Every now and then we see glimmers of brilliance in the engagement teams of recovery agencies. Here’s a good example of what happens when they really step into residents’ shoes and think about what’s needed. Well done to SCIRT for this piece of brilliance.
On another note, we were approached by a reporter this week with what seemed to be an easy question: Did we think $80k was a lot to pay for CERA to pay for a recovery app (called ‘Chch Story’) that only 1500 people have downloaded? Our knee jerk reaction was, ‘hell, yes!’, but we’ve constantly been amazed by how much anything IT costs, so if that’s what the market says an app costs then perhaps it’s not so gob smacking.
The more considered response (because that is what reporters approach CanCERN for) was that we knew the app to be based on research which shows that telling and reading local people’s stories improves wellbeing in post disaster environments. We advocate for some risk to be taken when trying to improve wellbeing outcomes, especially if that risk is based on good evidence.
The big question we put back to the reporter was, “Why the relatively low uptake?” Who actually knows about the app and whose responsibility was it to promote it to the community so the benefits can be realised? In part, we think it’s the community’s responsibility – leaders, residents, friends, family. If you know about it, pass the information on to someone who needs it. CERA could spend another $80k promoting it, or we, Canterbury residents, could take some responsibility for promoting things that help people.
The point of this wee rant is not to annoy you but to ask you to consider how you help people around you by sharing helpful information, contacts and tools. Do you share our newsletter? Have you invited anyone to the In the Know Hub seminars? Have you taken anyone who is stuck with earthquake stuff to the Hub?
There are a lot of people who need help, support, encouragement and a whole raft of other things at the moment. Whether you are through the process and feeling good or deeply in it and feeling in need of help yourself, you have a whole bunch of things that can help. Pass them on.
Making sense of the Residential Red Zone Preliminary Draft Recovery Plan
Below is a long but important post. If you’re thinking about making a submission about the residential red zone and the Crown offer for uninsured, vacant, or commercial properties, then take the time to read our summary.
There is an awful lot of history and narrative around the residential red zoning process. It is definitely a topic that has about 7400 ‘truths’ depending on whether the narrator is the Crown, insured, uninsured, underinsured, in the process of building, yet to build, a business owner, a not-for-profit organisation, a Port Hills or flat lands resident, a tenant, or someone living on Maori land. The way we perceived and received the Crown’s decision and subsequent offers was different depending on circumstance, how well we came out of the process, and how involved our heads or hearts were.
As one could expect, the Preliminary Draft Recovery Plan has plenty of CERA narrative around it, particularly in the description of the background and the outline of the judicial process which has ultimately led to the need for a plan to be developed. It seems an emotional document, not just because it is dealing with a difficult topic but also because there appears to be a need for the Crown to justify actions which the Supreme Court have since found wanting. The cynic may read the document and believe the Crown is trying to appeal to the audience with the ‘tax paying’ goggles on.
All cynicism and emotion aside, we have put together a bit of a summary for those who don’t want to read the whole document but who do want to give informed feedback beyond saying, “it’s not fair”.
You can use the following links to:
- Read the Preliminary Draft Recovery Plan
- Read the questions and answers for the Plan
- Download the hard copy comment form
Written comments can be:
- emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
- posted on facebook.com/CanterburyEarthquakeRecoveryAuthority@ceragovtnz using #redzoneoffer
- posted to Preliminary Draft Comments Residential Red Zone Offer Recovery Plan, Freepost CERA, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, Private Bag 4999, Christchurch 8140
Feedback must be received no later than 5pm Tuesday 19 May 2015.
What are you being asked to give feedback on?
The Crown wants your feedback on what the Crown offer should look like and how it should be structured as it relates to different groups of unresolved red zone properties.
The following questions are asked (note this is not the official format):
1. How important are the following factors when considering a new Crown offer for vacant, commercial or uninsured property owners:
- Insurance status:
- Standard of living in the red zone:
- Current (2013) valuation:
- Fairness/equity to other red zone property owners:
- Fairness/equity to green zone property owners:
- Are there any other factors you would like us to consider?
2. Do you think there should be a difference between the Crown offer for vacant, commercial or uninsured properties?
3. What offer should the Crown make to purchase vacant, commercial or uninsured properties in the red zone:
4. Other than a Crown offer, do you think there are any other approaches that should be considered for owners of vacant, commercial or uninsured properties in the red zone?
