By way of introduction I, together with four others, stood for the CRA Committee after nominations were sought leading up to the virtual AGM in October 2020. My fellow committee members, including the returning members, then proposed that I become the chair, and well, here I am!
And who am I? I am Markus Borner, a chartered accountant with 25+ years financial services experience in South Africa and internationally, with a career focus on business and finance. After a lengthy stint in the corporate world, I am now self-employed, focusing on financial advisory work and capital raising in South Africa and Africa – I should have done this a while ago but one can’t turn the clock back! Paula and I have lived in Craighall Park since 2005 after returning to South Africa from London. Shortly after our return, we were blessed with the birth of our twins, Josh and Hannah in 2006; their first outing aged 7 days was to Corner Café.
In a nutshell I am here, because I am passionate about living in a safe, productive, and friendly neighbourhood, where neighbours look out for each other and are more than just someone who lives next door.
But that is more than enough about me. We all live in a special group of suburbs, one of which is regarded as one of Joburg’s best, at least that is what the people in the property game tell us in an article published as recently as 4 February 2021. Johannesburg’s Craighall Park attracting families drawn to trendy estate living – Market News, News (property24.com). The area also has a rich and colourful history History – Craigpark™ Residents’ Association. We have all been through a significant change in our lives, and our current global, country and local situation reminds us about this every day. While humanity is extremely resilient, we can all do with some help along the way.
This brings us to Craigpark and our suburbs. While we have one of the oldest established residents’ association, we live in a community of approximately 3 000 households and the CRA has less than 200 members, with a paid-up membership that has halved since 2018. I think you will agree with me that this sounds more like a club than a resident’s association. From a financial point of view, we are solvent and liquid, with just approximately R1.3 million funds in our bank account, but that’s cold comfort with a revenue inflow of R200 000 in 2020; the funds will run out. For context, we would prefer not to go below R500 000, and that leaves us with just enough money to meet existing expenses for 12-24 months, delivering a lot less than we should be delivering.
So, what are we going to do about it? – in finance we call this an existential crisis.
We have sat as a committee, taken the input we have received, the learnings from the past, and put together what we believe an effective residents’ association should be going forward.
First a picture, an accountant does have some sort of creativity, but most of all thank you to my colleagues for getting this right!
How do we do this?
A residents’ association for all residents, working with all stakeholders, doing better together for Craigpark. We are a committee of 12 volunteers Structure of the CRA – Craigpark™ Residents’ Association, in a community of over 3 000 households and many businesses, which serve us and the surrounding community. Everyone needs things done now! We need your help please, financially and volunteering your time and skills.
We will do whatever we can, we will do the organising, we will do the communicating, outward and inbound, facilitation and the like, but we can’t do it alone. We need you to help.
The area our family moved into in 2005, is vastly different to where we live in today; those of you that have been here even longer can only amplify this statement, and we will continue to see changes. Let us all make sure those changes are for the better and serve our community best. While we would like to continue to live in a “Village in a City”, as described in the property24.com article referenced above, we face multiple challenges on many fronts. Those are the aspects highlighted in the CRA circle.
What should we be addressing?
We cover specific initiatives under our focus areas in other areas of this newsletter, and will continue to do so, let me try and give a high-level perspective.
Urban densification is real, we live in the financial hub of the largest economy in Africa. It is against this background, that the need for efficient town planning and effective infrastructure is in everybody’s interest. The half-acre residential only plots are a great residential proposition, but in country that has increased its population by roughly six-fold since the establishment of the suburb, I think we can agree that this is not feasible, across our entire suburb, for the whole suburb and forever and a day.
We need to work within the municipal by-laws, but also provide coordinated and constructive feedback as these are developed and progress. You will note that we are providing feedback on a series of council initiatives through our sterling councillor Martin Williams, and we are making progress raising the profile of the pothole problem and ultimately getting this addressed by the authorities.
