Tag Archives: CapeTowner Newspaper

Unlicensed night-club, and residents who fear victimisation …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 19th January 2012

While residents and night-clubs in the CBD continue their fight over excessive noise, The Long Street Residents’ Association (LSRA) has launched a scathing attack on City officials claiming they are ill-equipped to deal with noise contraventions. The statements were made after the association tried to assist Pepper Street residents who raised concerns about The Loop nightclub which, they said, was operating without a Health and Entertainment Licence and causing a noise nuisance. The CapeTowner was contacted in December last year by residents complaining about the noise. However, all the residents refused to be named because they said they were afraid of victimisation.

LSRA convenor Byron Qually said the first complaint was received on Monday December 19. “We received reports that The Loop was playing music ‘beyond excessive’ every night until after 4am, and is operating without an entertainment licence. “We reassured residents that their concern is by no means isolated, and that it forms part of an ongoing battle with the City Environmental Health Department over the last three years about noise pollution. “We gave them practical advice and told them who in local government would be able to take their concerns further, in an attempt to save them time in navigating a very confusing City structure,” Mr Qually said.

City media manager Kylie Hatton confirmed that the club was operating without a Health and Entertainment Licence. She said an application was made on Wednesday December 21 after the club had been fined. “The licence has not yet been finalised as comments are still awaited from all reporting departments. The City’s health department received three complaints in December,” she said. Ms Hatton also said that affidavits have been submitted to the legal department on Thursday December 29, for a summons to be issued to the owners of the nightclub to appear in court for operating without a licence.

Vaughan Cragg, general manager of The Loop, said the club’s management was fulfilling the requirements for the nightclub to be licensed. “We applied for our business and entertainment licences before we opened. It is well known that it takes time to apply for a licence. Various people have to come inspect the club, and if there are problems, they advise us, the problem is rectified and they come to inspect again,” he said. “Having plans approved takes the longest. We are aware of the requirements. I used to manage Joburg Bar and the Dubliner in Long Street, and had to go through the same process.

“Many bars in Long Street are yet to get their business or entertainment licences,” Mr Cragg said. He told the CapeTowner the only complaint he was aware of was when a man approached him on opening night about excessive noise and he had been dealing with authorities since then. He said the club had installed soundproofing and was operating on a temporary liquor licence. Mr Cragg said that the club was owned by The Business Zone 963cc. In December, the CapeTowner was invited to attend the media launch of The Loop. The public relations company said the club was owned by Gareth Botha, Wai-Szee Sing and Mark Lifman.

Mr Qually said since the LSRA started to assist residents with complaints about The Loop, there have been several emails between city officials and the association about noise issues. “Some of our concerns include that the City’s Environmental Health Department systems are outdated and out of tune with the rate of CBD urbanisation, the requirements of city developers and lack of strategic insight; and willingness to hide behind bureaucratic confusion. “In our correspondence with the City, we unsurprisingly received the usual retroactive and bureaucratic response from them, inasmuch as they are concerned about the ‘scourge of unwanted noise’ in the CBD and would like to have a meeting to discuss it further. “We have not responded, partly due to complete frustration and disbelief that yet again another meeting is required, but also to do some background research on how other cities are assisting their residents in resolving noise pollution issues,” he said. Mr Qually said the City was well aware of residents’ frustrations at clubs operating without licences

Mayoral Committee Member for Health Lungiswa James said the majority of complaints received by the City’s Health Department from the CBD relate to the noise made by night-clubs. “Some unscrupulous or ignorant new owners trade without the necessary business licences and therefore without the required soundproofing installed or change sound systems when they take over the clubs. “As a result of this trend, since 2009 the health department has moved from being reactive in its response to noise complaints to proactively increasing the number of night-time visits to the CBD to identify premises as soon as possible after they open or change ownership. “The success of this strategy is confirmed by the increase in fines and court cases instituted by staff of the health department relating to unlicensed places of entertainment operating in the CBD.

“In 2008 four cases were recorded, 2009, 2010, and 2011 saw an average of 25 cases a year on record,” he said. Mr James said that as with any contravention, action can only be taken as dictated within the confines of the legislation. “In this regard the penal provisions of the National Businesses Act of 1991 are woefully inadequate 20 years after it was promulgated. “We have therefore formed close working relationships with the South African Police Service, Law Enforcement as well as the Legal Section so that noise complaints in the CBD are prioritised and contraventions of any legislation, not just the failure to licence the premises, are acted upon,” he said. Mr James said with the Cape Town City Improvement District a pamphlet was drawn up for distribution to residents explaining how to deal with noise in the CBD.

When asked whether residents who feared victimisation could make anonymous complaints, Mr James said: “The Loop is trading without the necessary licence. In this case, residents can stay anonymous when lodging a complaint and the details of any complainants are not provided to the courts or to the nightclub owners”. He said the Business Act did not make provision for the closure of unlicensed premises by officials and had to be authorised by a magistrate.

However, Mr Qually said one of the association’s biggest concerns was how the City measures the success of its noise interventions. “From a residential perspective, measurement of success is quite simple. Has the noise been reduced to an acceptable level? “The City on the other hand, provides various internal performance statistics to prove that they are doing their job. From the LSRA records, it is without a doubt that noise pollution and unlicensed clubs are on the increase regardless of the rate of fines and legal interventions,” he said.

Copyright Cape Community Newspapers, part of Independent News and Media.

A majority seemed to favour pedestrianising the street between …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 27th October 2011

The iconic Long Street may be permanently pedestrianised. In September, residents and businesses started to tweet about the possibility and the Long Street Residents’ Association (LSRA) subsequently sent out a survey to find out what residents thought. According to the survey, which 17 people completed, just over 50% believe it’s a good idea.

