With the Onrus-Vermont Special Ratings Area receiving the required number of votes to apply to the municipality for the establishment of a Special Ratings Area (SRA), the next challenge lies with drawing enough votes for the creation of an SRA for Hermanus.
According to Michael Farr, chair of the Hermanus SRA committee, a total of 2 751 yes votes are required before an application can be brought to establish an SRA. “To date we have only obtained 1 027 votes in favour of the SRA and 50 votes against. The target needs to be reached by the end of January if the SRA is to be established in July this year,” he said.
Following a public meeting on 19 December, the committee plans to hold further meetings with ratepayers during the month on the proposed business plan, which is available at www.hermanussra.co.za.
The boundaries of the Hermanus SRA are from 17th Avenue in the East to Swartdam Road in the West, with Still Street as the southern border and Fernkloof Nature Reserve as the northern border. Suburbs included in this area are Westcliff, Westdene, Industria, Northcliff, the Central Business District, Eastcliff, Hermanus Heights, Fernkloof, Kwaaiwater and Voëlklip.
“We believe that it is vital for the future of Hermanus that crime prevention and public safety should be a priority. Our business plan proposes an annual budget of R8.3 million for the period 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021. Funding for HSRA will be provided from a Special Rating Area levy charged by the municipality to property owners. The additional monthly rate payment for the SRA will be determined by the property’s municipal valuation and will amount to 0.00061 cents in the Rand per annum,” said Farr.
He believes that should property owners fail to support the establishment of an SRA in Hermanus, the likely consequence will be an escalation in crime and a decline in property values, tourism and business enterprises. “I want to urge property owners to obtain their consent forms from our website and to complete these before the end of January. We have had very little response from business property owners in the CBD and the industrial area and I want to ask those owners to become part of the SRA process.”
According to the municipality, there are 5 503 registered properties in Hermanus. One of the municipality’s requirements for the establishment of an SRA is that a perception survey should be done and that 25% of the property owners need to participate in the survey. A total of 1 393 individuals participated in the survey that was done on behalf of the SRA committee by business development and research consultants, Douglas Parker Associates.
What supplementary services are provided for by the SRA?
- Patrol officers on foot in the CBD and vehicle patrols throughout the area. The vehicle patrols will be on a 24-hour basis, 7 days a week.
- Foot patrol officers will be used primarily in the CBD, on Hoy’s Koppie and the Cliff Path, which stretches from the New Harbour to Grotto Beach.
- Vehicle patrols will take place throughout all the suburbs included in the HSRA area.
- All activities will be monitored through GPS tracking from the control centre.
- The HSRA NPC will have access to a minimum of 19 monitoring CCTV cameras (pending a municipal decision to transfer existing Hermanus Public Protection (HPP) assets to the HSRA).
- Provide additional street sweeping, waste picking and refuse collection in all the public areas of the HSRA; and
- Promote waste minimization by providing supplementary municipal services in the area, including but not limited to, more waste bins and waste recycling opportunities, strictly in alignment with official municipal policies in this regard.
- The HSRA will also support the Overstrand Municipality with an effective litter collection service on the Cliff Path and Hoy’s Koppie.
The survey revealed the following key findings in terms of safety and security:
- Although more than half of the respondents had never been a victim of crime, the majority believed safety in the town was becoming a problem and that they still felt safe in Hermanus, but only during the daytime.
- Additional security services, such as the HPP, neighbourhood watches and security companies were viewed very favourably and deemed essential in preventing crime. Typically, major security services, such as municipal law enforcement and SAPS, tended to be viewed as merely average by a majority of the respondents.
- Regarding traffic control, a majority viewed these services as between very good and average. It would thus appear that, if municipal law enforcement and the police are not deemed completely effective, additional services are viewed as necessary to help limit crime.
- In terms of crimes, respondents viewed burglary as the biggest problem in Hermanus, with theft without forced entry being deemed the second biggest problem.
- Regarding the breaching of bylaws, respondents viewed trespassing on private property as the biggest problem, with unlawful dumping of rubbish and malicious damage to property as the second largest problems (perhaps due to the recent rioting and unrest).
- More than half of the respondents agreed with, and supported, the statement that all property owners should share responsibility for ensuring a safer town.
Key findings in terms of cleanliness of the town:
- Most respondents expressed the opinion that Hermanus was an attractive town, but that litter (especially during the holidays) and the illegal dumping of rubbish were very problematic.
- Positively, a majority of the respondents felt that the municipality was doing an excellent job with regard to the maintenance of public walkways, pavements and benches.
Final thoughts by respondents:
- Almost all of the respondents stated that the preservation of the natural environment was important. (This fits in with respondents’ view that littering and illegal dumping of rubbish are problematic.)
- With reference to the questions dealing with safety and security, respondents viewed the safety of residents and visitors as being the greatest need for Hermanus to address. An attractive and clean town was deemed the second biggest priority requiring attention.
- Respondents emphasized equality for all (including the provision of housing) which could lead to a decrease in crime and breaching of bylaws.
- Other issues emphasized included baboon management, the revitalization of the CBD, the New Harbour and dog-related issues.
- Based on comments by respondents, most factors appear interconnected in some way, eg greater equality could lead to fewer illegal activities (like theft, damage to property and trespassing), which in turn, will improve safety and security (and hopefully, cleanliness of the environment). These improvements will positively affect tourism and thus the economic health of the town.
What are the benefits for the SRA members?
- A safe, clean and healthy environment will contribute indirectly to an increase in the value of properties.
- The community as a whole will share the benefits of a safe, healthy and clean environment for living, working and relaxing.
- Quick and effective monitoring and reporting of any signs of degeneration and decay in public areas.
- All rateable property owners will equitably share the cost of HSRA operations by contributing the same number of cents in the Rand value of their properties.
- Visitors will feel safe in Hermanus and will therefore be more inclined to invest in the town and its environment.
- OM Traffic and Law Enforcement Departments will be supported.
- Law enforcement will be able to respond and apprehend law-breakers more quickly and more effectively, since camera film footage will be available as evidence in a court of law.
Who manages the SRA?
- The SRA will be managed as a Non-Profit Company (NPC), controlled by its members and the board they elect. The HSRA will be operated by a management team appointed by the board. Property owners will be required to sign up for NPC membership to allow them to participate in the SRA’s affairs. The Overstrand Municipality will not be involved in its day-to-day operations but will exercise financial oversight and ensure legal compliance.
Why establish an SRA?
- According to the SA Constitution (Sections 152 & 153), the objective of a local authority is to provide all its residents with certain basic services such as water, electricity, sanitation and refuse removal, etc., to an equitable standard. For communities wishing to enjoy municipal services at a higher level, an SRA provides them with the option of paying for these additional services, which should be affordable and sustainable.