Tag Archives: City Health Department

City officials needed to be given additional powers to deal effectively with the …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 17th March 2011

City centre residents have welcomed a proposed amendment to the Public Places and the Prevention of Noise Nuisance By-law, which could see the sound equipment of noisy clubs impounded if they don’t listen to warnings to turn down the volume. A motion passed by the City’s safety and security portfolio committee, called for an amendment to the current by-law to allow city officials to impound sound equipment of noisy pubs, clubs and restaurants.

Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith said the reasons for the amendment was that up till now city officials could only issue fines. Mr Smith said residents who experienced sleepless nights due to noise emanating from city centre establishments were required to fill in affidavits and submit them to the City’s health department. However, he said due to long, drawn out court processes this was not ideal and that City officials needed to be given additional powers to deal effectively with the situation. Mr Smith said currently there are three establishments in the CBD which are problematic and said officials had received hundreds of complaints from residents.

According to the motion, many of the complaints have dragged on for more than a year and “leads to hundreds of repeated noise complaints and angry frustrated residents across the city who blame the City and the South African Police Service for not being able to bring repeated offenders to book”. Hilda Borman, supervisor of the St Martini Gardens residential block in Queen Victoria Street said she received many noise complaints from residents in the building. “Some of the owners have installed double glazing, others try to sleep with earplugs, but this has hardly any effect at all. I often report the noise to the police. Sometimes they do react to the complaint and the noise is quickly attended to, but not always. I would like to suggest that events rather be held on the Parade or at the stadium,” she said.

Siranne Ungerer, operations manager of the Urban Chic Boutique Hotel, said she would support the proposed amendment as she hoped it would improve the quality of sleep for residents and tourists, and that clubs, pubs and restaurants would “know that there are very real consequences for the businesses should they not obey the law”. “We are a boutique hotel, and while it doesn’t affect my daily living directly, it does adversely affect the sleep quality of the international and local tourists that have booked rooms in our establishment. “We have had situations where music was so loud that the beds our guests were sleeping on vibrated. We have had to supply ear-plugs our guests on many occasions, which only block out about 20% of the sound and are uncomfortable to sleep with,” she said. “For years we received no feedback and no consequences were laid out to the establishments. This year we are seeing an improvement, one establishment has received three fines since January and another has been summoned and has been instructed to install sound proofing.”

A Loop Street resident who asked not to be named said she had continuous problems. “When I moved into my city flat in 2003, noise from night clubs was not a problem. Now it is a problem on most nights of the week. It is often thought that party noise occurs just on Fridays and Saturdays, but that is not the case, as it can occur every single day of the week. And it is this constant noise nuisance that makes it such a problem. “Over the past few years I have found my self becoming more and more irritable. My temper flares quickly, and when there is noise I can hardly control my anger. During the day I find myself worrying about possible noise in the evening and instead of looking forward to quiet time at home, I dread it. I have difficulty sleeping and often wait till after 2am – when the clubs close–to go to bed. But it is not just sleep that is affected. It is also the normal living that is affected,” she said. She said reporting noisy clubs to the authorities didn’t seem to resolve the issue as “authorities don’t have any real authority”. She told the CapeTowner of phone calls she made to the police, the Central City Improvement District (CCID) and the City’s noise inspectors but it did not achieve any results.

Mr Smith said many aspects needed to be taken into consideration when looking at noise pollution. He said the responsibility is on residents and developers of residential blocks. “I would not support a resident who moved into Long Street and then complained about noise,” Mr Smith said. However, he said, in cases where a resident had been living in a particular area for several years and a new club opened and caused a nuisance, the City would need to intervene.

Christiane De Villiers has been living in an apartment in Long Street for 13 years. In November last year she spoke to the CapeTowner about her grievances about a bar which opened below her flat (“Long Street noise ‘too much’”, November 4). When asked whether she supported the proposed amendment Mrs De Villiers said: “I hope that it will make club owners more aware of the residents’ needs and rights and that they take this into consideration. It seems punitive action is the only reasoning that will be understood, fines are just built into the clubs’ budgets”.

Piers Allen who has been living in Long Street for more than 15 years said the quality of life had plummeted in recent years. “This is due to the noise and repercussions of having so many late-night drinking establishments in Long Street. People-traffic and vehicular-traffic has become enormous; party buses go by at 11pm, and later, passengers whooping and screaming, booster amplifiers making every window in my building reverberate to their awful clamour,” he said.

However, Vusa Mazula owner of Zula Sound Bar said he believed the city needed to consult all parties including clubs before the amendment could be added. He said he understood the grievances of residents but said he thought all parties should come together to discuss the logistics of the area. He said he agreed that developers who intend building residential blocks or hotels in the area should ensure that the windows of their buildings are double-glazed. Mr Mazula said he would be sure to comment when the amendment came up for public participation.

