Draft by-law questioned

Fishermen on the False Bay coastline.

Ward 81 councillor Danny Christians, who has been a forerunner in attempting to develop the False Bay coastline, is concerned that the draft Coastal By-law may infringe on the rights of black coastal communities.

Speaking at the monthly Wolfgat Sub-council meeting on Thursday August 15, Mr Christians, whose ward covers Rocklands and parts of Portland, demanded that the executive director report on decisions made to develop the Atlantic coastline, between Hout Bay and Big Bay, but prevent development on the other side of the peninsula.

“Carte blanche rights were given to developers on that side and are curtailing black coastal communities from developing,” he said.

Mr Christians said he wants the by-law to speak to nodal development, including Monwabisi Mnandi, Sonwabi and Strandfontein.

He said the built environment was the missing link to the draft policy, which speaks to the natural environment, which has to be protected.

Capetonians have until Monday September 2 to comment on the draft Coastal By-law, which aims to better protect and manage the coastline.

Mr Christians said as a citizen of the Mother City he felt the by-law entrenched racial spatial patterns.

“We need to get away from this. The executive director must come and explain here which decisions were made and why are they drawing thick environmental lines for the people who live on the coast,” he said.

He said while beaches no longer had signs, like they had during apartheid, barring certain race groups from beaches, it was in the draft Coastal By-law.

“We cannot erase the signage that was once upon a time on our coasts, when we were not given rights to enter certain beaches but those things are now in the policy. So the signage of apartheid is not seen on the coast but the signage is in the policy.

“It restricts our people and we must be very wary of the fact before we can think of adopting this by law,” he said.

Future projects for Mitchell’s Plain include the Kapteinsklip Station Precinct and Mnandi Coastal Node Development and a traffic circle at Merrydale and Hazeldene avenues

Eddie Andrews, councillor for Ward 78 (Westridge and parts of Portland) said it had been proposed that the Kapteinsklip Station Precinct and Mnandi Coastal Node Development be mixed use, pedestrian-friendly and transit-oriented.

The precinct comprises 28 land parcels. It is currently with the Department of Environmental Affairs for environmental impact assessment (EIA) approval.

Land uses will include residential, commercial, open space and public facilities.

The item was noted during the meeting, while residents, fisher folk, beachgoers and visitors of the coastline were encouraged to comment on the by-law, which can be viewed online at www.capetown.gov.za/haveyoursay, or at all sub-council offices and libraries across Cape Town.

According to Marian Nieuwoudt, mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, the draft by-law intended to create safer and cleaner beaches, free from litter and pollution; to protect sea life from poaching,to improve safety on beaches; and to enforce the public’s right to access and enjoy the beaches and sea.

She said the management of the coastline would also determine how resilient Cape Town would be to the impact of climate change in the future.

“I’m urging the public to attend the hearings, and to participate in this process by submitting their comments,” she said.

The draft by-law will be applicable to the coastal zone, a public area that belongs to all South Africans. It covers the seashore, the coastal waters; and the environment on, in, under, and above the coastal zone.

The proposed by-law addresses poaching, or illegal fishing; harvesting, or removal of vegetation; removal of sand, pebbles, rocks, shells, and kelp; removal of or damage to indigenous coastal vegetation; littering; pollution and dumping; encroachment of private property into the coastal environment; measures to remove encroachments, and rehabilitate affected land; possession or consumption of liquor or drugs; hawking or doing business without authorisation; launching of vessels; and issuing of fines for contraventions.

Ms Nieuwoudt said one of the most important aspects of the proposed by-law was that it would give the City the legislative powers to enforce the public’s right to access the coast.

She said some residents were claiming the beaches or parcels of land in front of their properties as their own private areas by either extending their homes or gardens or putting up signs with “no-access” messages.

“Our coastline belongs to all South Africans, and the by-law will be used to entrench this right,” she said.