Long Street resident, Piers Allen, who has lived in the area for more than 15 years wasn’t sure if he supported the idea. “I hope it would quieten the street and, from vehicular noise, this is likely. “However, I worry that the party aspect of the street, the night economy, the way the clubs and people spill onto the road treating it as an open-air night club, might simply get worse if traffic no longer drives along it. “This noise and ‘busyness’ disturbs me more than the car noise. However, the ridiculous disco club buses that drive around town – making the glass in our windows shake – and which are obscenely intrusive, would no longer bother us. That would be a great plus. “The flood of slow-cruising taxis and visiting cars, which block all lanes from late at night till the early hours, would also go,” he said. Mr Allen said he would recommend that it be tried for a year. He also said Long Street should be pedestrianised from Wale Street to Buitensingel.

While there is no formal proposal to pedestrianise, a majority seemed to favour pedestrianising the street between Wale and Buitensingel and hardly ever mentioned the lower end towards the Foreshore. Russell Wightman who lives in Bree Street, said he believed it would be a big mistake. “Long Street along with Adderley, Loop, Bree, Buitengracht streets are the main arteries of the city. “They lead people from one end to the other. Already all these streets are clogged; to remove one of them might actually cause a bigger problem. “What might work is to close the street to vehicles from 10am to 3pm. “A project of this size would need a lot of planning and would cost a lot of money. “Long Street is almost always closed to vehicles when big events are held but that works because it’s temporary,” he said.

Thomas Atkinson, manager of Long Street Backpackers said he was split on the issue. One the one hand it would encourage more people to walk through the city and on the other hand it could become a problem for businesses, he said “It would be nice to have fewer cars and less traffic through the street but what about businesses and deliveries?” he asked. Councillor Dave Bryant, said he was aware of the blogs and tweets on the topic and said while he didn’t have an opinion he would be willing to have public meetings to discuss it. “I don’t have a particular stance, but should residents and businesses feel very strongly about the issue, I can certainly host public meetings where people could explore the idea. “There are many concerns and aspects that would have to be taken into consideration,” Mr Bryant said.

Jody Aufrichtig, one of the partners and owners of Indigo Properties which owns several buildings in Long Street said he believed it was a great idea. He said he and his partners, Nick Ferguson and Barry Harlen made a proposal to the City six years ago to have Long Street closed from 7pm on a Friday to Sunday. “The idea was that there would be booms that would drop and no cars would be allowed in the area. “Our aim was to create an entertainment hub, where party goers could enjoy a pedestrianised street while spending a night out on the town. “We spent R250 000 on our proposal and got the support of other property owners. The City wouldn’t co-operate and it fell through. I am glad that there are talks about this again and I am more than willing to head this project but this will need co-operation from all roleplayers including the City,” he said Mr Aufrichtig told the CapeTowner that he believed the pedestrianisation of Long Street could have a positive impact on nightlife as well as tourism. “The benefit for businesses is tremendous and we could see significant growth in the area,” he said.

Brett Herron, Mayoral Committee Member for Transport, Roads and Stormwater said no proposal for the pedestrianisation of Long Street is currently being considered. “Should such a proposal be put forward, a technical and feasibility investigation would be required that covers aspects such as land use, pedestrian volumes, access and mobility function, public transport function, route function within the broader road network, parking capacity, loading demand, available alternative routing. “As the feasibility of the pedestrianisation of Long Street would require significant technical input, it is not possible to indicate at this stage whether the City supports such an initiative or not. “Long and Waterkant Streets play different functions within the CBD road network. “Waterkant Street provides more localised access and Long Street provides both direct access, but also play a more important role in terms of providing connectivity (a mobility function) in the city. “This is evident through the presence of buses, minibus and sedan taxis and delivery vehicles throughout the day,” he said. Mr Herron said the following points were important to note:

– Long Street has pavements with adequate width on both sides.
– The frequent signalised intersections reduce traffic speed.
– The St George’s Mall area already provides for a pedestrian friendly environment in the CBD.
– Long Street provides an important linkage function both to and through the CBD.
– Long Street has a combined one directional couplet function with Loop Street.
– Altering the function of Long Street will impact on the role and function of other roads.

Copyright Cape Community Newspapers, part of Independent News and Media.

He has had enough and can’t understand why City officials don’t take action …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 11th August 2011

Frustrated by a noisy club in Buiten Street, property developer, Geoff Madsen said he has had enough and can’t understand why City officials don’t take action. Mr Madsen is one of the developers of Flatrock Suites and said the Chez Ntemba nightclub continued to operate even though the City has confirmed that it is trading without a Health and Entertainment Licence. Mr Madsen said after he had taken Chez Ntemba to court for causing a noise nuisance it was instructed to close and fulfil the requirements set out by the City but it had failed to do so (“Noise battles continue”, CapeTowner, April 14).

The manager of the club had left and since then the noise had become unbearable. “When the manager, Lindi, left the noise became excessive. So one night I walked around the precinct from Joburg to Fiction to see where the noise was coming from. “One of the guys from Fiction took me to a room which overlooks Chez Ntemba and we could clearly hear that the noise was coming from there. “So I went to Chez Ntemba to try and sort it out. I was introduced to a man by the name of Serge who said he was the manager. “I took him and one of his DJs to my apartment to hear for themselves. “They said they would sort out the problem. However, the noise is now unbearable and I can’t find the manager anywhere. “The bass is so bad that I can’t even watch television from my couch without my whole body vibrating,” he said.

Mr Madsen said that like many other property developers he bought into the idea of developing the inner city to make it a great place to “live, play and work”, but he was worried that his investment was dwindling as many of the owners were now selling their apartments. “There are also hotel suites in the block and many guests check out in the early hours. Visitors have also been blogging about Flatrock Suites and the building is getting a bad reputation because people can’t sleep. “What makes it worse is that owners are selling their properties at 20% less than the market value,” he said. Last week Mr Madsen invited the CapeTowner to “experience” the noise.

