‘Gatvol’ of high-handed treatment

Patrick Dowling, Kommetjie

Few civic organisations in Cape Town have not experienced the frustration of having their objections to a development ignored, overruled and generally dealt with contemptuously by the City.

Often this is in the face of well-reasoned, policy-and-law-based concerns that have taken many hours of volunteer time to research compile and present, sometimes with the added expense of professional input.

So well-oiled has the process-box-ticking machine become that decisions that are taken on appeal to the City are hardly given the time of day as uninterested committee members leave agenda items unread and professional opinions unconsidered.

In the view of most civic bodies, the outcome of decisions to be made by the City is predetermined.

Officials, it would appear, have been instructed that an approved proposal is a good proposal, irrespective of urban edges, heritage overlays, wetlands, rare and endangered species or service infrastructure limitations.

This is a time-wasting and expensive farce.

Residents’ associations are left with legal reviews as their only recourse, an insulting irony
where the City uses citizens’ rates to suppress proper democratic process.

Kommetjie’s Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association (KRRA) is deeply embroiled in such a battle for reason against an administration that has lost credible contact with us all.

The autocratic power made available through the highly questionable executive mayor system compounds the problem.

Our objections going back ten years and more, along with costly appeals, have been against development that taxes labouring infrastructure, is often inappropriate, irrational given obvious constraints like water provision and flouts policy such as district-plans.

Our appeals that such projects will add to the traffic chaos and loss of village character have been dismissed, and we have had to go the review route. Costs to date are approaching R500 000.

This is a civic endeavour for the people of Cape Town who are “gatvol” with the high-handed treatment and development-at-all-costs attitude of the municipality.

Contributions, large and small, will go towards establishing a legal precedent showing that sustainable development is not just a cash cow for a few vested interests but a deep desire to ensure healthy living environments for current and future generations.

The KRRA is awaiting the judgment, but the issue is so important that a petition by one or other party to the appeal court in Bloemfontein is almost inevitable. Please consider helping us set a legal precedent that
will be to the good of us all.

The City of Cape Town responds:The City cannot comment on the specifics of this case as the matter is currently sub judice at the High Court.