Residents unpack by-law

The City hosted an information session for the public to have their say on proposed amendments to the Municipal Planning By-law (MPBL).

The City has kept its cards very close when it comes to the proposed amendments to the Municipal Planning By-law (MPBL).

This was heard at an information session hosted by the City last Thursday, March 7, at the Civic Centre.

The MPBL regulates developments and land use in the city. The public participation period about the proposed amendments to the MPBL is now in its second week.

The information session aimed to make residents and interested and affected parties aware of the impact and consequences of the proposed amendments.

A group of residents from the Atlantic Seaboard and the City Bowl attended the session to express their views on the proposed amendments.

The City’s mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, Marian Nieuwoudt, led the session together with the officials from the land use management department.

The MPBL was adopted in 2015 and it was resolved that it could be reviewed annually.

Some of the 15 proposed amendments relate to, among others, emergency housing, the installation of minor freestanding cell masts, a third dwelling as an additional use right, short-term letting from flats and the role of heritage overlay when assessing a land use application.

Camps Bay resident Dennis Katz raised concerns about some property owners who lease out their apartments for a few days. He said this causes major security concerns as people walk in and out every three days. “This transient letting is becoming a nightmare and an unhappy situation for people who’ve been living there for decades. I’ve suggested that they rent out the flats for longer periods so that the residents can get to know the tenants, but they are refusing, stating that they make a lot of money through this.”

Mr Katz asked whether they have a right to lease out the apartments for short-term stay to which the City’s land use management representative, Richard Walton, answered no. “The City has made it very clear that the current legislation doesn’t allow transient accommodation in flats.”

He said the City has received many complaints from people living in flats about this but it was not within their power to enforce.

Mr Walton said they have had court cases regarding the matter where they have taken people on but unfortunately at times, they struggled to get sufficient evidence to satisfy the prosecutor.

He said this was a difficult situation for the City and some applications to regularise this were still sitting with the City’s appeal committee.

Another resident from the Waterkant also shared Mr Katz’s sentiments. She said they were now stuck in a situation where one owner wants to rent out his apartment for a short-term.

She asked whether the City could support and help them in this situation.

Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers’ Association secretary, Jacky Poking, said they were studying the amendments and would comment once they were clear about what the amendments meant for them.

“The Heritage Protection Overlay Zone( HPOZ) falls within the amendments and we need to understand what this means. At present, all that I can say is that we are studying the amendments and getting input from various sources in order for us to make an informed comment.”

Ms Poking urged the City to advertise the information sessions more widely.

“One was held last night for our ward but most residents only heard about it at the last minute, yesterday afternoon. And maybe the City should have more than one information session per ward/ or sub-council. There is definitely a wide interest in these amendments to the MPBL and I think the City should note that and have more information sessions to engage with the public,” she said.

Chairperson of the Camps Bay and Clifton Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (CBCRRA), Chris Williemse, said they are still studying the proposed amendments.

Interested parties, including residents, ratepayers’ associations and bodies corporate must submit their comments on the City’s proposed amendments by Monday April 1.

The full set of proposed amendments and the guideline document with more information are available at the 24 sub-council offices and on the City’s website at IF CAN FIT:

Proposed amendments include:

The proposal of an additional level to measure height. The City said height is a contentious issue on sites and in areas with steep slopes most complaints relate to the impact of height on neighbouring views, privacy, and sunlight. The intention is to, in the end, produce a ground level map that will cover all sites and land in Cape Town so that there is certainty in terms of the allowed height for each and every site or property across the city.

A new provision that allows for short-term letting from a house or flat for a period not exceeding 30 consecutive days. This is in response to the increase in short-term letting via online platforms such as AirBnB.

Amendments are proposed to allow for the installation of minor freestanding cellmasts: properties zoned as Community Use such as churches, schools, clinics and hospitals; Utilities; Transport 1 and Transport 2; Public Open Space; as well as Agriculture be allowed to install minor freestanding cell masts (of less than 12m in height) or minor rooftop masts (of less than 1.5m in height) as of right.

This means that these minor freestanding masts and minor rooftop masts can be installed at or on these sites without prior land use approval from the City or adjacent land owners. Building plan approvals may still be required.

A minor rooftop cellmast of less than 1.5m in height is allowed as a consent use for properties zoned as Single Residential 1 and Single Residential 2; as well as for properties zoned as General Residential 1 – 6. This means that the owner of the property must still apply to the City for permission to install this structure.

An amendment that states that no more than one staff quarters is permitted on a land unit without the City’s consent. This is to allow the City to consider the legitimacy of domestic staff quarters and the impact it may have on neighbours.