Residents withhold rates to air grievances

The Sea Point area.

Fifty Sea Point and City Bowl residents have decided to withhold their rates in an effort to have their grievances heard.

On August 1 residents embarked on a partial rates boycott, withholding 50% of their rates payments.

This followed a Zoom meeting during which residents discussed their rates, the state of decay, the plight of the homeless, the increase in crime and the poor service delivery in their neighbourhoods and surrounding areas.

The residents under the banner of the Concerned Residents of Atlantic Seaboard, co-ordinated by Sea Point resident Paul Jacobson, started a petition accompanied by an incident report listing acts of violence perpetrated against residents as well as other social ills. “Why are our exorbitant rate payments not being used effectively to address the plight of the homeless, crime prevention, proper service delivery and the rectification of the decay we are subjected to?” they asked in the petition.

“Our homes and businesses have suffered significant diminutions in value. Why have our rates not been adjusted downwards to correlate with their true value? The City is not entitled to charge us a wealth tax under the guise of rate levies.”

They said they would continue withholding half of their rates payments for as long as it took the City to address their concerns, including readjustments of their rates to “accord with the fair and true value” of their properties, as well as charges for water and refuse removal.

In a letter to the residents involved, the City’s executive mayor, Dan Plato, said the City “noted and supported” the broad intention of the petition and was doing all it could to increase policing and enforcement resources across the city, including the Atlantic Seaboard.

He said the City had 16 law enforcement staff deployed to the area, eight funded by the safety and security department and another eight sponsored by the Central Improvement Districts and ward councillors’ allocation budgets.

On the issue of the homeless,, Mr Plato said the City had been clamping down on people violating by-laws, whether homeless or not.

Mr Plato said: “Recent court action against the City by certain organisations have attempted to prevent the City from undertaking the enforcement of its by-laws against people on the street,” he said.

“We’re defending these matters in court as best as possible and navigating the increasingly complex restrictions they present. We’re committed to ensuring that our city remains liveable for all who reside therein and that law and order are upheld,” he said.

He added that they were willing to have a closed meeting with office bearers of community organisations but did not advise public meetings as they generated “political sparring matches” between those demanding action against the homeless and those demanding that they be left alone. “These rarely offer an option for a meaningful sharing of information,” he said.

When asked for their comment on the rates boycott, the Sea Point, Fresnaye and Bantry Bay (SFB) Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association said while they were not taking sides in the matter, they were against the hiking of rates.