Question: City’s 24,000 Land Parcels

CITY OF CAPE TOWN OWNS 24,000 PARCELS OF LAND:

The ACDP’s Charlotte Williams asked Mayor De Lille a written question regarding the 24,000 land parcels that the City owns.

During a live Cape Talk radio debate on 19 July 2016 on the broad subject of Housing, Deputy Mayor Neilson announced the City owns 24,000 parcels of land, “only about half of which are vacant” – before refusing to divulge details of where these land parcels are and their sizes.

The Mayor replied to the question at the council meeting on 7 December 2016 but these are the ACDP’s problems:

  • The Mayor and Deputy Mayor clearly do not agree on how many parcels of land are available for housing: The Deputy Mayor said “about half of the 24,000 are vacant” while the Mayor says “The City does not hold a large number of immovable property that is surplus to operational and strategic requirements that can be made available for disposal.”  Who is misleading the public – the Mayor or the Deputy Mayor?
  • It is within the Citys operational and strategic interests to identify and reserve land that is available for housing but the Mayor does not divulge these details.
  • By once again not divulging these details, the City is now confirming the perception that the “DA and the property developers are in cahoots and only certain properties are released to certain property developers” – something the ACDP asserted at the debate in July.

BACKGROUND:  CAPE TALK LIVE RADIO DEBATE ON 19 JULY 2016

Marianne Merten reported in the Daily Maverick on 19 July 2016: “During a particularly prickly moment in a Cape Town election debate broadcast on Tuesday, Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson let slip that the city owned 24,000 parcels of land. Only about half of these were vacant, he quickly added: “Yes, we have been reluctant to make that public because we know there are many parties that want to organise land invasions… As and when we are in a position to release this (information), we’ll make it known”.

It was the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) that neatly summed up why Neilson’s disclosure grates: if the DA did not release the information on the land parcels, the perception continued “that they and the property developers are in cahoots and only certain properties are released to certain property developers”, said Grant Haskin, the party’s communications director and one-time councillor.

The Deputy Mayor was on a sticky wicket.”

MAYORS FULL ANSWER:

As at 31 October 2016 the City owned 32 741 land parcels within the municipal area. Of these land parcels 17 274 are owned by registered title and ownership of 15 391 is vested in the City by virtue of the status of public street or public place.

These numbers are not static as the City continually acquires and disposes of property in the normal course of business to support service delivery and strategic objectives.

On these land parcels the City has an estimated 80 000 usage areas which are defined areas within which a specific activity or function takes place. For example a clinic, a library, a maintenance depot, a park or a street. In fact the City has a total of 118 of these different usage types.

The City does not hold a large number of immovable property that is surplus to operational and strategic requirements that can be made available for disposal.

An indication of usage numbers includes 94 workshops/depots, 310 offices, 30 fire stations, 10 500 substations, 370 sports facilities, 149 health centres, 105 libraries, 188 community centres, 6300 parks, 14 resorts and 3 800 environmental assets to name just a subset of all immovable property assets.

Detailed information in respect of these immovable property assets is not made available to the general public in large tranches for reasons of security as is the case with other spheres of Government and State-owned Companies. In terms of Section 38 of the Promotion of Access to Information Act queries in respect of immovable property assets are responded to on a property by property basis.”

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