Byron Qually, convenor of the Long Street Residents’ Association (LSRA) said while he supported the proposed amendment, his concern with noise pollution in the CBD was the state of the City Health Department which seems to be understaffed and out-of-sync with the rate of development in the city. He said businesses were obliged to soundproof their premises before an Entertainment License can be issued. “When a concern is reported, the health department’s assembling of a team to take a noise reading on a specific night seems ill conceived. This testing methodology relies on chance, and as has been experienced, the bars/clubs know in advance about the testing, and just change their behaviour on the designated evening. “The use of a data logger which records audio levels over a longer period (months) seems more appropriate,” he said.

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

Understanding how residents can deal with noise pollution

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 10th December 2010

Monique Duval conducted an email interview with executive director for the City’s health department, Dr Ivan Bromfield, about noise pollution.

Q. What is considered a noise nuisance?

A. Noise nuisance means any sound which disturbs or impairs or may disturb or impair the convenience or peace of any person as defined in the Noise Control Regulations.

Q. What are the legal requirements for establishments which wish to play loud music, for instance a club?

A. Any pub, club or restaurant intending to provide entertainment, must apply for a Place of Entertainment Licence. One of the requirements of City Health for issuing a Place of Entertainment Licence, is that the premises must be adequately soundproofed.

Q. Who is responsible for ensuring that these requirements are met?

A. The City’s Health Department ensures requirements are met before an Entertainment Licence can be issued.

Q. Do bars which don’t have DJs or live bands playing have to soundproof their premises?

A. If no entertainment licence is required, then no soundproofing can be called for by the City unless changes are made to existing facilities.

Q. What is a noise exemption permit and what does it allow?

A. The Noise Control Regulations allow for noisy events to take place by means of first applying for an exemption from the Noise Control Regulations for the duration of the event. Applications for such exemptions are considered by City Health and the granting of such noise exemptions is based upon careful consideration and is granted for limited periods only. A noise exemption temporarily lifts the restrictions on noise so that such events can take place legally.

Q. What criteria needs to be met before a noise exemption permit can be issued?

A. The tolerance for noise from events varies from community to community. The day of the week, cut-off time as well as the nature, footprint and profile of the event would affect what would be considered acceptable. Generally the City is guided by the results of the written comments it receives during the public participation process that the event organiser is required to embark upon, before any application for a noise exemption would be considered. In order to make it possible to host outdoor events, the Noise Control Regulations allow for the issue of a noise exemption so that the limitations on noise levels are temporarily lifted. During this permitted period, noise levels are not normally measured.

Q. What is the maximum time limit for a noise exemption permit?

A. The maximum time limit (cut-off time) applied for, is considered and finally approved by City Health. There is no standing cut-off time applicable to events, however, City Health may impose a cut-off time depending on what is considered reasonable for a particular neighbourhood or event.

Q. Who is responsible for responding to a noise complaint?

A. Depending on the type of noise concerned and where it occurs, City Health, City Law Enforcement as well as South African Police Services (SAPS) may be responsible.

Q. What are officers expected to do?

A. City Health will assess the noise in terms of the Noise Control Regulations for transgression of the noise limitations, and take action, e.g.. a notice, a fine or a summons to court. Law Enforcement or SAPS officers are also able to act against offenders.

Q. In what instance would a fine be issued?

A. Violations of the Noise Control Regulations may result in a fine as determined by a Magistrate. In the event of someone exceeding the ambient noise levels by more than seven decibels (A scale), a “disturbance” would have been caused and the City could take appropriate action. A lesser noise can be acted upon as a noise nuisance whereby affidavits would be required. Violations in terms of the Public Nuisances By-law can invoke fines by the City’s Law Enforcement.

Q. What is the maximum fine that can be issued?

A. Should any person be found guilty of perpetrating a noise nuisance in court a maximum fine of R20 000 or two years imprisonment may be imposed by the magistrate.

Q. Who should residents and businesses call to lay a complaint?

A. Should any residents perceive noise emanating from places of entertainment or any other source, as a noise nuisance or a disturbance, they may submit affidavits that describe the noise nuisance to the nearest environmental health office or to the City’s Health Department’s specialised services and be prepared to provide evidence in court. They can call specialised services on 021 400 3781. Complaints can also be lodged at the Metro Police all hours call centre by calling 021 596 1999. Once such affidavits are received, the local environmental health practitioner will be able to facilitate legal action with assistance from the City’s prosecutor.

Q. Can the City shut down a business if complaints are received, or what are the processes that need to be followed before a place can be shut down based on noise complaints or non-compliance?

A. The City cannot simply close down a business without having gone through the correct legal processes, which include serving notices. The court will decide on whether the business should be closed down or what measures should be taken.

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