The cape of good in­ten­tions

While Spe­cial Rat­ing Ar­eas are per­ceived as pos­i­tive by most, dis­sat­is­fac­tion ex­ists re­gard­ing the ap­proval process, writes Anna-Marie Smith

Business Day - Home Front - - NEWS -

THE city of Cape Town cur­rently ad­min­is­ters a to­tal of 22 Spe­cial Rat­ing Ar­eas (SRAs) pre­vi­ously known as Cen­tral Im­prove­ment Dis­tricts (CIDs), com­pris­ing large com­mer­cial ar­eas plus res­i­den­tial nodes, and in two cases res­i­den­tial ar­eas only with an ad­di­tional four res­i­den­tial SRAs in the process of ap­pli­ca­tion.

SRAs are the prod­uct of com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial prop­erty own­ers’ ini­tia­tives on a vol­un­tary ba­sis, re­quir­ing in­ten­sive plan­ning and busi­ness acu­men to up­lift, main­tain and pre­serve ar­eas within the frame­work of Sec­tion 21 com­pa­nies, and funded by ex­tra rates the city col­lects.

“Top-up” ser­vices pro­vided by SRAs have pro­duced phe­nom­e­nal im­prove­ments through­out the city, in­clud­ing Cape Town Cen­tral, Sea Point, Green Point, Clare­mont, Mait­land, Athlone, Muizen­berg and Fish­hoek.

Prop­erty own­ers ben­e­fit from

The city’s re­quire­ment of a 50% plus one ma­jor­ity vote is not viewed as eth­i­cal, whereas a 66% ma­jor­ity vote would rep­re­sent a fairer base from where to cal­cu­late levies

the im­ple­men­ta­tion of five-year busi­ness plans ap­proved by the city, which re­mains ob­li­gated to sus­tain ex­ist­ing ser­vices. By work­ing closely with city of­fi­cials, ex­tra ser­vices are de­ter­mined, re­sult­ing in SRAs pro­vid­ing for­mal struc­tures through which to fi­nance ser­vices such as crime pre­ven­tion in ar­eas where con­tri­bu­tions were pre­vi­ously op­tional, re­sult­ing in non­pay­ments and ser­vice lapses.

In­di­vid­ual SRAs are unique in na­ture due to ge­o­graph­i­cal set­tings, pop­u­la­tion den­sity, zon­ings and prop­erty val­ues, and while per­ceived as pos­i­tive by most, dis­sat­is­fac­tion ex­ists re­gard­ing the ap­proval process, de­ter­mined by a ma­jor­ity vote of 50% plus one.

The re­cent ap­proval of the Zeekoeivlei SRA within a strin­gent time­line, not al­low­ing suf­fi­cient time for lob­by­ing ob­jec­tions, pro­duced a ma­jor­ity vote of 60%, with only 129 prop­er­ties to pay for ad­di­tional ser­vices. The re­main­ing 40% — many of whom are pen­sion­ers, who will be li­able for an ad­di­tional R237 per R1m — ei­ther did not vote or re­mained in­dif­fer­ent.

Clive Byrne, chair­man of the pro­posed Capri Vil­lage SRA, said an opin­ion poll mea­sur­ing sup­port on the ad­di­tional rate bud­geted at R159,76 per R1m per prop­erty (in­clu­sive of VAT) re­sulted in a to­tal of 378 out of 685 prop­erty own­ers par­tic­i­pat­ing, of which 326 (86%) sup­ported the process.

Byrne said that, while win­ning the sup­port of the re­main­der by lob­by­ing and con­tin­u­ing the ed­u­ca­tion process was vi­tal, the com­mit­tee would only go ahead with a ma­jor­ity vote of 66%.

In rais­ing rea­sons for ob­ject­ing to the vot­ing process, Zeekoeivlei res­i­dent Roger God­win said: “The city’s re­quire­ment of a 50% plus one ma­jor­ity vote is not viewed as eth­i­cal, whereas a 66% ma­jor­ity vote would rep­re­sent a fairer base from where to cal­cu­late levies.”

He said Dur­ban’s SRA by­law re­quired a min­i­mum of 200 prop­er­ties to jus­tify an SRA, yet in a small SRA such as Zeekoeivlei, the 8% an­nual levy in­crease was not sus­tain­able, nor did it in­clude neigh­bour­ing com­mu­ni­ties such as Grassy Park from ben­e­fit­ing.

The suc­cess­ful one-year-old Vre­dek­loof SRA in Bel­lville, the city’s first fully op­er­a­tional res­i­den­tial-only SRA, pro­duced a 70% ma­jor­ity vote, re­sult­ing in res­i­dents ben­e­fit­ing from an im­me­di­ate and steep re­duc­tion in crime, its main mo­ti­vat­ing force. Vre­dek­loof SRA man­ager Leon Bry­nard said: “Al­though res­i­dents also ben­e­fit from in­creased ‘clean­ing and green­ing’, the pos­i­tive re­sults in im­proved se­cu­rity prove the ad­di­tional R163 per R1m as worth­while.” He said the Vre­dek­loof SRA could only in­crease prop­erty val­ues, and pos­si­bly ben­e­fit from re­duced in­surance premi­ums.

The Con­stan­tia SRA ini­ti­ated two years ago il­lus­trates an­other unique pro­file in its ge­o­graph­i­cal size, stretch­ing from Con­stan­tia and Bergvliet to Diep River. Rep­re­sent­ing a mix­ture of in­come groups and prop­erty val­ues, the res­i­dents pe­ti­tioned against newly pro­posed levies that were con­sid­ered un­af­ford­able.

Con­stan­tia CID chair­per­son Penny East said while res­i­dents were sat­is­fied with the ser­vices ren­dered by Cape Town, the steer­ing com­mit­tee felt that it had to sup­ple­ment ex­ist­ing ser­vices by pre-empt­ing “sleaze and grease” from set­ting in, and pre­serv­ing the qual­ity and beauty of this area.

She said that the orig­i­nally pro­posed monthly levy had since been re­duced by re­mov­ing fund­ing for 31 CCTV cam­eras, and in­stead re­tain­ing five pa­trol cars and 10 foot pa­trols to cover an area stretch­ing from Drey­ers­dal farm to Do­or­drift Road.

Pre­vi­ously op­posed levies for prop­er­ties val­ued at up to R900 000 were re­duced from R136 to R70, levies on prop­er­ties val­ued up to R1,5m were re­duced from R227 to R118, and on prop­er­ties val­ued at R2,4m, levies were re­duced from R363 to R189.

The city’s di­rec­tor of in­ter­nal ser­vices li­ai­son, Ge­orge van Schalk­wyk, said that res­i­dents who qual­i­fied for mu­nic­i­pal rates re­lief, in­clud­ing those over the age of 60 earn­ing no more than R8 500 per month, and in­di­gent house­hold monthly in­comes of be­low R3 000, would au­to­mat­i­cally be re­lieved of SRA levies.

Van Schalk­wyk said the city re­served the right to close SRAs not de­liv­er­ing, and res­i­dents could ex­er­cise their rights to call a spe­cial gen­eral meet­ing af­ter one year of in­cep­tion, pro­vid­ing the city ap­proved the mo­ti­va­tion and a ma­jor­ity vote was re­ceived.

The city con­firmed the ben­e­fits of long-term SRAs to in­clude in­creased prop­erty val­ues and en­hanced stan­dards of liv­ing.

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