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Cape Town’s CBD remains resilient

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Tough economic conditions, more people in the town and rising crime impose strain on CCID

The past year has been challenging for the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID), with harsh economic conditions and rising crime levels placing huge demands on the organisation.

Meeting the demands of the busy CBD that is “alive almost 24/7” and maintaining its success has, therefore, been increasingly difficult, says CCID chief executive Tasso Evangelinos.

However, the city is reaping the rewards of this effort. Addressing its 19th annual meeting, he said the prime concern has been to address the safety and security issues “in a CBD that has a daily footfall of more than 300 000 people and a vibrant night-time economy”.

“Due to the economic environment – and the subsequent high unemployment rate in the country – we have also faced growing social and urban management issues in the CBD. “Strengthening our partnerships remains key to the CCID, and we continue to work closely with our primary partners, the City of Cape Town and the SA Police Service.

“But a growing CBD demands additional resources, not only from the CCID, but also from our primary partners. It also requires us to continue working together to ensure the Cape Town CBD remains the most successful in South Africa.”

In the CCID’s annual report, chairman Rob Kane says the water crisis and load-shedding were contributing factors to the past year’s challenges. “We also saw the consequences of some of these challenges playing out in the CBD’s streets in the form of increased levels of homelessness, aggressive begging and opportunistic crime.

“At the same time and as a result of the CCID’s success, we’ve also had to deal with increased demands on our services in the critical areas of safety and security, social development and urban management due to unprecedented growth in the CBD in recent years.”

Evangelinos says: “With our country’s unemployment rate at 29%, there has been a visible increase in the CBD’s homeless population. According to 2019 statistics released by the City of Cape Town’s Social Development and Early Childhood Development department, there are about 4 862 homeless people in the greater Cape Town area, with more than 700 living in the CBD.

“This increase in the number of street people has increased the pressure on the CCID’s social development team and pushed their capacity to make a difference to the limit. We have also seen a rise in aggressive begging, especially in Long Street, which has affected the economy of the area and put tourism at risk.”

The CCID received R60.6 million in funding from CBD ratepayers in the 2018/2019 financial year and income was allocated to:

Safety and security 51.2% 

Operations and personnel 23.43%

Urban management 12.63% 

Social development 9.21%

Communications 3.53%.

Safety and security receives the “lion’s share” of the CCID budget, Evangelinos says, because these priorities include 24/7 strategic visible deployment; embracing technology to improve safety; developing new and maintaining existing partnerships; addressing antisocial behaviour and aggressive begging; and enforcing bylaws.

This is in addition to normal, dayto-day operational demands.

The challenges faced by the department include:

Anti-social behaviour in the CBD.

Coping with limited resources to deal with a dynamic downtown.

Increasing number of non-moving violations in the CBD.

Dealing with new and emerging security threats. 

Evangelinos says the urban management department had the “demanding task” of maintaining a clean, attractive central city amid increasing anti-social challenges and the consequences of a growing night-time economy.

Despite the challenges, Kane says Cape Town has again been shown to be a “resilient downtown”.

“Today, we have a vibrant central city with property valuations climbing from just over R6 billion in 2006 to close to R43bn in 2018 – that is year-on-year growth of 18%. This is a world-class city that continues to win global awards.

“This past year saw Cape Town emerging as Africa’s leading tech hub with the city employing more people in the sector than anywhere else on the African continent, and that includes Gauteng.

“Gauteng is three to four times larger than Cape Town yet we employ twice as many people. We need to celebrate our successes.”

Knight Frank’s Global Residential Cities Index for Q2 2019 places the city as the fifth top performing city over the past five years, with a growth rate of 68%.

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