://www.boroondara.vic.gov.au/about-council/news-and-media/boroondara-mayoral-blog/boroondara-mayoral-blog/minister-plannings-discretionary-height-policy-lead-suboptimal-outcome-boroondara

Council has released a new set of documents that underpin the planning for the Elsternwick South ‘masterplan’. Accompanying these documents is the invitation to provide feedback via the Have Your Say web link.

All of this sounds marvelous! Except that we have to wonder whether:

  • This is the ‘best’ way to conduct ‘consultation’ and
  • What ‘value’ the Have Your Say survey really has

The Elsternwick South area is pivotal in that the current proposals, together with the overall Structure Plan for the northern areas will change the face of Elsternwick forever if implemented. The vast majority of residents have already made it clear that:

  • 12 storeys is unacceptable
  • Overshadowing is an issue
  • Traffic is an issue
  • Lack of open space is an issue

The newly published documents are supposed to address most of these concerns. But do they? And do the surveys come within cooeee of asking residents what they think about the proposals themselves? Or are they merely a set of feel good questions that everyone can agree with whilst parading as genuine ‘consultation’?

Here is what could and should have happened if council is genuine in wanting informed feedback from the community.

  • Given the significance of this area why has council not produced a simple, objective, ‘Discussion paper’ as the first step in the consultation process that outlines all the pros and cons of the various aspects and the recommendations? As it stands now, those residents interested in the issue will need to read, analyse and comment on well over 200 pages of new documentation. This is on top of what has already been published, making the grand total of recent documents dealing with this area to well over 486 pages. If we include the ‘past documents’, then we are approaching close to 1500 pages. https://www.haveyoursaygleneira.com.au/elsternwick-urban-renewal-south-masterplan/documents. How many residents will bother?
  • The Have Your Say and survey questions need to be directly addressing the efficacy of the proposals in these reports. They don’t! Instead we get the following which isn’t asking the vital question ‘Do you think these road closures will address the parking and traffic concerns? Please explain”.

  • The 4 proposals concerning road closures would now appear to be set in concrete  and residents are simply asked to ‘prioritise’ them. Yes, we do get the ‘other comments’ section but unless residents bother to read through the documentation carefully, and analyse what is proposed, then we suspect that most comments will be easily ignored. No choices are provided to residents regarding rat running in neighbouring streets. Nor is there any question relating to residents’ views on parking, safety, etc. In short, the focus is entirely on St James Parade.

  • The first part of the survey is basically nothing more than motherhood statements. Of course no one in their right mind would be in favour of creating rat runs, or endangering safety, or be indifferent to congestion, etc. Again these have to be ‘ranked’. Why? Surely it can be assumed that the entire list of ‘problems’ is something that needs fixing. The question is again, do the reports and recommendations actually ‘fix’ any of them? Does the ranking then mean that the end result of the strategic planning will only seek to address the top 5 priorities and ignore the rest? Or will we get the argument that a ‘balance’ has to be achieved and we can’t do everything? More importantly, how many of these ‘problems’ are remedied via the report recommendations? Couldn’t council have produced some neat little table that displayed such information in a clear and accessible manner?
  • The other survey option is titled ‘tell us your ideas for resolving these issues’. Please note that again there is no connection with the report recommendations. Simply pie in the sky questions that could apply to anywhere and not specifically the sites under investigation.

It is surely time that council got its act together and produced some consultation techniques that were genuine, meaningful, and truly intended to seek the best results. Time and again we have had councilors apologizing to the gallery for their poor consultation methods but nothing has been done to remedy the situation. We continue to get sham consultations, (or no consultation as with aged care) and processes that are simply there to endorse what has already been decided.

We have not commented on the documents themselves at this stage. All we will say at this stage is the irony that council’s consultants chose to use as part of their standard for traffic generation the Woolworth’s traffic assessment that accompanied the latter’s application! Then to top it all off, there is a further reduction in the standard because council aims for a 60% reduction in car use! Thus we get this gem:

Therefore, if this reduction rate is applied to the peak hour generation rate of 0.4 trips per dwelling, a generation rate of approximately 0.19 trips per dwelling could be adopted for the apartments within the proposed Elsternwick Urban Renewal Area South development. 

What this means of course is that every apartment will only produce 0.19 trips per peak hour instead of the 0.4 trips that date back to 2002 guidelines. Unbelievable hocus pocus!

