People's Post

Beachfront concerns

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Parking fees may hold the answer to safety concerns plaguing the Camps Bay beachfront­. Various community organisations have raised concerns around antisocial behaviour and illegal car guarding activity along Victoria Road – something they believe only a managed parking area will cure.

Camps Bay Community Policing Forum chairperson Bernard Schafer explains that visitors to the popular strip now experience aggressive begging and harassment from illegal car guards, along with other “lawlessness”.

“This is fuelled and exacerbated by two major contributors: Ignorant and ill-informed visitors that attract and support the ‘street operators’ by handing out large cash amounts, as well as the unofficial practice of ‘car guarding’ that serves as an illegitimate business model for vagrants and young street gangs to operate with seeming impunity. In season it’s mostly visitors to the area utilising the parking, as locals mostly avoid this unpleasant area during peak chaos. These visitors support the illegal car guard practice,” Schafer says.

“[This combination] results in increased antisocial behaviour, crime, and harassment of residents and visitors utilising the beachfront area or trying to dine at the various restaurants, especially on the pavement tables,” the CPF chair adds.

Camps Bay and Clifton Ratepayers’ Association (CBCRA) chairperson, Chris Willemse, adds: “The situation on the beachfront is of serious concern as it is now out of control.

“Some of the car guards and beggars are accosting residents and visitors alike and [enforcement agencies] cite all manner of constraints for inaction.

“The problem appears to be that a criminal element has infiltrated the car guard group. Also, there is a gang of youngsters who have taken to openly confronting the public, demanding money and threatening violence.

“Essentially the problem, as always, revolves around money and the ease with which beggars can make good money. However, as mentioned, this has brought a criminal element in its wake.

The problem of people living in an area where no facilities exist for them results in a very unhygienic situation on the beach and in the public open spaces.”

Both organisations have thrown their support behind managing the kerbside parking as a solution to the safety concerns.

David Raath, Camps Bay Business Association chairperson, says the organisation would also support the managed parking, saying he believes it would have a positive impact.

Raath adds that customers currently feel uncomfortable and unsafe when visiting the area due to aggressive begging and harassment­.

Brett Herron, Mayco member for transport and urban development, explains that the City of Cape Town’s current parking contract does not allow for the City to add parking areas. However, the City is in the process of procuring a new tender which will allow areas to be added.

Managed parking areas are decided on the basis of various considerations including, but not limited to, parking demand in the area, requests from the public, parking surveys, economic viability for adjacent businesses that require a quick turnaround of parking bays, parkers not abiding by time restrictions and/or the presence of illegal “parking attendants.”

“Generally, there are no illegal car guards where formal management is implemented. However, in certain instances, illegal car guards ‘start’ after the management hours, and during management hours they move to an area where there isn’t management,” he says.

Although Camps Bay was never part of the initial managed areas, it has been identified as a possible managed parking area, Herron says.

“However, this will need to be further investigated as parking is mostly for recreational activities along the beachfront. Adding new areas for managed on-street parking will also require public participation.

Willemse says: “The CBCRA supports the move to introduce paid kerbside parking in the lower area of the village, in an effort to bring control to the area. Existing car guards could also be upskilled to be formally employed in the sector.”

Other solutions under consideration are the formation of a Special Rating Area (SRA) to address the issues in the long term.

Scahfer explains: “The CPF is currently assisting with the establishment of an SRA in the long term, as well as a paid-for rent-a-cop and security solution for the immediate season.”

The SRA would “financially empower the community to deal with antisocial behaviour and other problems that cannot (or will not) be tackled by the City”.

“An SRA is also better placed to extract improved service delivery from the City. However, the establishment of an SRA does take time and requires the buy-in of the majority of the community.

“In the interim, the CBCRA will be engaging with all the role-players to expedite controlled kerbside parking on and near the beachfront and encouraging the business community to better inform their patrons as to the social ills of giving beggars money, where the shelters and social workers need to be supported financially instead.”

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