Newsletter April 2015

 

April 2015 Newsletter .

Alphen Centre, Constantia Main Road
PO Box 68 Constantia 7848
tel/fax 021 7944388
e-mail cpoa@yebo.co.za
Registered as a Ratepayer Association and a Conservation Body

Newsletter

April 2015

Contents

Membership and Administration

The CPOA has recently purchased a Sage Pastel accounting system which enables us to manage membership and subscriptions far more efficiently than in the past. In mid-February we sent out statements to members who had not paid their annual subscription and the response was very fruitful, with only 15% remaining unpaid. Another reminder will be posted before the end of this month.
We have also been actively ‘cleaning up’ our membership database which had become outdated over many years. To this end, we employed an assistant who painstakingly endeavoured to make contact with each member on our list (either by phone or e-mail) who had not paid their subscription for some time. Another part of this exercise was to confirm email addresses of members – given the unreliability and cost of ‘snail mail’. The intention is to eventually communicate with members through the internet only.
Being part of the ‘Fibre to the Home’ (FTTH) project has also had an unexpected spin-off regarding membership – not only has the initiative made people more aware of the CPOA but we learned that the most effective means of calling residents to action is to ask people to talk to their friends and neighbours. When we were trying to increase the number of residents registering their interest in FTTH, we sent out such an appeal and increased the participation from approximately 900 to 1600 almost overnight. Again, we appeal to you to try and encourage friends and neighbours to join up – you can do this by simply clicking on the SHARE THIS EMAIL button at the bottom of this newsletter and inserting their email address. They can view the benefits of membership on our website ( www.constantiapoa.co.za) and join up on-line.
We met recently with Jooles Kilbride (Cape Peninsula Marketing) who has taken the initiative to revive the ‘Constantia Valley’ website with the objective of bringing the Constantia community closer together both commercially (tourism, wining & dining etc) and socially. Please see their ‘advertorial’ later on in this newsletter.


Commercial Creep threatening Constantia

The CPOA and some members are becoming increasingly concerned by the support the City’s planners and Councillors give to people who conduct unlawful commercial enterprises in single residential areas where such ventures are wholly inappropriate. They are becoming disillusioned with those who should uphold the law, the regulations, the policies and the guidelines for the area in what appears to be a strategy to allow as much commercialisation as possible even at the cost of destroying the character and qualities of the Constantia valley.
The following are some examples:

  • No. 40 Constantia Main Road

The original planning application was for a temporary departure so that the owner could open an injury rehabilitation gym with ancillary wellness components (physiotherapy and Pilates studio). On the advice of City planners this was withdrawn and the substituted application included a re-zoning and consent use for a hospital and departures for a wellness centre. The CPOA submitted a very comprehensive objection.
Council officials visited the property in August 2014 and discovered that the uses as depicted on the Site Development Plan were not in line with what was actually happening on site – a fact that we pointed out in our letter of objection and on many other occasions. As a result the application needed to be re-advertised. This was done in October and the CPOA again submitted a strong letter of objection. The City’s planning officials have completed their report which will be tabled at the Ward 20 Subcouncil meeting on 22 April – we have requested an interview at that meeting.

  • Lygertwood Wellness Centre (corner Nova Constantia/Klein Constantia Roads)

This property has been operating as a wellness centre for some time and, alerted by neighbours, the CPOA lodged formal complaints with the City regarding the unlawful commercial operations. The owners subsequently submitted an application to regularize their breach of the zoning scheme and we responded with a strongly worded letter of objection. Our argument is based on the following considerations:
– traffic generation
– likelihood of the business operation expanding
– owner not being resident on the property
– weak motivations to try to prove ‘need and desirability’ for such development
– title deed restrictions for the proposed use
– setting a precedent for the area

  • Embassy Hill Function Venue (Southern Cross Drive – the old Dutch Embassy)

Planning applications were made in 2012 for a boutique guest house with associated conference facilities. We recently visited the property and it was obvious that it has been modified/re-furbished to accommodate functions (conferences, weddings etc.) totally out of keeping with the usage applied for. Guest House accommodation will be secondary to the primary use which contradicts the application in terms of the City’s own planning policies.
We met neighbouring property owners who have already experienced large noisy functions and this resulted in the applicant appointing a professional to conduct a noise impact assessment – the results of this have been submitted to the City planners to include in their report to City decision makers.