Residents’ antennas should also be raised at the potential ramifications of this sentence:

……given the 60% public transport target, it could be realistically be proposed that 25% of apartments in the renewal area would have no parking spaces.

So with 1500 dwellings proposed (and no justification for this number) are residents to assume that developers will be given the gift of nearly 400 apartments with no parking spots?

We urge all readers to carefully consider these documents and to make your views on the consultation process itself known to this council.  It’s well and truly time that residents stopped accepting a process that is anything but adequate and appropriate.

Tonight’s speakers on the Selwyn Street/Gordon Street closures had one thing in common. Each and every speaker was strongly opposed to council’s plans. What came through clearly was:

  • Council’s failure to consult with the major stakeholders, including some of the Jewish organizations.
  • No real consideration for businesses in the area and the imperative to provide loading zones
  • How the neighbouring streets would cope with increased traffic
  • How a reduction in parking spots will only exacerbate the already limited parking
  • The failure to provide decent traffic analysis of wider area prior to deciding on the current design

Questions remain as to what will now happen. For example: councilors can accept the current plan, reject it, or will we find that some modifications are made and this will be decided on at the April 30th Council meeting? If changes are made and a decision is also expected at the end of April, then does this mean that the community will not have the opportunity to comment on the changes?

This issue is another example of not only poor consultation, but poor planning. When will this council learn that they cannot produce half baked plans devoid of all essential data to justify their plans and expect residents to swallow this hook line and sinker. How much has this fiasco cost thus far? How much have the hired guns cost? Has any officer actually set foot in the area or has this design been done via a desktop analysis? And why can’t these councilors put a stop to this nonsense right now and order officers back to the drawing board and insist that proper consultation begin immediately with all those impacted?

We urge all readers to listen to what was said. It is illuminating and a harsh indictment of a council that has no idea of how to inform, consult, and listen to its residents.

Another Special Council Meeting is set down for this coming Thursday (6.30pm) in order to hear submissions on the proposed partial closures of Selwyn Street and the one way redirection of traffic in Gordon Street.

What we have here is another appalling example of council’s failure to adhere to its own resolutions, its abject failure to advance ideas based on comprehensive analysis of the wider area, and to provide the community with consultation information that is consistent, accurate and timely.

We acknowledge that these latest plans (an earlier version was first published) are probably an attempt to put a spanner in the works of the proposed Woolworths development. However this does not excuse a council that is reactive rather than proactive. We repeat some of our previous comments:

  • Why was Elsternwick left out of the interim amendments for Bentleigh & Carnegie in 2017 when it is also a MAJOR activity centre?
  • The ABC Woolworths site was purchased in March 2017 for $45m. Council knew what was about to happen! You don’t spend that amount of money and only go for a supermarket!
  • The idea for a Jewish Cultural Centre has long been on the cards. Being granted at least $1m by government mandates some decisive action! The problem with the ‘action’ is that it is ill conceived, poorly researched, and as always, bereft of empirical justification.
  • Where is corporate memory in all of this? One submission from the Holocaust Centre complains bitterly that council’s plans fly in the face of the permit conditions granted to the Centre less than a year ago.
  • Why can council resolutions disappear into the ether and not be enacted? For example, the council resolution of 27th November made specific reference to the following: that Council receive a further report on the draft detailed design prior to community consultation. This has not happened! Nor has the following been produced: a comprehensive traffic impact assessment and mitigation strategy based on the endorsed Precinct Plan. Most reasonable people would expect that a ‘comprehensive traffic impact assessment’ would include far more than Selwyn Street, Gordon St, and Glen Huntly Road. As many of the submissions point out, ramifications for St Georges, Glen Eira Roads, etc. are not even mentioned.

Of the submissions themselves, the overwhelming majority are opposed to the closures, especially in turning Gordon Street into one way. Even more telling is that many businesses oppose these designs and the Jewish organisations themselves aren’t happy.

What sway this opposition will have remains to be seen. Will councillors have the guts to order the planners and traffic management staff to go back to the drawing boards and start again? We doubt it! What is clear however is that council has a lot to learn in terms of its consultation practices, and the professionalism of its planning/traffic department.  It would appear that council first makes the decision then scrounges around for anything that would support the decision. The cost in terms of money, and community angst is never considered.

