Tag Archives: Western Cape Liquor Authority

Missing characters in City management?

From the Cape Argus, by Monique Duval
, 4th February 2013

Long Street is the centre of Cape Town’s nightlife but noise issues are turning nightclub and hotel owners against each other. At a meeting hosted at the Pepper Club hotel this week to discuss noise in the Long Street area, Bettie Leedo from the city’s Health Department said they were looking at a new by-law to counter problems faced by the municipality in licensing nightclubs under the Business Act.

The meeting, attended by city officials, the Western Cape Liquor Authority, property developers, residents and nightclub owners, erupted in heated debate over the noise, with some bar owners accusing developers of not researching the area before building hotels. But developers and property owners hit back, saying many of them had spent millions investing in the area and were not prepared to sit back and let their investments slide.

Lawyer Derek Wille, who represents the Pepper Club, said his client was losing millions of rand as guests often checked out or demanded refunds as they could not get sleep over weekends. Leedo said under the Business Act the city could not close clubs that traded without the necessary licences and instead took legal action through the municipal courts. “This is a lengthy process. In one instance the city started legal proceedings against a nightclub in December 2011. The case has been postponed five times.

Since 2009, the city has received an increase in noise complaints from the Long Street area. We sought legal opinion on whether the municipality could write its own by-law pertaining to business licences and we’ve recently received feedback.” Good Hope sub-council chairman Taki Amira said the issues in Long Street were a result of the “retro-fitting of nightclubs into old buildings”. He said that a brief haul been sent to the mayor’s office for a new by-law and said the first draft was expected to be completed at the end of this month.

Byron Qually, convener of the Long Street Residents’ Association said: “The city has a comprehensive break-down on the effects of noise pollution ranging from health and work performance and behaviour. While these points are valid, they provide negligible documentation on how property investments are losing value due to an area being considered uninhabitable. Mayoral committee member for health Lungiswa James confirmed the City would be proposing a new by-law but said it was difficult to put a time frame on the process as it required public participation.

Copyright Cape Argus Newspaper

Long Street needs innovative solutions, not more legislation …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 8th November 2012

The debate around the sale and consumption of alcohol at the outside tables in Long Street has reached fever pitch with owners of establishments claiming it could have a negative effect on business (“’Kerbing’ boozing”, CapeTowner November 1). The issue was first raised in the ward forum meeting where ward councillor Dave Bryant said there had been ongoing discussions about whether it was legal to drink outside. Owners of bars and pubs were fuming last week after they were fined.

John Davidson from Bob’s Bar said while he wasn’t aware of any new fines being issued this past weekend, he feared the banning of alcohol consumption would not only have devastating effects on his businesses but it could change the vibe of the street. Mr Davidson said if tables and chairs were causing problems relating to crime then the safety aspect should be dealt with, taking away the tables wouldn’t solve the problem.

“The tables outside add to the vibe of Long Street and banning the sale and consumption of alcohol could prove detrimental to business. It’s important for authorities to understand that all of this is linked. “If you take away the tables and move drinking inside, the businesses will see a loss of income and so it will affect the amount of staff we employ, for example. It also part of what Long Street is about, who wants to come to a pub and be forced to have a beer inside on the hot summer days,” he said.

Graham Albone, co-owner of Mojitos agreed and estimated that if he could not serve alcohol at the outside tables he would have lay off at least three staff members. “In Europe you can have a drink at the outside tables so why not in a city like Cape Town? “As long as the tables are not hampering pedestrian flow then I don’t see what the issue is,” he said. Mr Albone said that according to the leasing form he received from the City of Cape Town he had permission to have six tables outside his establishment and said there was no indication on the lease that he couldn’t serve alcohol out-side.

“Mojitos has been open for a while now and I have never been told it’s a problem. I really don’t understand why it’s an issue and I don’t understand why the focus is on Long Street. “Yes, there are crime issues but it’s not related to the tables and chairs, I have seen more bag snatchings inside establishments than outside,” he said. Darren Gunn, a manager at the Dubliner said while the issue of serving alcohol on the pavements didn’t really affect them as they stopped serving alcohol outside at 11pm, he believed taking it away is a “bad idea”. In previous comment Mr Bryant said serving alcohol on the pavements was illegal and that the City was looking at implementing a new leasing system to make provision for the consumption of alcohol at the outside tables.

