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On this page:   Abuse of Power   Tackling IY Problems   Can we stop CTZS   Freedom of Speech   City's Utility Budget   Objecting to new Property Rates   Cell phone masts   Poisoned Disa River   Hout Bay Harbour

The community speaks out against the abuse of power

Email from DA Ward 74 Councillor Marga Haywood to Lennit Max, Minister of Community Safety, 25 April 2010

“Dear Lennit

You may have heard by now that our Neighbourhood Watch Chairman, Robert Paterson, was suspended by the Hout Bay Station Commissioner, Colonel Xesha, on Thursday, 22 April 2010, purportedly for discussing the increase in violent crime in Hout Bay and the reasons therefore, with the press.

This situation should be regarded as a serious setback for democracy, for the following reasons:

  1. Neighbourhood Watches are part of and under the control of Community Policing Fora, whose oversight over the South African Police was entrenched in s 215 of the 1994 Interim Constitution. The constitutional objective was oversight over the Police, and NOT VICE VERSA. The police have authority over any civilian only in as far as they break the law, and should, for obvious reasons, not control their constitutional oversight bodies, nor their rights relating to freedom of expression.
  2. Since 2005 Commissioner Petros, and your predecessor, Leonard Ramatlakana, attempted to control civilian oversight bodies (CPF’s) by imposing Constitutions and Codes of Conduct on them. In 2005, as the former CPF chairperson of Hout Bay & Llandudno Community Policing Forum (HB&L CPF), I became aware of how the Constitutional objective was undermined by this (the tail wagging the dog), and advised my committee accordingly. As a result we (HB&L CPF) refused to adopt the Constitution that gave SAPS control over CPF’s.
  3. In retaliation Petros attempted to dissolve HB&L CPF, and subsequently ordered Hout Bay SAPS not to co-operate with us.
  4. In response HB&L CPF launched an urgent application in the High Court. Judge Deon van Zyl presided, and was scathing when he pointed out to Ed Booth, SAPS legal advisor, that SAPS did not have the authority to either dissolve CPF’s nor to refuse to co-operate with them.
  5. As a result the matter was settled and SAPS conceded that they did not have said authority.
  6. The Court Action was hailed as a victory for democracy by a number of organisations, including IDASA, UCT and the DA.
  7. The actions of Colonel Xesha, in the presence of Colonel Billy Jones and other SAPF members, on Thursday, was not only ultra vires, but also in contravention of the procedural fairness requirement in s33 of the National Constitution. Mr. Paterson was not informed that the meeting, which was called for another purpose, was going to deal with any purported misconduct on his side, nor was he given an opportunity to state his case or to apply his mind before he was summarily suspended. (Audi alterem partem rule).
  8. Apart from the procedural deficit, and the lack of authority, there was also no substance to the purported charges, which were never formally put to him.
  9. Should such usurpation of authority by SAPF be tolerated, it will certainly be a defeat for democracy.
  10. In my humble opinion the matter should be addressed by the MEC for Safety and Security, and any provincial constitutions and codes of conduct, allowing the SAPF to encroach on the oversight role of oversight bodies such as CPF’s, and their Neighbourhood Watches, should be reviewed and rectified.

I would appreciate that this matter be treated as urgent, in view of the fact that any delay may affect the right of the affected parties to approach the High Court on an urgent basis.”

Statement from Mark Wiley, MPP, Community Safety Portfolio Chairman, 26 April 2010

“STATEMENT REGARDING SAPF DISPUTE AND ROB PATERSON

I met today with Lt Col Xesha and Captain Bester of the Hout Bay SAPF and earlier separately with Jim McKenna, CPF Chairman, and Rob Paterson, the Neighbourhood Watch Chairman.

I am satisfied that there is enough common ground and good will to salvage the situation and efforts are being pursued to achieve this end. In this regard I have encouraged Lt Col Xesha to complete her investigation by Thursday so that she will be in the best position to take an informed view while at the same time parallel efforts are being taken to find a constructive way forward.

It is a reality that it often takes a tragedy to find out the flaws in a system and this case is no exception. The key is effective communication to avoid a repetition. And as so often in times of crisis it is not the crisis itself but the way in which one reacts to it.

In this regard I appeal to all concerned to refrain from speculation, finger pointing, the stirring of passions and pointless rhetoric. The fact remains the SAPF needs to get on with their often thankless tasks and the community of Hout Bay needs to continue to give them every support to succeed - as they have done in the past. Anything else will see the ‘bad guys’ win.”


On this page:   Abuse of Power   Tackling IY Problems   Can we stop CTZS   Freedom of Speech   City's Utility Budget   Objecting to new Property Rates   Cell phone masts   Poisoned Disa River   Hout Bay Harbour

Tackling the problems of Imizamu Yethu

MEDIA RELEASE NO. 849/ 2009, ISSUED BY COMMUNICATION DEPARTMENT CITY OF CAPE TOWN, 14 DECEMBER 2009

Recent reports from the Health Directorate have declared the Disa River mouth and lagoon water unsafe. The City strongly urges the public not to go near this swimming spot on Hout Bay beach as the water has a high E. coli count and poses a potential threat to human and animal health.

Dr. Paul Nkurunziza, acting Executive Director: City Health says: "In order to secure public health, residents and visitors are urged to refrain from using the water body for any form of recreation. This includes swimming, playing and drinking."

City Health has erected signs around the area bearing this warning. Adverts will be placed in local newspapers. Notices are set to be distributed to public venues such as the local library, clinics, schools, shopping malls, hotels and guest houses.

There have been two isolated incidents where a Hout Bay resident and an animal have become ill from swimming in the water. The affected resident was fortunate in that he recovered, but the animal had to be euthanised.