5. Is there anything else you think should be taken into account for any new Crown offer to :
- buy vacant red zone properties?
- buy commercial red zone properties?
- buy uninsured red zone properties?
- owners of Rapaki red zone properties?
- buy any other red zone properties?
Interestingly, the document also points out a few ‘additional context and factors’ things they would like you to put in your head when giving feedback and we think this is perhaps the most irksome part of the document.
Apparently the fact that the red zoning and related factors have cost more than the Crown possibly projected should impact on what is a fair offer for those still to be settled. It seems to be terribly unfair to disadvantage a group of people delayed by Crown decisions. The Supreme Court case highlighted circumstances where the Crown had previously not seemed overly worried by a need to tighten the money belt so it would seem only fair to apply that thinking now.
Our summary of the Preliminary Draft Residential Red Zone Recovery Plan
- The Supreme Court as good as said that any decisions made about the residential red zone from this point forward would be unlawful if not made under a Recovery Plan. Therefore, this exercise is not a delay tactic to add further distress; it is a requirement. Recovery Plans must be consulted on with the public so although it may seem like getting the tax paying concerned citizen to back the Crown up, it too is a requirement.
- The primary purpose of the Recovery Plan process is to determine whether the Crown should make offers to the owners of vacant, commercial and uninsured properties, and what form such offers should take. It doesn’t seek your opinion on what has happened to date, natural hazard remediation or mitigation options, or what the future of the red zone should be.
- In past decisions about what to offer affected homeowners, the Crown has made judgment calls meaning some underinsured (i.e.indemnity value cover) have been offered more than they were able to be insured for.
- Neither property owners of not-for-profit organisations who held insurance for their building(s), or owners of homes under construction who held building or construction works insurance could get land insurance cover. However, they were offered 100% of dwelling and rateable land value.
- The Crown has always been concerned about what kind of message it sends to wider New Zealand if they offer the same amount to fully insured and those not fully insured. Their concerns are:
- Subsidising the insurance cover purchased;
- being perceived as removing the incentive on property owners to insure themselves adequately; and
- creating a disincentive for the insurance market to offer adequate insurance cover.
- The Crown is also understandably concerned about recouping as much of the money as they can. Because there is no insurance cover on land, there is nothing to be recouped from vacant, uninsured and commercial land.
Why did the Crown only offer 50%? (paraphrased from p14)
- The September 2012 Crown offer was not compensation or welfare. It was an offer to purchase property, and as such needed to take into account what the Crown was purchasing.
- The decision not to offer a purchase price of 100% of the rating valuation was based on five main considerations:
- Fairness to other property owners, including:
- Insured red zone property owners who had paid their insurance premiums and had insurance cover and uninsured property owners in the green zone, many of whom lost significant equity in their property, and were not eligible for any Crown offer.
- When it purchased insured red zone properties, the Crown received the value of the insurance recoveries. When it purchased uninsured properties, there were no insurance claims to transfer to the Crown.
- The Crown would also need to cover the demolition costs with no reimbursement.
- The risks that paying 100% could reduce the incentive for property owners to insure in the future, or downplay the risk of owning uninsurable land.
- The greatly diminished value of the land.
- Fairness to other property owners, including:
What came out of the Court process?
- The September 2012 Crown offer to purchase vacant, commercial and uninsured red zone properties was challenged through the Courts by way of judicial review. The case went to the High Court, the Court of Appeal and eventually, the Supreme Court where a majority ruling was made. It has to be said that the court process was hardly a confident and definitive process, as judges and courts continued to disagree with different aspects of the lawfulness of the red zoning, the distinction made on the basis of insurance status, and the 50% offer.
- However, on 13 March 2015 the majority of the Supreme Court
agreed that the Crown offer to the “uninsured and uninsurable”
had not been lawfully made. It also concluded the following:
- Inconsistencies in how CERA applied justification to offers made to other affected groups meant that although insurance was not an irrelevant consideration, it was not a determinative factor (point 196 in Judicial Report – link)
- The recovery purpose of the CER Act which, among other things, is to restore the “social, economic, cultural, and environmental well-being” of Christchurch’s communities, was not property considered. The area-wide nature of the decisions on the red zones (as opposed to site specific decisions) suggested an area-wide community approach instead of a differential approach.
