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.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
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.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
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
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator
Swedish Member of Parliament Hampus Hagman is pushing for changing the name of the nation’s trade office in Taipei to signal improved relations with “Asia’s perhaps foremost democracy.” Hagman on Wednesday last week proposed renaming the Swedish Trade and Invest Council to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei,” following similar changes by other nations. The Swedish Trade and Invest Council, part of Business Sweden, is owned by the Swedish government and Swedish industry. Taiwan and Sweden share important values such as respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, Hagman said in the motion, adding that the two nations
PENGHU INSPECTION: Taiwan cannot let its enemies strut around in its airspace, Tsai said, one day after a Chinese spokesman denied a median line exists in the Taiwan Strait Following China’s assertion on Monday that there is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend the nation’s airspace during a visit to an air force base in Penghu, saying that Taiwan cannot allow others to flex their military muscle in its territorial airspace. Tsai praised the “heroic performance” of the pilots of the Indigenous Defense Fighters who have been intercepting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes in recent days. “I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China [ROC], how could we let enemies strut