Who can believe we are nearing the end of 2020, our annus horribilis? This has been a year like no other and the Homeowners Association (HOA) Board of Trustees is proud of our residents who worked together and adapted to these unusual times. We are currently on Lockdown 1 and all doing our bit to make sure we stay there and do not revert to previous restrictions!
Despite all the inconveniences of the various Lockdown stages, the Board has made a point of continuing ‘business as usual’. This year, the Communications committee was kept busy regularly bringing residents up to date with relevant COVID-19 information, the Landscaping committee has ensured the Estate continues to look lovely and the Security committee was happy to report that another year has passed with no (none, zero) security breaches on the Estate. As a precaution against possible civil unrest during these trying times, the Guard House at the main entrance was further secured to protect the guards in such an eventuality whilst ensuring that measures were low key and visually unobtrusive.
As for Building compliance, construction of a new home is in progress on the Estate, along with several private residence renovation projects.
Due to COVID concerns, the HOA could not host the usual social events, such as after the closure of the AGM and the traditional Christmas Party, but we did manage to squeeze in a COVID protocol adhered to, Halloween for the younger members of our community.
Perhaps our biggest achievement this year was the building of a new Estate Manager’s Office (EMO). Despite delays due to COVID restrictions, heavy rains and various unforeseen construction issues, this new build was completed in October and has been designed to blend in perfectly with the existing Guard House. The two-level EMO building not only provides office space for the Estate Manager and includes a boardroom, kitchenette and guest loo for meetings on the upper level; and a utility room and gardeners’ room with ablutions and kitchenette on the lower level. A great investment which will stand Berg en Dal in good stead going forward.
On the technology infrastructure front, our fibre to the home infrastructure seems to have stabilised and on the 1st April 2020 (no April fool’s joke), SADV transferred their fibre infrastructure over to Vuma which claims to have the biggest fibre network in South Africa.
We are also in the process of moving off our current community management system portal to a new platform, EstateMate which we hope to roll out from January 2021. EstateMate integrates with our visitor and contractor access management app, At the Gate (ATG) which is a big plus.
On the 3rd of December, we held our first virtual AGM via Zoom, which proved to be a great success. Many thanks went to all attendees for their support and it was great to see some of our ‘swallows’ from various parts of the world. We hope to see them in person very soon!
One of the governance challenges that we faced recently was the introduction of flashing bird deterrents on roofs in order to protect solar panels from birds nesting. Their strobe-like effects can be very invasive and harmful to neighbours in line of sight. Fortunately these devices were removed once the resident realised the impact they were having his neighbours. There are no bylaws regarding visual interference/ pollution at present, and so the Board, realising that new technologies and products are evolving all the time, rather than being specific, updated our architectural and landscaping regulations with new rules that would ensure that no new technology/product was permitted to be installed in sight or hearing of neighbours, without informing the Estate Manager and without the pre-approval of the HOA Board and affected neighbours, even if such technology/product does not require planning approval from the local Authority. The HOA Board unfortunately has no control over installations outside of Berg en Dal that affect our residents and these need to be dealt with between the resident and the offending external neighbour.
One of our priorities in the coming year is to comply with the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) in good time before the 30th June 2021 deadline. In order to achieve this we will be subscribing to one of a local law firm’s data protection programmes that is geared to our size and industry.
The last formal strategy review was conducted in 2019 and significant progress has been made on all items. We will conduct another strategic review early in 2021 covering the next 5-year period.
Our Chairman continues to play an active role in a number of civic society organisations in the broader Hout Bay valley such as the HB Residents & Ratepayers Association, HB Rivers Catchment Forum and the Western Cape Wetlands Forum to ensure that we extend the influence of the estate beyond its boundary and assist as best we can to find workable solutions for the challenging issues that face our community.
The HOA Board wishes all Berg en Dal owners and residents, and the broader Hout Bay community, if not a Happy Christmas or Happy Hannukah, Happy Holidays and we sincerely hope that 2021 will be an improvement on 2020! To those of you in Hout Bay at present, enjoy the beauty that is Cape Town and the warmer weather, stay safe and we look forward to maybe seeing you next year.
The Strategy Review meeting held on 18 January set a clear path for the HOA to follow going forward for the year and a number of useful projects were identified. Matters such as the final phase of the security upgrade strategy, a homeowner engagement process to enhance the spirit of community, automated communications systems, making the HOA Rules more accessible and easier to reference, developing our own security manager, integrated water plan, best use of common land, development plan for our Estate manager, review of the Constitution, building the Estate Manager’s Office and improving neighbourhood relations were tackled.
The revised Constitution, including making provision for general meetings and voting to be conducted virtually/electronically, was approved by special resolution at the AGM on 7th December.
