Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

City council undertakes to ensure access to Kalk Bay tidal pools

June 13, 2013

Cape Town city council has said it would “ensure through legal action if necessary” that public access to the tidal pools near Kalk Bay’s Brass Bell was restored.

Garreth Bloor, mayco member for economic, environmental and spatial planning, wrote to the Cape Times yesterday to say it was not “passing the buck” in dealing with the illegal structures built by the Brass Bell restaurant on the beach and the restaurant’s restriction of public access to the tidal pools.

However, it was unable to take action about the decks as this fell under the jurisdiction of the provincial government.

Last week, the city had met the owners of the land on which the Brass Bell has built the decks, Bloor said. The land, a strip of coast along the railway line, is owned by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa Corporate Real Estate Solutions (Prasa Cres). Prasa Cres has a lease agreement with the Brass Bell.

There was a public outcry when the first deck was built by the Brass Bell on the beach in December, and a door and signs which restricted public access to the pools erected.

Since then, the Brass Bell has built a second deck. Both have tents erected over them.

Bloor said the city had told Prasa Cres it would like the parastatal to ensure that the deck next to the tidal pool be allocated as public space and kept free of restaurant tables and restaurant activity, and that it be used for public activity. The same applied to the back of the pool area.

The city would like to see all electric cables and other Brass Bell items removed from the tidal pool area, the bolts in the tidal pool removed, no tent support structures allowed on the tidal pool walls, the Brass Bell sign above the children’s tidal pool removed and the sand area and the pool being kept as public space.

“The city is hopeful that Prasa Cres will formally agree to these recommendations and ensure compliance by its tenant, the Brass Bell.

“Legal action will be taken if necessary, but remains a final recourse as it can drag on for many years at significant cost to the ratepayers.”

Bloor said the city’s view was that the two decks built on the beach were illegal as they contravened the National Management Environment Act (Nema).

Environmental authorisation should have been obtained from the province prior to their being built.

Cape Times
Thursday 13 June

Province to investigate Brass Bell extensions

January 15, 2013

The provincial government is investigating whether the outdoor extensions at the Brass Bell restaurant at the Kalk Bay public tidal pool contravenes national environmental law after city officials have lodged a complaint.

Last month, the Kalk Bay Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association cried foul over the erection of an outdoor deck on the public beach and a door built on the walkway between Kalk Bay Harbour and the train station.

Residents complained that no public consultation took place and feared the public’s access to the pools and along the walkway would be restricted after the owner of the Brass Bell put up “private property” signs around the beach area.

Darryl Colenbrander, a city coastal co-ordinator from the environmental resource management department said the city has asked provincial government to investigate whether the extensions at the Brass Bell contravene the National Environmental Management Act.

He said that following an inspection, they believe that activities on the property fall within the 100m high water mark of the sea and would therefore flout the law if no environmental authorisation was granted.

He said the owner of the Brass Bell would have had to apply for such authorisation from the province.

Brass Bell owner Tony White had said previously that he had leased the land from its owners, the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa).

He had been granted approval to build a kitchen and the deck and had said that he would not deny the public access to the tidal pools, while the door along the walkway would only be locked at night to protect his assets.

Residents called the move by Prasa and the Brass Bell a “takeover” and “privatisation” of the local beach and tidal pool area.

Prasa and White said no public participation process took place as the land was privately owned.

Henry Masimla, manager of Prasa’s corporate real estate division, said no environmental impact study or authorisation was requested or granted as Prasa deemed the changes as minor work.

He said the area where the changes were made was previously neglected and underused and that Prasa was happy with the improvements on the property.

Aziel Gangerdine, spokesman for the provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development planning, confirmed that they are investigating the complaint that construction has taken place within the 100m high water mark from the sea close to the tidal pool.

Cape Times

Brass Bell cut deal with PRASA to lease land for beach deck

December 27, 2012

The city’s Kalk Bay councillor is investigating whether the land used for the Brass Bell restaurant’s new deck on the beach is owned only by the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), after residents complained that no public participation process took place.

prasa

A view from the new deck towards the kiddies’ pool in the background

Residents are furious after Brass Bell owner Tony White built a deck next to the children’s tidal pool and a door along the walkway between Kalk Bay Harbour and the train station.