Permits for:

  • 68 Bevis Street, Bentleigh East. 3 storey, 22 dwellings
  • 554/556 Inkerman Road, Caulfield Noth. 3 and 4 storey, 24 dwellings

The Inkerman Road application is interesting since the site is zoned GRZ1 (ie supposedly 3 storeys and a 10.5 metre height limit). Since council’s schedules do not specify the number of storeys, and the land slopes, this application for a part 4 storey was deemed to be okay. We point out again that for all of council’s structure planning and quality design guidelines, the schedules largely remain intact. No changes to site coverage, permeability, etc.

Worthy of keeping a close eye on, is the following from the minutes of the Local Law committee. This could be ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ for residents.

For quite a while now, council’s reporting of the open space reserve in the monthly financial report has opted to camouflage what is really happening. This can only be deliberate and is another example of the lack of transparency in Glen Eira. We are supposed to believe that the ‘kitty’ currently contains $20m. Yet, we are not privy to how much of this total has been spent on ‘development’/’upgrade’ of open space. Hence how much is really left in the open space reserve?

By way of contrast and transparency, we highlight how these figures were reported previously and ask why the change?

Finally, here is what we don’t know about the Open space levy:

  • Has the levy been insisted upon for every application for 3 or more subdivisions? If not, why not? See one of our earlier posts https://gleneira.blog/2018/06/08/open-space-favours/
  • What percentage of the levy has been spent on the acquisition of new open space and what percentage has been spent on ‘development/upgrading’?
  • What ‘land contributions’ has council accepted instead of a financial payment and where are these located?
  • How much of the following ‘promises’ has council kept and why can’t this be disclosed to the public?

Tonight’s Special Council Meeting on the aged care sell off voted 5 to 3 (Esakoff absent) to proceed with the Expression of Interest process. Those supporting the sell off were: Hyams, Silver, Sztrajt, Cade, Athanasopolous. Delahunty, Davy and Magee voted against. Remarkably, Magee spoke for the process continuing, then voted against!

Several things should be noted and we urge all residents to carefully listen to the ‘debate’.

  • The con job was in full swing with Hyams, Silver, Athanasopolous, Sztrazjt, Cade and even Magee, now arguing that the resolution was NOT TO SELL, but merely to test the waters as it were, in order to see if there’s anyone out there who could provide a better service! Time and again the gallery was assured that if no such organization was found then there would be no sale. That old council shibboleth of ‘first step in the process’ was repeated ad nauseum.
  • Hyams merely summed up the officer’s report but without a single word on financials. He did however comment that council had undertaken a comprehensive ‘communication and consultation’ program via its advertising, letters to residents, media releases, etc.
  • The only councillor to even come close to addressing the lack of open and transparent consultation was Athanasopolous. His argument was that when Monash and Kingston decided to sell their facilities and engaged in an ‘open’ consultation process with their residents, that this lead to a ‘ton of anxiety’!!!!!!! How much ‘anxiety’ has council produced by its secrecy when residents and workers are notified by an impersonal email?
  • Athanasopolous also distinguished himself by arguing that for the past 15 years council had not in its budget processes made any financial provision for the long term management of its aged care facilities. Such a statement could be interpreted in several ways of course. Either council has never placed aged care high on its list of priorities or, it has failed in its duty to consider long term outcomes given that its strategic resource plan has a ten year time span. There is another possibility here too. Maybe, just maybe, if residents had a say on what should be the priorities for council budgets, aged care would have been high on their list?
  • Delahunty and Davey did argue that the potential findings of the current and ongoing Royal Commission were important and until council had the final recommendations how could they possibly know which provider would be the ‘best’? They advocated that the Expression of Interest process be delayed until the findings were made public . These are expected to be delivered in mid 2020. Hardly a long time to wait we suggest!

There was much said by the various councilors which was literally cringe worthy. If anyone truly believes that council is only ‘testing the waters’, then they have no idea of how this council operates. You do not go to the expense of lawyers, committees, probity auditors, valuations, etc. unless you know damn well you will sell. All the rest is sheer garbage designed to cover their arses for the lack of proper consultation. For example: the gallery were informed that several of the facilities required major physical upgrades. So? Perhaps the community should be asked whether or not they believe that a certain amount should be spent in order to maintain these facilities? When millions are spent on playground upgrades that the majority don’t want, or concrete plinths in parks that amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years, then questions as to waste, incompetence, and priorities, deserve an airing!

