Friday, August 24, 2007

Silence-seekers get a blasting

Silence-seekers moving to a small town in France have been told to put up or shut up (click headline for link).

It relates to the same issue in Kings Cross where some residents create a lot of noise complaining about noise because they do not accept that they have moved into a red-light district and a world-wide destination.

Apart from extreme instances, the problem of course is really in their own minds. People with that mindset will complain about any noise anywhere, and not only in rural towns in France. There have been similar examples here in Sydney -- Oxford Falls residents complaining about people riding horses down a dirt road, West Pymble residents complaining about Koels starting their songs in the forest at 3am and Circular Quay residents complaining about trains sounding their horns as they enter tunnels (a primary safety practice).

As well as free dog-training lessons, Council might save itself a lot of grief by offering these people free relaxation lessons that include simple differentiation between external stimuli and and subjective reactions, and how we control the latter.

Even the most basic lessons in Buddhist technique teach that.

Monday, August 13, 2007

My letter published in the Wentworth Courier 080807

Well they published the letter pasted into the previous blog entry.

On Saturday night we noticed the sniffer dog patrol was out, trawling the queue outside Ladylux nightclub in their campaign to keep people out of Kings Cross. Interesting that the local whingers contributed to that club losing its development approval partly by claiming that the queuing blocked the footpath (shock, horror!). Yet there seemed to be plenty of room for the dog patrol...

To the advantages of entertainment saturation listed in my letter I wanted to add: That the incoming crowds create a 'critical mass' that is a party in itself. I LOVE the endless variety of people you see and meet around here when it's pumping. Of course the old bores don't even register this. It's all 'impact' and 'adverse amenity' to them.

The suggestion made by one local that entertainment venues should be spaced 100 metres apart would of course kill this critical mass while spreading Kings Cross alone over about a 20km radius. Smart.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Is Frank Sartor still kicking heads in Kings Cross?

Given the lockstep between Council and the Police in the war on Kings Cross, I was wondering where the state government push was coming from.

I got a clue from the Autumn 2002 edition of City News in which then Mayor Frank Sartor enthuses about 'civilising' Kings Cross using the zero tolerance techniques applied in New York.

'I was particularly interested in the use of multi-agency teams of police, fire inspectors, health inspectors and building safety experts to target issues ranging from prostitution to unauthorised signage,' said Frank, laying out his vision to 'civilise' the Cross.

Sound familiar?

'A key to the success of cleaning up key precincts has been the unrelenting attention of authorities to forcing out undesirable elements, backed up by major improvements in urban amenity,' he goes on.

Five years later the issues are identical but the Cross is suffering a stalemate between the social forces that create it and the relentless dead hand of Council regulation, the de-funding of the local arts community, raids on the adult shops, and police street searches and sniffer dog patrols which do little except scare people away from the place.

Far from 'civilising' the place -- as if a bully like Frank Sartor would even know what the word meant -- it's just the old story of middle class arrogance which always thinks it knows better than the rest of us how we should lead our lives. These types cannot bear to see one small precinct thumbing its nose at their suburban cultural cringe which worships moneyed, respectable sterility as the only good. Planning Minister Sartor and the supporters of the war are no more than tidy-town NIMBYs, albeit powerful ones.

In the same publication Frank outlined his vision for the extended Cross City Tunnel and the 'greening' of William Street. He claimed increasing the cost from $273 million to $410 million for the longer tunnel would be offset by 'extra toll revenue from additional patronage'. He was very, very wrong about that, too.

Reading about the late night trading issue in the Wentworth Courier, I felt inspired to fire off the following letter:


While we all support the idea of more Melbourne-style venues in soulless old Sydney, all the backslapping about 'curbing the late night booze festivals' in Kings Cross amounts to little more than a few old bores primping and fussing about young people having a good time.

Their mantra of 'over-saturation' is meaningless when applied to the Cross which has been 'over-saturated' with entertainment outlets for many decades. That's why it's popular. It's partly why I and all my local friends moved here.

The killjoys willfully ignore the many advantages of this 'over-saturation': punters can arrive by public transport and travel on foot among many different venues, making the roads safer than if they drove; Police response is famously fast as they need only a small area to cover; and enforcement of venue management standards becomes easier.

The Cross also acts as a centre for dispossessed and marginalised people, concentrating them where the services and outreach teams are while at the same time providing a safer environment than if they were pushed out to the suburbs.

Authorities have now spent millions and several years trying to kill the Cross but the issues have not changed. The war on Kings Cross is not working and if it does it will merely displace the problems to other suburbs less well-placed to deal with them. This is the shame of all NIMBYs.

Instead, we need to take off the regulatory screws, continue managing the problems and seek positive, arts-led solutions to changing the people mix and the daytime retail slump.

And if you can't stand the heat...

Michael Gormly, Kings Cross