Residents feared the public’s access along the walkway and to the bigger tidal pools behind the Brass Bell would be restricted.

Prasa, which says it owns the land, has acknowledged that no communication took place with residents.

Local councillor David D’Alton said he was investigating whether a public participation process had taken place and was also waiting for city officials to verify whether all the land belonged to Prasa.

“My understanding is that the land on the beach is public property, but so far I am getting reports that the land belongs to Prasa and that they did not have to get permission from the city. But I have not yet verified this,” D’Alton said.

Henry Masimla, manager of Prasa’s corporate real estate division, said: “For years that land near the kiddies’ pool has been unused and it became an eyesore because there is no control over that area, especially this time of the year.

“The Brass Bell’s lease was renegotiated earlier this year and we agreed to lease the additional piece of land as well because it was derelict.”

He said Prasa was happy with the improvements White had made as he had agreed to keep the neglected area tidy.

“In our discussions with Mr White when he submitted the plans, we agreed that the public would have unrestricted access and that he would only lock the door on the walkway at night to protect his assets,” Masimla said.

He said Prasa had not undertaken a public participation process as the land was privately owned.

“The changes were minor and would improve that piece of land so we agreed to it on that basis. In terms of communication with ratepayers, that didn’t happen, but purely because we regarded it as minor work,” he said.

“But we have agreed to start engaging with ratepayers regarding all Prasa issues in the area.”

Members of the Kalk Bay/St James Ratepayers and Residents’ Association have described the move by White and Prasa as a “takeover” and “privatisation” of the beach and tidal pool area.

Residents also took offence to the “private property” signs around the tidal pools which say that trespassers will face criminal prosecution.

Both White and Prasa have given an assurance that the public’s access to pools and walkway will not be restricted.

“Our stations are used by the public, “Masimla added.

“We want to serve the community and provide access to them but we also need to keep our facilities upgraded.”

Cape Times

27 December 2012

Kalk Bay residents angry over ‘privatisation’ of Brass Bell beach

December 24, 2012

Kalk Bay residents are up in arms over the “takeover” and “privatisation” of the local beach and tidal pool area after the owner of the Brass Bell restaurant built a gate between the harbour and tidal pools and built a new pizza restaurant with a deck covering a third of the beach.

The tidal pool and beach with the new gate in the foreground

The tidal pool and beach with the new gate in the foreground

The Kalk Bay/St James Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association says it was not consulted about the move.

Residents are also furious over “private property” signs and a door that has been installed on the walkway, which they say will restrict access of beachgoers and residents who use the walkway from Kalk Bay harbour to the Kalk Bay station subway.

Association chairman Tony Trimmel said the construction of the deck area near a “kiddies” tidal pool had shocked residents.

The deck area has a canopy and several wooden tables and chair sets which extend onto the sandpit area around the tidal pool.

People now have to walk through the deck area to access two tidal pools which surround the Brass Bell.

Construction started a month ago and was completed last week. “We want to know who gave them (Brass Bell owners) the authority to erect this deck right on the beach. Then the ‘private property’ signs went up, and we took offence at that because it reminds us of the old days when people of colour were restricted from using these beaches,” Trimmel said.

He added it was also unclear whether the Brass Bell had obtained approval from the city.

“The number one issue is that the amenities in Kalk Bay belong to the city and its people. The Brass Bell’s interaction with the community is nonexistent,” Trimmel said.

Brass Bell owner Tony White said he was a tenant and leased the land for the restaurant and the deck extension from the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa). White said he had applied to Prasa and had been granted approval to build a kitchen and the deck.

“Some of the ratepayers seem to think I am denying access to the pools, but that is not so. The beach and tidal pool area will be open at all times, but the walkway will be closed at night to provide security for my assets,” White said.

