With 10,000 homeless and thousands more in insecure, unaffordable or unsuitable accommodation, Dublin’s housing crisis is one of the biggest issues of our time. We simply need to do better. The only way to do that is build. We have viable, developable land all over Dublin but time and time again we do not plan for social and affordable housing properly in new builds. In a city with so many homeless it is simply appalling to have so many derelict and vacant properties. The current threshold for a property to be deemed derelict is too high. Properties may be derelict but unless they have visible structural damage, officials are slow to categorise them as derelict. The 3 percent charge on derelict sites is also far too low and does not incentivise the property owners to act, we need to push for a higher levy so that derelict sites can be revitalised and become new homes. We need a new model for renting similar to what can be seen in cities across Europe, America and Asia. We need to look at introducing rent control, as well as cost rental schemes. Cost rental is where rent charged is used to cover the cost of constructing the accommodation over the life of a long-term building loan. This enables the government to plan affordable housing and to continue to build homes even during a downturn. A cost rental scheme is due to come online in Shankill soon, if elected to Dublin City Council I would work to bring similar schemes to the city centre.
We need models like we have in other European cities, in US cities like New York, and in Asian cities like Hong Kong, where there is rent control. In addition there need to be more cost-rental schemes available. There is one to come online in Shankill, but we need more. Cost-rental, simply put, is where rent charged is used to cover the cost of constructing the accommodation over the life of a long-term building loan. This enables the government to plan affordable housing and to continue to build homes even during a downturn.
Currently there is a Derelict Sites Register, however the threshold for a property to be deemed derelict by officials is too high. A property may be derelict, but unless it appears to have visible structural damage, a hole in the roof etc., officials are slow to categorise it as derelict. Also the charge on a derelict site is 3 percent of the property's value is far too low and does not incentivise the property owners to act. We need to push for a higher levy so that the owners would act. In a city with so many homeless it is simply appalling to have so many derelict and vacant properties.
Dublin needs one overall transport plan for the city not multiple plans for different areas. We have the NTA, but we also have many transport working groups that are not coordinated. What is required is an overall masterplan that facilitates and future-proofs our infrastructure for public transport, motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.
In the canal cordon report by the NTA for 2018, figures showed that cyclists and pedestrians now account for 50 percent of the traffic in Dublin city. Between 2006 to 2007, the number of motorists has decreased while the number of cyclists has increased fourfold, yet there is still no proper cycling infrastructure. As mentioned, we need a proper overall masterplan for transport that facilitates all modes of transport. We need proper cycle routes that are active for 24 hours a day rather than only during peak hours. The current canal cycle route, the proposed Liffey Cycle Route and the Sutton-to-Sandycove Cycle Route are all positive steps to increasing safer infrastructure for cyclists but we need more. My colleague Councillor Patrick Costello’s proposal of safe school zones and his motion with Councillor Paddy Smyth on public consultation for a quietway from Kimmage to Ballsbridge are great initiatives showing how we can plan for better cycling infrastructure. Equally, the great work done by the Dublin Cycling Campaign, Cyclists.ie in terms of advocating and lobbying for cyclists is what we need more of to ensure that cyclists are heard. I would very much like to see leadership in the area similar to that of [Mayor] Anne Hidalgo in Paris, where she closed sections of the motorway along the Seine in Paris to give space over to walking and cycling. We need to look at cities like Paris, Aarhus and London and learn from their transport planning.
The Green Party has always been the leading party in Ireland for climate action. Time and time again we introduced measures for climate action which were blocked by the government. Climate action needs to happen at a national and local level. From a local level we need to support the city to fight climate by using more renewable energy, divesting from fossil fuels, providing more greener commuting options and using energy wisely. My colleagues Councillor Claire Byrne and Councillor Ciarán Cuffe were part of a committee that hosted a series of workshops on what we can do in terms of climate action in the city. We need similar workshops across the city, in schools, in companies, and at public events. We need climate action to be part of the daily conversation and not just a call to action. On a personal level, I set up a group called Mothers4Climate to support the FridaysForFuture climate school strikes.
I would introduce better enforcement to combat illegal dumping. Currently we only have 13 litter wardens. This is simply not enough. We need more on-the-spot fines and ways to monitor illegal-dumping activity. For areas with frequent activity, these areas need to have deterrent measures to stop individuals from taking advantage. In relation to dog fouling, we need to incentivise individuals to pick up after their dogs, and provide free bags and more bins, but we also need to deter them by actually applying fines and other methods such as naming and shaming.
Like vacant and derelict sites we have spaces around Dublin that if "greened" would make great public spaces and parks. I would propose to make a list of any available sites and request that the council take these areas in charge and provide more green spaces for our city. This would include pocket parks.
One of the most important roles of a councillor is to write the City Development Plan. As part of this, I would insist that all developments include publicly accessible green space.