If re-elected I will seek funding from central government for the staff and funding to build public housing. I'll also try and reduce the red tape around housing. Currently Dublin City Council has to go through a four-stage approval process when we wish to build. That needs to be simplified.There is also scope to use innovate finance from credit unions, semi-state pension funds, and allowing councils to issue bonds, but that requires central government action.
Increasing housing supply is crucial, but we also need to move towards the cost-rental model as is in place in cities like Vienna. I've been to Austria and I've seen what can be done. We need to build, and build in the numbers necessary to tackle the housing crisis. Rent caps, and strict limits on evictions in order to increase tenant security are also required.
Increased housing supply and a "Housing First" approach will help. Ten years ago we had 1,400 homeless beds. We now have 2,300, and people are still unable to be accommodated. This is wrong and housing construction needs to be prioritised by the Department of Housing instead of hostels and family hubs.
Property rights are making it difficult for the council to take action. We need to be clear. The right to the common good trumps the right to private property. It is wrong that buildings are sitting empty for more than twenty years. I'll try and establish a hit squad to tackle long-term vacant property (including state-owned lands such as court offices on Smithfield that have been empty for twenty years), and I'll seek a report on these every month until the problem is solved.
BusConnects is good in principle but in some areas has taken a bulldozer approach to green space, heritage and trees. This is wrong. I want inter-disciplinary design teams that can bring communities, landscapers, and place-makers around the table to improve the public realm, and public transport. We need to move away from engineers' obsessions with "parallel lines" on the map. We also need to lower fares, and increase the number of buses as we've less in service than 10 years ago.
Segregated cycle lanes are the way to go. Let's beef up the staffing in our local authorities and set up a Dublin Cycling Office that will co-ordinate cycling improvements for the entire city. We'll also need to put [Transport] Minister [Shane] Ross under pressure, as we are only receiving a drip-feed of funding. This means that we're only two phases along with DublinBikes, despite having a plan for fifteen phases. We also need to speed up the roll-out of cycle parking and allow the public to nominate where they want to see new cycle parking.
Along with Cllr Claire Byrne I've co-chaired a Climate Action Committee of the city council. Our draft plan will hopefully be approved at the May city council meeting. The plan only tackles the city council's own emissions, so we'll also seek funding from government to tackle fuel poverty by bring our homes up to an A energy rating, and make it easier to walk and cycle around town.
–Publish the names of those convicted of littering online and in the local papers.
–Produce and distribute a simple one page leaflet in English and other useful languages that explains how to dispose of your rubbish legally and where to buy bin bags/tags.
–Place CCTV and signage in areas that have a high incidence of illegal dumping. Use still images from CCTV with the faces pixellated on posters to name and shame serial offenders.
–Run a competition to design an app that would streamline the reporting of illegally dumped waste from smart phones, or consider publicising existing apps.
–Allocate the amount of litter wardens to areas proportionate to the amount of illegal waste and dumping.
–Distribute two free ‘"pooper-scooper bags", envelopes and an information leaflet when people apply for or renew their dog licence, and increase the number of bins for dog waste.
–Publicise the Dublin City Council Litter hotline (1800 248 348) and the yearly free bulk-waste collection for large household items.
–Seek changes in the private rental tenancy legislation to ensure that landlords make clear how waste will be disposed of in rental agreements.
–Place a small sign on a utility pole at the end of each street stating what days of the month the street or road will be cleaned, along with contact details for the council.
–Provide a mandatory domestic waste-collection service for multi-occupancy units and bill the owners.
Thankfully we've opened up the Croppies Acre park to the public in recent years. We now need to roll out more on-street tree planting, and pocket parks with a tree, a bench, and a patch of grass where parents can bring young children without having to cross a road. Some parks (such as the one by the Mater Hospital) are still closed, and I'll try and push our staff to open these small parks to the public once more, as well as seek publicly accessible green space in new developments.
We need to massively improve the public realm in Dublin. I'm working hard to take traffic out of College Green and pedestrianise it (we'll hopefully have a new application to Bord Pleanála later this year). I also want a city councillor to chair the public-realm working group and seek to provide detailed public-realm improvement plans for an improved pedestrian and cycling environment at: Cathal Brugha Street at Thomas’ Church, Parnell Square, Parnell Street; Townsend Street/D’Olier Street, Kevin Street/Patrick Street, Kevin Street/Bride Street, Merrion Row, etc.