Hout and About

November 2010

 

The publication of the Residents’ Association of Hout Bay

PO Box 27031, Hout Bay, 7872

rahb@houtbay.org.za            www.houtbay.org.za                                         

 

 

In this issue:

Len’s Lines: A message from the Chairperson

Residents’ Association opposes Karbonkelberg development

The power of public persuasion

Meeting the realistic expectations of Hangberg residents

Hout Bay water quality – good news and bad news

Protect the toads!

Hout Bay – then and now

A good Samaritan

Security: get the basics right

Support the ‘roving litter bin’

A note for music lovers

City of Cape Town’s C3 reporting line

Preserving our Heritage – the old Baines Road

To join the Residents’ Association

 

Len’s Lines

 

A message from the Chairperson of the Residents’ Association of Hout Bay

 

The Hangberg issue continues to dominate local news, with the Courts having ordered the parties themselves to find a solution to the problem of the shacks illegally constructed on and above the firebreak on the Sentinel while finding appropriate accommodation elsewhere for the people living in these dwellings. 

 

For its part the Residents Association, while vigorously opposing the unauthorised spread of the informal settlements in Hout Bay, has provisionally agreed to the City of Cape Town’s plan for the development of Hangberg, subject to strict conditions pertaining to the extent of such development – see the story elsewhere in this issue of Hout & About.

 

To say that the Hangberg issue is ‘sensitive’ is surely an understatement. We are utterly amazed therefore – especially at a time like this – that the Provincial Government should have given environmental authorization for a new gated housing development on the slopes of the Karbonkelberg, right next to the Sentinel and within a Protected Natural Environment. This story, too, is reported more fully elsewhere in this issue.

 

There are obviously significant differences between the shacks illegally constructed in Hangberg and the proposal for an upmarket development on the Karbonkelberg aimed at the very wealthy.  The principle, however, is exactly the same.  In both instances, uncaring parties would seek to promote their own narrow self-interests without regard for the sensitive environment in which these parties would have such construction or development take place.

 

Irrespective of whether the perpetrators of these assaults upon the Sentinel and Karbonkelberg are rich or poor, the Residents’ Association will continue to do everything in its power to prevent such acts taking place, or at very least to limit their impact.  The Association exists precisely in order to ensure that such development as does take place in Hout Bay takes full cognisance of the unique character of our village and our beautiful natural environment, as well as such factors as the provision of appropriate infrastructure and services, and the security and well-being of all our residents.  

 

On a separate note, we bade farewell last month to Robbie and Jill Patterson, both of whom had served with distinction upon the Association’s Executive Committee.  In their place I am very pleased to welcome Mike Kokhuis as the member responsible for the security portfolio and Jacorien Rossouw, who takes over the secretarial function.  I am equally pleased to welcome the following additional members to our Executive Committee: Andy Wood (Mountains), Donald Ntlapo (Imizamo Yethu), and Rob Gwilliam (marketing and communication).

 

The entire Executive Committee is comprised of volunteers who give up their time to make Hout Bay a better place for all, and I am very grateful to each for his or her specific contribution.

 

 

Regards

 

Len Swimmer

Chairperson, Residents Association of Hout Bay

Tel: 021 790 0268; Email: lens@telkomsa.net

 

 

 

Residents’ Association opposes Karbonkelberg development

 

The Residents’ Association of Hout Bay has expressed its outrage following environmental authorization by the Western Cape government for a gated housing development on the slopes of the Karbonkelberg, next to the Sentinel.

 

The proposal for erf 3477, submitted by Johannesburg-based company Elegant Square Trading 249 cc, originally contemplated the development of 35 single residential properties, two general residential erven for group houses, and roads and stormwater services. In reaching its decision, the Province agreed to the development of 21 single plots together with the two general residential plots (comprising a further 26 group houses) but refused to allow 14 erven to be developed along the top section of the property.

 

The Residents Association argues that the property lies outside the approved urban edge and is wholly contained within the proclaimed Cape Peninsula Protected Natural Environment.  The property is currently zoned rural, meaning that only one main building together with appropriate outbuildings is allowed, and a rezoning and subdivision application – to be opposed by the Association - must still be approved.

 

The proposed development has also been formally opposed by Hout Bay Heights resident and botanist Richard Sohn, who argues not only that the process to date has been fundamentally flawed, but that the potential impact of the development upon the natural ecosystem could be devastating. 