Henry du Plessis, the City's Director: Roads and Stormwater, says: "Water quality in the Disa River as measured in terms of bacterial contamination deteriorates with distance downstream, the best water quality being observed high in the catchment at Longkloof weir. Further downstream the water quality generally exceeds the intermediate contact guidelines which indicates that the system is not suitable for recreational contact. The main sources of bacterial contamination are un-managed grey water and sewage discharges from the Imizamo Yethu Informal Settlement. Other contributory factors include sewerage system failures in the formal areas, urban stormwater runoff, birds and horses.

“It should be noted that contamination levels in the lagoon and immediately upstream have remained essentially constant over the past seven to eight years. No material improvement in the situation is likely unless the informal settlements in Hout Bay are provided with greatly increased levels of service, particularly with regards sanitation".

"The Roads & Stormwater Department has invested in infrastructure to divert at least some of the polluted discharges from the Imizamo Yethu informal settlement to sewer to reduce contamination of the stormwater system and Disa River. These measures only partly address symptoms and not the cause of the problem," du Plessis added.


On this page:   Abuse of Power   Tackling IY Problems   Can we stop CTZS   Freedom of Speech   City's Utility Budget   Objecting to new Property Rates   Cell phone masts   Poisoned Disa River   Hout Bay Harbour

Can we stop the Cape Town Zoning Scheme (CTZS)?

Excerpts from the submission of the Residents’ Association of Hout Bay, 30 April 2010

To: Project Manager, CTZS Operations Office, City of Cape Town

Re: Some comments on the final draft (March 2010) of the Cape Town Zoning Scheme

Single Residential:

  • Height should revert to the compromise ‘8m (wall plate) and 10 metres roof’ (2 not 3 storeys).
  • Coverage of 1500 sq.m is excessive especially on mountain slopes near the urban edge.
  • Second dwelling maximum size should be retained at 120 sq.m (not same as main dwelling) and should not be a primary right as they are not appropriate on every property.
  • Consent use for roof top base telecommunication stations – we do not support these in residential areas or in areas where people spend a lot of time, especially children. At the very least, neighbours within a 500 m radius and the residents/ratepayers associations should be individually informed, and the general public by way of clear press notification, so that they can input as to the suitability of proposed installment.
  • Minor business rights: these will lead to conflict situations which will difficult to deal with and lead to unnecessary conflicts in neighbourhoods.
  • Minimum erf size for Hout Bay must be retained at 650 sq.m except where it is bigger. Erf size could be dealt with using an Overlay.
  • The table of development rules need revision. It seems that they are being used to achieve densification ‘by stealth’. Maximum floor space of 1500 sq.m for a 1000 sq.m property is excessive and together with the excess height limitation will negatively influence the rural character of certain areas in Hout Bay. Neither is it appropriate to have a maximum floor space and height restriction of 1200ms and 9.0m on properties of 500 to 1000ms. This will lead to unpleasantly and dense neighbourhoods in some areas of Hout Bay where it is not necessary.

General Residential:

  • Height limit is too high for Hout Bay – should revert to 9m and 11 metres.
  • Because of limited road access, Hout Bay is not suited to intense densification as proposed.
  • Parking requirements have been reduced and this will lead to increasing congestion in the streets – not supported. Please ensure adequate parking.
  • Space about Building needs to be catered for.

Open Space:

We are concerned about the provision for harvesting in natural areas and the ramifications associated with this once it starts, and warn against it. The capacity of the City to monitor usage and control deviants is of concern. Riverine corridors need protection and should allow access up to the mountain.

Rural (formerly Agricultural):

In Hout Bay erf sizes must be retained at 8000 sq.m to retain the sense of place and rural character and to retain the viability of the land for agricultural purposes. Mining should not be allowed within City limits. Increase in height is not supported. Floor space has been increased by too much – remove the extra 500 sq.m. Two storeys are more than adequate.

Rural (mountain side):

Minimum erf must be retained at 21 hectares and the Urban Edge retained so that our natural assets are sustained for future generations. These areas should remain primarily for nature purposes. Mining should not be allowed within City limits. Increase in height is not supported. Floor space has been increased by too much – remove the extra 500 sq.m. Two storeys are more than adequate. The visual impact of high buildings, especially on mountain sides, is negative and should be discouraged.

Limited Use Zones (previously Amenities):

In Hout Bay, many areas zoned ‘Amenities’ are in environmentally-sensitive areas. Currently, erven with this zoning cannot be developed without being rezoned to an appropriate usage first. This pragmatic and useful requirement needs to be retained in the new zoning scheme so as to ensure that only appropriate usage will be allowed. It should be noted that when these areas were originally zoned ‘amenities’, this was done because they were difficult to categorize because of uncertainty as to what they were in fact suitable for (in terms of usage and development). Effectively, this deferred the decision as per the zoning of the erf, to when the owner wanted to use the erf. Then a process was required to rezone the erf and at this stage appropriate usage would be decided on.

The situation is not ideal and should be phased out. However, in the process of phasing it out, the opportunity to influence the eventual zone-type must NOT be lost as it is very important not to allow inappropriate usage in sensitive areas by default.

An area which falls into this category is the Hout Bay Beach Dune-field. It is zoned ‘amenities’ and is now being threatened with extremely inappropriate hard development. The community has asked the Council to attend to this area making sure to involving public participation but there are other areas with this zoning so it must be properly endowed with the necessary regulations.

Developers seem to have pushed the regulations (in this and other respects) in a direction that favours themselves. While the good development does need to be encouraged, vested interests should not have undue influence on these regulations and should be guarded against. This is difficult for organizations such as ours, because Civil Society has been excluded from contributing to the City’s Development Forum which seems to be serving the almost unfettered interests of developers.

Industrial areas:

Industrial areas must be retained and not converted into residential areas – particularly in the harbour precinct of Hout Bay as there is very little other space elsewhere in Hout Bay that is suitable for industrial usage. Jobs are at stake and the fishing industry, unlike what developers want to believe, is not dying. It is a sustainable industry which must be nurtured and retained as a livelihood and cultural way of life in this area.