Please listen to the statements once they come up on council’s website.

Residents slam ‘nonsensical’ bike route through their ‘hood

By Carolyn Webb

March 31, 2019 — 5.30pm

Caulfield North residents have slammed plans for a bicycle super-highway to go through their neighbourhood.

Some locals fear it will endanger pedestrians, remove parking and even affect property values.

They have formed the Save Inkerman group to oppose a three-kilometre leg of the proposed trail from Dandenong to Melbourne’s CBD, saying thousands of cyclists whizzing by each day could reduce access to their own driveways.

Glen Eira council has yet to settle on a design for its section of the trail.

But it has proposed a route heading north-west from Caulfield Station along Normanby Road, and then west along Inkerman Road and Inkerman Street to Hotham Street.

The council could not say whether parking spaces would be removed, but that is a key concern of the community group.

Lenny Gross said he would have to close his delicatessen, Lenny’s, on Inkerman Road, and his mental health wellness centre next door, if parking spaces in front of them were removed.

‘‘If they take those spots away from me, I don’t have a business,’’ he said. ‘‘The reason people come to me is because they can park out the front.’’

Robyn Taft, who lives in a street off Inkerman Road, said the plan was ‘‘about the council being seen to be green. I think they don’t really care about the residents’’. Ms Taft said any restriction on parking would make it ‘‘a lot harder for people to go about their daily lives’’, including elderly people walking to synagogues and shops. ‘‘We support safe bike paths. There is a bike path here [marked bike lanes along Inkerman Road], and perhaps more can be done to make it safer. ‘‘But for people trying to get in and out of their properties, it’s going to be very difficult, particularly if there’s going to be a potential several thousand bikes an hour at peak hour going up and down here.’’

Real estate agent Rochelle Butt, who owns two properties on Inkerman Road, including her home, said the new bicycle plan was ‘‘nonsensical’’. She said property values could be be affected if residents can’t park on the street and side streets would be overloaded with cars.

The council wanted everyone to ride bikes, but that wasn’t realistic. ‘‘My mother’s 82 and lives around the corner. She’s not going to visit me on a bike,’’ Ms Butt said.

The protesters want the bike path to instead go north-west up Normanby Road from Caulfield station, following the tram line along Dandenong Road, then on to St Kilda Road via Wellington Street.

But Bicycle Network senior policy adviser Garry Brennan said the Inkerman route was the most direct and cyclists could join it from Balaclava, Alma and Glen Eira roads.

Making the street greener could have flow-on benefits like increased real estate prices.

Keen local cyclist Herschel Landes favours the Inkerman Road route, saying bike current bike lanes are too narrow, increasing the risk of ‘‘dooring’’.

He said encouraging people to ride bikes would ease traffic congestion, be useful for small trips to shops and provide a quick route to Monash University Caulfield campus on Dandenong Road. Mr Landes, a prominent Richmond retailer who helped run the Melbourne-wide No Clearways campaign in 2008 to 2010, said Dandenong Road had too many trucks and cars to be an alternative. Using the tram reserve would mean removing foliage, while cyclists would encounter major road crossings.

Ron Torres, the City of Glen Eira’s director of planning and place, said the Inkerman Road corridor aimed ‘‘to take pressure off our roads by providing a safe and convenient opportunity for more people to commute to work by bike’’.

Residents have until Monday to submit an online feedback form about the plan to Glen Eira council.

Source: https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/residents-slam-nonsensical-bike-route-through-their-hood-20190331-p519ef.html

COMMENT

Here is another example of council’s incompetence in conducting what it euphemistically calls ‘community consultation’. First off you publish a document telling residents that their parking will disappear. Next you get officers to door knock people and tell them the same. Not at any stage do you provide any  specific details such as: proposed design, how many car parks will disappear, cost, stats on numbers of bike users, numbers of cars, etc. Then you scramble to undo the damage you have created via the Silver request for a report.

As we’ve said above. Genuine consultation can only begin when residents are privy to valid information. Otherwise it is all a sham and an ungodly waste of ratepayers’ money. The result is a divided community and plenty of ill feeling. Congratulations councillors on achieving another black mark.

Finally we should point out that no other Integrated Transport Policy that we have read has the temerity to say that they are aiming for a 50:50 reduction in car use. These other councils would apparently work on the basis of reality and not spin or pipe dreams!

Next Page »