The CapeTowner checked in on Friday August 5. The ambient sounds of nightclubs and cars passing by could be heard after 9pm; At 11pm, we could hear loud music and a DJ speaking but we could not pinpoint where the noise was coming from. We went into Buiten Street but there was no noise from Chez Ntemba. When we returned to the ninth floor apartment of Flatrock Suites loud music and bass could be heard from Chez Ntemba. The CapeTowner saw the roof of the club rattle along with the bass.

After two hours we called the Central City Improvement District’s (CCID) control room for assistance. The assistant said she would send a vehicle and later called back to say the official on the street could not hear any noise. When asked if a CCID vehicle which had a Law Enforcement Officer could see to the complaint, she said: “We only have one law enforcement officer and he is filling in a statement at Cape Town Central police station. We will send him when he is done”. The officer did not arrive. We then called the Metro Police for assistance and told the operator that the club did not have a licence. The operator said a vehicle would come soon. It did not arrive. The loud music and bass continued for most of the night and stopped shortly after 4.30am on Saturday August 6.

Byron Qually, convenor of the Long Street Residents’ Association (LSRA), said he has had numerous discussions with restaurateurs in the area adjacent to the nightclub. “They relate the arrival of exhausted and desperate residents who are battling to cope with sleepless nights caused by Chez Ntemba’s noise pollution,” he said. Mr Qually said the association was aware of similar cases where residents have left their apartments because of noisy clubs. “It is a great shame that two of the first LSRA members have been forced to leave their Long Street home of 14 years, due to the performance of their managing agent. “The agent allowed a night-club, Fatback Soulbar, to set up in the building without obtaining the required approval from their residents.

“Expectedly, noise pollution disrupted the residents’ sleep, and after a lengthy and public dispute, the LSRA members had to leave their homes because the excessive noise continued,” he said. Mr Qually said that in Victoria Court, the residential block in which he lives, he has seen property owners lose income because tenants terminated lease agreements due to nightclub noise. “Unfortunately this trend is increasing, and in some cases this is due to residents not having the legal resources to take a club or managing agent to court, but also as is becoming evident, the extremely slow moving and largely ineffective City’s Health Department, who just seem unable to mediate or resolve nightclub noise disputes,” he said.

In previous comment provided by the City, Health Director, Dr Ivan Bromfield said the club was fined R1 000 on October 7, 2007 (for causing a noise disturbance). “Thereafter the owner was summonsed to court in February 2008 without the option of an admission of guilt fine. “On August 21, 2008 the court closed the premises until Friday August 27, 2010 for compliance with the requirements as it related to the emission of noise,” he said. Dr Bromfield confirmed that the club does not have a Health and Entertainment Licence and said according to the department’s records the last application was made in 2007 but said it had since been withdrawn. “The City Health department cannot close any premises. “It is the the court’s decision,” Dr Bomfield said.

The CapeTowner has tried on several occasions to contact the club’s management for comment. The previous manager who is known only as Lindi said she no longer worked at the club and referred the CapeTowner to Tony Muller, the club’s general manager. The CapeTowner has tried to contact Mr Muller on several times but he had not responded to questions the CapeTowner emailed him. The CapeTowner also tried to find the new manager known as Serge, but was told by the doorman he was not there.

Copyright Cape Community Newspapers, part of Independent News and Media.

‘Bar’ owner denies wrong doing, but city resident finds justice in court …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 4th August 2011

Burg Street resident, Quahnita Samie is glad that O’Driscoll’s Irish Pub was found guilty of causing a noise nuisance. The City took the pub to court after receiving affidavits and complaints from Ms Samie over the past two years and after a long court battle, owner Alan Dunne was found guilty at the municipal courts on Wednesday July 13. However, Mr Dunne is planning to appeal the ruling on the basis that the “magistrate erred when reviewing the evidence”.

Ms Samie who returned from an overseas trip was glad to hear the news. She said she had endured many sleepless nights since moving into the area in 2009. “I am glad that the pub was found guilty of the offence; it has been an unpleasant experience and I hope that Mr Dunne will stop the loud music and heavy bass. “Should he wish to trade in such a manner then it is imperative that he take necessary steps to soundproof the premises. “I am also glad that I did not choose to leave my home and sincerely hope that the intimidation and constant reference to me having a vendetta against him will stop. I just really want to enjoy my home. “I would have assumed that given the outcome there would have been consequences in terms of a fine or an issue prohibiting the pub from playing loud music.

The regulations make reference to a fine or imprisonment or both if found guilty of an offence and in the event of a continuing contravention. “Reference is also made to confiscating equipment being used to generate music and amplified sound. I trust that these measures will be implemented should the matter be ongoing. The authorities need to be harsh as this case has dragged over a long time,” she said. However, Mr Dunne said he would be appealing the ruling on the basis that the magistrate erred when reviewing the evidence. Mr Dunne told the CapeTowner that one of the witnesses in the case, [Removed] who lived in the building next to Ms Samie and closer to the pub testified that she had not experienced loud music coming from the pub.

He said [Removed] had a “nervous” cat which was unaffected by the activities at the pub. Mr Dunne said he takes exception to excerpts from the ruling in which the judge said because [Removed] lived next to the pub she would not be affected by the noise. “This is wrong. She lives opposite the pub just like Ms Samie so if there was any noise then she too should have been affected. There were many anomalies in the ruling and my lawyers will be lodging an appeal soon,” he said. Mr Dunne said the ordeal had resulted in his pub losing business over time. “Ms Samie makes constant phone calls to the Central City Improvement District (CCID), The Metro Police and SAPS. “It’s bad for business and my profits are down my at least 20% because of this. Imagine you are having drinks with friends at my pub and you constantly see police coming to the premises. People will start to think there is something dodgy here and stop visiting the pub. This is not a night club it’s a pub,” he said.