 

Amongst a number of other points, Richard Sohn also notes that “All development approvals for erf 3477 have been DENIED in the past. The land is zoned rural for environmental purposes. All the other large privately owned land that forms a corridor from Hangberg to Sandy Bay is zoned the same way. The highest density allowed on these is a single house on roughly 21000 m2 land.”

 

The Residents Association has received support for its stance from Barry Mitchell of the Hout Bay SA Communist Party, an unlikely ally in normal circumstances.  The Hangberg Civic Association, however, which is currently involved in a major dispute with the City of Cape Town over the issue of land on the Sentinel mountainside, is keeping its distance from the issue.

 

The Association’s opposition to the development on the Karbonkelberg slopes received front page coverage in an article by John Yeld in The Argus of 22 October, from which the following comments have been extracted:

 

“The Residents Association of Hout Bay describes the housing plan as an upmarket elite development for the very wealthy and says approval by the Provincial Environmental and Planning department is insensitive.  ‘We are amazed that this application has been approved on the Karbonkelberg mountainside, in spitting distance of the Hangberg’, says chairman Len Swimmer. ‘The timing of this approval could not be more insensitive, coming at this time.’

 

“’Previous attempts to rezone and develop the erf were rejected for good reason – nothing has changed’, the Association said.”

 

The Argus report also notes that “The botanical specialist (employed in the environmental study) had rated the site as being of ‘moderate to high sensitivity’ and of ‘high to very high conservation importance’ on a local, regional and national level.”

 

 

 

 

The power of public persuasion

 

Against the backdrop of the current issues surrounding the illegal construction of shacks in Hangberg and proposals for an upmarket development on the slopes of the Karbonkelberg it is pleasing to know that the objections raised by the Residents’ Association of Hout Bay to ill-conceived development proposals can, and do, result in victory for the community.

 

Most recently the Association was advised that an application to build four luxury houses on the dunes on Hout Bay beach (erf 559) was dealt the final death knell when an appeal by the developer against an earlier ruling of the Good Hope Subcouncil was dismissed.

 

The Association fought long and hard to prevent the proposed beach development on erf 559.  In its original letter of objection, it noted that approval of the application to construct the houses on the dune field between Princess Road and the beach would compromise the ecological integrity of the dune fields and the coastal zone generally.  It noted also that independent strong opposition had been lodged by over 500 residents of Hout Bay from all sectors of the community, Imizamo Yethu, the Hout Bay Valley and Hangberg.

 

In addition to organising a local petition against the proposed development, the Association even went so far as to inform the citizens of the little town in the Netherlands where the developer and owner of e559 lives of the potential damage to the dune system ‘for the sake of a few million Rand in the pockets of the developers’.

 

With the dismissal of the developer’s appeal, the process has now effectively been concluded, as has another potential development on e547, also on the beach. In the case of e547 the appeal against the Municipality’s decision to refuse the application for a rezoning from amenities to general residential in order to permit a hotel (guest house) was similarly dismissed. It was stressed that no development should take place South of Princess Street.

 

 

Meeting the realistic expectations of Hangberg residents

 

In the October issue of Hout & About we reported the Residents’ Association’s extensive comments on the City’s basic assessment report for the proposed upgrade of Hangberg, Effectively, the Association has offered provisional support only for the project, dependent upon the meeting of certain criteria.  Chief amongst these criteria is an undertaking that the footprint will not be extended beyond the boundaries contemplated in the proposals and that any further encroachment will not be tolerated.

 

In a subsequent letter to the authorities on the issue, the Association has also requested that Hangberg residents be advised to exercise a greater degree of realism with regard to their expectations.  As the letter states: “The reality is that just because someone was born in and grew up in the area, does not necessarily mean that this same person will be able to stay and/or build a house there too – simply because his/her parent(s) may have done so.  This applies generally, and not just to Hangberg Village.  Such an expectation leads to a compromising situation with regards to the housing aspirations of other people who are prepared to live elsewhere where land and building costs are less expensive.”

 

As the parties continue to debate the future of Hangberg, the Association notes with approval the views of Sue Ball, Chairperson of the Hout Bay branch of the DA, as follows: “We sympathise with the decent, law-abiding families living in Hangberg in cramped, squalid conditions, who have been waiting patiently for the in-situ upgrade since 2007. A lawless minority of 41 is preventing the majority of 346 homeless families from getting title and services. Yet the press has lionized the law-breakers as martyrs and victims. Their selfish, reckless actions have upset the community.” (Cape Times. 6 October)

 

Hout Bay water quality: good news and bad news

 

At last some good news regarding the quality of the water in the Hout Bay river: water running into the river from IY via one of the pipes appears to be clean, following regular cleaning and maintenance of the system by City officials. Regrettably another pipe, which runs past the school playground, has not been subject to similar treatment and recent tests show that E.Coli levels remain above 75 million - a dangerously high level.