Side-effects of industrial activity (e.g. noise, fish-factory smells) are other not compatible with residential usage. This is another reason to retain the industrial areas rather than always pushing for mixed areas.

Retaining industrial areas will also avoid industrial creep into, and thus conflicting usage in, residential areas. For example, motor repairs, spray painting, etc. cause enormous unnecessary conflict in residential areas.

Overlays:

There are no overlays for Hout Bay and there is an urgent need for them as the Cape Town Zoning Scheme is not suitable as it stands for this area. The one-size does not fit all, and Hout Bay does require special attention when it comes to protecting its assets and allowing sustainable development.

We suggest an overlay to deal with the erf sizes for the different areas in Hout Bay including areas like the Rural River Corridor with agriculturally zoned erven, the zones on either side of the urban edge with large rural erven (minimum-size 21 hectares must be retained), the various Development Plan with specified subdivision plans, and the 650 minimum erf size which applies to residential erven where not otherwise specified. This range of opportunities is what gives Hout Bay its varied character.

The Heritage mapping project lends itself to inform a heritage and cultural overlay, as do the Urban Edge belt, the Coastal interface belt, River Corridors and Wetlands and Scenic Drive corridors. We point out that the information that we last saw did not include the long-standing scenic drives within the borders of Hout Bay but truncated them at the interface with the urban areas. This needs to be rectified and the Drives protected by an overlay or equivalent structure.

Vested Interests:

It is unfortunate that the developers (through the city’s Development Forum from which Civil society is excluded) seem to be biasing the outcome of the IZS consultative process to advantage their own vested interests. Care needs to be taken to balance this so as to ensure sustainable development and the protection of unique environments for future generations. Civil society should, in fact, be included in this forum to provide some balance and ensure that the interests of the Public are protected.

We urge the City and the Province to ensure that the Overlay zones are complete before the new Zoning Scheme is finally implemented. If this is not done, a situation will be created where inappropriate development will occur by default

We thank you for the opportunity to engage in this process and hope that a reasonable zoning scheme and zoning maps eventually come to fruition, together with appropriate District and Local Plans, so that development and conservation can occur together and support each other to the medium to long term benefit of Cape Town, its inhabitants and future generations.

Yours faithfully

Len Swimmer, Chairperson of Residents' Association of Hout Bay


Taking a stand for freedom of speech: the case of Johann van Blerck

The following extract is taken from a letter written by Hout Bay resident Colin Enzer and published in the Sentinel on Friday March 26

Breaching a basic human right

I have read with some dismay your article “Many sad to see the blogroll discontinued”.

From this article it seems that the right to the freedom of speech which is protected by the Bill of Rights within the South African constitution has been breached. It is a matter of deep public concern that Mr. Van Schalkwyk has demanded that the Hout Bay blogroll of Mr. Van Blerck should be censored so as not be critical of performance by SAPS or for any other reason. The issue seems to be that the facts of SAPS performance – both good and bad – were reported on in the blog and that the “facts” upset Mr. Van Schalkwyk or some of the relevant authorities with whom he associates directly or indirectly.

Perhaps Mr. Van Schalkwyk could explain by what right he believes himself to be able to demand such censorship and how or why he should assume the ability to override the Constitutional rights of Mr. Van Blerck. The public should be informed whether or not the censorship demands had any connection to Mr. Van Schalkwyk’s former involvement as deputy chairman of the Community Police Forum and whether the censorship imposed was to be entirely voluntary on the part of Mr. Van Blerck or whether there was any duress or threat of duress behind the censorship demand.

Surely it goes to the very heart of the protection of the right to freedom of speech to prevent censorship to which Mr. Van Blerck has very honourably refused to submit – whether this is by way of self censorship or otherwise.

The result is the same and to the sad loss of Hout Bay residents and others the excellent blogroll of Mr. Van Blerck has, at least for the time being, been forced out of existence.


On this page:   Abuse of Power   Tackling IY Problems   Can we stop CTZS   Freedom of Speech   City's Utility Budget   Objecting to new Property Rates   Cell phone masts   Poisoned Disa River   Hout Bay Harbour

City of Cape Town releases Utility Services Budget

MEDIA RELEASE: 31 MARCH 2010

The City of Cape Town has budgeted to spend some R3.5 billion on its 2010/11 Capital Budget, and almost R19.3 billion on the Operating and Revenue Budget, says Alderman Clive Justus, Mayoral Committee Member for Utility Services.

Maintenance and repair have received priority spending throughout the Utility Services Directorate, with a three percent allocation above inflation.

Alderman Justus says that the Utility Services Capital Budget totals R1.6 billion, which is split between the three main functions that comprise the Utility Services Portfolio: Electricity, Solid Waste and Cleansing, and Water and Sanitation. It has been prepared with the goal of investing in people and infrastructure to grow the economy.

Utility Services follows the Council’s strategy, as reflected in the Integrated Development Programme (IDP), to develop and improve infrastructure, to facilitate economic growth, to create opportunities for residents, and to improve the quality of life for all.

Electricity

The City has earmarked almost R538 million to upgrade the Metropole’s electricity network in the coming financial year. This forms part of the Council’s R3.5 billion Capital Budget proposed for 2010/11.

Four years ago the City commenced a five-year energy savings programme to encourage residents and business to consume less energy and strive to achieve a 10 percent saving on direct consumption by 2011.

“This means people need to use less energy and use it more efficiently. We must continue to be aware that these savings must continue, especially as the economy changes for the better,” said Alderman Justus.

Whilst the City has already gone a long way to meeting the 10 percent energy savings requested by ESKOM, eliminating the need for further pre-emptive load shedding and the necessity to save energy remains a high priority.