Without going into too much detail, the security upgrades further enhanced security around the perimeter of the Estate including amongst others: an upgraded network of CCTV IR and Thermal cameras; a feed from our thermal cameras to the Watchcon control room; the installation of an automated industrial standby diesel driven generator to keep the entire security network, the DSTV headend equipment and the guardhouse powered in the event of load shedding; the installation and commissioning of the “At The Gate” visitors and contractors security access system linked to residents’ mobile smartphones; and, a new Nedap Residents e-tag vehicle security access system (the old licence plate recognition cameras have been retained and are linked to the Watchcon control room).
We were also able to increase our contributions to CCP/HBNW from of our monthly levies. Once again, there have been no security breaches in the past year at Berg en Dal Estate.
The project to install data and DSTV fibre infrastructure in Berg en Dal and connect up homes unfortunately turned out to be a lengthy process due to poor quality workmanship by the sub-contractors who installed the infrastructure. Much of the infrastructure had to be re-installed and upgraded but as of September, everyone who wanted to be connected is up and running.
We thank our estate manager, his security supervisor, the Fidelity/ADT guards, the gardening team, and all our service providers, who have done the work on the ground ensuring that Berg en dal is well managed, safe and beautiful.
The Berg en Dal Homeowners’ Association Annual General Meeting was held on 22nd November at a new venue, the Riverside Boutique Hotel off Valley Road.
Five of the existing six trustees agreed to stand again and two new trustees were nominated and joined the Board.
The seven trustees and estate manager (EM) met the day after the AGM to appoint the Chair, Vice-Chair and Treasurer, and to allocate the various portfolios. The following portfolios were allocated to the trustees: Estate Strategy and Risk; Building Compliance; Finance; Security and Safety; Fire Risk Management; Communications; Legal and Governance; and Landscaping and Lifestyle. The Board plans to co-opt additional members onto sub-committees where they can add value on different projects and initiatives.
We held our HOA Xmas party at the dam on 15th December 2018. Thank you to all who participated, especially our estate manager for organising everything and working tirelessly to make it the success it was; our Santa Claus who handed out presents; the resident who owns and drove the souped-up sleigh; the resident who lent us his sound equipment; the vice-chair who made the punch (hic); and to all the residents who provided the snacks (yum). Sorry that not all seemed to be able to make it but the turnout was good and a fun time was had by all.
Our first New Year’s Eve party – a “bring and braai” – was held at the dam. Being non-HOA-sponsored, all had to muck in, so residents came and set up “camp” with braais, tables and chairs, decorations, music, lights, food and drinks and we saw in the New Year with many cheers and songs. Everyone also cleared up before tottering (teetering?) off to bed which was great! It seems it was a great success and definitely to be repeated at the end of 2019, with hopefully more residents participating!
The Trustees and EM started off 2019 by meeting to evaluate progress, and review the strategy and action plans going forward to ensure that they remain topical and relevant to changing circumstances.
The five pillars of our Vision continue to be valid as depicted.
Very good progress has been made across a wide front and we are ahead of schedule on implementing the strategic action plan, thanks mainly to the sterling effort that our EM has put into driving all these projects to fruition. He has already achieved 80% of what was laid down in our 5 year strategic plan in one year.
Our EM has demonstrated the value of having a full-time manager to cope with all the projects and activities on the Estate. The fact that he has already achieved 80% of the strategic action plan is a remarkable achievement and a testament to his great work ethic.
Tom’s easy going demeanour has also assisted us greatly in getting everybody on board and has contributed enormously to a much improved harmonious environment at Berg en Dal.
The Estate golf cart used to transport the EM around the estate was returned to the supplier in favour of purchasing an Estate pick-up vehicle. The branded vehicle helps to make our EM and his activities, including the removal of garden refuse (previously outsourced), far more visible.
The Security upgrade strategy, developed during 2016, consisted of 4 phases to be implemented over 4 years.
Phase 1 consisting of infrastructure upgrades, power reticulation and fibre installation was approved at the 2016 AGM and completed ahead of the 2017 AGM.
At the 2017 AGM, the members voted in a resolution to proceed with phases 2, 3 and 4 of the security strategy comprising thermal cameras, optical cameras, fibre communications, Licence Plate Recognition (LPR) replacement, visitor access, line of sight clearance and off-site monitoring with payment options aimed at accelerating the deployment of the total solution.
During 2018, phases 2 and 3 of the security upgrade and a new residents’ vehicle access system were implemented ahead of schedule. We now have the capability to conduct virtual patrols on site from our guardhouse as well as remotely off site by an independent monitoring company giving a vital level of redundancy. We will also have a free fibre link, provided by SADV, feeding our thermal camera images to HBNW/CCP via Watchcon. This will provide an additional layer of security monitoring for the Estate. Security lights and speakers have also been installed along the perimeter with the intention of warning off any potential intruders before they attempt to breach our boundary fence.