  • The ‘Pot House’

Using further delaying tactics, the owner has now submitted another planning application to the City in an attempt to rezone and regularise the current illegal land use. It was submitted in early January 2015 and The Land Use Management department has advised that “The applicant is attending to some outstanding information arising from the initial assessment of the application. Thereafter the application will be advertised in the press, gazetted, on-site notices and notices by registered mail.”
The latest information about the High Court cases was provided at the Sub-council meeting on 21 January 2015: ‘Council’s Legal Advisor advised that Court papers were being drafted but it has not been determined whether to hold back in light of the application that has been submitted’.
At February’s Sub-council meeting the manager was asked to establish the status of the City’s and the owner’s High Court matters.
As reported in our October newsletter, the Planning and Building Development Management department have requested authority to launch High Court interdict proceedings against the owner and this has been approved by Mayoral Committee Members. This signed request has been referred to the City’s legal Department for final approval by the Mayor’s office.
We are still waiting for a response.


Update on other contentious issues

  • Glendirk Farm

The High Court action instituted by the CPOA has been well covered in the Cape Times Constantiaberg Bulletin. At this stage there is nothing more to be added other than that the City has filed an answering affidavit – but not the owners. It is unlikely that a court date will be set before next year.
For those readers who are unaware of the issue, it is the intention of the owners to subdivide off seven plots from one of the largest and most important historical farms in the valley, which would forever change the historical environment and farm/agricultural feel to this part of Constantia.

  • Old Constantia Police Station/Post Office

For those not familiar with this heritage building, it is the small dilapidated building on the left hand side of Constantia Main Rd as one approaches the ADM store/Chardonnay Deli. Chris Rousseau has done considerable research on the history of this old building and has proven that this is indeed the Old Constantia Police Station, which also served as the Post Office.
The on-going dispute between the CPOA and the owner of the land (on which this heritage building stands) has been well covered by the Constantiaberg Bulletin. In a nutshell, the owner applied for a permit to demolish the building (and another similar building behind High Constantia Centre) claiming that it was of no heritage significance and was in danger of collapse. In January 2015, the case was heard by Heritage Western Cape (HWC) who visited the site and then voted overwhelmingly in favour of grading both buildings as Grade 3B and resolved not to approve the demolition application due to their intrinsic and contextual value. The owner then appealed this ruling and at the HWC Appeals Committee meeting last week, the original decision was upheld. This is a major achievement for the CPOA in fulfilling its objective of conserving Constantia’s heritage.

  • Harcroft Smallholding Estate

Harcroft is a magnificent privately owned 10 hectare property just below Rhodes Drive between Duntaw Close and Monterey Drive. The owners want to subdivide it into 4000m2 portions and appointed consultants to undertake a Basic Assessment Report as part of the development approval process. This is an important case because if it is approved as proposed, it could set a precedent for the further densification of Constantia. In light of this the CPOA appointed Professor Fabio Todeschini to assist with the assessment of the proposal and to give an informed and balanced opinion.
A very comprehensive report was submitted to HWC, recommending that the subdivisions be in keeping with the present zoning density for that area – which is 8000 m2 – and that the ‘urban edge ‘ should not be moved. For some reason, our report did not reach the right decision makers and it was by chance that we were alerted to attend a HWC meeting and able to present our report. The outcome was that a full Heritage Impact Assessment must now be done by the owners. This is another example of the CPOA pro-actively keeping a close watch on undesirable development in the valley.



After the Fires

Now that the ‘ash’ has settled on the devastating fires that swept through the southern areas of the peninsula, it is time to reflect on what happened and take action to try to mitigate against damage to properties in the future. To this end, your Executive Committee have set up a task team to engage with the various authorities. It is important to note that Table Mountain National Parks and not the City of Cape Town are the responsible authority.
They have published a draft five-year Fire Management Plan which is at present available for comment as part of the public participation process and can be viewed at public libraries. There will be public meetings held to interact with communities and we will advise you of these when dates and venues have been finalised.
We have tried to summarize the salient features of the fires as follows:

  • The first fire started on Sunday and was contained, but flared up again just after 02:00 on Monday in Muizenberg above Boyes Drive. It was fanned by strong winds.
  • It spread to Ou Kaapse Weg, Chapman’s Peak, Hout Bay, and Tokai.
  • 13 properties were affected by the fire. Three of the properties – two in Constantia and one in Noordhoek – were completely destroyed. Tintswalo Lodge at the foot of Chapman’s Peak was badly damaged.
  • The fires claimed the life of ‘Working on Fire’ pilot Bees Marais.
  • Approximately 500 people were evacuated.
  • Fifty-two frail-care residents from a Noordhoek retirement village were treated for smoke inhalation.
  • More than 2000 people were helping to quell the fire at its peak.
  • By Wednesday 4 March a total of 26 aircraft had been in the air since Sunday and approximately 2 million litres of water had been dumped in about 2000 water drops.
  • The fires have cost the city at least R6m – with at least R3m having been spent on two water-bombing helicopters.
  • The City of Cape Town has appointed David Klatzow, one of South Africa’s top forensic experts to investigate how the devastating fires started.
  • The City’s Executive Director for safety and security, Richard Bosman, stated that if it would found to be arson-related the matter would be handed over to police.

The debate on whether or not to do controlled burns has also started.
SANParks want to do more prescribed burns and want Capetonians to support and not try to prevent them. If they had been able to carry out more prescribed burns, last week’s month’s fires would not have been so massive or so destructive to property.
SA National Botanical Institute ecologist Tony Rebelo says if more extensive prescribed burns are not done in future, we are likely to see a major fire like last week’s sweeping through Table Mountain National Park every 15 years.
Officials argue that there is a complex, time-consuming bureaucratic process to go through before burns can happen and there is not always enough money. A big problem is the often strong opposition from some Capetonians. The City, which issues the legally-required permit to SANParks to burn, first has to get public comment. Opposition ranges from fears of damage to property to “no, the fire will dirty my washing”.
Fynbos has evolved to be dependent on fire to regenerate. Before urbanisation, a fire of this scale would have posed no problem, but ringed by a city, there is a risk. Because of the risk of a prescribed burn getting out of control, burns in the park may only take place when the temperature is less than 28ºC, wind speed less than 20km/h and humidity greater than 25 percent. In addition, there must be rainfall within a certain number of days before and after the burn. The upshot is there is an average of only 12 days a year when SANParks can do burns.
Apparently concessionaires have been given the green light to remove all the timber, including that not damaged by fire.



Fibre Project goes live!

Great News …Frogfoot and LinkAfrica have committed to rolling out an open access Fibre to the Home network into Constantia . Internet service providers have already made very competitive high speed connectivity packages available on www.constantiafibre.com . If you have not already received a notice from Constantiafibre.com , please click on the website link and check it out ….you’ll be VERY pleasantly surprised !
Say goodbye to unreliable , slow ADSL !The joint project between the CPOA, Constantia Watch and other neighbourhood watches has been a good example of how different organizations and individuals can work together to achieve positive results for the community.We emphasise that none of the fibre project team have any commercial interests in this project and their involvement has been purely on a pro-bono basis.
The inaugural meeting of interested parties was held in early December 2014 and we invited David Baker who spearheaded the FTTH project in Bishopscourt to talk about their experiences and advise on how to approach the project. A task team was established which very soon got to work to conduct a survey amongst the residents of Constantia in order to determine the level of interest in FTTH.
Martin Deissner, a Constantia resident, generously offered to build and manage a website for the project – members who participated would have visited the site to register their interest in FTTH. In case you have not seen it, the website is www.constantiafibre.com – it describes FTTH in detail including FAQ’s and gives a status report on the project.
The response to the survey was excellent and of the 1600 or so people who registered, 98% were interested. This exceeded the ‘critical mass’ needed to make Constantia a viable proposition for fibre providers.
So the next step was to compile a request for proposals (RFP) in a format that would allow us to compare various offers. This was sent to 25 fibre providers asking them to submit proposals – 11 companies submitted proposals. The RFP was in 3 sections – the first 2 sections were structured so at we could ensure that providers could fulfil certain minimum requirements. The third section was in open format to give providers the opportunity to ‘sell’ their offering by, for example, describing special features, actual completed installations etc.
These proposals were then adjudicated – for this part of the project we were fortunate enough to be able to co-opt other Constantia residents who are experts in the field. The decision was made to support the Link Africa/Frogfoot joint venture based on the professionalism of their proposal, reputation and their unique methodology for constructing the fibre cable network. They use existing Council owned stormwater and sewer reticulation infrastructure to locate their cables so that the amount of trenching (hence disruption to residents) will be minimal. In the spirit of n ‘open access’ arrangement (one of the principles we insisted on) the joint venture have invited Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to submit end-user package options. At time of going to press there were 35 choices from 6 ISPs.
Residents can sign up from 21st April via the www.constantiafibre.com portal.