Councillor Lungiswa James, Mayoral Committee Member for Health said the City summonsed Mr Dunne to court for causing a noise nuisance and for trading without a valid health and entertainment licence. The noise nuisance charge was supported by affidavits from Ms Samie. He said the first complaints about the pub were received in December 2009. According to the ruling Mr Dunne was found guilty and cautioned. When asked what the penalty was for being found guilty Mr James said: “The imposition of a sentence is at the discretion of the presiding officer. A warning or caution is not that unusual. Whether a pecuniary fine, alternatively imprisonment or a warning is given, the effect is that it is still being considered as a conviction for record purposes”.

In previous statements City Health director, Dr Ivan Bromfield confirmed that the pub was trading without a health and entertainment license. Mr James said Mr Dunne applied for a licence in April 2010 but said it was not issued as he had not complied with requirements set by the fire and health departments. “During his last court appearance on Wednesday July 13 Mr Dunne verbally withdrew this application,” Mr James said. Mr Dunne said the health and entertainment licence only applied to establishments who wanted to have live music playing and said he applied for one after being informed by City officials he was required to do so. He said because he hardly had live bands playing he didn’t need the licence. When asked whether the ruling would now count against Mr Dunne if he did apply for a health and entertainment licence, Mr James said: The Businesses Act allows for the criminal record of a person applying for a health and entertainment licence to be interrogated, and the contents to be taken into consideration when determining the suitability of the applicant to hold such licence. “It is standard procedure to submit the criminal record of applicants to sub-councils to aid in the decision making process”.

Byron Qually, convenor of the Long Street Residents’ Association (LSRA) said they welcomed the ruling. “Ms Samie made countless attempts to inform the pub owner of noise pollution emanating from his establishment which was affecting her residential block. Instead of working with the residents to find a solution, the owner of the pub just choose to ignore her. “Even when confronted by noise measurement readings and Mayoral Committee member for Safety and Security, JP Smith (“Pub battle rages on”, CapeTowner, March 31) who came to personally review the situation, the owner remained defiant. “The LSRA was aware of what Ms Samie had to go through to resolve this matter, I sincerely hope her ordeal is not the benchmark for other residents. It is frustrating to be aware of how long it took for the issue to be resolved, and how many court appearances the owner did not turn up to, and most shamefully, how the noise pollution staff at the City’s Health Department tended to hide behind bureaucratic confusion. “It is also irresponsible, and possibly even illegal, for a company owner to be so openly reckless with his business, and directly place the livelihood and financial security of his staff at risk,” Mr Qually said.

Copyright Cape Community Newspapers, part of Independent News and Media.

Dr Ivan Bromfield confirmed that the bar did not have a licence …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 2nd June 2011

A Long Street couple say they have had enough and are ready to move out because of the noise from Fatback Soul, a pub which has moved in beneath their flat (“Long Street noise ‘too much’”, CapeTowner, November 4). Christiane and Johan de Villiers expressed their anger at the opening of Fatback Soul, in the space below their flat in November last year and said they were not consulted. Mr De Villiers said the mixed used building initially comprised retail shops which operated during the day and caused no disturbance. The couple say they have been fighting a losing battle with the bar’s owner for several months and at one point even tried to make a deal which would require the bar owner to keep the noise down on Wednesdays and Thursdays and allowing him to play loud music on Fridays and Saturdays. But they claim this agreement has not been kept. Mr De Villiers said the noise was so bad they now spent every weekend to Botrivier where they own a cottage. “We drive almost 120 kilometres every week to Botrivier. We go so that we can some sleep.

The bar plays music loudly from Wednesdays to Saturdays and there is no consideration for residents.“Other residents in our block have also started to complain and we have been informed Trafalgar Properties who manages the block of what is happening. We have been fighting this tooth and nail and the endless nights of no sleep is starting to affect our work. I have lived in this flat for 17 years and I love Long Street, but this issue has been going on for so long that I just want to leave for good,” he said. Mr De Villiers said sleepless nights were affecting their health. “When we do call the police and Central City Improvement District (CCID) with a complaint, the noise is reduced for a short while then turned up even higher, and the cleaning and locking up suddenly includes slamming doors and throwing bottles out in to the open courtyard ( the stairwell next to the bedroom windows of the two bottom flats), as well as repeating hooting when the owner and staff leave the premises,” Mrs De Villiers said.

Bar owner, Jeremy Phillips insisted that the establishment was not a nightclub but a bar with background music. Mr Phillips said he usually had a DJ playing and changing the music but said it was a bar. He said while people often danced there was no dance floor and the establishment was not a club. “We don’t play loud music. When police and the CCID do come out and respond to complaints, I invite them in and they always say they can’t see a problem. I am not here to piss people off, I am here to run a respectable business,” he said. Mr Phillips confirmed the agreement and said he was “sticking to it”. When asked whether he had a Health and Entertainment Licence, Mr Phillips said while it had been approved, he was told due to the elections he would only receive the documentation in August.

City Health Director, Dr Ivan Bromfield confirmed that the bar did not have a licence and said an application was first received in October last year. He said they first received noise complaints from Mrs De Villiers in November. Mrs De Villiers also said the City had taken the bar’s owner to court for trading without a licence. Dr Bromfield said: “ A written warning was issued on Monday October 25 in terms of the Noise Control Regulations. Noise level readings were attempted on Friday November 12 but no noise outbreak could be found. Noise level readings were again scheduled for Thursday November 18 but cancelled by the complainant as there was no significant noise outbreak. “On Friday December 17, noise level readings were taken from the complainant’s flat but no significant noise outbreak could be found. Council received a Noise Impact Assessment (NIA) from FatBack Soul on Monday December 20. “This NIA was rejected by the City due to fact that the survey was not done from the complainant’s premises. “A new NIA was called for but none has been received. The complaint has since been dealt with as a noise nuisance.”