The last phase, an upgraded access control system for contractors, domestic workers and visitors, is scheduled to commence in the 2019/2020 financial year. Potentially, it will have gate scanners with SMS and Email notification capabilities that will be backed up by a software package that can be remotely controlled by the Estate Manager.
The Estate has also increased our monetary contributions to HBNW and CCP and we have strengthened our collaborative security and intelligence sharing efforts with them and all the other Security Service Providers as well as the SAPS in Hout Bay. A separate Whatsapp group has been formed with our immediate neighbours on the Berg en Dal fence in order to help us and them with early warnings of potential intruders or suspects.
The Estate has joined the CPFPA (Cape Peninsula Fire Protection Agency) and has appointed NCC as our Fire Fighting Agents in order to meet the laid down statutory requirements as well ensuring the validity of our Estate Insurance Policy. SA Fire Watch has compiled a Fire Evacuation Plan as well as a Fire Management Plan for the Estate.
The Estate’s Fire Hydrant connections have been upgraded and the pressures have all been checked. The Fire extinguishers and hoses are all checked annually. A Fire Danger Index board has been installed at the main entrance gate of the Estate and some additional fire equipment and a hand held siren have been purchased in order to meet some of the recommendations made in the Fire Management Plan.
Firefighting training, as first responders, for our gardeners and Fidelity ADT guards has commenced. We would like to involve at least one Estate resident from each road in our first responder initiative.
Our 50m firebreak on the Eastern boundary is now maintained on an ongoing basis by our gardening team and is ready for the fire season. They have done an excellent job in clearing and maintaining this firebreak. This was an initiative suggested by our EM and has resulted in a substantial cost saving to the Estate.
Our Estate insurance policy was reviewed and has been adjusted to make provision for HOA fire suppression cover, spread of fire liability cover and limited landslip cover. We are in communication with our short term insurance broker to see whether extended landslip cover is available and affordable since early indications are that a Geotech survey would be required for them to assess the risk. This pertains to only the HOA assets and we recommend that each individual home owner engages with their short term insurance broker to re-evaluate their insurance requirements. This is especially important for all the homes on the boundary fences.
The main project for the Communications team during 2018 was the implementation of FTTH for Berg en Dal.
SA Digital Villages (SADV) in partnership with Dark Fibre Africa (DFA) has brought free FTTH to Berg en Dal.
The project scope included:
Going “live” for Internet Services was dependent on DFA connecting the estate to the main backbone infrastructure running along Main Road once the way-leave was approved by the City. The long-awaited “we are live” announcement was finally made by SADV on 5th October 2018. This did not mean however that all homes were live, as homeowners had to select and sign-up with their preferred ISP after which SADV started scheduling connections. Most connections are complete at time of writing.
We are looking forward to the dust settling and then enjoying the benefits of fibre. As per the FTTX Council:
”Fibre has significant benefits and due to much lower attenuation and interference, optical fibre has large advantages over existing copper wire in long-distance and high-demand applications. In most countries fibre also increases the value of your property, and since fibre is considered an asset it also makes your community a more desirable location. Fibre allows us to turn our homes into smart-homes and it has the capacity to offer us triple play services. With a fibre connection you can download a movie in a matter of seconds, manage your home remotely and have video surveillance, to name a few benefits.”
The next big project on the horizon for the Comms team now that the FTTH project is almost complete is the POPI Act and its implications for Berg en Dal.
As per Section 14 of The Constitution:
“Everyone has the right to privacy, which shall include …. The right not to have the privacy of their communications infringed”.
The POPI (Protection of Personal Information) Act gives effect to the right to privacy by introducing measures, requirements and regulation to ensure and enforce the safeguarding or protection of personal information. It is not unique to SA and is based on international privacy practices, legislation and regulations especially GDBR (General Data Protection Regulation) which is a legal framework that sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information of individuals within the European Union (EU).
The Act has not been signed and implemented as yet, but once it is, organisations will have a 12-month grace period to comply. ARC (Association of Residential Communities) of which we are a member, has formed a steering committee responsible for formulating a Code of Conduct for residential schemes (what CSOSA has defined as community schemes) for the Regulator to assess and approve. This will provide a framework for use by ARC members. We are monitoring progress in this space before planning and budgeting for this as a project in 2019.
The 2018 year had one big issue to deal with, the water crisis and the restrictions on watering in the estate.
The actions taken by the landscaping team were to replace as many plants as possible with water wise plants, which is an ongoing project.
We continue to look for ways of making the estate both functional and attractive, like the creation of the verge parking bays at the dam and the siting of 4 picnic benches on the estate for residents’ use.
Many households have taken the step of installing water storage tanks and the residents have been careful to position their tanks so that they are not an eyesore on the estate.
