Auckland has many vibrant urban centres, from Wellsford through to Pukekohe, but the one that is drawing attention is our centre city.
In the past two decades, Auckland's CBD has opened to our harbour. We now have a superb east-to-west city orientation from Wynard Quarter, through to the Viaduct and into Commercial Bay and Britomart.
This should continue and we should peel back the red gates and open more of our harbour to the people.
But walking into Queen St and surrounds from the fine new developments of Commercial Bay and Britomart is a shock with empty shops, rough sleepers, and beggars - and it needs fixing.
Covid, crime and endless construction have made downtown a no-go area.
It's earned a deserved reputation as a crime hotspot. Offending, and worst of all violent offending, was up by 30 per cent in each of the past years. People won't go there because of disorder and lawlessness.
Businesses have been killed off by CRL contractors who have needlessly taken over whole streets to park their utes, toilets, and lunchrooms. It's more than an inconvenience. People won't feel safe in a maze of laneways and deserted, dimly-lit side streets leading to dead-end construction fences and blind alleys.
It's a nightmare for people with disabilities, mums and dads with prams, and the elderly. This urban obstacle course is a real barrier to accessing the city.
I'm running for mayor to fix Auckland. The council needs to clean up the mess it's made, make Aucklanders and visitors feel safe again, and get the city moving.
Having fixed some of New Zealand's biggest infrastructure failures, and as an engineer, I know you don't need free parking for contractors to get projects done. As mayor, I would restrict contractors to a single 3m-wide access strip and watch the fences come down, allowing vehicles, pedestrians, and customers to use the streets again.
We need to literally clean up the streets. Rubbish, road cones, and graffiti must go.
We need to prioritise finishing the projects we have started. We don't need more delays. We certainly don't need any more Think Big projects down Queen St that destroy inner-city businesses in the name of saving them.
It is unlikely office workers will ever return in pre-Covid numbers, so the council needs to make it easier to convert under-utilised office space to apartments. I live just off Karangahape Rd, on the doorstep of the CBD, and the mix of people and the vibrancy compares favourably to the empty shops down the road.
It's a no-brainer to return a police station to downtown. It's ridiculous that one of the main trouble spots is directly in front of the old police station site on Fort St. The Auckland mayor has unused power to call in the ministers of police, justice, and social development and explain what is expected. I'll use them.
We need to improve lighting and urban design to avoid dark corners that breed trouble. In New York, just installing new lighting in problem areas cut serious crime at night by a third.
We need CCTV cameras, and we need them to be actually monitored, and make use of the latest technology to provide fast alerts for emerging trouble. We need security guards to prevent crime.
I am a member of the Otahuhu Business Association. Our biggest spend is on security; we are proud to operate more than 80 cameras in our retail and community areas because there cannot be business or social life in the absence of safety. The result is no vacancies, way less crime, no rough sleepers or beggars and strong retail sales.
Read the other candidates' views:
• Leo Molloy: Auckland got lost because it didn't know where it was going
• Craig Lord: We have changed and Auckland needs to change as well
• Viv Beck: Let's back ourselves to make things happen
• Efeso Collins: Bringing hope back will revitalise Auckland
• Ted Johnston: A competent and effective council with a wise leader
• Gary Brown: Ideas aplenty to kickstart the city
• John Lehmann: Let's reconnect Auckland Council, the ratepayers, and the public
• Michael Morris: A revitalised Auckland for all inhabitants, great and small
The CBD business association, Heart of the City, has squandered its council income on one-off events in the hope of attracting customers rather than making it safe to return and investing its council funding in security.
Everyone – office workers, theatre goers, apartment dwellers, tourists, women, the convenience store owners, people with disabilities, vulnerable people in emergency housing – should feel safe and know that they are no longer easy targets.
The CBD needs fixing, and so does Auckland. Open up the waterfront; fix infrastructure and prioritise finishing our big projects, stop wasteful spending and look at the real problems.
Then we get Auckland moving, and we have a city for people, not contractors and criminals.
• Wayne Brown is a businessman, former Far North mayor, leader of the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy working group, and Auckland mayoral candidate.