Fri, Mar 24, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Taipei lifts urban renewal restriction

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

The remaining homeowner, surnamed Chang, of a building demolished in Taipei yesterday breaks down while speaking to journalists.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

The Taipei City Government on Wednesday lifted a restriction on private urban renewal projects, allowing it to tear down homes on behalf of construction firms even if 10 percent or more homeowners involved are opposed to a project.

Taipei Deputy Mayor Charles Lin (林欽榮) made the announcement at a conference with construction company executives.

The restriction had stated that the owner of a private urban renewal project could only request the city government to demolish a building on its behalf if the number of property owners opposed to the project was fewer than 10 percent of the total number involved.

Lin said the restriction had been promulgated in a fit of “panic” sparked by the controversial Wenlin Yuan urban renewal project in Shilin District (士林) in 2012 when then-Taipei mayor Hau Lung-bin’s (郝龍斌) administration tore down the home of a family opposed to the project.

Lin said that the 10 percent rule would be abolished within a month, adding that as long as the number of property owners opposing a project does not exceed one-third, the legal standard stipulated in the Urban Renewal Act (都市更新條例), project owners would be able to request the city’s help when carrying out demolitions.

The act stipulates that a developer can demolish a building after obtaining the consent of two-thirds of homeowners that together own at least 75 percent of land zoned for renewal, provided that property redistribution plans have been approved by the city government.

Residential rights advocates were up in arms after the announcement.

Yongchun Urban Renewal Project Self-help Group convener Liu Te-fen (劉德玢) said that easing the rules would only sow discord and incite conflict between opponents of projects and construction firms, which he said would likely exploit the new rules to have homes forcibly demolished.

“This will surely make Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) the focus of public anger,” Liu said.

In related news, the Taipei Urban Regeneration Office yesterday proceeded with the demolition of an apartment building on Changan W Road abandoned by developer SWJ Construction Co (欣偉傑建設) earlier this month, citing “public safety concerns.”

The building sat on a plot that had been zoned for a private urban renewal project, with an owner surnamed Chang (張) being the sole opponent of the project.

SWJ Construction earlier this month knocked down the building without informing Chang, who had just left a meeting with representatives from the construction firm at the time.

Taipei Urban Regeneration Office chief engineer Chang Li-li (張立立) said the wreckage was removed in accordance with Article 58 of the Building Act (建築法), which stipulates that a local government has the authority to execute “compulsory demolition” if a building is deemed to pose risks to public safety.

The apartment building could have jeopardized the neighboring buildings in the event of an earthquake, Chang said.

The homeowner accused the city government of having adopted an “inhuman approach” for allowing his home to be torn down and not ordering SWJ Construction to make amends for the damage done to his home.

The city government behaved in an unconstitutional manner by infringing the homeowner’s residential rights, Taipei Clean Government Committee member Wang Hsiao-yu (王小玉) said.

Additional reporting by Kuo An-chia

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