 

In a letter to the Catchment, Stormwater & River Management, Roads & Stormwater Department, environmentalist and Resident Association EXCO member Dr Justin O’Riain notes as follows:

 

“I had a meeting with Councillor Haywood and some city staff last week at the mouth of the Hout Bay river and the water was clean and odourless. This weekend I performed a residents’ tour and we all concurred that the river was cleaner than any time in the last 4 years.  I actually look forward to Scientific Services’ latest E.coli report.

 

“My sincerest congratulations to you all for this success, with special thanks to Talcott Persent for the innovative screen and Costas from Peninsula pipelines for his dedication in the cleaning and maintenance of the sump/pump.

 

“Clearly routine maintenance of this facility is critical to its efficient functioning and hence the pollution levels in the river.”

 

Shortly after this letter was penned, Dr O’Riain ‘discovered’ another pipe which had clearly escaped the attention of the authorities.  Upon sampling the water, E.Coli levels of above 75 million were recorded – clearly posing a significant danger, particularly to schoolchildren within the playground through which the pipe flows. If unchecked, the raw sewerage in the storm water system will flow into the Kramer farm lands and other farm lands and properties.

 

Protect the toads!

The Residents’ Association of Hout Bay has supported the objection by residents of Milner Street to a proposed development on the corner of Oxford and Milner Streets, by virtue of the density and positioning of the proposed development and the developer’s disregard for a sensitive ecological environment.

Amongst other objections, the Milner Street residents note as follows: “Our section of Milner Road is lower than the natural course or the river and is the lowest lying road within the bounds of Beach Estate. We are also immediately adjacent to the broadest section of the floodplain and have near surface water emanating from higher catchment plains. This then is a convergence point at which storm-water and river alike collect on occasion, resulting in the council having had to construct channels to remove surface water from our road. These channels contain water throughout the year and have become a breeding ground for the Western Leopard Toad - classified as Endangered by the IUCN and protected in terms of the Nature Conservation Ordinance.

“To the delight of residents of our area, the toads have moved into our gardens and freely move to and from the channels and adjacent wetland. This does unfortunately require that they cross our section of Milner Road. Our residents are aware of their plight and have enforced a speed limit of 15km/h designed. We credibly believe that they will be harmed should the traffic load on our road be increased by the proposed development, this being especially true given that there is no street lighting”

Hout Bay – then and now

 

Lamenting the rise of crime in Hout Bay, Neighbourhood Watch member Anthony Allen remembers a time – not so long ago – when Hout Bay was quite different to what it is now:

 

“My first Hout Bay years in the early 80’s were great as a teenager. There was sand where it was supposed to be before the tentacles of “property development” opened up a pristine paradise for commercial exploitation; Chappies was a wild road to drive for free (at your own risk) with baboons, buck, toads, snakes and landslides; Mount Rhodes had a handful of homes and tarred roads were a novelty. There were 22 homeless and displaced families being relocated from where Sea Glades now stands on the west bank of the Disa overlooking Princess Road to a wild and tangled bushy mountain slope beneath a broad canopy of Stone Pines below the Penzance end of the pipe track where people walked their dogs or had a picnic to take in the splendid views around the valley.

 

“On weekends the harbour was flooded with curious tourists, fishmongers and locals, all happily in the mix with an abundance of whatever was deemed necessary to keep one content.  People, horses, dogs, frogs, fish, otters – you name it frolicked in a mix of chilly salt water and sweet brak at the mouth of the Disa. Trek netters emptied their vessels on migrant dunes when not crying their catches for sale.

 

“The folk of Hout Bay were happy to have the valley fall under the jurisdiction of the old Cape Provincial Administration, thus avoiding having intrusive night time street lighting, too many tar roads blazing a cosmopolitan caste on this idyllic setting. It was in every sense a beautiful enclave shielded on three sides by guarding mountains with an icy fourth border lapping the shores in summer and in winter capable of churning passage into turmoil.”