The City has, for example, led the way by making sure all of its buildings are fitted with low energy lamps, geyser insulation and timers. The City is actively promoting new developments which are required to be energy efficient and has endorsed the use of alternative energy sources such as its own Steenbras Pumped Storage Scheme. Here off-peak electricity is used to store water, which can then produce 160 MW of hydro- electric power when demand for electricity is high.

The City also supports the Darling Wind Farm and the City, having already accumulated substantial electricity credits from this source, will now open it to the public in the form of Green Energy Certificates to those people who wish to purchase ‘green electricity’. The City will, in terms of its 20-year agreement, continue to purchase electricity from the Darling Wind Farm, subject to availability.

The City’s extensive electrical infrastructure consists of more than 70 main substations with transformers and switchgear, as well as thousands of kilometres of electrical cables and overhead power lines criss-crossing the city from Atlantis and Gordon’s Bay, right down to Cape Point.

The Electricity budget includes upgrades of main substations such as Retreat (R16. 7 million); Rosmead Avenue (R134.3 million); Strand (R47.2 million); Roggebaai (R174.1 million); Parow South (R13.7 million); Oakdale Phase 1 (R55.8 million) and Langeberg in the northern suburbs (R20.1 million). In addition, a new main substation will be built to serve Century City (R55.5 million). These are total project costs spread over a number of years.

“A pro-active planned maintenance and replacement programme is followed to ensure that that we avoid any crises, such as Eskom’s experience last year,” said Alderman Justus. “It is essential that the City takes timeous action to replace and maintain its equipment and infrastructure,” he added.

This year, capacity at Retreat main substation will be increased by replacing the underground cables, two power transformers and switchgear. The Retreat sub-station, which was built 40 years ago, services the suburbs of Meadowridge, Bergvliet, Diep River, Constantia, Heathfield, Retreat and Tokai. This energy reinforcement project will provide additional capacity for further development until 2025.

These upgrades will reduce the risk of power failures. The City constantly monitors the state of all its electricity plants to determine their condition and the loads they can carry. An analysis of this data identifies the equipment that is ageing and reaching the end of its useful life. The Strand substation upgrade will increase the load capacity in the Strand, portions of Somerset West, Nomzamo, Lwandle and Broadlands. The Langeberg station improvement will replace ageing equipment and ensure additional capacity in the Cape Gate, Kleinbron, Vredekloof and Langeberg Ridge areas. The Rosmead upgrade will improve electricity supply to the areas of Bergvliet, Claremont, Constantia, Hout Bay, Heathfield, Kenilworth, Lansdowne, Newlands, Ottery, Plumstead, Wetton and Wynberg. Finally, the Parow South upgrade, which feeds into the Parow industrial area and adjacent residential suburbs such as Ravensmead, will provide additional capacity for industrial growth.

An amount of R79.9 million has been provided for new service connections and associated infrastructure, whilst R58.1 million has been provided to address augmentation of the system to cater for increased load and growth.

Electricity income accounts for some 32 percent of the City’s total income, whilst the contribution to rates from electricity amounts to approximately 10 percent of all revenue received from the sale of electricity.

Waste Management Services

The most important tasks for Solid Waste Management Services are the replacement of the now almost full landfill sites with a new regional landfill site; set up of the new infrastructure and investigation of alternative service delivery mechanisms; and the creation of partnerships that will effectively reduce the volume of waste entering the municipal system. This will ensure the ongoing and effective service of Solid Waste Management Services, necessary to cope with growth and economic development.

The largest chunk of the R295.5 million Solid Waste Management Services Capital Budget for the 2010/11 financial year is earmarked for the development of landfill infrastructure and integrated transfer stations.

The former Provincial MEC for Planning and Environment, Minister Pierre Uys, took a decision in 2009 to situate the new regional landfill site at Kalbaaskraal, but objections from adjacent landowners have stalled preliminary work from proceeding with this site until clarification of the legal aspects of an appropriate site have been resolved.

“Various waste minimisation and other recycling initiatives are essential for reducing the volume of waste,” said Alderman Justus. Partnerships with the private sector will enable growth in the recycling economy. An overall target of a 16 percent has been set, while the City committed to a national target of 20 percent during the FIFA Football World Cup event. Our staff are committed to achieving this figure.

“It will be necessary for us to encourage initiatives developed by the private sector that will create markets for recyclables,” said Alderman Justus. In turn, this will create the potential for job creation in the formal and informal sector that will lead to poverty alleviation.

The City’s 2011 business plan for waste management also creates opportunities for innovation and a change in behavioural patterns of all our communities.

Of the estimated 900 000 households in the city, 99 percent receive a basic weekly refuse collection service in terms of City policy. The remaining one percent is due to unplanned growth in informal settlements where emergency facilities are provided until a formal basic service is introduced.

The Solid Waste and Cleansing Department plans to replace 30 full maintenance lease compactor trucks in its refuse removal fleet at a cost of R67 million. The ‘full maintenance lease agreement’ for the hire of these vehicles will be coming to an end in the next two financial years and the City needs to ensure that the fleet is in place to continue with service delivery.

Cape Town’s 3.6 million residents currently generate a massive 4 600 tons of waste per day. With the current growth in waste generation, this will translate into a mountain of 1.8 million tons of waste next year –all to be collected, transported, minimised and disposed of, from an area covering 2 487 square kilometres.

One way of extending the life span of these specialised vehicles is to shorten the distances to disposal sites. The City is therefore building the Oostenberg Integrated Refuse Transfer in Kraaifontein, which will reduce the distances between collection and disposal and will be able to process 960 tons of refuse per day. The construction of the Tygerberg Integrated Refuse Transfer Station is to commence in the 2010/11 financial year and, on completion, will be able to process 2 800 tons of refuse per day.

Water and Sanitation

The City proposes to spend R308 million of its capital provision in the next financial year for upgrading the water and sanitation infrastructure.

Alderman Justus said that in order to avoid an Eskom-type crisis, the City still needs to add additional capacity by upgrading as soon as possible. “We are developing new infrastructure to meet the demands of a growing metropole.