Constantia Valley

(Advertorial supplied by Jooles Kilbride)

CAPE PENINSULA MARKETING is proud to present to you www.constantiavalley.com your one stop portal for all things Constantia. We are super excited to be working with the Constantia Property Owners Association in our endeavours to bring our community closer together. Our aim is to assist with the expansion of the membership base of the CPOA by using our platform to inform and encourage the local folk to get involved with important issues and to make sure that everyone is kept up to date with news, social events and local business activities.
We are offering all local businesses an opportunity to enter into a cost effective marketing initiative where the emphasis is on LOCAL. It is all very simple. When consumers buy local product, support local business and employ local staff, the economy and wellbeing of the community is stimulated and in turn we create a unified community all working together for the betterment of the community.
The first step on our journey was to create the portal and we invite you to please take a moment to look through the website http://www.constantiavalley.com where you will find lots of information about local businesses.
To our social media lovers please like and follow us on the following platforms:

Facebook> www.facebook.com/theconstantiavalley www.facebook.com/groups/constantiavalleycommunity
Twitter> www.twitter.com/constantia1685
We are here to serve and support our community and we hope that you find this initiative as exciting as we do. If you have any questions or need more information please contact us on 076 742 5366 or via email – jooles@constantiavalley.com or hailey@constantiavalley.com
We look forward to an exciting journey ahead.


Responsible Use of Film Shoots

The City of Cape Town recognizes the valuable contribution of filming to the economic and cultural environment of Cape Town and aims to facilitate a sustainable, film friendly environment in all interactions with the industry.
Such an approach is cognizant of the City’s obligation to balance the film industry requirements against community and environmental considerations. The City has committed itself to ensuring the responsible use of public resources and the maintenance of community amenity in this respect.
Film shoots in Cape Town are primarily seasonal and occur mainly in summer when clear skies are prevalent. Constantia is much in demand and locations include private properties that owners have made available for financial gain, or green belts, parks or public/private open space where the City charges nominal tariffs. The majority of film shoots last a single day however a major inconvenience is caused to residents when they are over several days plus setting up and dismantling. The City Film Office/Councillors need to take into consideration applications that are made for different properties in the same vicinity which impact on the same residents in that vicinity. Inconvenience to residents results from the need to park large vehicles associated with the technical requirements of filming, which could include generators, cranes and the like. Open spaces are often used as base camps to provide catering facilities and parking for the crew. It is not unusual for traffic congestion, blocked driveways and noise nuisances to be caused.
Filming is permitted in terms of the City’s Filming Bylaw. If all filming activity, parking and catering is on private property then a permit is not required.
Regarding frequency, the City’s Land Use Management has advised that film shoots are dealt with as an ‘occasional use’ in terms of the Cape Town Zoning Scheme. A formal land use application needs to be submitted if a location is used more than 5 times a month. This may well need to be advertised and would go through the usual decision-making process. i.e. if no objection an official could deal with it. If objections, it would be referred to Subcouncil and if approved, conditions could be imposed. We believe that the frequency of use should not be a one-size-fits-all solution.
The production manager at a film shoot has a permit issued by the Film Office which states the conditions for the shoot. A maximum of four vehicles may park in the road and all other vehicles must park at the location or at a base camp.
If the conditions on the permit are not being adhered to residents are asked to please contact the Film Office (Anton Smith 0214174023 or Terence Isaacs 0214174022). If the Film Office is notified about filming for which the production company does not have a permit then Traffic Services are called and a Film Office official meets them on site. The Film Office stops all filming activity.
Ward Councillors and the CPOA are asked to comment on filming applications, taking into consideration applicable policies and bylaws – they do not determine whether a film shoot is permitted or not.
Most residents are fairly tolerant towards the occasional inconvenience caused in their neighbourhood. However, those property owners who have registered their dwellings with “location agents” for use on a continuous or regular basis, have in some cases caused ongoing inconvenience to their neighbours. These neighbours have elected to live in quiet suburbs and pay high municipal rates for this privilege and have good reason to feel aggrieved.


