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Urgent push for urban upgrade

Property owners in Montague Gardens and Marconi Beam have just over a week to cast their vote on whether or not the industrial hub should be categorised as a Special Ratings Area (SRA).

The proposal for the Montague Gardens Marconi Beam Improvement District (MMID) was first conceptualised nearly four years ago following an armed robbery at the Cheese Factory Shop. The incident sparked an outcry when the owner was killed and his daughter injured in the shooting.

The bold plan to tackle crime and grime was tabled at a meeting among owners last week, where the chairperson of the steering committee, Jonty de la Porte, explained the need for the MMID had become increasingly evident.

According to the City of Cape Town, a SRA refers to a clearly defined geographical area in which property owners contribute additional rates to fund “top up” services for that specific area as per the approved business plan.

The process to get an SRA approved is often lengthy as the steering committee needs to complete various tasks stipulated by the City before council will consider the matter. Among some of these requirements is the vote. The steering committee needs to obtain 51% “yes” votes from property owners in the entire area.

Speaking at the meeting De la Porte explained the boundaries for the proposed MMID are the N7 highway and Koeberg, Stella and Bosmansdam roads. While Joe Slovo and Phoenix will form part of this area, they will not be included in the MMID and therefore will not be required to pay for or receive the top up services.

Another requirement for the SRA application, is a perception survey where the committee asks property owners to highlight their main concerns. De la Porte gave an analysis of the results which showed that 82.8% of respondents perceived illegal dumping to be a problem.

The results also show that various issues such as vandalism, theft, loitering and the illegal erection of dwellings all stemmed from an increase in homeless people. In recent months, business owners have cried foul about the condition of the industrial park as litter, rotting food, illegal dwellings and open fires are the first thing visitors see when entering the area.

Using pictures, De la Porte highlighted these issues and raised concerns about the effect it had on businesses.

The steering committee has formulated business plan which if the SRA is approved will see the collection of just over R5.8 million for the first year. Of this amount R3.3 million is budgeted for safety and security which will see the introduction of a monitored CCTV system and two dedicated patrol cars in the industrial area.

If approved, each property owner will pay an additional levy of R59.08 per R1 million of property value. This is collected by the City and paid over to the MMID for it to operate.

The business plan further highlights some of the issues faced by business owners and states: “It is now clear that Montague Gardens and Marconi Beam face the real consequences of urban degradation, which, if not halted and reversed, will lead to a flight of tenants and businesses away from these areas. This in turn will lead to higher vacancy rates, lower rentals and stagnant or falling property prices as well as erosion of the significant investments that have been made in the area”.

Often the next week, the committee will be collecting votes and thereafter submit the application to the City. The City also allows for an objection period for property owners who do not vote in favour of the SRA can air their grievances. V Email jonty@dlpproperty.co.za for more.

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