Being the oldest South African city it would cost approximately R27 billion to totally replace the water & sanitation infrastructure,” he said. The City also has to constantly plan to replace ageing infrastructure. The backlog of water mains replacement will become unmanageable if infrastructural replacement is not accelerated now.

The City is also systematically replacing ageing water pipes. “Over the past three years we have succeeded in accelerating the pipe replacements from 7.4 kilometres per annum to approximately 46 kilometres per annum, and anticipate continuing at least at this accelerated rate,” said Alderman Justus.

Further investments in bulk water infrastructure are planned, including the implementation of the Bulk Water Augmentation Scheme that will increase the overall capacity of the City’s bulk water treatment plants and supply system. Possible additional water resources for the future will be investigated by, amongst others, the exploration of the Table Mountain Sandstone Group Aquifer, and the assessment of the feasibility of further water re-use by the desalination of sea-water.

Capital Funds amounting to R9 million have been provided for the continuation of pressure management projects to reduce non revenue water losses from the present 24 percent. This project is further supported by the leaks project, the roll-out of water management devices, and the encouragement of treated effluent re-use for irrigation and for industrial uses, thereby reducing demand on the high quality potable water supplies. All projects are part of the ten-year R750 million Water Demand Strategy, which has already achieved a 26% reduction in the unconstrained water demand.

In addition, plans are also afoot to continue with a R38 million sewer replacement programme. The City’s sewer network consists of some 8 400 km of pipelines. The replacement programme follows a city-wide audit of the sewer system. “The City has done an overall review across the metropole and we have started replacing where the need is greatest,” said Alderman Justus. The past two years have seen 24 km of sewer pipelines replaced and similar lengths will be replaced annually.

In 2009 alone, the City had to clear over 86 000 blocked sewers. It can cost anything from R200 to many thousands of rands to unblock a sewer and Alderman Justus appealed to residents to respect the sewerage system. “Please use the sewage systems for their intended purpose and not as a place to dispose of unwanted items,” he said. He said vandalism of the sewerage is a major problem in some areas.

The City is currently close to completion of a R285 million upgrade and enlargement of the Potsdam Wastewater Treatment Plant and the construction of a new wastewater treatment facility costing R150 million in the northern area, to be named the Fisantekraal Waste Water Treatment Works. On completion, these two plants alone will be able to treat wastewater from about 140 000 homes in Cape Town.


On this page:   Abuse of Power   Tackling IY Problems   Can we stop CTZS   Freedom of Speech   City's Utility Budget   Objecting to new Property Rates   Cell phone masts   Poisoned Disa River   Hout Bay Harbour

New property rates: when and how to raise an objection

YOUR NEW JULY 2009 MUNICIPAL PROPERTY REVALUATION

(By Camps Bay Ratepayers and Residents Association – CBRRA)

The City of Cape Town requires finance to run the city.

Each year it passes a budget and votes how it is going to raise this money from various sources.

These are property rates and taxes, charges for water supplies, refuse removal, sewerage removal and disposal, electricity supplies and sundry other minor sources.

The total budget allocation from property rates is divided by the total new general valuation (GV) of all ± 750 000 properties of all types in the Unicity and this is how the City calculates the Rate in the Rand which is multiplied by your agreed valuation with the City to calculate your rates bill before rebate reductions if applicable.

The City of Cape Town has recently revalued all the properties in the Cape Town Unicity in its Municipal General Valuation (GV) which was carried out as at 1 July 2009.

It is has recently been posting its revised draft valuation of your property on the City’s website (www.capetown.gov.za) and you will shortly be receiving in the post a notice from the City officially notifying you of this revaluation with a request that you either accept it or object to it by the end of Aril 2010.

What can / should you be doing now that you have received your new draft rates revaluation?

On the City's website you can access the details of your own property and the localities of sales in your area which you can use for your objection should you elect to make one.

How do you do this?

Look up the City’s website at www.capetown.gov.za

If no information appears on the website against your property (and it is still happening!) or you have not received your new valuation in the post, email the City’s Chief Valuer on Christopher.Gavor@capetown.gov.za or phone him on 021 4001111 to complain.

Once on the website, look for and click on :

Services and departments - “P” Property Valuations - “Welcome to the Property Valuations Website” - Search the Valuation Roll and click on the Valuation Roll for 2009 (at the bottom of the page) - and then find your valuation by entering one of the following after clicking on the relevant heading :

  • Site address (Number and street name)
  • Erf number (You will be then presented by all the same erf numbers as yours in the Unicity – scroll down by using the consecutive numbers on the bottom left hand side of the page until you find yours) This is the easiest access method.
  • Farm
  • Sectional title (Property name and unit number)

Your valuation will show :

  • Valuation reference
  • Erf number and suburb
  • Owner’s name
  • Rating category (e.g. rebated or not rebated - you will not get a residential rebate if you are running a business from home e.g. B & B, catering or hairdressing business)

Your rates bill has increased by 25% compounded, based only on the increases in the Rates in the Rand over the years since the last GV in 2006 while the valuations agreed then were not increased.

Therefore, if your new valuation is not exceeding 25% higher than your 2006 valuation, there will be no need to object – your rates bill may even come down if the new Rate / Rand decreases, as may well happen, when the budget is announced.

However, to assist you in your deliberations as to whether to object or not, click on your left hand column Valuation Reference Number and there will appear the details of your property on which your new valuation was based.

If the information is wrong and to your detriment, you can bring this to the City’s notice in your objection.

In addition, by clicking on the “View Sales” wording on your details, you can get the details of many comparable sales in your property’s area, which you can use in your objection if needs be.

The City states on its website that it has all the details of the sold properties for you to use but these are not yet on the website. Rather go and get them at the Civic Centre Information Centre.

