The solution to Toti’s high crime rate and social ills plaguing the area may lay in business owners and residents banding together to form Urban Improvement Precincts (UIPs).
Click to read #Crime Must Fall public meeting scheduled
A UIP is a joint collaboration between residents, business owners, local government, stakeholders and various partners to combat crime, uplift the area, and build and maintain property values through cleaning and security initiatives.
UIPs have been successfully formed in Umhlanga, Ballito and Florida Road in Durban and plans are underway for Point Road and Durban beachfront to follow suit.
One person who is adamant this is the way forward for Toti is Community Crime Prevention Organisation (CCPO) chairman and Toti businessman, George Lithgow, whose son George junior and his wife Lea have researched the initiative and how to apply the model successfully to Toti.
We need to take our town back from the criminals
“We need to take our town back from the criminals,” said Lithgow. “The perception of an area is inherently tied to its safety.
Forming a UIP is tackling our problems on a different level and we need positive people to help drive this initiative.”
In a business district, 51% of property owners need to buy into forming a non-profit organisation UIP, while in a residential area requires 66% support. The municipality charges a percentage of the owner’s rates as a levy to residents, which is paid into the UIP’s coffers to employ private contractors that assist the municipality with the general improvement of the area, and fund a security company to assist the police.
“Toti residents will question why they should pay more to do the municipality and police’s job, but if you sit back and wait for things to improve, it won’t happen,” said Lithgow.
Click to read #CrimeMustFall
“UIPs are working successfully. Toti is actually a better model, as those areas didn’t have an existing community security organisation like the CCPO. We need to bring back civic pride to Toti and make all areas safe at night, such as the promenade and beaches.”
Naturally, the first question everyone will want to know is how much extra this will cost every month. In the initial stage of the formation of the Umhlanga UIP, the levy was almost 10% of property owners’ rates. However, as more owners joined, it dropped to only 3%.
If a UIP is formed in a Toti suburb, the goal would be that the monthly CCPO fee per house becomes inclusive of the levy. Residents or business owners pay the levy and the CCPO is paid from the UIP’s coffers.
“The more UIPs formed in Toti and the more people paying a levy will actually decrease the CCPO’s monthly rates. The more people paying, the less each member will be required to pay. Property owners will benefit from a larger security force, as with more people paying, the CCPO can afford to employ more personnel.
We need to bring back civic pride to Toti and make all areas safe at night
Toti can increase its tourism value by better branding the region’s attractions, property values will rise, we will live in a safer environment and create jobs.
If we sort out the small problems, we will have more success dealing with the larger ones. We can sort out the car guard problem and deal with vagrants, prostitutes and drug dealers, as Toti’s own security force can then enforce bylaws.
We need to tackle crime and urban decay from the ground level. If you see where we are now, imagine where we will be in five years’ time? If we continue to leave it, it will manifest into a huge problem.”
The first step forward if property owners buy into the idea is to call a meeting with people from various organisations that will link with the UIP, such as Durban South Business Forum, Toti Conservancy, Sapphire Coast Tourism, Community Police Forum, law enforcement as well as business owners, residents, schools and churches who are keen to get the ball rolling. To be a part of this initial meeting, email Lea at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A steering committee needs to be formed and a business plan drawn up before an application is made to the municipality applying to form a UIP. This would need to be done before this year’s deadline in September to be consider for approval for implementation to take place by next July.
If the UIP application is approved, only then will a pilot UIP in a designated part of Toti be formed and those property owners begin to pay the levy. Once the pilot UIP is deemed a success, further applications can be made to form UIPs in other areas.
Toti would not be a single UIP, but divided into a series of interlocking UIPs.
“If the idea is accepted by property owners, we then need to start on a small scale and apply it. Once the community sees it is working and more people buy into the idea, we can get the whole of Toti covered.
Our goal is to make Toti the safest area in South Africa and I think forming UIPs can help us achieve that.”