Security is high on everyone’s agenda. For good reason. Security has been subject to a lot of heated debate and less than transparent communication. We are extremely fortunate to have Ashleigh Parry, who has decades of security company management on her CV to head up the security portfolio. And she has lived here since 2006.
As the committee we believe a residents’ association has a leading role in ensuring there is a coordinated approach. We hope you would essentially agree with that statement. Security is a priority on everyone’s risk spectrum and forms a large part of our monthly expenses, as residents and as a residents’ association. CAP remains our designated Public Space Security Provider and preferred armed response provider. They have been in place for 3 years in that role and continue to work in partnership with the CRA and you, the residents, for the benefit of our community. As the CRA, we are committed to a productive relationship with CAP, i.e. a mutually beneficial partnership. We also recognise that other security providers, selected by residents, have a role to play on providing security in our own neighbourhood, and indeed, in our much-loved Delta Park and surrounding areas. Nevertheless, if you have a look at many of our neighbouring suburbs, (Dunkeld, Parktown North, Parkhurst, Hurlingham, Parkmore, Melrose, Saxonwold, Blairgowrie, Victory Park, Parkview) you will see the predominant and most proven effective approach is backing one security provider. As it states on the SafeParkview website:
“It is more effective to manage one security company which is proactive and operates to our requirements. If we all subscribe to SafeParkview, 1000 households have infinitely more influence and buying power than a single voice.”
We welcome input and suggestions and will report regularly on security and accompanying insights and initiatives provided by our security provider.
Urban decay, litter and not living up to a “World class African City” is something else. What we want is a balance between doing and making sure it gets done. Doing takes time and money; getting it done takes coordination and working with the council through its various departments. While we have a team of two full time gardeners that work in the suburb and in the Delta, it is not enough. We need additional resources, balancing this with getting things done through the council and City Parks, and in conjunction with our neighbouring suburbs. Irrespective of picking up the litter when we go out and about, we can and must do so much more to maintain our Village in the City. The Environmental portfolio pays a key part here.
Community spans a wide variety of issues, from caring to our elderly residents to addressing homelessness, both from a security and a socio-economic viewpoint. This issue is becoming more relevant, and will become more problematic, the longer we turn a blind eye. Nobody has clear solutions in this space, but we are prepared to tackle it, to work on and find a solution that addresses the issues in the best way possible.
Sometimes the traditional perceived role, and the measure of success, is for a resident’s association is to make our problems go away; it could be the vagrants in our area, or the ignorance of by-laws by residents and/or businesses, or or or… a whole range of things. This is however a small part of the role of the residents’ association, we would like to work with you as residents and with the city authorities (be it JMPD, SAPS, City Parks, JRA, Citypower, Joburg Water, CoJ, Pikitup), both through our councillor and/or directly; the more we do it the better we will get. At the end of the day whether we are a homeowner, a business owner or tenant in our area we want to maximise the value of living here, by working together, with one another and for one another.
We trust this better clarifies the role of the CRA in our community, please join with us so that we can achieve these objectives together by “Doing better together”. We would like to invite you to become a member and engage with us. We appreciate all the help we can get and will also let you know what type of help we need.
Where can you help right now?
Please consider joining as a paid-up member, by logging onto Membership – Craigpark™ Residents’ Association. We are aiming for an annual contribution of R1 million over time. This equates to 30-35% membership in our suburbs. While that is a lot more than the CRA has received in the past, we believe that by reaching this, over time and with your help we can really realise some great results that will make Craigpark the best Village in a City it can possibly be.
Transparency is key, and we commit to sharing the state of our finances, including membership, with you quarterly, together with an update on the various portfolios with you through the established newsletters, website, street rep groups, social media and other channels. And just before I go, I firmly believe that filling a glass that is half full, is easier than filling one that is half empty.
We look forward to hearing from you and working with you, and please look out for the February newsletter next week.
17 February 2021