Stop the city from abolishing your property rights

By: Chris Willemse, Chairperson: Camps Bay Ratepayers and Residents Association

August 3rd, 2013

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The general public are probably not aware that the City Council, in conjunction with the Mayors Office, have proposed that public participation (the rights of neighbours and civic groupings to meaningfully object to planning applications that do not comply with the law) will, within a few weeks, be removed from all further development proposals, thereby giving the City the power to approve any development they wish with little or no concern to how this would effect the surrounding neighbours and the environment.

Currently, the various Subcouncils comprised of locally elected and PR politicians, are tasked with deciding on planning applications that require departures, consent use, etc. Although not perfect, it is at least democratic and passes constitutional muster.

The amendment will now withdraw decision-making representation at local level – adding to Mayor de Lille’s summarily withdrawing of the SPELUM Committee’s (the committee tasked to decide environmental and policy related issues) decision-making powers last year. Currently, SPELUM can only make recommendations to the Mayoral committee, whose decisions, in turn, cannot be appealed.

Not only will officials now be empowered to make unilateral decisions, those decisions may be premised on policy and not on law. There is a raft of case law from the various High Courts, especially the Western Cape, which has questioned the City’s use of policy rather than laws to make administrative decisions – and such decisions have routinely been set aside.

The Mayor is quietly attempting to push this amendment through a full sitting of Council scheduled for August whilst the DA caucus has effectively gagged dissenting councillors. All attempts by various civic/ratepayer groupings to properly consult with the DA in this matter have been met with a stony silence – other than the rather inadequate spin of Cllr Gareth Bloor, which has been published in the various broadsheets.

It is clear that the City is intent on fulfilling Premier Zille’s promise to developers to take their rather arduous task of personal financial reward from “red tape to red carpet”: And the consequences for long-term sustainability, the environment and constitutional rights will be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency.

The only option open to all citizens who value the freedoms of a liberal democracy and their right to effective participation in civic matters of concern to them, is to phone or e-mail your Ward councillor, the Mayor and their local DA office and demand that this amendment be struck from the agenda and consigned to the political scrap-heap of bad ideas.

 

AFRIKAANS:

Die voorgestelde wysigings aan die Stad Kaapstad se stelsel van afvaardiging vir Ekonomiese, Omgewings- en Ruimtebeplanning (“EORB”) verwys.

Jan Alleman is waarskynlik onbewus daarvan dat die Stad Kaapstad in samewerking met die Burgemeesterskantoor voorgestel het dat openbare deelname (die reg van bure en gemeenskapsorganisies) binnekort verwyder word van alle verdere ontwikkelingsvoorstelle, waardeur die Stad die mag sal bekom om enige ontwikkeling na willekeur goed te keur sonder om enigsins ag te slaan op hoe dit die bure en die omgewing sal raak.

Onder die dekmantel van Stadsdoeltreffendheid het die publiek se reg om kommentaar te lewer nou as finale beoordelaar ’n stadsbeplanningsamptenaar wat nie enigsins aanspreeklik is nie.

Tans bestaan die verskillende Sub-Rade uit plaaslik verkose en openbare betrekkingspolitici wat moet besluit oor beplanningsaansoeke wat afwykingsgoedkeuring, toestemming, gebruiksgoedkeuring, ens. verg. Ofskoon nie volmaak nie, is dit ten minste demokraties en slaag dit ons land se konstitusionele toets.

Die wysigings wil nou die besluitnemingsverteenwoordiging op voetsoolvlak ontneem en eerder byvoeg tot burgemeester De Lille se summiere onttrekking gedurende verlede jaar van besluitnemingsmag van die Komitee vir Ruimte- en Ekonomiese Bestuur van Grondgebruik (die komitee wat omgewings- en beleidsbesluite oorweeg). Tans kan hierdie komitee slegs aanbevelings maak na die Burgemeesterskomitee wie se besluite finaal is met geen reg op appèl nie.

Amptenare sal dus nou eensydig besluite mag neem gebaseer slegs op beleidsoogmerke en nie op regsgronde nie. Daar is reekse regsprake van verskillende Hooggeregshowe, veral in die Wes-Kaap, waar die Stad se gebruik van beleidsoogmerke eerder as regsgronde om administratiewe besluite te neem bevraagteken word – en sulke besluite is in die howe tersyde gestel.

Die Burgemeester is stilweg besig om die wysiging deur ’n volbank raadslede te dwing in Augustus terwyl die DA-koukus effektief teenspraak in eie geledere gemuilband het. Alle pogings deur verskillende burgergroepe om behoorlik met die DA te praat oor die saak val op dowe ore, behalwe vir die woordtowenaar Raadslid Gareth Bloor se opmerkings in ’n paar bronne.

Dit is duidelik dat die Stad van plan is om te voldoen aan Premier Zille se belofte aan ontwikkelaars om hul moeilike taak van persoonlike finansiële beloning van “rompslomp na rooi tapyt” te neem. Die gevolge vir langtermyn-volhoubaarheid, die omgewing en konstitusionele regte sal opgeoffer word op die altaar van politieke gewin.

Die enigste opsie aan alle burgers wat omgee oor vryheid onder ’n liberale demokrasie en hul reg op effektiewe deelname aan siviele sake wat hulle raak, is om hul raadslid te bel of te e-pos, asook die Burgemeester en hul plaaslike DA-kantoor, en te eis dat hierdie wysiging van die agenda verwyder word en gestort word op die afvalshoop van swak politieke idees.

 

4 comments to Stop the city from abolishing your property rights

  • ricca turgel

    If one cannot object to changes about to be made within a suburb – what protection does a home owner have? everything will be abused

  • ricca turgel

    I would like to retain my right to object.

  • c anderson

    If one cannot object to changes about to be made within a suburb – what protection does a home owner have? everything will be abused

  • Rob Fisher

    The council with the new building regulations offers no protection to the home owner, the drive for densification of housing changes a suburb into flat land, long after you bought your house expecting it to stay a leafy suburb.

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