While there are several clubs operating in the CBD, the CapeTowner asked City Health Director, Dr Ivan Bromfield, about the licences of these clubs.

Q. How many nightclubs are currently operating in the CBD?

A. City Health is aware of 28 premises that operate as nightclubs in the CBD.

Q. How many of them have Health and Entertainment Licences?

A. Seven of these premises have been licensed as a place of entertainment: nightclub or discotheque.

Q. How many clubs has the City taken to court in the past year for operating without a Health and Entertainment Licence?

A. The City’s Health department has taken the owners of 19 night-club premises to court for trading without a licence between May 1, 2010 and May 30 2011.

Q. How many clubs has the city taken to court in the past year for causing a noise nuisance and contravening the bylaw?

A. Of the 19 premises, three were charged with contravening both Businesses Act as well the Noise Control Regulations.

Q. If a club owner makes an application for a Health Licence and is waiting for it to be approved or rejected, are these clubs allowed to operate in the meantime? Can you please explain the reasons for this?

A. Section 2.33 of the Businesses Act stipulates that no person shall carry on a business which needs to be licensed in terms of the Act without such licence.

Copyright Cape Community Newspapers, part of Independent News and Media.

Assembly in the area but they obey the law and have spent a lot of money …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 26th May 2011

Following months of complaints about noise, a night-club which operates from a courtyard in Darling Street has become the centre of controversy while the City waits for a court date when it will try to stop Distrix Café from operating. A Caledon Street resident, who only identified himself as E Barnard, said he and his wife were constantly affected by the noise emanating from Distrix Café and said he was shocked to find that it was operating without a Health and Entertainment Licence. “We can’t even watch television in our lounge on Sundays and though our home is quite a distance away, the noise from the parties is unbearable. “The City is aware that the club is operating without the necessary licences so it really is frustrating,” said Mr Barnard who did not want to give his first name for fear of victimisation. Mr Barnard submitted a letter to the City’s health department highlighting his concerns and asking for action against the club. “The noise starts on Sundays in the late afternoons when most people are relaxing before the working week. “When the noise starts we phone the police but it doesn’t help as the music just keeps on until late in the evening and now it is happening on Fridays as well. “There are many night clubs in the surrounding area but none of them is as bad as Distrix Cafe,” he claimed.

Another resident who asked not to be named also raised his concerns with former ward councillor Belinda Walker. In his letter, he said the club repeatedly blasted loud music from its courtyard with total disrespect for the neighbourhood or the soundproof requirements for pubs and clubs, as required by the local authority. “They place their sound equipment in the open courtyard adjacent to their pub and blast their music during the week nights until the early hours of the morning and now lately starting early on Sunday afternoons until late at night. “How can we sleep? The immediate area consists mainly of accommodation and residential establishments,” he said. The resident said the health department asked if they could take noise readings inside his home.“I refused because the club is operating without a licence, so why does the city need noise readings to prove the owner is breaking the law. He is already doing so by operating without a licence,” he said. Mr Barnard said residents were not opposed to clubs in the area but said they needed to adhere to the by-laws. “There are many clubs including The Assembly in the area but they obey the law and have spent a lot of money on soundproofing but others just don’t care. All we want is for them to adhere to the law and soundproof their premises and not cause an inconvenience to their neighbours,” Mr Barnard said.

Richard Luff, the maintenance manager of the Afrikaanse Christelike Vroue Vereeniging (ACVV) frail care centre which is situated behind Distrix Café said he had on several occasions called the Metro Police to see to the problem. “There isn’t noise every weekend but when there are parties, the music is very loud and our patients have difficulty sleeping,” he said. City executive director for health, Dr Ivan Bromfield confirmed that the City had received noise complaints about Distrix Café from residents. “The first complaint was received in September 2010. We instituted action, and in November 2010 the complainant contacted City Health to inform staff that the noise had ceased. But then two more complaints were received in March about loud music from Distrix Café,” he said. Dr Bromfield confirmed that the club was operating without a Health and Entertainment Licence and said that so far it has not applied for one. “A written warning, cease order and a fine was issued in November 2010. When new complaints were received in 2011, documentation was submitted to the City’s Legal Section so that the owner can be summonsed straight to court without the benefit of an admission of guilt fine. We are currently awaiting a court date,” Dr Bromfield said. When asked why the City didn’t close down clubs which were operating without the necessary licences, Dr Bromfield said: “Only a court of law has the authority to close premises for trading without the appropriate business licence. “To this end, all the necessary documentation has been submitted and we are awaiting a court date.

The owner of the building has also told City Health that the tenant does not have the authority to be in the building and an eviction order has been requested from the state attorney.” Shawn Heinrich, the owner of Distrix Café said he was in an eviction battle with the Department of Public Works which owns the building. He said he was sub-letting from the original lessee whom he claims did not inform him of the department’s intentions. “When I took over the lease, I was not informed that he was in an eviction battle with the department. Now we cannot apply for the necessary licences because we don’t have the lease papers,” he said Mr Heinrich admitted to operating without a licence but said once the confusion regarding the lease of the building was sorted he would apply for the necessary licences. He is operating with a temporary liquor licence. “This space has helped to bring people from all over Cape Town into the area. We attract an international crowd. “I feel we are constructively being broken down by the city. We have taken a derelict building that has been empty for years. We have a filthy parking lot which homeless people have made their home. When our patrons leave at night and if we don’t have security, they get robbed in the parking lot. There is dirt all around. This is the entry point to the city but everything around us is dirty. “I feel I have invested a lot of time and intellectual property into these premises,” Mr Heinrich said. Residents complained that the club advertised a party on Sunday May 21 and they said the music was unbearable.