However, when asked for clarity on the legality of the outside tables Philip Prinsloo, spokesperson for the Western Cape Liquor Authority, said it wasn’t illegal as long as establishments had permission to do so. He explained that permission to trade on the pavement is given by the City, which stipulates the conditions. “When applying for a liquor licence, applicants attach the letter from the City of Cape Town. Part of the requirements is for the applicant to hand in a comprehensive floor plan and site plan. If they are trading lawfully, they should not be penalised,” he said. Mr Prinsloo explained that if the application is granted the tables are marked as part of the designated liquor area so establishments that have permission from the licensing tribunal cannot be fined.

Mr Bryant said he had held meeting with mayoral committee member for economic, environment and spatial planning, Alderman Belinda Walker, about the issue. “We are waiting for legal opinion and while there have been proposals like marking the trading area we need to hear the legal opinion before we do anything. “We want to put a system in place to ensure that establishments are compliant and we certainly don’t want to take the tables away,” Mr Bryant said.

Long Street resident and research and design consultant Byron Qually believes that a creative approach and innovative solutions can be found that suits pubs and clubs as well as the authorities. He said as a resident who frequents the coffee shops and restaurants on Long Street, he didn’t have a problem with alcohol consumption on the pavements and didn’t agree with the notion that the tables are a crime generator. He agreed with establishments that the banning of alcohol at the outside tables would take away from the vibe of Long Street and said the unique open socialisation between establishments and even pedestrians is key to Long Street’s character and success.

“The use of legislation and by-laws to resolve concerns appears to be the primary approach by the City. Many of these laws are antiquated and date back to a very different Cape Town, and the by-laws tend to top-up rather than bring a new approach to problem resolution. “There is no clear design answer to the problem of crime in Long Street, though there are many process that can be used to help find one, for example participatory design. Similarly the issues we are facing are not unique, and many international design against crime initiatives have been set up. “As these examples note, the solutions that design could bring is not by subtraction, but by addition. In other words, with creative approaches and innovative solutions, an inclusive solution can be found that suits the Long Street community.”

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

All her responses were sent by email …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 4th October 2012

MONIQUE DUVAL Residents in Bree Street and the Community Police Forum (CPF) have objected vociferously to an application by the Orphanage cocktail bar which has filed an application with the Liquor Licensing Tribunal to alter its premises. Orphanage marketing manager Katie Friedman said while the existing premises would remain as they are, they plan to expand into the adjoining building at 11 Orphan Street. “Orphanage is tiny and we are doubling the size of our space to make it more comfortable and to increase focus on our food offering and flexibility. We also want to have a fully-sound-proofed building,” she said.

But the application has not been welcomed by the Cape Town CPF who claim the granting of the application would have a negative effect on surrounding residents. According to the objection lodged by the CPF, chairman Henry Giddy said the Orphanage was known for causing a noise nuisance and said the section of Bree Street could not be compared to the party hub that exists in the upper end of Long Street. “The residents have for many years lived peacefully in the area and are they are being severely prejudiced through the existing operation of the Orphanage as indicated by the numerous listed noise disturbance complaints,” Mr Giddy said.

The 14-page objection also consists of photographs taken from an apartment in CPI House to show how close the bar is as well as photographs showing patrons on the pavements outside the establishment. Resident Nanine du Plesis said since the Orphanage opened, she had to deal with loud music from 10pm to 2am every day and said she has reported the bar several times. “I phoned the Central City Improvement District (CCID) and the police, and I have references to prove it. “I even notified Charlene Vassen, the senior inspector from the City to come and inspect, but unfortunately they arrived after 2am. I live very close to the bar so I am directly affected by the noise that’s why I am objecting,” she said.

