Citizens’ agenda
Local elections 2019

Patricia Roe

 

Use public lands to deliver more housing as an immediate measure to build more social, affordable-purchase housing and affordable-rental housing. Give the Land Development Agency an explicit role to get homes built, to raise finance, and to plan for the future with a target of 20,000 homes per year (currently 7,500). Scrap the Rainy Day Fund and use the money to invest in housing. Introduce a new affordable-housing scheme to target first-time buyers and the “locked-out” generation. Significantly improve funding for local authorities and voluntary housing, and site enabling works. Take carrot and stick measures to free up vacant land, and vacant and underused homes. Introduce a land-hoarding tax. Ring-fence 20 percent of new developments for affordable housing – in addition to the existing 10 percent social. End overcharging by banks on mortgage interest payments.

 

Freeze all rents at current levels for next two years. Strengthen tenants' rights. Provide incentives for business to convert "over-the-shop" accommodation. This accommodation would be in older buildings, and may have noise, traffic issues, but therefore would not command premium rental. Take the lead from other European cities, e.g. Vienna, where the city council plans and provides for affordable-rental homes and apartments, it works with developers, under stringent conditions, to provide a wide selection of types of accommodation to suit people at different stages of life, larger homes for families and "step-down" dwellings for older people/those wishing to downsize. Support budget increase for DCC to enforce new legislation with regard to short-term rental properties.

 

Many of the above points, if implemented, would go towards reducing homelessness. If rents are affordable, and kept at an affordable level, and if the supply of housing is increased, there will be an automatic reduction in homelessness. The current government see housing as an issue, like all other social issues, to be solved by the "market". This neo-liberal attitude to social issues is one of the key causes of the current situation. Instead of creating REITs for foreign investors to purchase whole blocks of newly built apartments the government should be providing funding for DCC to purchase to add to its stock.

 

As above – introduce a land-hoarding tax. Provide incentives for small builders/individuals to build on brownfield/vacant sites in the city. Vote for more local area plans to be drawn up, so that more vacant sites can be identified.

 

Put transport planning at the heart of all significant housing plans. We must end the practice of building homes before we build the infrastructure that will serve them.

 

First and foremost – SEGRATE CYCLE LANES. Allow for left-hand turning for cyclists, when safe to do so, on a red light. Start making certain streets in the city centre cycle-only. It has taken almost eight years to decide on a route for the Liffey Cycleway, and work has yet to start, so be more experimental –try out different ideas and see do they work – copy how this has been pioneered in Copenhagen. Reduce the number of on-street parking spaces available. Discourage people from driving into town and remove obstacles to cyclists. On all of the above, I would hope to make proposals and work with DCC officials to make cycling a viable and option for Dubliners.

 

Ensure that Ireland meets its emissions targets by investing in high-capacity transport, retro-fitting for homes and workplaces, helping agricultural business to reduce their carbon footprint. A new Home Energy Grants scheme were home owners and small businesses can avail of retro-fit grants and pay for the work through their utility bills. The above is Social Democrats party policy on climate change, which I would use my position to promote. However, as a councillor, I would actively work to fund improvements to infrastructure for electric cars, cycling and public transport in Dublin city.

Could DCC be a pioneer in making Dublin plastic-free? I would work to improve the waste recycling and reducing options for the public with better information, more civic amenity centres, and a focus on upcycling/repairing unwanted goods. Charges for household recyclables should be restricted. I would vote to introduce a ban on micro-plastics and on certain single-use plastics, encourage the introduction of a deposit-return scheme and to provide more options for householders to recycle plastics. Work on a scheme whereby businesses, particularly convenience stores, are incentivised to provide plastic recycling options for the public, at their premises.

Plant more trees.

 

Encourage people to report dog-littering sightings – similar to the DoodooWatch in some UK towns – so solutions can be focussed on areas with a high level of fouling. Supply free doggie bags at entrances to parks and sufficient bins to dispose of waste nearby. Substantially increase fines for all of the above and, importantly, enforce fines. Employ more litter and dog wardens, deliver on-the-spot fines. Illegal dumping – greater investment in and use of cctv and drones. Increase fines to fit the crime, especially when illegal dumping is being carried out by businesses. It all boils down to providing more funding to DCC to employ more staff to enforce laws already in place.

 

More institutional lands behind high walls should be opened up to the public. Increase the number of small green spaces, on corners of city-centre residential streets. I saw this done really well recently in Amsterdam. Knock down one-off derelict buildings to achieve this. People have a greater sense of ownership of small, local green spaces and play areas, as opposed to the the huge empty greens that you find in housing estates all over Dublin.

 

I would work with council officials to bring more public spaces into public ownership, if they are not already. I would investigate whether it would be possible to introduce a new scheme, whereby high-net-worth individuals or companies could be encouraged to fund public spaces, art, culture and heritage. Request that when leases of new public spaces are being drawn up, that provision is made to maintain them in public use. To make public spaces ‘"nicer", I think people should be encouraged to develop a sense of ownership of said spaces. So, as already mentioned, create smaller more localised public spaces, encourage more use of public spaces by organised groups and continue/improve the work of Public Domain staff, in conjunction with local groups, to have regular "clean-up" days.

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