He said he would close the door around 1am when the restaurant usually closed.

White added that the “overwhelming majority” of the public was in favour of what he was doing with the sandpit area as it was previously under-used and neglected.

“It is private property and Prasa is entitled to do what they want on that property, and I obtained approval from them. The sandpit area was hardly ever used and it was somewhat of an eyesore. “Prasa decided to lease the land out to me, and I will keep the area clean,” he said.

Asked whether the public had been consulted, White said: “It… is private land. If Prasa felt it should be opened for public consultation, that is up to them. But I am certainly not going to restrict people’s right to use the pool.”

Residents said they had contacted Subcouncil 19 chairwoman Felicity Purchase, but hadn’t had any information on whether White and Prasa had followed the correct channels.

Transport and Public Works MEC Robin Carlisle said although the land did not fall under the province’s authority, he would contact Prasa management to inspect the site.

“Beaches belong to all the people in South Africa. Anything happening on the beaches has to be approved by the city through a proper planning transaction, and I’m not sure that has happened…” he said.

The Cape Times could not reach Purchase for comment.

Cape Times

24 December 2012

Ratepayers Association clarify position on Holy Trinity Church fence

August 8, 2011

The Kalk Bay and St James Residents & Ratepayers Association would like to clarify its position on the perimeter fence being constructed around the Holy Trinity Church.

The Association does not in principle object to landowners securing their properties with perimeter fencing. The concern raised by the Association is that the Church commenced construction of a fence without building approval as required by the National Building Act.

Our committee is dedicated to protecting Kalk Bay’s unique architectural heritage and townscape. The Church’s case is no different from many other initiatives which we have been involved in.

We liaise with the City’s Urban Conservation branch on an almost weekly basis to assess applications for new work and alterations, a great number of them for new fences. These fence applications are always approved once they adhere to the guidelines for fences in heritage areas (these documents are freely available for download from our website).

Regrettably there already exists a large number of unapproved fences, the progress of which, unchecked, will give Kalk Bay the appearance of a medium-security prison. Unfortunately, due to municipal procedure, it is much easier to stop unapproved building work underway, than to have it demolished after the fact.

Our committee volunteers much of its free-time to protect our townscape. On occasion we’ve had the unpleasant task of fighting detrimental developments up to the level of making submissions to the office of Heritage Western Cape or opposing appeals to the premier.

When our committee noticed the erection of a new fence on the most scenic section of Gatesville Rd we queried this with the building inspector, since we had not received any plans for the project.

He visited the site and issued a cease works notice when it became clear that no building approval had been granted.

Despite the cease works order the Church Council continued with their construction.

After their disregard of this cease works order, our committee arranged an emergency meeting with the Church Council and sent them a formal letter explaining that, if they were unwilling to cooperate, our committee would have no option but to ask a Court to halt the unlawful building work.

The decision to follow this approach was not taken lightly. It was only resorted to after all attempts to engage, co-operatively, with the Church Council had proved unsuccessful.

Since then the Registrar: Diocese of False Bay has advised us that the Church Council will now submit to the standard process and seek municipal and heritage approval for the fence.

We look forward to receiving an application which would do justice to the old Church’s scenic location and panoramic views, whilst providing the church-goers with the full security they seek.

Sincerely

Roelf Jansen

Chairman

Kalk Bay and St James Residents and Ratepayers Association

City erects new shark signage at its beaches

August 6, 2010

The City of Cape Town, in conjunction with the Shark Spotters Programme, has designed three new signs to improve shark safety on Cape Town’s beaches. These signs seek to increase awareness about the presence of sharks (Great White sharks in particular), and to guide beach users on the workings of Shark Spotting Programme.

“Significant improvements have been made to the shark warning system used by the shark spotters, and the City urges the public to familiarise themselves with this system,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services, Councillor Brett Herron.

The new signage can be found on beaches monitored by shark spotters, where the flag warning system is utilised, namely: Noordhoek Corner (the ‘Hoek’), Glencairn, Fish Hoek, Clovelly, St. James, Kalk Bay and Muizenberg. The signage is designed to be highly visible and has been strategically placed to ensure that it is accessible to all beach users.