The application also includes the extension of liquor trading hours from 2am to 4am. But in the objection Mr Giddy said if one or more establishments in upper Bree Street are permitted to trade beyond 2am, it would act as a magnet for the criminal element operating in the Long Street area. “Upper Long Street generates a significant amount of crime ranging from pick pocketing, robbery, armed robbery and theft from motor vehicle. This is as a direct result of the prevalence of night clubs and the inevitable criminal element the industry attracts. “By analysing the monthly crime map for August (2012) the CPF identified 11 cases of robbery and eight cases of theft out of motor vehicles reported to the police in the upper Long Street area. That compares to zero cases of robbery and four cases of theft out of motor vehicles in upper Bree Street in the same period. “The situation in Long Street would have been far worse had it not been for additional crime containment measures in the form of six Central City Improvement District (CCID) officers and police officers deployed in the Long Street,” he said. Mr Giddy said that neither the police nor the CCID could provide extra resources to Bree Street, should the application be granted.

However, Ms Friedman said she found this odd. “If the Orphanage had wanted to open on Long Street, we would have done so – we chose Bree Street as we enjoy the diversity of its offering. We do not see our current bar as a ‘nightclub’ we are a cocktail bar (emporium), which happens to have a DJ. “The intended Orphanage will be an intimate nightclub with a stage, harking back to the glamorous 1920s style of night clubbing but this will be in a fully sound-proofed and purpose-built building. “Since opening we have had one incident of a bag being taken (or lost). In the past six months there have been no other incidents relating to Orphanage or our guests. “Our guests are generally well-heeled Cape Town inhabitants. “It’s also worth noting that prior to us opening, there were regular instances of the businesses on either side of us being broken into. Since opening this has stopped. “We have superb private security both inside and out and we take our social and neighbourly responsibilities very seriously,” she said.

Ms Friedman said the pictures of patrons on the pavements were misleading. “Orphanage customers are not permitted to consume alcohol or block the pavement. “However, they are permitted to do both of these things on the gravel area and the stoep area. We have excellent security staff who ensure that customers do not remain on the pavement blocking access or consuming alcohol – taking a snap-shot of patrons crossing or walking towards our entrance or permitted areas is misleading,” she said.

According to mayoral committee member for Health, Lungiswa James, the Orphanage did not have a Health and Entertainment Licence and was fined on Wednesday August 29 for trading without one. She said an application had been made in May but had not yet been issued as the owner has not yet complied with the requirements set out by the City. When asked whether the bar’s management was aware of the requirements, Ms Friedman said: “We were not experienced bar-owners prior to the opening of Orphanage. We have been very surprised at the amount of permits, licences, permissions and inspections that are required to operate. “The red-tape is so overwhelming it is surprising that anyone opens anything in South Africa, but we will press on and all our applications are in process -– generally we are waiting for the council to respond or send an inspector which is why the application is not completed. “Orphanage completed all the requirements in the shortest possible time-frame, but we cannot be responsible for the laborious and seemingly-overwhelmed official process.”

Ms Friedman admitted the bar was not soundproofed and they were aware of all noise complaints. One resident who has lived in the area for several years, who asked not to be named, said the biggest problem was noise. “Noise from the music and the people who socialise in front of the venue. Before, most residents had the odd night where the Long Street noise would hit them, but now for many residents it is an almost daily occurrence. Obviously there is also a marked increase in traffic, parked cars, hooting taxis, aggressive car guards, drunken behaviour, shouting and so on. All of which are negative and new to our area,” she said. In response Ms Friedman said: “One cannot expect to live in the centre of Cape Town and not have noise. We agree there is an increase in traffic and parked cars, however, our security ensures external noise is kept to a minimum and guests are always requested to be respectful to neighbours upon leaving our premises.”

Nick Spencer from the Western Cape Liquor Authority said since the application was made, they have received seven objections. He told the CapeTowner that the application had been made under the new Act When asked what role the business licence played in deciding whether the application was granted by the Liquor Authority, Mr Spencer said: “Business licensing and zoning are municipal functions and responsibilities. “Under the new Act, the Liquor Licensing Tribunal looks at these two aspects only when an application for a licence is made. The Liquor Licensing Tribunal will consider the application as well as all representations received, and then make a decision.”