Mr Heinrich confirmed that the event was held and said he was aware that the City is now taking his business to court. When asked why he continued to trade without a licence and why he ignored residents complaints Mr Heinrich said he had invested a lot in the business and if it closes “we will lose our brand”. However Dr Bromfield said copies of lease agreements are not required to process applications for Health and Entertainment licences. “Irrespective of who owns the building, the Businesses Act holds the ‘person in actual or effective control of the business’ responsible for complying with the requirements,” he said. Dr Bromfield said other documentation needed included a noise impact assessment and a noise management plan from an accredited acoustic engineer. “Any soundproofing measures must be certified by the acoustic engineer and must be installed to the satisfaction of the City. The premises must be adequately ventilated in terms of the National Building Regulations.”

● The CapeTowner contacted the Department of Public Works for comment regarding the lease but at the time of going to print, they had not yet responded.

Copyright Cape Community Newspapers, part of Independent News and Media.

Whilst no targets have been set, the number of film permits issued by …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 12th May 2011

Following weeks of road closures and complaints from residents about filming in the CBD. The CapeTowner asked Terence Isaacs, Head of the Cape Town Film and Permits Offices (CTFPO) to explain the process.

Q. How do film companies apply for a permit?

A. A standard application form is to be completed and submitted to the CTFPO before the planned film shoot indicating the type of filming, size of the area, location, use of parking bays, or any of the service departments like the Traffic or Fire Department must be provided.

Q. What are the basic requirements they need to fulfil?

A. Before the film company can apply for the film permit they need to be registered with the Film Office and the City as a business partner. They need to complete an annual indemnity form and provide proof of public liability insurance prior to the approval of any film permit application.

Q. How do these requirements differ from big film shoots to the smaller ones?

A. The basic requirements are applicable to all production companies.

Q. Who do residents contact if they have concerns about a planned shoot?

A. Residents can call the CTFPO on 021 483 9066 or me on 084 9000 146 and the Metro Control 021 596 1999. Resolution will vary depending on the nature of the concern.

Q. What happens when residents have complaints about a shoot that has taken place, do they contact the film office? If so, how does the film office go about addressing the problem and how does the film office ensure that film companies stick to the conditions of their permit. If not, why not?

A. Residents can contact the CTFPO, myself or Arafat Davids on 084 3000 057 and again the resolution will depend on the nature of the complaint. The CTFPO in addition to random monitoring of film shoots, will also target specific film shoots, due to either size, impact or sensitivity of location. The CTFPO also monitors production companies that may have previously given cause for concern.

Q. What happens when film companies contravene the conditions of their permit?

A. Permits can be revoked and the filming ceased immediately. Companies may also be fined If any municipal by-law or national regulations are transgressed.

Q. Does the film office ban them from filming in the city in the future? If so, are records of these contraventions kept. If not, why not?

A. In terms of the current filming by-law and policy this is not an option and such action could possibly be open to legal challenge.

Q. Why was the decision taken to waive film fees for filming in the city?

A. The City does not charge any location fee for filming on public streets, public spaces and most City-owned locations. This decision was taken as an incentive to market and promote the City as attractive destination for filming and in so doing to stimulate the local economy through increased opportunities for both local production companies and the host of subsidiary industries that support film-making in the City. The City however does charge for the services it provides such as traffic services, parking, etc.

Q. If filming in the city is free, has this decision seen more companies filming in the city? What indication is there that the targets set have been met?

A. Whilst no targets have been set, the number of film permits issued by the CTFPO over the last five years has been fairly consistent despite the global financial crisis. It should be noted that the CTFPO only issues permits for film-related activity on public property and roads within the CCT area. Permits for filming on private land/property or for example SANparks areas are not issued by the CTFPO. The economic impact could thus be much higher. From 2009 to 2010 4 926 film permits were issued.

Q. Previous claims by City officials have been that filming boosts the local economy. How is this economic boost quantified? How are the actual figures given calculated?

A. Economic impact assessments have been commissioned by the Cape Film Commission. They could be contacted for the latest assessment.

Q. Has research been done about the amount of money brought into the city by filming versus the inconvenience caused to city residents?

A. How has the inconvenience caused to city residents been quantified and verified?

Q. Currently film companies are responsible for informing residents of their intentions to film, how does the film office ensure that the film companies have done so?

A. Film Companies are required to provide copies of their letter drops, concurrency forms and indicate the extent of the communications undertaken.

Q. Who is responsible for granting permission to film companies to close down public streets when filming?

A. The Director of Roads and Stormwater issues certificates of closure. Permission is granted on the basis of duration, impact, and for full closures of certain key roads, the production of an acceptable traffic management plan.

Q. Are film companies required to reimburse residents and business for inconvenience caused during filming? If so, who monitors the amounts of money given to each resident or business owner? If not, why not?

A. The City does not support the notion of making “inconvenience payments” as this is tantamount to a hidden cost of doing business in the City and will negate the efforts to make the city a transparent, film-friendly destination. The City rather recommends that production companies support local businesses and source local labour, artisans and service providers.

Copyright Cape Community Newspapers, part of Independent News and Media.

Any significant investment into property is a bonus for the …

From the CapeTowner, by Loyiso Mpalantshane, 28th April 2011

The decision to close down Senator Park, the city’s notorious block of flats is the answer to the prayers of many a city resident – and is long overdue. This was the unanimous opinion of both business owners and residents living near the apartment block when the CapeTowner visited the flats on Tuesday April 26, following news last week that the Western Cape High Court had issued its owners with an order to upgrade the building on Wednesday April 20. Tenants living in the 170-room apartment – situated between Keerom and Long streets – are expected to pack up their belongings before July, when upgrade work will start.

