SRA War of Words

SFPO responds to misleading post on Facebook

Last Friday the war of words on the SRA proposed by St Francis Property Owners (SFPO) took a turn for the worse when longtime detractor Rod Suter decided to publish a letter under the guise of an anonymous contributor apparently also opposed to the SRA. One wonders why someone so opposed would choose to remain anonymous or maybe things not quite what they seem.

The anonymous letter makes so many incorrect statements and assumptions it would probably be better classified as ‘Fake News’ but sadly some serious aspersions on the integrity of the SFPO committee gave cause for  Wayne Furphy to reply to Suter and anonymous and clarify some of the points raised as well as to challenge serious accusations contained in the letter

 Furphy’s response to the Facebook letter follows.

“In reply to the anonymous letter, let us (the SFPO) begin by saying that we do not know to whom Anonymous has spoken or whether this is a misrepresentation in itself, but in our interaction with the current senior management and leadership in the Municipality, we have only received support. SRAs exist as part of the Municipal legislation to allow local communities to invest in their communities.

The reality is that the Government (National, Provincial and Local) and local property developers have not fulfilled their responsibilities  over many years resulting in:

  • The loss of our beach and s The Municipality has not maintained our beach, spit, river, roads and stormwater drains for over a decade. Instead, they allowed some of our residents to convince them to pay for the beach pipe solution which was an abject failure, wasting our taxes and losing our beach and spit. Eight years have been wasted and by now a proper system could have been put in place and the beach re-established. This is an environmental and economic disaster for our town. Fortunately, we now have a Municipality that is willing to work with us to try to fix these problems, and that is why we have made progress.
  • St Francis Bay property values have stagnated over the past 10 years compared to the trebling of property values in Cape Town and doubling of property values in Plettenberg Bay. Given inflation over the past 10 years, we as property owners in St Francis, have lost approximately half of our capital invested in our properties. This is a financial disaster for most of us. The SRA is our only hope of recovering from this dire situation.
  • We have not disseminated false information about the inaccuracy of contact information. It is a fact because we tried to call and email all property owners using Municipal contact information. The results were poor and we had to build our own database of contact information. We were told in December that there was an unacceptable level of payment arrears to Municipality. To say that this was only “wealthy property owners” is disingenuous. How does this so-called Municipal official know who is wealthy or not?
  • The SRA does not represent a tiny portion of St Francis Bay. It represents over 1,600 properties in the Canals and Village area. Santareme to Otters Landing has some 1,250 properties. The Canals and the Village will contribute approximately half of the funds required for the SRA projects. The balance will come from the River estates, the Riparians Association (Canal homeowners again), the Port, the Municipality and very generous donations from some 80 property owners who took the trouble to understand what and why we were proposing an SRA, starting some two and a half years ago.
  • The accusation that most of the money will be spent on the Canals is wrong. Please read what we have communicated. The full proposal is available for scrutiny on our website. More than half the money required will be spent on restoring our beach, all 2.7kms of it, which will benefit the whole town.
  • Where has Anonymous been over the past 2 and a half years? The facts presented are wrong, malicious and misleading.

Finally, Mr Suter, you have also published an open letter that the SFPO Committee members and Board Directors are “dishonest”. This a serious accusation you have made against the following people who are SFPO Association committee members, SFPO NPC Board members or SFPO NPC Technical Committee members : Wayne Furphy, Chris Gray, Simon Picton-Turbevill, Norman Dyer, Louis van der Merwe, Nigel Aitken, Lyn Aitken, David Truter, Dave Harpur, Paul Pezarro, Greg Miller, Gert Vorster, Peter Mountford, Deon Pienaar and Craig Northwood. Your suggestion that this group is dishonest is defamatory. All legal rights are specifically reserved in relation to this inaccurate and defamatory attack.”

 

The anonymous letter can be read at https://web.facebook.com/Question-SRA-St-Francis-676232779246946

A little negative about SRA – take heart!

There are no doubt some are not totally enamoured with the SRA 2018 proposal seemingly having achieved the 50+1 votes required. We live in a democracy and so the outcome must be seen as the will of the majority within the demarcated area of St Francis Bay.

There are those who voted NO as their limited fixed income will be sorely stretched and their rejection of the proposal is understandable. But there are also those who voted NO simply because they do not believe the SFPO efforts will work and that the beach is a lost cause. Possibly that is true but should we all just sit and watch as the ocean slowly consumes more and more of St Francis Bay.