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From the CapeTowner, by Katie Friedman, 11th October 2012

In response to the article (“Bree Street battles”, CapeTowner, October 4), the second headline “City centre residents shouldn’t complain about noise, says bar manager” of the continuation of the article on page 2 is fabricated. No bar manager was interviewed for this article, all responses were made in writing and reporter Monique Duval has said: “The headline was taken from your response to the questions posed by us.” Our response was: “With respect, no-one can expect to live in the centre of Cape Town and not have noise.” Which in no way relates to the sub-headline. It’s also worth noting your omission of the first part of our sentence, which is quoted in the article too, which again skews the perception of what was actually said.

We believe this subheadline and dreamed up quote will seriously compromise and prejudice our licence applications. As a result it will have a serious impact on our business – we are surprised that the CapeTowner with whom we have only had positive dealings in the past operates in this way – creating an untrue quote or headline to sensationalise a story. Additionally, the extra Word On The Street piece states “Orphanage said people cannot expect to live in the city and then complain about noise”. Yet another made-up quote. Additionally you state we are operating without a licence when all licences are either granted or are in application.

We will add this into our complaint to the Press Ombudsman. Shame on you. We are grateful for any comment you have on this fabricated headline. Thank you in advance for your assistance in helping us set the record straight.

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From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 11th October 2012

Ms Friedman’s allegation that the quotes were fabricated are untrue. We investigated this case for several weeks before the report was published. In my conversations with the bar manager Raymond Endean, he told the CapeTowner that Ms Friedman, the marketing manager, would be responsible for liaising with the newspaper. In the second paragraph we stated that Ms Friedman was the marketing manager. The CapeTowner did not have a sit down interview with Ms Friedman as we were told she was in Europe. All her responses were sent by email so the fact that no interview took place is irrelevant because she provided a written response.

Nowhere do we state that there was face to face interview. The headline was taken from Ms Friedman’s response to a question we posed. This is what we sent her: “When asked what their reasons were for objecting to the application made by the Orphanage, one resident said: ‘I think the biggest problem we have faced since the opening of Orphanage is noise. Noise from both music and the people that socialise in front of the venue. ‘Before, most residents had the odd night where the Long Street noise would hit them, but now for many residents it is an almost daily occurrence. Obviously there is also a marked increase in traffic, parked cars, hooting taxis, aggressive car guards, drunken behaviour, shouting, all of which are negative and new to our area.’ Can you provide a response to this?”

Mr Friedman responded: ‘With respect, one cannot expect to live in the centre of Cape Town and not have noise. ‘We agree there is an increase in traffic and parked cars, however, our security ensure that external noise is kept to a minimum and guests are always requested to be respectful to neighbours upon leaving our premises.” We clearly asked her to respond to the complaint made by a resident so the headline is not incorrect.

The Word on the Street, is an opinion piece written by me. And in it l stated that the bars and clubs are required by law to apply for business licences. In an official response from the City’s Health Department, mayoral committee member Lungiswa James said the Orphanage made an application for the licence but that it had not been granted because the Orphanage had not as yet fulfilled all the requirements. It’s important to note that just because the business licence application has been made, it does not mean that approval is guaranteed. Councillors from the Good Hope Sub-council will still have to view the application and decide whether or not it should be granted. Based on the above, I don’t see how saying the Orphanage is trading without a licence is untrue.

The CapeTowner goes to great lengths to ensure that all articles are accurate and fair. We spoke to various sources and Ms Friedman was given a chance to respond to all the allegations made by the residents and the Community Police Forum (CPF). We have written responses to all the correspondence which will prove that there was no fabrication and will counter the claims made by Ms Friedman. Fine time Richard Bosman, Executive Director for Safety and Security, City of Cape Town In response to the article (“Bree Street battles”, CapeTowner, October 4), the City’s Liquor Unit responded to a complaint from the resident regarding the Orphanage and the following actions were taken:

– On Friday May 11 a noise warning was issued in terms of the Streets, Public Places and the Prevention of Noise Nuisance By-law.
– On Friday August 17, a R1 000 fine was issued in terms of the Business Act for operating without a business licence. A second noise warning was also issued, as the first one had expired. The complainant was given the contact numbers of the Liquor Unit, so they could be contacted if the problem re-occurs.

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