Residents interviewed advised the CapeTowner not to enter the premises while others said it was used as a hideout by thieves, prostitutes and drug peddlers. No one would agree to have their picture taken. Jean-Claude Kasongo, who lives in nearby Leeuwen Street, says although one of his friends rents a room in the building, he is glad that owners of the building have decided to move the tenants out. Mr Kasongo even accused police officers of contributing towards the crime allegedly tipping off drug dealers about pending raids so they can hide their “stuff”. “This is our prayer. Let the place be closed down. I think it is necessary to remove the tenants because it is a disaster waiting to happen one day. People have already died here and one day you are going to see a big crime happening there. “People steal from shops and run inside Senator Park. One day a guy came in there asking for Mr John and criminals took him upstairs. They robbed him of everything he had,” Mr Kasongo said.

Shopkeeper Lesley Woodrush said: “I hear they say once you go in there your cellphone will be gone. It is not a good sight especially this side of town where there is a lot of tourists. It’s a good idea to close it down,” he said. Tasso Evangelinos, of the Central City Improvement District (CCID), said giving the building a facelift would have positive economical spin-offs for the surrounding buildings – which was included in documentation submitted to the High Court. They also included newspaper clippings of reports about people falling out of windows and police raids at the building. “We are glad the matter has been finalised. Any significant investment into property is a bonus for the CBD. The knock-on effect is that the refurbishment will certainly affect the property value of buildings in the surrounding areas and encourage more investments and upgrades,” he said. Labour lawyer, Michael Bargraim – who owns four flats at Senator Park – said troubles with the building had started about 10 years ago and added that court officials with eviction orders feared some tenants who refused to pay rent. Mr Bargraim said a decision to save the building had already been taken in 2004. He said the situation was so bad that no law-abiding person wished to live “any longer” in Senator Park. “Unfortunately all the tenants will have to be evicted. They will have enough time and notice in which to move. My information is that the majority of the tenants do not in fact pay rent, hence are illegal residents. “The body corporate needs to be applauded because they have done an enormous amount of work which even the police couldn’t get right. The situation was completely untenable and could not continue,” he said.

Copyright Cape Community Newspapers, part of Independent News and Media.

When asked to see their Health and Entertainment licence, the manager said …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 14th April 2011

Although noisy establishments in the Long Street precinct annoy residents, property developer Geoff Madsen believes a balance is achievable. Mr Madsen is one of the developers of FlatRock situated on the corners of Loop and Buiten streets. The building now consists of apartments as well as hotel suites which make up the 45 units in the building. He raised concerns about the Chez Ntemba nightclub which he said had no sound-proofing and continued to bother residents and hotel guests in FlatRock.

When the club first opened, Mr Madsen approached the owners and informed them of the noise and he said they agreed to turn the volume down. “We started to see a general degradation of the area. People would leave the club in the early hours of the morning and were drunk and fighting. “We approached the City about the issue as we could we see that the club’s roof was made of corrugated iron which meant there was no sound-proofing. “We now find that hotel guests are checking out in the early hours of the morning due to excessive noise,” Mr Madsen said.

He said residents had been in a four-year battle with the club trying to get them to comply with the law. Mr Madsen said an official from the City’s health department followed up the complaints and did decibel readings. However, Mr Madsen said they weren’t accurate as the club managers were aware they were being monitored. “The official stood across the road and gave the signal for the DJ to start playing the music, I told him the reading was unfair as the managers were aware of what was taking place. “I told him to come back when they didn’t know he was there to get a proper idea of the sound. Mr Madsen invited the CapeTowner to experience the noise, however, on Saturday April 9 at 11pm, there was no music playing as people had not yet arrived. “If every night was like this then I would be the happiest guy in the world, but at about 2am you will start to see the roof shaking,” he said. Mr Madsen said residents in the city centre often supported surrounding establishments and they were not in the business of closing noisy establishments. “We want them to be willing to talk about the issues and to abide by the law. “Right now they have a complete disregard for the charm of Long Street and don’t add any value to the precinct,” he said.

Andrew Rissik, chairman of the body corporate and a shareholder in FlatRock suites said he has had enough of noisy clubs who don’t comply with the City’s by-laws. He said property owners paid exorbitant rates for buildings in the precinct, which then lose their value as residents opt to sell because they cannot sleep. He said they have spent about R30 000 on double glazing some of the apartments windows but it has done little to drown out the bass emanating from the club. “We have no problem with nightclubs in the area. They are part of the charm of the precinct. Our problem is with the club owners who don’t abide by the law and the lack of action by the City. “Nowhere in the civilised world would you see a club without sound-proofing playing loud music until 4.30am,” he said.

The CapeTowner approached Chez Ntemba and spoke to the manager who refused to be named. She said the noise had not come from the club as it was soundproofed. The noise, she said, came from the surrounding clubs which played music on their balconies. “The club has been soundproofed since 2008. “Prior to that the residents took us to court and we had to sound-proof it. We have even closed the top floor because the roof rattles,” she said. When the CapeTowner asked to see their Health and Entertainment licence, the manager said she did not know where to find it but said the club had received one after being sound-proofed. She referred the CapeTowner to the club’s lawyer and said she could no longer comment on the matter. The CapeTowner called the law firm Chrisfick and Associates but was informed that they no longer represented the club. The club’s general manager, Tony Muller, refused to answer any questions.

