What is the CBD?
I think everyone needs to take a step back and look at what Covid has done - not just to the CBD but also to the entire Auckland Region.
Of course, there is something in particular that has happened to the CBD - people realise they can work from home or satellite offices.
Now, this has created a special and unique set of issues, while at the same time it has given Auckland a wonderful benefit - a massive reduction in traffic to and from the CBD.
The businesses that rely on having people in the CBD are suffering. Simple cause and effect. This however produces the question: Should workers go back to the CBD just to keep that service industry going? (I'm calling retail and food/drink the service industry as a simplistic combined description).
Granted, working from home or satellite offices can severely impact certain aspects of business, such as social needs, the immediate ability to ask colleagues questions, or physical document handling.
So, should we be thinking outside the box now? Does the Covid recovery also include a full rethink on how a CBD operates?
Is there actually a need for a central area packed full of corporations given so much is done digitally now?
Overheads for businesses could be dramatically reduced by having suburban offices and people working from home.
Maybe now is the time to press the reset button.
So what should the CBD therefore become?
A tourist haven?
A large central segment of high-density apartment block housing?
Maybe the right thing to do now is to turn it into the 'civic centre' of Auckland, and not the business centre.
Granted, certain companies want and need to be located together in a corporate business hub - but many do not.
We could focus on it being a hub for events, arts, and functions.
The social side of the CBD problem requires major input from Police and Government.
I would like to see a downtown CBD station opened again with the primary role being feet on the street - but that's a Government fix. I'll lobby for it.
Currently, the CBD policing is done out of the new College Hill station but there are no boots on the ground anymore - it's a callout by car only and as the Police are focusing on Family Harm callouts the CBD is neglected.
The Government needs to take a bigger part in resolving the social services within the CBD - the current MP is simply talking about it, but not doing anything.
Outside of work reasons, people do not want to go to the CBD for any other reason but the bars, restaurants and nightclubs - and even that is changing.
Once upon a time, it used to be a place for special shopping trips but now that so many areas have large shopping malls the public sees no need to venture into the CBD.
It's awful to navigate, and not worth the time.
The designer brand stores are for tourists and a few rare locals.
The new downtown mall serves those who choose to live in the CBD, but really all of that area is designed for the tourism dollar.
Newmarket is a great example of how a large mall can kill off the smaller independent street shop.
The new Downtown mall is a case in point.
Much of the Queen Street changes to date have become a disaster for the shopping precinct, and many will eventually close and abandon the CBD.
If elected as Mayor my focus is to turn Auckland Council into an efficient, effective provider of core services for every part of the region, not just the CBD.
If Auckland Council works properly, then the city can too - including the CBD.
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My thoughts, ideas, visions and policies.