Building and renovation activity has not been excessive but occasionally verges have been damaged and then repaired which shows responsibility on the part of residents.
Clearing of foliage, particularly for the camera placement on the perimeter is an ongoing activity and has progressed well.
Finally, we applaud all residents for playing their part in keeping this estate looking exclusive.
2 houses have been built in Sagewood Drive in 2018. The owners have moved into the one and the other is nearing completion.
New plans have been submitted and are being scrutinised by our Estate Architect for properties in Sunbush Close and Sagewood Drive.
Plans for renovations are underway for properties in Sagewood Drive and Honeysuckle Close.
We welcome Tom Stewart who joined us early in November 2017, replacing Renier Combrinck as Estate Manager. We thank Renier for managing the estate for the past few years as well as his family for all the additional support they gave him in his role. We wish them well for the future as they lead normal lives as owners/residents both at work and at play.
The Berg en Dal Homeowners’ Association Annual General Meeting was held on 23rd November 2017 at St Peter’s Church Hall. The turnout was quite good and other than the usual items i.e. Chairman’s Report, Financial Statements, Budget, and election of the new Board of Trustees, the most important item on the agenda was the resolution to continue with the next phases of our security strategy.
Cape Town is experiencing a serious water crisis. Level 6 water restrictions were implemented as from 1 January 2018. Residential units using more than 10 500 litres per month will be fined or have water management devices installed on their properties. Please look under the tab “Useful Links” on this website for more information about the water restrictions, dam levels and water management.
Additionally the City is planning to introduce a “Drought Charge” to fund the income shortfall as a result of reduced water usage for the next three years from 1 February 2018, subject to the rainfall and dam levels.
Please look under the tab “Useful Links” on this website for more information about the water restrictions, the drought charge, dam levels, etc.
SADV (SA Digital Villages) in partnership with DFA (Dark Fibre Africa) will commence with the project to install FTTH in Berg en Dal Estate in January and hopefully residents will be connected around mid-year.
On a lighter note, the annual Berg en Dal Christmas party for residents was held at the dam on 16th December. Our estate manager Tom did a fantastic job of organising it and a good time appears to have been had by all who attended.
Our rules and policy documents change from time to time as necessary. Please bear this in mind if you have downloaded older versions to refer to. In addition to our residents, it is important that interested parties such as estate agents, service providers, contractors, potential buyers and/or tenants, refer to this website for the latest versions of these documents.
To highlight the importance of this and as a reminder of some of our rules, below are excerpts from the “Homeowners’ Booklet Rights and Responsibilities” which may be found on this website under the tab “Rules and Policies”:
As per section 5:
“We are a residential estate and as such we do not allow any business activities that require public access.”
As per section 8:
“each homeowner must advise the Association in writing when there is a change in the occupier of their property or a portion of their property. The Security Officer will only grant visitors’ access to the Estate once he has obtained clearance from the relevant owner or resident.”
“The occupiers of properties are liable for the conduct of their visitors, contractors and employees, and must ensure that such persons adhere to the regulations of the Estate. Occupiers should provide visitors who are staying on the property for an extended period of time with a copy of the Estate Regulations”.
“8.1 Short Term Letting
Homeowners and residents are not entitled to let “rooms by the night” (i.e., B & B or short-term self-catering operations). However residents may let or swop their properties whilst they are on vacation and not resident on the estate on two separate occasions in the year (such as Christmas and Easter) for a minimum period of 2 weeks on each occasion.
8.2 Long Term Letting
Those wishing to sublet rooms or portions of properties in the longer term (periods longer than 2 months) should make such requests in writing to the Board of Trustees. Before granting approval, the Board will consider each case in the light of its potential impact on the Estate community as a whole. Where the Board grants such approval it will be personal to the owner to whom it was granted and will not attach to the land.”
Selling / Letting
As per section 9:
“No owner shall let or otherwise part with occupation of their property—whether temporarily or permanently—unless they have obtained a written undertaking from the proposed occupier of the property that they will meet their obligations as described in this Booklet and laid out in the HOA Constitution. The Owner must provide the Occupier with a copy of the most recent editions of the HOA Constitution and this Homeowners’ Booklet: Rights and Responsibilities. Any Estate Agent acting on behalf of a Homeowner is expected to advise prospective purchasers of their obligations as described in this Homeowners’ Booklet and the HOA Constitution, and to give them copies of same.”
“The owner selling the property shall ensure that the written sales agreement contains the following clause:
“The purchasers acknowledge that they are required, upon registration of the property in their name, to become members of the Homeowners’ Association and to meet their obligations as members as laid out in the HOA Constitution and the Homeowners’ Booklet: Rights and Responsibilities.”
No owner may transfer ownership of his or her property without a clearance certificate issued on behalf of the Trustees certifying that the owner is not indebted to the Association in any way.”