There comes a time when man has to intervene in what man has caused. We experienced it during the Zuma reign. The majority at the time voted Zuma into power and the country sat and watched whilst he eroded the economy and the country. Finally in late 2016 and throughout 2017 into 2018 man started to intervene and the efforts of the many concerned organisations finally paid off and stopped that erosion. Had all those organisations so intent on saving South Africa done nothing, would we be rid of Zuma?

Man has caused the eroding beach, silting river and so man, with the guidance of DEDEAT and those with experience in similar conditions, maybe, just maybe, man can turn back the tide.

Certainly SFPO have a huge responsibility to all in St Francis Bay to get on with what they have set out as achievable under the proposed SRA 2018. It is essential that they now take SFB into their confidence and keep all concerned with progress once the SRA is finally rolled out should it be approved by the Kouga Municipality.  And just as important is that all of SFB get behind them and support their efforts.

For those who feel SFPO’s efforts to save the beach will be in vain, maybe the linked story and video below will give you just a little hope and accept that doing nothing will achieve nothing but planting that “first tree” may be what is needed to reclaim the beach and save a flagging St Francis Bay. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take 39 years but even if it does we will have left our grandchildren and their children a little piece of paradise.

The following is a true story and a tale of consistency – READ MORE

Who will pick up the bill

It is fair to assume that the petition to ‘Save the Spit’ signed  by several hundred concerned SFB residents had an influence on  DEDEAT’s decision to allow emergency reparations to commence on the spit albeit with certain conditions and restrictions. The input of the Municipal Manager Charl du Plessis should also not be ignored for there is little doubt his input resulted in the positive outcome. Threatened with severe consequence should the spit breach, they really had no alternative for it was mooted that either DEDEAT or the municipality, or both, could be held liable for any damage to property in the event of such a breach.

The question now that DEDEAT has allowed reparations to proceed does this absolve them from any claims should the spit breach say during the winter storms? But should the spit breach and DEDEAT and the municipality are absolved then surely all reparation to private canal walls and indeed even garden and home interiors will thus have to be borne by the individual home owner. So that begs the next question, would individual insurance cover pay for home owners damage if it is considered that they were aware of the potential chance of damage and made no effort to contribute to corrective efforts..

Hopefully the work being done by SFPO, the Riparians and Joint River committee should see them pump sufficient sand onto the spit in the coming months to bolster the spit through the winter storms and until a more permanent solution can be implemented.

Moving from the spit to the beach front properties where owners have had to spend hundreds of thousands of Rands in rebuilding the revetments to protect their properties being engulfed by the ocean. In a way these home owners are the final bastion against the ocean encroaching further into St Francis Bay. There can be little doubt the rock revetments are a temporary solution and can only be effective for a limited time. The beach simply has to be restored so as to prevent the daily high tide assault on these revetments causing them to slowly subside.

Many will say the beach is not their problem, or it’s a lost cause, or there is no way it will encroach further, or the proposed solution won’t work. With nothing else on the table surely it is worth at least trying for to do nothing, certainly won’t fix anything.

Reading between the lines of a Facebook post this weekend it seems the anti-SRA lobbyists are not going to accept the results of the SRA vote should it go against them.  Let us hope they don’t drag this into the courts a la the Quayside debacle spending funds that could be better spent on saving St Francis.

Note: Those who regular use Cape St Francis beach probably wouldn’t notice but is it possible that thi beach is also starting to erode?

Propaganda or a Life or Death situation?

Propaganda or a Life or Death situation – You Decide!

There  is no doubt that some SRA detractors will claim the following to be more SRA propaganda but if there is only small chance that this comment on the yesterday’s post “Body of Youngster Recovered” is remotely accurate, this alone is reason enough to support the SFPO efforts to raise funds to fix the beach. .

The comment made by Craig Kilfoil

“As a local surfer with 5 years NSRI behind me, I have been warning anyone that would listen, that what remains of main beach, is no longer safe on a high tide. Late last year, after a few instances where I was less than comfortable myself landing at main beach after surfing;  After personally rescuing more than one local young surfer from the water trying to exit at main beach, I predicted that there would be a drowning in December. Unfortunately there was.

Now another.

Beware – Main beach on a high tide is dangerous. The risk needs to be addressed before we lose any more local or visitor lives.

Fixing our beach is now, literally, a life or death situation.”