The following changes have been made to the shark warning system:
• All flags now have a shark printed on them. This is to ensure that beach users are able to differentiate between the shark spotting flags and other, unrelated flags
• Signs indicating a ‘high risk’ have been placed on Jaggers Walk at Fish Hoek Beach – a site where the most recent shark attacks have occured. However, beach users are reminded to always be vigilant and exercise caution when they swim at any beach.
• The modified shark spotting information sign explains the meaning of the colour-coded shark warning flags; shows information on shark spotter duty shifts; provides general visibility conditions; indicates the date of the last shark sighting and lists emergency services contact details.
• A new ‘Shark Smart’ sign conveys general information on sharks in Cape Town waters as well as advice on using the ocean. These will be erected in the near future.
• The Red Flag now indicates a general shark alert, and is raised when a shark has been observed in the area in the past two hours, when an increased presence of sharks has been observed, or when conditions conducive to increased shark activity exist e.g. high fish activity or whale strandings. This flag will be lowered only when the alert is no longer necessary and will be flown in conjunction with one of the other spotting flags

The City appeals to the public to please locate and familiarise themselves with the new signs on the beach and the Shark Spotting Programme. Beach-based shark spotters are also available to answer any questions related to shark safety, and informational brochures can be obtained from them or the Save Our Seas Shark Centre in Kalk Bay. For recent shark activity and more information please visit http://www.sharkspotters.org.za

The public should continue to apply caution at the beach. Swimmers must immediately leave the water when warnings are sounded and not return to it until the shark spotters have given the all-clear.

In addition, the public are encouraged to:
• Swim in groups
• Ensure that they are visible to others when swimming
• Ensure that they do not swim when there are marine mammals (whales, dolphins, seals) in the area
• Ensure that they do not swim if a marine mammal or carcass has washed up onto the beach
• Ensure they do not swim if there is a stranded marine mammal in the area

Local parks, gardens and public spaces : a short history

April 23, 2010

Have you ever wondered how it is that we are so fortunate in this area to have so many of our public spaces lovingly looked after, and who the silent gardeners are? In this short article we would like to pay tribute to the very many community-minded residents who have adopted different areas.

Garden beside Kalk Bay Trading Post (Formerly the old Post Office)

Many years ago this was an unsightly open space and the hibiscus tree on the right hand side was referred to as ‘The Hibiscus Hotel’ by local homeless people! It must be at least 15 years ago now that Eddie and the late Max Saunders from China Town took this neglected area under their wings, and transformed it into the beautiful little garden it is now. Eddie is often to be seen tending the garden. This was, to the best of our knowledge, the first public space to be adopted.

Lever Street Park, Kalk Bay

This little oasis in the heart of our village was an absolute mess 12 years ago, with knee-high grass, broken bottles, and broken play equipment. Annie Clarke, a local resident, contacted Judy Herbert who in turn approached the City Council’s Parks and Recreation Department. An informal partnership of sorts was arranged. The Parks Department undertook to mend the equipment, residents agreed to keep the park clear of litter and very gradually over many years the park has evolved to the state it is now. Once a year the annual Concert in the Park is held which raises sufficient funds to carry on with the basics of mowing the lawn, and employing Selwyn Williams to clean the bins, pick up litter etc. and to make various improvements. There have been many people who have contributed their time and effort over the years: Jeff and Eve van Zyl, Zaida Naroth, Jody Paterson, Jean Ralph, Karena du Plessis, Adam Birch and many others whose names are unknown.

St James Common (abutting Danger Beach)

This too was a severely neglected spot until Jane Michaelis took it in hand and created the garden as a tribute to, and in memory of her mother. Jane has been the driving force behind this project and spends many hours in the garden. Delene Burman makes a financial contribution and David Price of Pentrich Road ensures that the lawn is kept in bowling green condition. Recently, the large, rather unsightly, rat-infested rockery has been removed, beds have been newly dug and are in the process of being planted. Thanks to all who are so involved in taming and beautifying this space in the heart of St James.

