Special Rating Area ‘the way to go’

Original article on News24 : https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/Local/Peoples-Post/special-rating-are...

A public meeting to explore the establishment of a Special Rating Area (SRA) in Camps Bay, as a solution to safety and security issues, was held on Tuesday.

At the meeting, Camps Bay Community Policing Forum chairperson Bernard Schafer addressed some of the safety issues that have been plaguing the community, suggesting that the creation of an SRA holds the solution to these problems.

An SRA involves an increase in municipal rates by a certain percentage levied on property within a predefined geographical location. The additional rate levied on property is used to raise funds for the improvement or upgrading of the area.

Previously known as Central Improvement Districts, SRAs form part of the City of Cape Town’s Integrated Development Plan. Long-term benefits of the programme include increased property values and enhanced standards of living. The SRA policy statement implemented by the City on 1 July 2011 states that the model is based on international best practice, aiming to prevent the degeneration of cities and towns and the onset of urban decay.

The policy facilitates economic growth and sustainable development of areas to enhance and supplement municipal services already provided by the City.

One of the safety issues highlighted by Schafer was vagrancy and aggressive begging. This activity is centred round the beachfront, he explained.

He added that the community should not confuse homelessness with those who have chosen to make a life on the streets. He added that those living on the street can make up to R1000 a day and that often this money is spent on supporting drug use and gangsterim – effectively “trapping them into a life on the streets”.

“Handouts are harmful. The money gets used for the type of things that can be bought on the street,” he said.

One challenge facing the community is how to educate visitors to Camps Bay to give responsibly, Schafer added, as well as to coordinate all the safety efforts taking place in the area.

Kiki Bond Smith, from the Llandudno SRA, addressed the meeting and gave advice on the establishment of an SRA, as well as some of the difficulties encountered by them and how to avoid these.

Bond Smith explained that ratepayers have a say in the SRA, including the increased rate amount, and will need to vote to have the SRA approved. For an SRA among business properties, officials will need a buy-in from 50% + 1 of the property owners. For a residential SRA, 60% + 1 of the property owners will need to agree.

She also commented on the benefits the community had experienced since the establishment of the SRA.

“If your community is not safe, in the long term your property value will suffer,” she concluded. “SRA is the way to go.”

Schafer suggested that a steering committee be formed to investigate the formation of an SRA.

“It’s the only solution we can identify at this stage to address all the issues,” he said.