Roads and Traffic – some progress

Peter Stenslunde, who chairs our Roads & Traffic subcommittee, has achieved great results through his persistent interaction with City officials – we are working with them in prioritizing road maintenance, traffic control measures and so on. Some specific examples are as follows:
Re-surfacing

  • Ainsty Walk will likely be re-surfaced in the 2015/16 budget year and temporary repairs will be done in the interim
  • Pinehurst Road also scheduled for 2015/16
  • Price Drive – the upper 300m was resurfaced and we questioned why the rest was not done. Budget constraints is the standard response however it is scheduled to be patched and slurry sealed

Patching
The following roads have or will soon receive attention:
Vineyard Close, Peter Cloete Avenue, Hohenhort Avenue, , Warblers Place, Urmarah Close, Pin Oak Lane, , Gilmour Circle, Gilmour Close and Albrecht Street. No patchwork to be done in Avenue Provence only pothole repairs. This will be included for future resurfacing. Brommersvlei Road, Sun Valley Avenue, Frederick Selous Avenue, The Valley Close (200m of kerb repairs also referred to the District for future consideration), Nahoon Avenue, Duckitt Avenue.
The 16 roads above were identified from our site inspection report. Once the Southfield depot has completed this list we will work with them to identify another list for them to work through.
Potholes
We have reported to the City that there are many examples where the maintenance team will drive over potholes to get to the one that has been reported and then fix only that one! Cases in point, Brommersvlei, Pinehurst, Spaanschemat, Rathfelder. They have alerted their depot manager to address this nonsensical practice.
Roadmarking
We constantly complain about the poor state of road markings which are for the safety and protection of residents. We have reminded the City that, should there be an accident and there is evidence that it was a direct result of poor signage, they could be sued.
The Southfield Depot attend to road marking requirement on the minor roads in Constantia (stops, yields, crossings etc.) on an as and when required basis or when reported via the City website (members are reminded to use this means for service requests or complaints).
The Southfield Depot unfortunately only has one road marking crew covering in excess of 700 km. The officials recognize that it will be difficult to make a real impact with such limited resources. Also, future maintenance requirements are considered when making the decision to road mark or not. They do concede that they need to consider a different approach such as appointing a contractor to alleviate some of the backlog – outsourcing is already used for major roads (e.g. Constantia Main)

Intersections

Spaanschemat River Road/Kendal Road – Signalisation might be delayed due to cycle lane and pedestrian pathway improvements.
Constantia Main Road/Alphen Hill – under construction
Constantia Main /Ladies Mile Extension –the City’s Traffic Engineering branch is busy with this project which is still in the design and planning phase. We have suggested that a traffic circle would be more effective than lights but are told that there is insufficient space for this.


Useful contact numbers

CPOA (Constantia Property Owners Association) 021-794 4388 Tel/Fax
Protea Sub-council (20) 021-444 9242
Ward Councillor: Liz Brunette 021-444 9242 or
828 236 584
Municipal Offices, Plumstead 021-710 8000
All emergencies 107 or 021- 424 7715
or 112 from a mobile
All Municipal Service Complaints 860 103 089
Ambulance 10 177
Alphen Clinic 021-794 5906
Baboons 0715 886 540
Bees 021-713 0433 or
826 759 249
Building Inspector 021-712 4604
Burst pipes 860 103 054
Crime Watch control centre 860 002 669
Dumping 086 010 3089 or
021 400 6157
Electricity problems 086 010 3089
Garbage collection 021-704 1005
Hawking problems 021-703 3075
Fire Brigade 021-794 1128
Health Inspector 021-762 1202
Ladies Mile Refuse Depot 021-400 5239
Land Use Inspector 021-710 8008
Meter readings/consumption queries 860 103 089
Metro Police Control Room 021-596 1400
Noise complaints 021-596 1999 or
021-710 8078
Parks and Forests 021-791 8300
Power failures 086 010 3089
Pre–paid meter problems 086 010 3089
Street lights 086 010 3089
Roads & Drainage 021-713 9500
Sewerage blockages, water leaks & supply failure 860 103 054
Water problems 086 010 3054