CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER'S REPORT 2022
The Sea Point City Improvement District (SPCID) reports on another year of activity along the main thoroughfares of Sea Point – Main and Regent Roads.
The SPCID – one of numerous City Improvement Districts across the City – provides top – up services primarily focused on the safety, security and cleanliness of this vital corridor along the Atlantic Seaboard.
Last year the SPCID announced the revitalization of its services for the coming years after a review. These included a new team in updated outfits to patrol the area; a new look to the SPCID vehicles; the on -going daily cleaning operations and support for a highly visible patrol vehicle from Avenue Response.
These members are now well embedded in the daily services provided which have been supplemented by training sessions especially for the patrollers to help them in their regular engagement with the public. Sessions have included self – defense, telephone etiquette and how to successfully interact with the public and the various other services supporting the community.
2022 also saw the end of the restrictions associated with COVID pandemic. This has resulted in business activity starting to return to pre – pandemic levels which is critical to the long – term well – being of the area. Development activity continues to grow at a considerable pace. While this work invariably causes disruption during the construction phase this investment, in growing Sea Point, shows significant belief and confidence in the long – term future for the area. Two major projects are near completion – Station House on Kloof Street and the Flamingo on Regent Road. Reports suggest that units – whether commercial or residential – have sold well. Other schemes include The Sage (on the ABSA bank site); a new development at the existing LAL School; an apartment block on the corner of Main and Bellevue; a development across from the Artem Centre as well as the current development under construction at Main and London Roads.
Heather Tager Chief Operations Officer said: “ It has to be remembered that the SPCID provides essential top – up services – it adds to the work from agencies such as SAPS, Law Enforcement and the City of Cape Town. We work closely with them to ensure that what we do provides that bit extra and ensures that this vital artery in Sea Point can operate safely and successfully.”
“ Such an outcome is due to the dedication of the people who work daily for the SPCID, the patrollers and street cleaners in, who are the most visible within the community. I would like to thank them all for the support they provide. In addition the Law Enforcement ‘rent – a – cops’ help us with the added policing as well as by – law compliance.”
“The developments mentioned above give proof that Sea Point is well regarded by the investment community who see a successful future for the area. I am convinced that the work done by the SPCID in providing our services has significantly helped in creating that confidence”.
“I am also aware that we are not immune from issues which do cause businesses and residents concern. Homelessness is a problem across the City, indeed the nation and worldwide. Solutions are not easy to find but every little helps and that is why I would again like to pay tribute to our Field Worker- Pedro. Daily he engages with those who are on the streets – for whatever reason- and tries to find solutions to help them uplift their situation. It demands persistence and tenacity but his approach pays dividends when people are re – united with their families, get the medical attention they need or the shelter to start their own renewal. It is also worth reminding residents to focus their support towards recognized agencies who help those move back off the streets. The SPCID has supported the City’s Give Dignity Campaign and provides a collecting point for donations at its offices”.
Technology is now a fundamental asset in the fight against crime. Hardly a day goes by without The License Plate Recognition (LPR) system and the supporting overview cameras, which the SPCID started 8 years ago, proving their worth. Between 3 and 4 million vehicle movements are seen in the wider area every month. Crimes are often captured on camera and perpetrators identified and arrested. A team of operatives monitor the cameras 24/7 .
Jacques Weber, Chair of the SPCID Board said: “ The work of the SPCID is assisting in providing a safer and cleaner community. That in itself is a real benefit for the community especially given the pressures many of the other orginisations providing these services currently face. But this is not just an aim in itself. It is to provide an environment in which businesses can thrive and succeed, visitors can feel welcomed and residents can go about their daily lives knowing someone is there looking out for them.
“With the ending of the COVID restrictions it has been encouraging to see how the area has rebounded so buoyantly. The developments undergoing construction are one element but it is also reassuring to see barely and empty space along ‘the strip’. When someone moves on there is someone else waiting to move in. I also welcome the start of the Regent Road Steering Committee with its aim of marketing the outlets and services provided here. On two special occasions in the past year it was obvious what the area has to offer when Regent Road was closed to vehicles and the traders took over. A huge amount of effort from many ensured both days happened largely without incident and thousands of people from Cape Town’s diverse communities came and saw what Sea Point has to offer. I am sure many more will happen in the years to come.”
“ International recognition in the form of a survey from Time Out published recently was most welcome.” Weber added. “ The survey placed Sea Point, and Regent Road in particular, as one of the top ‘coolest’ places on the planet from the services on offer and what visitors can expect. I find this most heartening and shows how far Sea Point has come from the darker days of a decade or more ago. I recognise we have some issues but on balance this is a relatively safe and vibrant place due to the efforts of many, not least the team from the SPCID.”