One very important development is that, if you are objecting, you will now not have to pay interim rates bills based on the City’s valuation until your objection has been agreed with the City. You must, however, go to the Valuation Department and negotiate a reasonable interim payment basis (say the old rate plus 10%) until your objection is responded to and you and the City have agreed your revised valuation.

Also, be careful only to object on strictly sound technically correct submissions, because you may well be charged for the Valuation Court’s costs if it considers that the City’s refusal of your initial objection was rejected by you for emotional or frivolous reasons.

You should now be establishing the factors / characteristics of your property which you can use to motivate a reduction in the valuation should you now feel that you have been overvalued.

Typical examples could be: a Council registered water course (river!) - immense rocks which eliminate your ability to develop further on your property as owners around you can with double / second dwellings, granny flats and the like - the presence of a large overloaded Provincial registered trunk road on your front boundary which has excessive and dangerously speeding traffic on it and causes you difficulty in accessing/ leaving your property by car for some hours during rush hours - the exposure to high winds and possible harm from fires in adjacent public open spaces, etc.

Other examples could be: a Council electrical or drainage servitude running through your property, a lack or loss of views compared with surrounding properties – steeply sloping sites - irregularly shaped sites inhibiting the ability to develop them properly or take advantage of the available view – a south facing house - excessive distance from shops, schools, beach etc. necessitating wheeled transport for every journey – obliteration of views by adjacent building structures, an old house which needs high maintenance / restoration costs, the recent erection of a massive new block of flats which has derogated from the property values of adjacent affected neighbours, and so on.

Once you have received your Council revaluation notice and before you rush into submitting an objection because you think it is too high, ask yourself carefully whether you would have been prepared to HAVE SOLD your property in July 2009 (the date of the revaluation) for an amount less than the Council’s revaluation now presented to you in 2010. Only if you would have been prepared to have accepted such a lower selling price (including the Selling Agent’s fees and VAT) and are convinced that the valuation is too high, should you then consider deciding whether to consult a qualified Valuer or Estate Agent who will then be able to advise you as to whether your suggested lower valuation is valid or not.

Some people have had their 2006 valuation increased by well over 100%, even up to 200% and are feeling very indignant.

A word of caution here.

You may well have been badly undervalued last time and the City is now correcting its previous mistake, which it is quite entitled to do – and you really did not choose to object last time , did you, because you were so delighted at the then “very fair” valuation and your chickens are now coming home to roost ?!

Do not waste time comparing your new valuation with your existing one. Rather get good advice as to whether the new one is Market value or not, by using the existing sales records and getting the advice of the proper professionals. Get this advice from Valuers and Estate Agents.

Remember, seeing that you have access to everyone’s valuations, you are quite entitled to object to the City that you are of the opinion that a property you have noticed seems to be undervalued – the City welcomes this approach. If it has been incorrectly undervalued, it will be revalued higher at the City’s next supplementary valuation. Of course anyone is entitled to object to what they consider to be an undervaluation of your property!

Should you decide to approach a Valuer for professional advice, first request a fee quotation (probably on an hourly rate or percentage basis) before investigating with him / her as to whether your contention that the revaluation is too high is valid or not. If the Valuer disagrees with you, you have at least been given a quick and reasonably inexpensive professional opinion upon which you can decide whether to proceed with your objection or not. Should you be advised to or should you decide to proceed, you should then appoint the Valuer to assist you with your objection to the Valuation Court.

Conversely, you can ask him / her to execute a full valuation on your property which will be extremely useful in backing up your objection.

Estate Agents are also able to assist you with your objection and can help you considerably by presenting you with their written assessment of what your property would have sold for in July 2009 based on their own relevant sales records.

The objection document is a very daunting document. CBRRA therefore suggests that you do not submit an objection without a technically correct motivation which is well prepared with professional help.

The South African Institute of Valuers can assist you with names of Valuers (Address c/o J.J.Hofmeyr & Sons, 13 Piers Road, Wynberg, 7800. Telephone 021 7611803).

Alternatively look up the Yellow Pages.

Should you decide to object to the new revaluation which you have received, the document which you will shortly be receiving or have received from the City will inform you where it has opened information centres which will assist you in the compilation of your objection. At these information centres, you will be able to ascertain the sales amounts and other details of the properties near your property to enable you to make an accurate comparison between such sold properties and your property.

Remember that if you live in a sectional title apartment block, you will again be billed separately and directly for your unit and not in your levy which used to reflect a proportion of the overall building rates bill.

Should your valuation have increased, this does not necessarily mean that your rates bill will escalate pro-rata to the valuation increase.

This is because the increase in the total overall value of all properties in the Unicity since July 2006 will probably mean that the Rate in the Rand may be adjusted down in this GV year. The current recession may even have had its effect on the new valuations, but this movement will differ from one suburb to another depending on the situations and market attractiveness of such suburbs. It could well happen again in this GV that in some areas the new rates bills in July 2010 may result in lower rates bills in some areas and much higher rates bills in others. Some people have received the same valuation for 2009 as they did in 2006. This proves that the City has taken the recent recession into account.

This big differential in increases or decreases in GV valuations was considered to be a basic big flaw on the last GV and it will be interesting to see what happens this time – i.e., has the City managed to improve its rating system so that all ratepayers are treated equally in their new rates valuations so that the new GV can be seen to have been equitable to all in terms of the Municipal Property Rates Act No 4 of 2004.

Ideally there should not be a situation which happened in the 2006 GV when of about 750 000 properties valued, 16% received reduced valuations, 50% received increased valuations by not exceeding 15%, 27% increased by between 15% and 30%, 5% increased between 30% and 40% and 2% increased by more than 40% some even up to 325%! Assuming that nobody whose valuations had increased by more than 15% would have objected, only about one third of the above total valuations would have been objected to, i.e. ±250 000 divided by ± 55 000 actual objections = ± 22%, which was far in excess of the City’s then claimed 8% objections.

