South Africa : Johannesburg : Public called to comment on City Improvement Districts

By Rudo Mungoshi

Johannesburg - The City of Johannesburg has called on members of the public to submit written suggestions on whether City Improvement Districts (CIDs) should be set up in residential areas.

CID spokesperson, Nthatisi Modingoane, says the city has been petitioned for the establishment of CIDs in purely residential areas, according to the city's official website.

"We have received numerous requests from the public to set up CIDS in residential areas. This new trend raises a number of legal and policy issues and the city would like to make a well-informed decision on whether or not to support such CIDs."

A CID is a partnership between the city and the private sector aimed at improving the management of the urban environment to benefit owners, tenants and visitors.

Such districts are set up within a defined geographic area, where property owners have agreed to fund services over-and-above those normally provided by the local authority.

These services often include security guards on patrol, cleaning the pavements and collecting litter, maintaining the public space and removing illegal posters.

Since the Gauteng City Improvement Districts Act was passed in 1997, over a dozen CIDs have been set up, the most successful being in Braamfontein and in Main Street in the inner city.

Further afield, there are CIDs in Sandton, Illovo, Kramerville, Wynberg, Randburg and Rosebank.

Mr Modingoane explains that setting up a CID often follows consultations between the city and local property owners.

"It requires the support of at least 51 percent of owners with rateable properties in a designated area and the development of an improvement plan," he said.

After the public consultation, an advisory panel consisting of development practitioners, academics and representatives of business and civil society compile the submitted comments before advising the city on the matter.

There is already a residential CID in small central section of Berea, called Legae la rona, which means "our place".

The Berea CID consists of seven blocks, running from Barnato Street in the north to Olivia Road in the south, bordered by Fife Avenue in the west and Lily Avenue in the east.

Traditionally a suburb lumped together with the grimy and overcrowded Hillbrow, its neighbour, this section of Berea is now clean and there are some 16 guards in evidence on the street corners.

CCTV cameras on street corners are on the cards, in consultation with the city.

Suggestions must be submitted to the department of development planning and urban management by 1 June.

They can be faxed to (011) 339-1118, emailed to cids@joburg.org.za or delivered to the department offices on the 10th floor, Executive Suite, A Block at the Metro Centre, 158 Loveday Street, Braamfontein.