Sun, Feb 26, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Shida area shuts off lights in protest

LOST HOPE?As many businesses in the night market area are in apparent violation of city bylaws, some are making plans to close down their shops by the end of the month

By Jake Chung  /  Staff Writer, with CNA

Shopowners in the Shida Night Market area in Taipei light sparklers last night as they turned their lights off for 30 minutes to protest against the forced closures of stores in the area.

Photo: Tsai Wei-chi, Taipei Times

In one last endeavor to reach out to the Taipei City Government and establish dialogue over the forced closures of stores in the Shida Night Market, the Shida Shopping District Development Promotion Association and the Allied Guardians of Shida Commercial, both advocacy groups for business owners, in tandem with nearly 400 stores, launched a silent protest yesterday evening by turning their lights off for 30 minutes.

“We want fair treatment!” a group of shopowners chanted in unison amid the “lights-out” protest.

With the first wave of the city government’s notice of payment for violations given out to businesses in the area, some store owners are already making plans to close shop by the end of the month.

Because of the Shida Night Market’s location within a residential area, expansion of the night market in recent years has caused local residents to complain to the city government about the growing levels and amounts of noise, garbage and greasy smoke produced.

Many of the restaurants and clothing stores in the Shida Night Market have set up shop in alleys less than 6m across and are in violation of a Taipei City urban planning bylaw which prohibits the operation of restaurants, retail stores or service-related businesses in alleys less than 6m wide.

Many of the store owners said they are worried they would be forced to close shop because they do not meet legal requirements.

More than 400 stores in the area switched off their lights in protest, beginning at 8pm, in hopes that it would persuade the Taipei City Government to listen to their pleas and offer a channel of communication. Owners of the stores spanning Pucheng Street, Longquan Street and Shida Road Alley 39, prepared glow sticks and encouraged supporters of the Shida Night Market to take a stand with them.

A number of restaurants in the Shida Night Market area had responded to the Taipei City Government’s crackdown on stores in narrow alleys by closing for lunch on Thursday.

In a move meant to both inconvenience the public and attract its support, many restaurant owners on Thursday closed their stores at noon and put up notices that read: “Why only Shida Night Market?” and “Is it fair?”

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