City Director of Health, Dr Ivan Bromfield said according to their records there is an application from Chez Ntemba for a Health and Entertainment Licence, however, it has not been issued as there are still outstanding requirements relating to the submission of plans for the ventilation systems. Dr Bromfield said complaints were first received in October 2007. and when they were investigated it was found that the noise was causing a disturbance. “The club was fined R1 000 on October 7, 2007 (for causing a noise disturbance). “Thereafter the owner was summoned to court in February 2008 without the option of an admission of guilt fine. “On August 21, 2008 the court closed the premises until Friday August 27, 2010 for compliance with the requirements as it related to the emission of noise. When asked if club owners were informed when noise readings were conducted Dr Bromfield said: “ Normally, alleged offenders are not notified of the City’s intentions to do noise surveys for purposes of prosecution. In the case of a Noise Impact Assessment evaluation, however, the building structure is checked against maximum output of the amplifiers – it would then be normal to involve the owner or DJ.”

Copyright Cape Community Newspapers, part of Independent News and Media.

The City does not charge any location fee for filming on public streets, in ….

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 7th April 2011

While City officials highlight the economic spin-offs of allowing international companies to film in the city, residents claim they have had enough of the lack of consultation. Filming came under the spotlight last week when the Long Street Residents’ Association said they were not consulted about planned film shoots. The convenor of the LSRA, Byron Qually, said the association was informed by the Central City Improvement District (CCID) of the filming of a Hollywood action movie Safe House, which stars Denzel Washington, only two days before the event. On Monday March 28, Church Street between Adderley and Burg streets had been closed. More than 200 people filled the street and were part of a scene in which a large group was protesting. The shoot, during office hours, continued for several hours into the evening, as extras walked down Church Street towards Adderley Street shouting and waving placards bearing slogans such as “Save our jobs”.

Terence Isaacs, head of the City’s Events and Film Office, said the filming of Safe House saw the closure of several streets in the CBD including Wale Street, Queen Victoria, Strand Street, Loop Street, Burg Street and Long Street, among others. Mr Qually said residents had objections and emailed City Director of Health Ivan Bromfield for assistance and direction. The association was referred to the City director for Economic, Social Development and Tourism, Mansoor Mohammed, who had been copied in on all the correspondence. Mr Qually said he was surprised to see a newspaper article in which Mr Mohamed was quoted as saying residents shouldn’t complain and should be reminded of the economic benefits of hosting such film shoots.

The association has had several problems with the lack of consultation from the Cape Town Events and Film Office, Mr Qually said, and residents often found out about shoots only after permits had been granted. The association had tried on several occasions to effectively liaise with the permit office to make sure that residents are told about film shoots and could raise their concerns before they were granted, Mr Qually said. He said he questioned the ethics of the statement made by Mr Mohamed as it disregarded the uphill battle faced by residents. “Part of the frustration is that filming is not a popular topic to complain about. Mr Mohamed’s approach to try to simplify an issue that has had such devastating effects on residents is just not acceptable,” Mr Qually said. When asked what the main concerns of residents were, Mr Qually said residents were tired of saying the same thing. He said the City was well aware of their frustrations when it came to non-consultation. He said the association was now looking at stepping its complaints up a notch. “In the next few weeks, we will be meeting with the City Bowl Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (CIBRA) to discuss how we tackle this and will also be seeking legal advice,” he said.

According to Mr Mohamed, the film and events industry is a multi-billion rand industry and has the potential to be so much more. “The film and events industry impacts positively on ordinary workers such as taxi drivers, students, and waiters whose lives are intrinsically linked to the lives of the people who attend these events. “Residents who are ‘inconvenienced’ by filming and events must become more understanding and tolerant because for every R1 billion spent directly on film and events in Cape Town, approximately 15 000 jobs are being sustained. “The industry also supports many Cape Town based businesses and multi-national enterprises. Equipment and sound hire companies, hotels, catering and food suppliers, inbound tourism operators and media businesses make good money from film and events. The value of film and events to Cape Town’s economy is huge and the biggest beneficiary is tourism,” he said. Mr Mohamed said the budget for the filming of Safe House was approximately R200 million. When asked what is being done to ensure that film companies re-invest in the upkeep of the areas in the CBD where they film, Mr Mohamed said: “Film companies already pay for rates and services. In addition, they pay the costs of traffic officers and road closures. As the industry is labour intensive, the presence of film companies in Cape Town does benefit the economy. “The City will continue to provide an enabling environment for the film industry to grow. The City will continue to balance the demands of the film industry with the inconvenience factor associated with road closures”.

When asked about the applications to film Safe House in the city, Mr Isaacs of the City’s Events and Film office said: “The City first became aware of the possibility of the film being brought to Cape Town in September 2010. “Once the film had been secured the production company began engaging with the City regarding possible locations. “The first planning meeting was held during November 2010 after the shooting schedules started becoming concretised.” Mr Isaacs said the production company did not receive a “blanket permit”. “Permit applications are assessed, processed and approved individually based on a host of factors including the location, activities, expected impact, etc, and in accordance with the shooting schedule presented to the City. “Accordingly, in each area, the permit may have different restriction and conditions imposed. “The film has a number of units filming concurrently. “For a major feature film such as this, a shooting schedule has to be submitted at least between two to three months in advance. “For a film of this nature, the film company is required to communicate and consult with affected residents and businesses or their representatives. “The film company is required to submit a copy of their communications letter, adverts, or radio alerts to the Film Permit Office,” he said.

However, Mr Qually said if these procedures were in place, then residents should have been notified earlier of the shoots. He said the problem with filming in the city was that film companies were not required to pay a fee. Mr Qually said despite the claims by City officials, he questioned what tangible value was brought to the area and asked what proof was there to prove these claims. Mr Isaacs confirmed that film companies did not pay a fee to film in the city. “The City does not charge any location fee for filming on public streets, in public spaces and most City-owned locations. “This decision was taken as an incentive to market and promote the City as attractive destination for filming and, in so doing, to stimulate the local economy through increased opportunities for both local production companies and the host of subsidiary industries that support film-making in the City. “The City, however, does charge for the services it provides,” Mr Isaacs said.

Copyright Cape Community Newspapers, part of Independent News and Media.