Last Thursday the Council decided its position on the Private Plan Change for Ocean Beach. I and by far the majority of Councillors oppose what is being proposed by the landowners. I do not believe the Private Plan Change offers the necessary protection to the northern end of the beach, and I think 1000 houses will destroy the very essence of a much loved piece of our coast line.
The petition mounted by BayBuzz (Editor: among many others) did reinforce the general public sentiment. I congratulate all those involved in getting the signatures together. You believe in what you are promoting and are prepared to do the work to show us.
I want to briefly discuss the message that was delivered on Thursday that simply said “ Just say no.” While this may be appealing, I don’t believe it will stand the scrutiny of the RMA process based on the evidence. I have poured over thousands of pages of evidence during the past two years. I liken the “saying no” argument to a discussion we will probably all have had with children. Simply saying no when they are young may work, but as they get older and become more aware of subject they then question the word no, and it needs to be justified.
So is the case here. I am aware that all sorts of experts will be involved in the Commissioner Hearings. Those that will argue for the landowners, those that will argue the Councils’ positions and those brought in to help other submitters. I have a duty to try and assess all the information I have been given. This includes that from the applicants, the Council and opposition groups such as Future Ocean Beach. I have done exactly that to get to my view.
My position is formed on the following principles.
1. The landowners already have existing rights for 26 lots which could arguably be taken to 52. These extend the complete length of the beach.
2. The northern end of the beach requires permanent protection from development.
3. The public requires a large reserve, which should include a camping ground.
4. The areas that development could occur need to be determined. The scale and timing of this needs to be resolved.
For these reasons I am not persuaded that simply saying no is a valid option. This is a highly complicated issue but I am determined to get it resolved. I don’t have a final view on what the answer will be. That is what the process will determine. What I will say though is I am not interested in delay tactics by any party. Much energy and effort has already gone into this by all sides and the sooner it is resolved the better.