THE MARINA DA GAMA - its origin and management of its affairs.

Three large portions of land were subdivided some 40 years ago into a little over 1300 erven to form the Marina da Gama

When the Administrator of the Cape consented to the subdivision of the land, he imposed a condition to be incorporated in the Deed of Transfer under which each erf within the Marina is held; the condition stipulates that its owner shall be a member of the Eastlake (now the Marina da Gama) Association and shall comply with its constitution. Owners of sectional title units are also bound by the condition by virtue of their being joint owners of the erf upon which their unit is built.

It is as a result of this condition that the Marina da Gama is a Home Owners Association instead of a suburb similar to others.

The constitution (a copy of which is available to all Marina residents at the Association office) sets out the aims of the Association and, in general, the mechanism for the management of Marina affairs. Briefly, it provides for the election of an Executive Committee be erven and sectional title unit owners at General Meetings, for the appointment of an Architectural Committee to regulate the design of buildings within the Marina and for the powers which may be exercised by the committees - and I suggest that all owners should read the constitution so as to find out how the affairs of the Association are organised and how they can become involved - whether as a committee member and/or in ensuring that buildings are maintained or the maintenance of public open space lawns and gardens or waterways or in the many other aspects of Marina.

Planning and building requirements which affect property owners at Marina da Gama
Questions are often asked about the relationship between an Owners' Association Design Manual requirements and the local authority planning and national building regulations.

The requirements of the National Building Regulations (NBR) apply throughout the whole of the country and are mandatory. The local authority planning requirements, in our case the City of Cape Town, relate to the overall planning requirements, taken from national requirements of Spatial Planning and Land Use Management. The City of Cape Town Municipal Planning By Law (MPBL) includes a Development Management Scheme (DMS) which includes spatial planning, the zoning of land and the use of land.

The Marina da Gama Association is unique in Cape Town in that it is the only Owners Association which has its own Overlay Zone LAO/08 which requires the MDGA to comment on planning applications specifically for that zone. Marina specific use rights are reflected in other LAOs.

The requirements of the Marina da Gama Association, in terms of the Design Manual as part of the association's constitution, are a binding contract between the property owner and the MDGA of which the property owner is automatically a member. This is common for most Owners Associations.

Plans are required to be submitted to the MDGA for approval in terms of the Design Manual and comment in terms of the Overlay Zone. They are then submitted to the council for approval in terms of the National Building Regulations and the Municipal Planning By Law. When this is complete they are stamped and returned to the applicant.

Where does the authority of the MDGA approval process lay in this? The City has stated that the Design Manual Requirements are a private contract between the MDGA and it's members and as such we have the right, regardless of any approval given by the council, to apply to the courts to interdict against the building of works that are not in compliance with the Design Manual. The courts have supported the MDGA and other Owners Associations in recent cases. The costs are high and could exceed the cost of the proposed works. The details of the recovery of costs in such cases are as detailed in our constitution.

The Marina Design Manual Requirements are not excessively restrictive and provide for the continuation of the standards of design that made most members want to buy here. Should there be specific and acceptable reasons for non conformity with the Design Manual, an appeal against the decisions of Arch com to Excom is included in the constitution and waivers may be granted.

In a recent survey the vast majority of respondents supported the enforcement of the Design Manual. By complying with our constitution and the Design Manual the value of the property in the area will continue to increase in terms of finance, aesthetics and on a sound architectural basis to the mutual benefit of all members.

Bob Craske

Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.