Civics threaten to take City, developers to court

Bridgett Lloyd, Bridgett Lloyd, Summer Greens Ratepayers’ Association (SGRA) chairwoman

Four civic groups are asking the public to help them support a legal battle against the City, which they accuse of approving development plans that are destroying their communities.

Milnerton Central Ratepayers’ Association (MCRA), Phoenix Ratepayers’ and Community Forum (PRCF), Sanddrift Residents’ Association (SRA), and Summer Greens Ratepayers’ Association (SGRA), have joined forces against developers.

At a meeting, attended by about 50 residents, at the Milnerton library last Thursday, the civic groups urged the public to help fund legal action against the municipality and developers.

MCRA chairman Bouwe van der Eems chaired the meeting and said they wanted “densification with dignity”.

Developers were buying more than four properties in Milnerton at a time and turning them into illegal boarding houses, while long-standing residents had to endure overflowing sewers, falling property values, noise pollution and traffic congestion, he said.

“These issues are infringing on our right to health and a clean environment. We are not against densification, but residents don’t have much of a say in building plans, and we are suffering.”

Civic groups were prepared to accept boarding houses in the area because by-laws permitted them, but they would not accept the overcrowding that crept in because of flaws in the by-laws, he said.

The sewerage infrastructure, he said, had been built for a community predominately made up of single-residential properties, but the sudden influx of people had overburdened it, causing sewage overflows.

And wendy houses were being built over pools and right up against boundary walls to get as many tenants onto a property as possible.

“These issues also infringe on the property rights of the people as their homes are the biggest investment they might have ever have made and are being sold for next-to-nothing,” he said.

Bridget Lloyd, chairwoman of the SGRA, said more than 20 properties in Summer Greens had been turned into boarding houses and were rented out for between R4000 and R5000.

“Then there are also backyarders, and our area is already condensed. Summer Greens has about 1700 houses, with a population that has almost tripled in our community,” she said.

There were houses with 7 to 10 rooms with more than one family living in them, she said.

“The mess that these developers are leaving behind is causing residents to suffer, and the City of Cape Town does not listen to our cry for help. An injustice is being done to rate-paying citizens,” she said.

Linda Mqikela, chairwoman of the PRCF, said owners of illegal boarding houses were benefiting while other homeowners suffered.

The association had made several C3 service requests to the City, asking for building inspectors to visit the “problematic properties”, but nothing was being done, she said.

“We receive little to no feedback from the City, and Phoenix residents need to come forward and fight against developers causing havoc in our neighbourhood,” she said.

Craig van Blerk, the new chairman of the SRA, said overcrowding and illegal boarding houses were a problem in Sanddrift east, west and north, and developers were buying plots and houses then building 30m² flats for big families to live in.

The association, he said, planned to serve the City and developers with final letters of demand to fix the problems in the community; failing that, it would fight them in court.

“This cannot go on any longer,” he said, urging all civics to take legal action against developers.

The MCRA’s land-use portfolio members, Colin Ridley and Stuart Hofmeyr, presented plans that had been submitted to the City on behalf of developers who were building illegal boarding houses.

Mr Hofmeyr said boarding houses were being approved under the guise of guest rooms, en-suites, game rooms and saunas that were then turned into flats for families to occupy.

Ward 4 councillor Anthony Benadie said he stood with the community he served.

“The City has appointed an attorney to take action against the one land owner who has become infamous in this discussion,” he said. “It remains highly unfortunate that the City’s resources in terms of building inspectors, remain a serious challenge.”

Illegal boarding houses had a negative impact on property value, he said.

“It holds social, health, safety, and environmental challenges. This sort of over population also directly impacts the community infrastructure, which, due to being overburdened, can lead to blockages, sewer spills and infrastructure collapse.”

Mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment Eddie Andrews said two of the Milnerton central properties that had been reported to the City had been inspected, with one of them needing a follow-up inspection.

“Inspectors have faced several challenges in accessing the properties in question and serving the notices on the relevant persons,” he said.

Tabletalk tried to make contact with a developer who was accused of building illegal boarding houses in Summer Greens and Sanddrift, but when we introduced ourselves, he hung up and all calls and messages went unanswered.

To contribute to the legal fees of the civic association in your community, visit their website or email them. For Milnerton, visit, www.mcra.org.za; for Sanddrift, email sanddriftra@gmail.com; for Phoenix, call Ms Mqikela at 083 641 2664 or email linda.mqikela89@gmail.com; and for Summer Greens, email summergreensra@gmail.com

At a meeting, attended by about 50 residents, at the Milnerton library last Thursday, civic groups urged the public to help fund legal action against the municipality and developers.
Linda Mqikela, chairwoman of the Phoenix Ratepayers’ and Community Forum.