Working together is vital to build upon these successes and ensure that accolades continue coming. Tager concluded: “ Never is success a one – person band. It comes from many agencies and people working together often unseen and often for long hours. I thank all those who contribute to make Sea Point what it is and helping to make it a safe and welcoming environment for businesses, residents and visitors alike.”
The SPCID is also pleased to note that it received an unqualified Audit report. To assist going forward, the organisation retendered several key contracts.
The outcome of that process was as follows:
• Avenue Watch Response team to provide an additional patrol vehicle between 06:00 and 18:00 daily. This will offer support to the SPCID’s complement of 28 safety officers who patrol on foot, as well as the SPCID’s two patrol vehicles.
• Securitas Protection Services to continue to provide security services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and man the SPCID control room.
• Essential Cleaning Services to carry out cleansing every day, between 7:30 to 16:30.
The services provided by the SPCID supplement those offered by the City of Cape Town. The organisation has been effective in keeping crime levels low in the SPCID precinct. Over the last year, safety officers attended to almost 4000 interactions and assisted in 56 arrests.
“The dedication of our safety officers is evident in how the area has remained a safe place to live and work. Main and Regent Roads remain popular areas for both locals and tourists to visit,” says Heather Tager, SPCID Chief Operations Officer.
“The SPCID’s security team is constantly on the move, patrolling the entire SPCID precinct. During the busy festive season, additional members are also employed.” In addition, the SPCID’s two full time Rent a Cops have issued more than 19 000 fines for traffic violations and bylaw infringements.
Homelessness remains a challenge in the SPCID precinct. While homelessness is not a crime, related crimes and bylaw infringements must be enforced by Law Enforcement and SAPS officers. However, these efforts have been frustrated due to the national Disaster Management Act and pending court actions against the City.
“A special mention needs to go to Pedro, our Field Officer. He has made amazing strides in assisting the homeless. Homelessness is a complex social problem, and responding to it has been challenging in light of the hard times that have fallen on people due to the pandemic,” added Tager.
Another way the SPCID is tackling crime is through the Licence Plate Recognition (LPR)/ Overview Camera System.
Over the last year, this system has recorded more than 23 million vehicle reads and has resulted in numerous arrests. One such example was the speedy response to an armed robbery at a business on Main Road.
The Sea Point CID CCTV control room immediately searched through the CID’s areawide cameras to establish information regarding the suspects. This information was shared with other LPR networks and partners, and an arrest of three men and one woman was made three hours later. The suspects were linked to other crimes.
“This project has led to multiple arrests and has proven itself over time to be effective in keeping crime out of our area. The SPCID has been instrumental in encouraging investment into the LPR camera project.
The project continues to prove its value by aiding policing in the precinct and promoting safety. We have had contributions from ward Councillor Nicola Jowell’s ward allocation budget, which bolstered the number of cameras in the network,” said Jacques Weber, SPCID Chairman.
The security team works in close partnership with other law enforcement agencies, such as the City’s Law Enforcement and Traffic and the South African Police Service (SAPS).
“These partnerships allow us to provide the services Sea Point residents and businesses have come to expect while keeping a handle on crime and grime within our precinct,” says Tager.
The Covid-19 pandemic left its mark on the area, with many businesses forced to close. While this saw shop occupancy rates in the area drop, these have started to fill again. All but three vacant shops have now been filled.
“We also welcome several new developments in the area. High rates of development and occupancy speak to the business confidence in the area, highlighting that the work of the SPCID indeed makes Sea Point a popular place to live and work,” said Tager.
“The SPCID has continued to work tirelessly through the pandemic, and we wish to thank all our staff for being ever-present during this period.
” The SPCID has not been immune to the effects of Covid-19: Funds had to be relocated to provide staff with personal protective equipment to ensure their safety and bolster security operations.
However, the SPCID decided not to issue inflationary increases to their members during the last financial year. As the easing of lockdown restrictions sees improved commerce in the area, businesses will see a change in parking arrangements from November, as the City implements a new tender for parking marshalls.
“Over the last several months, while there have been no metered parking attendants in the area, we have seen business owners and staff parking along the main thoroughfare. This has reduced access to parking spaces for customers. We look forward to the tender opening up parking spaces and improving commerce, but we remain concerned about the high tariffs for the Sea Point area,” says Weber.
The SPCID welcomes participation from members. To this end, business owners are encouraged to become involved.
“We are always open to fresh ideas and look forward to welcoming active participation on the SPCID board.
The work of the SPCID relies on partnerships – which is just one of the reasons it has been so successful.
As we embark on our plan to keep Sea Point safe and clean over the next five years, we look forward to creating a thriving business and residential hub favoured by Capetonians,” says Weber.