A good Samaritan

Johann van Blerck of the Neighbourhood Watch reports that a wallet found close to the old SAP building has been happily reunited with its owner! “Inside the wallet were two phone numbers on a scrap of paper. One of the numbers turned out to be Jackson, who undertook to ask all of his friends if they’d lost a wallet. After a week Jackson produced Simon Ngwenya who described the wallet and contents. Simon must be close to 70 years old and had been to the harbour Village to collect his grant money. On reaching his home in IY, he was devastated to find he had lost his money. When he came to collect the wallet, he looked as if he’d been hit by a truck (in a good way) and had to sit down for some time to recover!”

Security: get the basics right

 

Following reports of an increase in theft and crime in the Harbour Heights area, Julie Banham of the Hout Bay Neighbourhood Watch advises residents to install proper security gates on all doors and burglar bars on all glass windows, rather than simply relying on sensors and beams.  I am constantly amazed at how casual many residents are about security and that they only wake up to their vulnerability when they've had a few 'hits'. Unfortunately Neighbourhood watch in the Heights is not well supported.  Security begins 'at home' and residents need to become mobilised and make a serious contribution to looking out for each other. They just have to ask for help and HBNW will make a plan, but they've got to want to help themselves too,” she says.

 

 

Support the ‘roving litter bin’

 

Hout Bay’s ‘roving litter bin’, which has been hugely successful as a means of keeping designated areas of Hout bay clean, has survived 10 months. Originally started as a Hout Bay Rotary Club project, it was handed over to the Hout Bay Re-cycling Co-Op as Rotary was unable to carry on employing the operator. Rotary continues, however, to oversee the operation.

 

Mick Feuilherade of the Rotary Club of Hout Bay notes that it is the Club’s intention to start a second trolley operating on the other side of Hout Bay, i.e. the Mariners Wharf/Victoria/Empire Rd part of the village up to the robot and down to IY.  He has requested advertising support from any businesses in Hout Bay wishing to support this project.  The cost is a nominal R650 to R70 per month for each of the four sides of the trolley (costs differ depending on position and size of advertisement), and most of the income is used to pay the operator and incidental expenses.

 

If you are able to assist in this project and help to keep the village free of litter, please contact the Rotary Club of Hout Bay President, Patrick Mc Laughlin on 021 790 4420.

 

 

A note for music lovers

 

Recently residents of Hout Bay and surrounding areas have been able to listen to Fine Music Radio, which now broadcasts on 94.7 in our area as well as 101.3 elsewhere. However, FMR is a community radio and relies entirely on outside funding, particularly from the listening public. If you enjoy good music, please join FMR at a cost of only R280-00 a year and keep this wonderful service going. Contact FMR on (021) 401-1013 or via the following web page link: http://www.fmr.co.za/pages/members.php

 

 

 

City of Cape Town C3 Reporting Line

 

Residents’ Association Deputy Chairperson Reinhard Marx notes that the City of Cape Town’s Complaints line is proving to be a most effective contact centre.

 

Dial the City’s call centre on 086 010-3089 or send a text message with your complaint to 31373. Give a detailed description and an address as to where the problem exists and leave your name, address and contact number to allow the relevant department to follow up.

 

If you choose to call and speak to an operator you will first be given a choice of options via an automated voice response system as follows: 1 Accounts and General Enquiries; 2 Water Affairs (this covers drainage and Roads); 3 Electricity; 4 Motor Vehicles; 5 Creditors / Accounts Payable

 

Once you have reported your complaint the operator will initiate a C3 job action and you will be given a reference number. The operator gets in touch and logs the job with the relevant department or depot via radio contact and the responsible party must report back when the job is completed.

 

“I have been astounded with the speed at which issues are resolved, sometimes within a day. Give it a try!”

 

 

 

 

 

Preserving our Heritage – the old Baines Road

 

 

 

 

The picture shows the historical Old Baines Road which runs from Victorskloof, Hout Bay through Ruiteplaats and joins Victoria Drive. Following repeated complaints by concerned residents, the Residents’ Association has brought to the attention of the authorities the fact that, amongst a litany of other alleged infringements of the law, the owner of the neighbouring property has illegally desecrated this heritage site by causing a badly built brick paved road to be constructed over the Old Baines Road, without proper drainage, thereby causing rainwater to flood neighbouring properties. 

 

 

 

To join the Residents’ Association:

 

Contact us via email on rahb@houtbay.org.za

Membership forms available from Chairperson (see above) or Hout Bay Library

Membership fee: R50 per couple; R30 per individual

Corporate membership also available – rates upon request