For the next few years until the next GV, your new revaluation will stay constant (unless it is adjusted by a supplementary valuation by the City in due course) and future rates bill increases will be based only on the Rate in the Rand applicable to your property.

One way or the other, be aware of your rights and, because of increased costs of running the Unicity and possibly increased inflation, start preparing to possibly pay more rates than the normal recent annual increases from July 2010 onwards, the extent of which will only be revealed to you after the forthcoming Council rate/ Rand is announced by the City when it announces its next budget this year.

John Powell

Vice Chairperson

CBRRA


On this page:   Abuse of Power   Tackling IY Problems   Can we stop CTZS   Freedom of Speech   City's Utility Budget   Objecting to new Property Rates   Cell phone masts   Poisoned Disa River   Hout Bay Harbour

Cell phone masts – the potential health hazard

Mr. Tom Purcell:

“I am a resident of Berg en Dal, Main Road, Hout Bay. I've lived there with my wife since October 2000. After entering the world, our daughter joined us in January 2004.

My letter of objection (to the continuing ‘temporary departure’ from LUPO in respect of a cell phone mast situated erf 2221 Hout Bay at the corner of Main Road and Wood Street) dated 25th June 2009 contains details of my medical history and touched upon the exact same fate that befell my neighbour, Kevin Aspoa.

The gist of my argument, in no particular order is as follows:

  1. It is a factual inaccuracy to state that the present mast has been there for 15 years. It was only erected recently - 3/4/5 years ago perhaps, but I'm not exactly sure. It replaced the first one.
  2. The new mast is wider and in my opinion certainly taller than the previous one. I'm sure that it is over 35 metres, which is the permitted height as stipulated in the departure. I believe that this was erected in contravention of an undertaking given to the Berg En Dal Homeowners Association that the new mast would not be taller than the previous one (upon which basis the Association did not lodge an objection).
  3. The mast has certainly not become a part of Hout Bay's landscape and it never will. It is a complete eyesore and especially to those who have to look at it directly every day.
  4. Not mentioned today but I know for a fact that house values have been affected by the presence of the mast. One Berg en Dal property had several potential buyers refuse to make an offer because it sits virtually under the mast.
  5. I strongly believe that the Council is not entitled to ignore real or potential health issues by in effect abrogating the decision to the World Health Organisation, whose record on this serious matter has up to now been underwhelming.
  6. I and my neighbour Kevin Aspoa contracted the same dread disease within 6 months of each other and living within 300 metres of the mast. There may or may not be a link but it shouldn't be dismissed out of hand as a coincidence. There are numerous studies and reports linking our particular cancer (Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma) with cell masts. Google it!
  7. This mast is right on the boundary of a residential estate of over 110 properties, many of which are owned and/or lived in by young families.
  8. The mast is also next door to two local schools: Kronendal Primary and Valley Pre-primary, with hundreds of children attending.
  9. The council and the cell phone operators should proceed on the basis that the health position is not clear and therefore risks should not be taken. It is not good enough to say that there is no evidence of a direct causal link. There is certainly doubt and that being the case, alternative solutions, technologies or locations should be investigated. I would challenge any one of the cell phone operator executives (and perhaps members of the council) as to whether he or she would be willing to live within a few hundred metres of one of these masts and more especially if they have families. The answer would be a resounding and overwhelming 'no'. Why? They're not clear on the health implications and wouldn't want to take a chance.
  10. 'Temporary departure' means exactly that: temporary. The reason the applicants keep coming back for renewals of these temporary departures is that it has been up to now an easy option and one that has served them well. This does not need to take up many hours and fees of planning and legal experts. The English language is unambiguous in this respect. Temporary departure time is over. We must now engage in a full debate by way of a rezoning application.

I am not a town planner or a cell phone company shareholder. I'm not hiding behind emission level numbers or outdated WHO pronouncements. I am a resident, a father and a concerned neighbour to many thousands who live in Hout Bay.

The mast is an eyesore and a potential health hazard. It is time for the commercial operators to look at the alternatives for all our sakes.

The proliferation of cell phone usage (especially in this country where it is the de facto medium of communication with the majority population and will become more so as the handsets handle tasks like web browsing and email) means that we are going to continue to require an ever increasing number of masts and antennae/dishes.

The cell phone operators need to become more responsible corporate citizens and start drawing up plans to relocate their masts and/or utilize alternative technologies. In Hout Bay for example, that might mean 3 smaller masts situated a minimum of 300 metres from homes, schools and offices. Yes, it's going to cost them but if it means we can face ourselves in the mirror knowing that we are not leaving a dangerous legacy to our children, it's a small price to pay.

I believe that it is time to table a full debate as to the council's policy regarding the health and safety aspects of these masts and to erasing the current guideline of not taking health matters into consideration when dealing with these applications.”


On this page:   Abuse of Power   Tackling IY Problems   Can we stop CTZS   Freedom of Speech   City's Utility Budget   Objecting to new Property Rates   Cell phone masts   Poisoned Disa River   Hout Bay Harbour

Hout Bay’s poisonous Disa River

Could our polluted River have caused Ludka's death?

Mrs. Jeannette Haase: “Here are the Details about our pony. The pony's name was Ludka and was stabled at that time at the Riding Centre in Hout Bay which has access through the Disa River.

In October of 2006 he participated at a Show that was held at the RC. On Saturday my Daughter rode him in a few classes. On Saturday evening before going home I checked on him, but felt he was "off' a bit. Only a gut feeling.

The next Morning - the 2nd Day of the Show - I received a Phone Call from Kim Wallace (Owner of the Stables) to tell me that Ludka was very lame. After arriving at the Barn and seeing the Pony, we called the Vet. Dr V. Allin with the Cape Vet Hospital to come out as the Pony could stand at all and seemed to be in severe Pain.