- Failure of process and consultation in June 2011 and delays in extending an offer to the uninsured and uninsurable were relevant to the decisions relating to the affected residents.
- The Crown should have taken into account the very difficult living conditions in the red zone when making the September 2012 offer.
This is an important topic, so hopefully our summary sheds a little more light on the situation and provides another perspective. If you make a submission, good on you and good luck./************ get tags and categories ****************/ ?>
Disputing to a deadline
If you still haven’t reached settlement stage with EQC, no doubt you are following the announcement that after 1 June, no more customers will be accepted in the Canterbury Home Repair Programme (CHRP) unless there’s prior agreement with EQR or EQC. EQC are encouraging people to make contact with them or EQR to let them know if they still want to be part of CHRP.
We don’t have a problem with the concept of a deadline on the basis that they need to know the numbers to resource. What we do have a problem with is what it appears to mean for people who are disputing their EQR scope or repair methodology.
We have raised our concern with EQC because a cynical person could interpret the messaging (below) as implying that EQC can hold out on trying to resolve those cases until after 1 June which effectively stops the option of having a CHRP managed repair. It’s one thing to say, ‘call us’ but it’s another thing to get EQC and EQR to act on the phone call.
From that date (1 June), both the customer and EQC should be clear about how the customer’s claim will be settled. Customers still in dispute can continue talking to EQC but settlement will not be as part of CHRP. Settlement will depend on their individual claim circumstances …
“The deadline does not signal the closure of the programme and repairs will continue for as long as needed to complete those we are committed to.
Our messaging to EQC is clear and consistent:
a) People should not be cash settled because EQC wants out of here. They have told us that they stand by their commitment not to cash settle solely for the purpose of packing up shop.
b) It’s not the residents’ issue if they have not reached a place where they can confidently put up their hand for a managed repair if EQC and/or EQR fail to address their concerns before the 1 June deadline. It’s EQC’s issue and therefore they should wear the consequences.
c) There are now ample opportunities for residents to get support with their questions and concerns regarding their EQC/EQR situation (EQC Customer Contact Team, Earthquake Support Coordinators, RAS, CIAS, In the Know Hub, etc). However, if the escalation process fails after that step, EQC has to fix the bit that is broken.
Things are able to change now that the EQR contract is finished and EQC assures us they are doing some things differently to try to get people to resolution. That’s encouraging but even CanCERN has a few trust scars, so we are looking to work pretty closely with EQC on this issue.
In the meantime, if you are concerned please go to the In the Know Hub where there are multiple channels that can help./************ get tags and categories ****************/ ?>
Cash settlement, IFV, and other seminars
The In The Know Hub has been up and running for a month now and has had more than 700 residents through its doors.
One of the main attractions has been the Thursday seminars, which have so far focussed on cash settlement and Increased Flooding Vulnerability. If you missed these, they have been filmed and you can view them all here.
Written feedback from residents after the seminars has been very positive:
Future seminars will include:
- IFV (part two) – an engineering perspective
- Cash settlement (part three) – managing your own repairs
Other seminar topics are being worked out will be confirmed soon.
Make sure you like the CanCERN Facebook page to keep up to date with upcoming seminars information./************ get tags and categories ****************/ ?>
ILV & IFV settlement timeframes
Here’s the latest update:
EQC expects to settle all claims for Increased Flooding Vulnerability by late this year or early next year. If they are able to settle claims at full capacity (about 300 per week), they project they could have all but the most complex claims resolved before Christmas.
Claims for Increased Liquefaction Vulnerability will start to be settled once the ILV policy is finalised. This is expected to occur in July. This means ILV claim settlement is likely to continue during 2016.
Claims for land where there is no potential for ILV or IFV will be settled soon. Other visible land damage claims will be settled once it is confirmed whether or not properties are eligible for IFV and/or ILV./************ get tags and categories ****************/ ?>
Cash settlement public meeting
Need advice about cash settlement? There’s a public meeting coming up at the Cardboard Cathedral where you can hear a couple of lawyers talk it out. Discussion will cover EQC and private insurer cash settlement.
Who: Duncan Webb – Lane Neave Lawyers, Peter Wood – Anthony Harper Lawyers
When: May 25th, 7.00pm – 9.00pm
Where: Christchurch Transitional Cathedral, 234 Hereford Street, Christchurch
(In case you missed the recent cash settlement seminars at the In The Know Hub, you can find videos of them here.)