There certainly were instances on St Francis Bay beaches over the holidays that need to be considered serious (Bathers Saved off Ann Avenue) and sadly now, two drownings.The question needs to be asked, should bathing be banned during high tides or should the Kouga municipality maybe allocate a permanent lifeguard to protect the beach?

The obvious answer would be to fix the beach for it has never been considered a dangerous beach in years gone by.

We pinned our flag to the SRA mast

Why we pinned our flag to the SRA mast

A few readers have taken umbrage to the fact that St Francis Today is openly supporting the proposed SRA. One reader is calling it “biased and condescending piece of journalism”.  First may I clarify as I have on previous posts that I have never made claim that I am a journalist. Certainly I was a columnist for a Sunday National some years ago but never claimed otherwise. By the very nature of columnist one has the right to express one’s opinion. This is exactly what I did in Friday’s post, I expressed an opinion. St Francis Today is primarily a Blog with a news slant as we disseminate news from the main South African News Media. We have no pretensions of being a news media house. St Francis has a news media publication for the purpose of news reporting . All St Francis Today does is as update what i happening in St Francis on a day to day basis.

Those who are outraged at our pinning our flag to the SRA mast, why did you not make similar comment when SFT came out strongly in support of those against Thyspunt and nuclear? Why no complaints that we were being biased when we openly promoted the DA in the Municipal elections. Some things are too important not to make a stand and we believe St Francis needs a helping hand to survive.

But let me explain why I support the SRA even though I live in Cape St Francis and it certainly doesn’t really affect me. Having moved to St Francis some four years ago I have come to love what will be where I will probably live out my life. I don’t make much use of the canals nor the St Francis Bay beach but to lose them would be a catastrophe. I have a young niece and nephew who have spent most of their childhood and now adult holidays in St Francis Bay. They in turn have a little boy and girl who I would pray will also have the opportunity of spending their youth enjoying St Francis. For them and for thousands of others who have enjoyed and hopefully will continue to enjoy St Francis, I support the SRA.

I certainly do not have a problem with those who are against the SRA and respect them for their stand for it is everyone’s right to form their own opinion. Living in a democracy it is the final vote count that will decide the outcome and should it be against the SRA, one would hope those who have lobbied so actively against the SRA will step into the breach and at last make a suggestion or plan to ensure St Francis Bay doesn’t get gobbled up by the sea or that the crime doesn’t reach a level where people leave St Francis Bay for the same reason many moved here, to escape the crime in bigger cities..

One does not need to look far for towns that have slid into disrepair. KZN and the Eastern Cape both have more than their share. Lack of service delivery will have nothing on falling property prices and many a nest eggs may just be eaten up by the snakes of inactivity.

Your Vote Counts so don’t waste it

Last years original SRA votes do not count – Please Re-VOTE

As the deadline for votes on the proposed 2018 SRA (Special Rates Area) approaches it really needs your vote to make it a fair process. Whether your vote is FOR or AGAINST the proposed SRA it is important that you cast your vote for this a democratic process.

PLEASE NOTE this is a whole new process. Your vote last year or the year before counts for nothing and you must re-cast your vote as it is a totally new proposal where the rate has dropped substantially by some 50%. If you are not aware of the new proposal you can read a synopsis below or the full proposal at

Full SRA-Proposal

Or should you want to delve deeper into the actual Business Plan then read

SRA Motivation & Business Plan

If you are not too sure whether your vote has been recorded or indeed if you have voted, you can check your vote on

Votes Received

St Francis Property Owners as appealed to all property owners in the demarcated area  (see map below) to vote as soon as possible as the voting closes on February 24th 2018.

SRA proposal: (Synopsis)

  1. SRA levy of 25% of property owners’ monthly/annual rates (reduced from the original 50%).
  2. The shortfall in revenue will be contributed from alternative sources ie Riparians, Kromme Joint River Committee, the Port, Kouga Municipality and donations
  3. The Demarcated area for the levy will include the Village and Canal areas. Santareme, St Francis on Sea, Port, Otters Landing, Industrial Sites and The Links could be included at a later stage if the property owners in these areas choose to participate
  4. The scope of projects and services include:
    • The restoration of the beach, spit and river (priority 1)
    • The repair and maintenance of sections of the arterial roads and parking areas to be limited to the Village centre and main intersections along with pedestrian and cycle tracks along main arterial roads (priority 2)
    • The installation of CCTV camera surveillance in the demarcated area (priority 3)
    • Rebuild of the arterial roads (priority 4)

Cross the Line interiors St Francis Bay