Entrance to the Harbour

Mike Townsend from Harbour House took over this very neglected area, and transformed it to make an appealing entrance to the Harbour. The palm trees in the parking area were also planted by Mike. He has also created a small garden around the Haven Night Shelter to try and make the area more attractive.

Area above old pathway leading to Hillrise Road

A few years back this ‘no man’s land’ was transformed by Paul Schipper and Angus McGee. It is now a beautiful garden made up of three levels, with retaining stone terraces and exquisite indigenous shrubs. It is worth a visit to see just what can be done to improve matters both from an aesthetic and a security point of view.

Old Graveyard at the end of Quarterdeck Road

Not many residents know that this used to be a burial ground in the old days. In some places one can still see the odd cross (with sea shell decorations). This area too has been a very neglected spot. When Paul Schipper and Angus McGee finished the garden adjoining Hillrise Road, they turned their attention to this area. The Parks Department was roped in and several alien shrubs and trees in the area have been removed. The Historical Association has been involved to advise where the proposed path should go, so that the graves remain undisturbed. This space is in the process of being transformed by Angus, Paul and his gardener, Jeff Kanono, who works there on a regular basis. A few months back a braai was held in the vicinity by local residents to remove litter, and to celebrate the progress that has been made.

Railways Garden (abutting Cape to Cuba)

This too is one of those spaces which became totally neglected, and was used as a ‘drinking hole’. Added to that, it was used for parking and was being steadily eroded. Laura Yeatman took the space under her wing. She has worked with patience and dedication, and the results are amazing. The Majestic Village body corporate agreed to mow the lawn on a regular basis. Laura has spent a good deal of her own money on this project. However, as a measure of support, the Ratepayers Association donated R2000 and Tony White donated R5000 towards the rehabilitation of this space. This is a wonderful way in which things have all come together.

Dalebrook gardens

This totally neglected space has also been transformed thanks to the community coming together. Delene Burman approached Althia Fraser, a local resident and landscape gardener who has been responsible for the gardens at Clovelly Country Club. (If anyone needs any garden tidy up or advice do contact Althia!) This area is now a joy to behold. The lawn is cut by Wallis Garden Services and paid for by Delene. The park is watered and looked after by Patience the car guard and he is paid with money from the park funds. Althia does not charge for her services but labour costs are paid for by Delene.

Ponder steps garden

These steps lead from Gatesville Road up to Duignam Road, and on either side are the lovely gardens that Kay McCormick, Judy Cooke, Pari Callias, James Dison and Jakob Koopman have developed over the years, and continue to maintain. A partnership between the City Council Parks and Recreation Department and the residents has led to the provision by the Council of a hose and sprinkler for free use of the Council’s water, as well as advice on appropriate planting, which has helped tremendously in the establishment of the garden. Neighbour Pam Regan also gave generously of her indigenous plants to start the garden. Recently, Revel Donald has been responsible for building a retaining wall to prevent the soil from being washed down the steps.

Clairvaux Road garden

Over the years, Jane Olive, who lives nearby, has planted and maintained this large garden; and continues to employ gardeners at her expense to keep it looking tidy. This is a very visible space for visitors to Kalk Bay, especially those coming in from Boyes Drive, and we are hoping for more involvement from the City Council so that it continues to be one of the beautiful spaces in Kalk Bay.

Garden next to the nursery in Main Road

Andreas Betzold of ANPA Jewellers has adopted this space and created a delightful, colourful garden which adds to the beauty of the area. Andreas also has his eye on the parking lot opposite the church in Main Road, which he tries to keep tidy, but which is clearly in need of attention. Watch this space!

Judy Herbert supervises many of these projects with patience and dedication. Eugene Rayners from the Council is always willing to give support as well.

So, to all these energetic and hard-working members of our community, who never expect anything in return for their contributions, except to add to the natural beauty of St James and Kalk Bay, thank you!