Tafelberg on the table

Tana Paddock, Sea Point

As a Sea Point resident living just around the corner from the Tafelberg site, I strongly urge you to reconsider your plans to sell the property. I understand that, from a purely financial standpoint, it makes more sense to sell it and use the money from the sale to build affordable housing elsewhere in the city. However, not every planning decision should be guided by financial logic alone. A more holistic, social-emotional logic is called for in this case.

Devoting a piece of prime real-estate to affordable mixed-income housing in one of the city’s most sought-after neighbourhoods is a much-needed concrete step towards mending the social divides of this city. It would send a strong message that Cape Town is serious about reversing apartheid planning. It would be an historic decision in many respects, paving the way for more social-justice oriented planning in the future. Campaigns against racism are helpful, but racism is structural not just interpersonal.

The recent South African Reconciliation Barometer found that 67 percent of South Africans have little to no trust in people of a different race group. And more than 50 percent of respondents said they hardly interact with other races with the exception of in their workplaces or while shopping.

Transforming the racial psyche of Cape Town requires transforming our spatial proximity. We need to follow the example of other cities internationally and adopt a mixed-income approach to housing in the city centre. Thanks to the Promenade, Sea Point is a place where people already mix across race and class on a level playing field. So Sea Point residents have a regular experience of connecting across divides to build upon and deepen.

Again, I urge you to reconsider your plans. The psychological value of having affordable housing on the Tafelberg site is so much greater than what money can buy from selling it.

Isa-Lee Jacobson, Sea Point

I am a Sea Point resident, and while I love the fact that my property value has gone up, I see the diversity of life on my neighbourhood streets disappearing. I don’t want to live in the most segregated city in the world. It fills me with a deep shame. I want people from all walks of life and all income groups to live around me. I want to interact with different people and I don’t want to live in a bubble.

We need to start changing the way this city works. When I go to other cities, like London, I notice how rich and poor can live on the same street, that council housing isn’t stuck in some suburb for the poor. It is a diverse and eclectic city because of this. Our country has the worst Gini coefficient in the world, and the solution is not to stick the poor 25km out of town, where they struggle to get public transport to get them to work, while I get to zip into town in 10 minutes. How is that fair? Let’s bring people closer, let’s densify, let’s prove that people from all walks of life and different income groups can coexistent in the same suburb. As a resident and homeowner in Sea Point, I absolutely object to the sale of Tafelberg School to any buyer that simply wants to engender more elitism. The City must do its duty and transform the Tafelberg site into mixed-income housing and stop the removal of people who can’t afford to live here anymore. It must keep transforming the land and buildings it owns in Cape Town into affordable housing. It owes its residents this.