A proposal for a Tijgerhof community improvement district (CID) – where ratepayers pay extra fees to a non-profit company for top-up municipal services – drew a mixed response at a civic meeting last week.
Slightly more than half of the 50-odd people at the Tijgerhof Residents’ Association’s annual general meeting raised their hands in support of such a plan, but others were hesitant.
Tasso Evangelinos, the CEO of the Cape Town CID and himself a Tijgerhof resident, told the meeting at the Tygerhof Primary School that a CID could bring positive change to the community, but he also admitted that sometimes “the system could have its flaws”.
He said a CID could boost property values, and safety and security services – one its four pillars – would include 24-hour patrols, two dedicated Law Enforcement officers, CCTV cameras, control-room monitoring and a community safety app.
The other three pillars were urban management, involving cleaning and maintenance; social outreach and job creation; and communication.
The outreach component would see NGOs helping to get unemployed and homeless people involved in recycling and street sweeping projects.
“For example, instead of hiring a professional company to clean up our streets, the NGOs can nominate the unemployed and homeless to provide these services, so that they can earn an income,” he said.
The CID’s main aim was to focus on the needs of the community with residents who listen to one another and make decisions together.
“Okay, come on, tell us what does it cost?” shouted a resident in the back.
“Yes, you will pay more rates on your municipal bill,” said Mr Evangelinos. “It will depend on what the needs are in this area.”
A CID steering committee, appointed by the residents’ association, would do a survey and draw up a five-year business plan to determine what each resident would pay. However, he said, the City had made it clear that it would not cost more than 20 to 25% of residents’ current municipal rates.
“So what if my neighbour decides not to pay their bill? They will still see the benefits, won’t they?” said a resident.
That was one of the flaws, conceded Mr Evangelinos, but he added that the City dealt with those residents who failed to pay, and the fees for the CID were still deducted from their arrears.
He said the proposed CID would not be ward specific, and the steering committee would have to agree on which areas and borders would be included in the project.
“It’s important to keep the area small enough so that it can be managed effectively,” he said.
“If we look at Tijgerhof, our streets are hardly being swept, and there’s not much mowing happening here.”
But with the help of the CID, he said, the area would have designated street sweepers.
He said the turn-around time for incident reports was 24-hours, except for crime, which was immediate.
“We have direct links to police stations, and at least two dedicated Law Enforcement patrol officers, which will give the CID’s security guards the power of arrest.”
The CID would meet with police daily and attend meetings to understand the area’s crime stats and discuss strategies to reduce crime by creating a partnership.
“So does this mean I can stop my contract with Crime Watch and ADT?” asked a resident.
Mr Evangelinos said the CID’s patrolmen could not enter private property, but they could be called out to assist with various safety and security incidents.
“What then happens to the budgets for the area, and the work that councillors should be doing?” asked another resident.
“Councillors automatically become board members and will facilitate the business plan for the area, which eventually will need to be approved by the City. However, the councillors don’t have much say, unless we are infringing on their plans,” he replied.
“Will this bring an end to the illegal buildings and developments in our community?” asked a resident.
“No, this will still fall in the City’s scope,” Mr Evangelinos replied.
Tijgerhof Residents’ Association chairman Garron Gsell, who will chair the CID steering committee, said, “While the CID can’t intervene in this matter, perhaps we could ask the dedicated Law Enforcement officers to enforce stop orders on those who we know are building illegally?”
“Yes, that could be done,” said Mr Evangelinos.
Mr Gsell told Tabletalk that while it was still too early to get residents’ votes, a steering committee had been formalised, although a business plan was still needed.
“There are several benefits to the CID, particularly in light of the challenges faced by the community. We aim to have this meeting in March 2024, which will require a 61% buy-in from residents for this to be approved.”
Tijgerhof ward councillor Fabian Ah-Sing, who sent his apologies for not attending the meeting, said it was highly likely that Tijgerhof would be approved as a CID because of the area’s average income, but he would first meet with residents to hear their needs and discuss the next steps.
The City did not respond to our emailed questions by deadline.