Auckland’s Secret 412 Earthquake Prone Buildings – updated

Whilst Wellington City Council has made its list of 808 earthquake prone buildings available to the public, the new Auckland super city has refused to do the same.

According to a report in today’s Herald one of the reasons is a fear that to do so may affect property values.

Up to 412 commercial buildings in the old Auckland City area are likely to collapse in a moderate earthquake, according to a public register which the new Super City council is keeping secret.

Auckland Council chief executive Doug McKay – with backing from Mayor Len Brown – yesterday refused to release the “earthquake-prone building register” of 412 unreinforced masonry buildings because it was out of date and could affect owners’ property values.

“It’s in the process of being reviewed to find out which of the old buildings have been upgraded and which ones have not,” Mr McKay said…” read the full report in the Herald here

The paper goes on to say that many of the buildings are places like Dominion Road‘s shopping and restaurant district, Kingsland, Sandringham Rd and the Onehunga Mall. The buildings are likely to be mostly “two-storey double-skin brick buildings comparable to the weakest structures in Christchurch” built before the building standards were tightened-up in 1976.

Even if the list is out of date it is still owned by the public and should be made available to them.

According to the report Auckland councils used to have a policy that they would “encourage” building owners to strengthen their properties only if they were renovated, or if changes were made to them.

No pressure then, probably because Auckland is considered to be at a low rate of risk for having a moderate earthquake  due to it sitting on hard volcanic rock.

Geonet have no quake drums in Auckland shown on their web site, only volcano drums. The city was last rocked by three shallow earthquakes on 21 February 2007, the largest of which was 4.5 on the Richter scale. They were centred in the Hauraki Gulf

“The tremors, which are unusual for Auckland, were described as shallow quakes and were felt as far afield as Te Atatu and Kawau Island.

The smaller earthquake at 8.24pm measured 3.7, the second (4.5) was at 9pm, and the third (3.8) was at 11.23…….” source

If some buildings may have been strengthened since it was compiled then the council should make that clear when it releases the list.

Then if  building owners have carried out strengthening work (which is probably unlikely given that perceived low risk) and feel that their property’s value has been affected no doubt they will very quickly come forward and say so, then a revised list may be issued.

To not issue such an important document for the fear that it will affect property values is reprehensible. Are the council perhaps also afraid of a commercial property rates devaluation?

The public has a right to know. What they then do with that information is up to them but they should be able to make a valid decision on where to shop, live, work and stay. That is something that they’re being denied right now.

Related

Auckland’s quake fix go-slow – As in Christchurch, Auckland owners of older buildings are permitted up to 30 years to strengthen them.

If they are critical buildings (e.g. hospitals) they have 10 years.  Buildings with community value or large numbers of people have until 2019.

Even if the work is done it only has to comply with 30% of the standard of a new building and there are serious doubts that these buildings would withstand an earthquake such as Christchurch experienced last month.

Read the full report on Stuff.co.nz