Privatization of public spaces and its impact on the socio-political and spatial landscapes of the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCCID).
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Globalization and its antecedent neoliberalism have brought untold competition amongst global cities. As cities strive to bid for the highest order in terms of maintaining and attracting both local and foreign investments as well as tourists, it is imperative to build socially cohesive, environmentally friendly and economically competitive cities as these attributes have become key essential. However, not every city has the financial means to undertake such obligations so they often resort to the formation of public-private partnerships, a phenomenon often termed as Business Improvement Districts, for the attainment of such goals. More often than not the concept of Business Improvement Districts has been criticized for weakening the publicness of public spaces as they restrict social interaction, constrain individual liberties and exclude undesirable populations through the use of spatially controlled measures such as surveillance policing, law techniques and design measures that 'code' spaces as private. On the contrary, the concept has been commended for regenerating or rejuvenating public spaces, which have mostly fallen victim to crime and grime, hence improving the publicness of contemporary public spaces. Using a qualitative research methodology, the study empirically sought to identify the factors which contribute to privatization of public spaces. Moreover, the objective of the study was to identify the characteristics of privatized public spaces and their implications on socio-political and spatial landscapes. To accomplish the stated objectives, the study examined 11 public spaces within the City of Cape Town’s City Improvement Districts, through observation methods that were guided by Németh’s index scoring sheet, and an interview schedule to solicit information. Also, relevant literatures were reviewed on the topic to accomplish the stated objectives. Findings were that the Cape Town City improvement District is a public private partnership which often employs measures such as laws, rules, surveillance, policing, accessibility, territoriality, design and image to encourage or discourage freedom of usage. Recommendations were presented to urban planners, architects, policy makers, and other stakeholders who are interested in management and provision of public spaces.