His assistant vet Kate (do not remember her last Name, but believe she still works for Cape Vet. Hospital) came out and was quite puzzled about Ludka’s condition. She took blood and gave him Bute. The next Day Ludka was lying down and not able to get up. Dr. V. Allin then came out to X ray his feet but a fracture was ruled out. At that point the Coronet band of the Hoof showed extreme swelling.

The Blood test came back with a severe amount of E Coli in his Blood and the puss sample that was taken (apparently 1000 times the amount that is normally found). My thought was straight away the river, as my daughter took him on an outride 2 days prior of the show.

Now, the next 3 months were very traumatic as some people agreed with me and some not, merely because the Barn is situated so close to the river and everybody knows that the Barn gets flooded in the winter with what one can only describe as sewerage.

Ludka’s hoof in the meantime looked like a yellow candle: overflowing with puss. We spent endless hours at the Barn, and I did lose a few so-called friends over this - the ones of course that were worried that the Barn would be looked at closer, as the River provides the only access for outrides (business talks first!).

I called in then another Vet, his name is Dr. Augusteyn, with the Red Cross Hospital, as new X-Rays showed a rotation of the coffin bone inside the hoof on his good leg, after 2 months of literally only resting on that foot.

Ludka received endless hours of therapy through magnetic blankets by Mrs. Cherry Coleman in the hope that it would bring some kind of relief. We moved Ludka to a friend’s Barn, her name is Lisa Patrick and I only can say that Lisa and Derek were extremely helpful and caring.

Ludka was never able again to walk normally, in these 3 months he would spend 2 and a half lying down. None of the vets or farriers had ever seen anything like that. In January Ludka was put down in my friend’s yard and it still gives me heartache having had to lead a perfectly healthy 10 year old Pony to a hole. My daughter was devastated through this ordeal.

Now, I am writing you all this because my belief was then and it is still now that the river with its abnormally count of E Coli is responsible for this.”

Disa River strikes again!

Nicky Steel, Hout Bay Resident: “I am responding to your article in January’s newsletter regarding the VERY toxic Disa River... I am today, for the first time in 3 weeks starting to feel marginally better having suffered from both eColi and a parasite infection. The cause of both is, without doubt, having crossed the Disa River whilst walking along Hout Bay beach. I had a wound at the time (which itself became very infected) and the bacteria entered my body that way. The signs on the beach do not suggest just how toxic this water is i.e. that one can become so sick from just crossing the river (something one is forced to do if you want to walk along our once lovely beach).

If you require any support taking this further with the City, please feel free to contact me. After 3 rounds are very strong antibiotics, a very mediocre Christmas and New Year (due to being in bed a lot of the time) and a skiing holiday which is still in the balance, I feel quite passionately about this.”

Len Swimmer, Chairperson Residents’ Association: “The puny insignificant signs on the Disa river are absolutely ineffective and an absolute waste of time, effort and money. A strong message spelling out the severity and dangers of coming in contact with the deadly poisonous water and a whole lot more of much larger signs need to be planted the full length of the beaches in Hout Bay.

The root cause of the toxic Disa River is the raw sewage that flows into the river from the informal settlement, which the City just attempts to solve with a band aid rather than dealing with the problem. To this end we have instituted legal proceedings against the City and the Province.”


On this page:   Abuse of Power   Tackling IY Problems   Can we stop CTZS   Freedom of Speech   City's Utility Budget   Objecting to new Property Rates   Cell phone masts   Poisoned Disa River   Hout Bay Harbour

Hout Bay harbour – striking the right balance

Keith Mackie, local coastal engineer, says:

“Harbours generally induce development around them and this development eventually throttles the activities in the harbour. We are already seeing the start of this in Hout Bay harbour where souvenirs sellers are crowding the quayside and restaurants are starting to use up commercial space inside the harbour. It’s all a case of killing the goose.

What we need to keep firmly in mind is that protected water in South Africa is an extremely scarce resource. I would guess that there may well be more fresh water impoundment capacity in the country than protected sea water. It is a resource we need to protect vigorously but a matter on which the environmental lobby seems quite blind.

I feel very strongly that the entire harbour jurisdiction, i.e. the area seaward of the boundary fence along the road should be reserved exclusively for water or marine related activities – activities that naturally maximise the water area and access to this water. The natural progress of harbour related dry land development i.e. non water or marine will not only squeeze the marine and water activities out of the harbour but will start to encroach on the water area. This has already happened with the spending beach between the NSRI and the Boatyard. It is now an ugly brown reclamation waiting for effectively non-aquatic development. Although it was not much needed as a spending beach, it was the bathing beach for the kids of the Harbour Village and a place to careen non-commercial boats.

Hence my view is that of a compromise. Allow development of harbour related but dry land (i.e. not aquatic) activities on the land above the cliff. Given the views, this could be a superb site for this type of development. A bridge and lift could give pedestrian access to the quayside in the harbour.

My primary concern, though, is to reserve this land above the cliff for all those activities that need to be near the harbour but not in it and, in general, tourism and recreational type uses and to save the water and the water access in the harbour.”

Note: While RAHB appreciates Keith’s sentiments regarding the conservation of the land adjacent to protected waters for primarily water-related activities, we do need to point out that the mountain-side erf that he is referring to, is, in fact, zoned ‘Rural for nature purposes’ and it is situated entirely outside the demarcated Urban Edge on the slopes of the Karbonkelberg mountain and is therefore not available for hard development including of the type that he is suggesting. Last year in September, our Association vigorously opposed a current proposal to rezone and develop this erf for a hotel and housing development. The entire lower area is rated by the botanical specialist as being of high local and regional conservation value and it is covered with the endangered Cape Flats Dune Strandveld vegetation, only about 5% of which is formally protected. As important (if not more so) is the fact that the erf forms part of a large swathe of conservation-worthy rural land (designated for ‘nature purposes’) stretching from the peak of the mountain to virtually the sea shore where the famous Harbour cliffs (an identified Heritage landmark) overlook the Bay.