Blow Out

Yesterday, I talked about some management lessons from the film “Deepwater Horizon” that Wellington City Council would be well advised to follow. Curiously, this conversation surrounded car parks and traffic levels, and one might be wondering the significance and connection.

It all has to do with that pesky wellhead cement pressure test from the film. It’s here that I think we’re in trouble. Of course, by wellhead pressure, what I’m referring to is traffic along the entry road. The traffic levels that are quoted in all the City Council documents, are all referring to a report that was paid for by the developer. It’s nice of them to pay for this, and indeed proper, but that sort of report makes me a bit suspicious. It feels like the sort of report that potentially could have been skewed to indicate whatever traffic levels and parking requirements the developer thought council would accept.

The fact that they are telling us there will only be 4700 vehicles per day, when right now, the un-developed area is experiencing 1200 vehicles indicates to me that we’ve got a pressure measurement error somewhere. Particularly as there appears to be no factoring for the complete lack of public transit options, the limited parking options, and the distance to amenities precluding biking or walking.

When this error is too big, it’s going to blow. With huge environmental consequences, just like Deepwater Horizon.

What I expect is going to happen, is that the vehicle count is going to be so far off that the entry road will have to be widened. In the process, the wonderful, rough-hewn, largely unspoilt coastline is going to get concreted in. The lovely old trees along the road will all be cut down. What little fishing was left there will be a thing of the past, and any thought of preserving the little blue penguin breeding will be gone for good. You’ll still be able to bike along there, but the experience will be vastly diminished as you’ll be biking along a concreted in roadway with little natural beauty remaining.

The developer, of course, doesn’t care. By the time the pressure check reveals the problem with the wellhead, they’re long gone, laughing all the way to the bank. As the infrastructure spend by the council is completely un-capped, just like a blown wellhead, it’s going to haemorrhage cash and environmental damage for years to come.

We, the citizens of course, will be picking up that bill. It’s not just a fiscal bill either, it’s an enormous environmental and social bill as well.

Shelly Bay is an area that’s unique, and deserves our special attention – it has the potential to provide an amazing, natural landscape for all of Wellington to enjoy. By pushing through un-notified consent of a dense urban development of such huge and potentially destructive nature, our City Council has done the citizens of the eastern suburbs a huge disservice.

We need to tell the council that their proposal is foolish on many levels, and not in the public interest in any way, because once this potential public resource is gone, it’s gone for good.

We need to make sure this wellhead doesn’t blow out.

 

P.S.: Don’t forget to put your submission in by 5PM August 14, 2017!!

CLICK HERE for the Wellington CIty Council Submission Site

or

CLICK HERE for a printable submission form.

Flawed Thinking: Car Parks, congestion, and everything else.

There’s a great scene in a movie called “Deepwater Horizon”, where Mark Wahlberg’s character is talking to the BP representative played by John Malcovich, and he quips “It’s flawed thinking. It’s hope as a tactic.” It’s a great line, as it presages the disaster to come in the film, and precisely nails the entire cause of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Now I’m not saying that the proposal for Shelly Bay is going to be a disaster of that magnitude, but the sheer amount of hope being put into this by the Wellington City Council sure indicates that there might be problems that they’re trying to ignore, just like the folks at BP were trying to ignore.

When in doubt, I always loop back to the numbers. I suspect the Wellington City Council is a bit sick of me talking about the numbers, but to engineers and managers, they’re golden nuggets, the things that determine success or disaster.

Well, the developer has a few interesting numbers: they have 350 dwellings, each with 1 car park. There are also 122 public car parks available for the ratepayers who might want to enjoy the remaining small public space. Sounds good so far, until you do a well-pressure-check on the car parks. According to the last census there were 1.3 cars per household in Miramar. If you do the math, which is always tricky for developers and council types it seems, that’s 455 cars, of which 105 will need to be occupying the public car parks.

It looks like to me then that the poor public is only going to enjoy just 17 car parks when the residents are home (don’t even start talking about their guests). So when you hear about this being a gated community with everything but the gates, it sounds like a pretty accurate assessment.

When asked about this, the designers of the development mumbled about the downward trend in automobile ownership. Good! So maybe, indeed, we get a few car parks opening up, which is nice.

Yet, if fewer people are owning cars, how are they getting around? The City Council very specifically mentioned that there were to be no new bus routes, so… again, how are people getting around?

Wellingtons’ weather isn’t quite good enough for cycling all the time, and worse still, the road in and out is going to be difficult for cyclers, and is quite long for just popping out to the shops (it’s the reason why it’s enjoyed immensely by recreational cyclers!)

The developer seems to think that everyone is going to use the ferry, but that only works if the weather is nice, and you happen to want to go only to downtown or Eastbourne. So what about the rest of us? Well, the only real choice would then be something like Uber, or a taxi.

As soon as you do that, you’ve now just nearly DOUBLED the number of car trips these residents will be making: a car has to come pick them up, drive them into town, drive them back home, then that car has to leave the development. There will be some overlap between the in and out people, but as an upper bound, you’re talking 2X.

Which is important. Because the trip number ties into that infrastructure cost. And more importantly, the environmental cost. And the cost to cyclers. But that’s tomorrows’ tale.

Unh-uh. Hope ain’t a tactic Wellington City Council.

 

P.S.: Don’t forget to put your submission in by 5PM August 14, 2017!!

CLICK HERE for the Wellington CIty Council Submission Site

or

CLICK HERE for a printable submission form.