Wed, Mar 21, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Taipei softens stance in night market crackdown

FLIP-FLOP:A proposal to establish a points system for assessing businesses’ performance would only lead to more confrontations with residents, a borough chief said

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff Reporter

The Taipei City Government yesterday softened its stance on illegal businesses in Shida Night Market, saying it would only target vendors that seriously violate noise and air pollution regulations.

Businesses set up in alleys less than 6m wide, which violate a Taipei City urban planning bylaw that prohibits the operation of restaurants, retail stores or service--related businesses in small alleys, can continue to operate if they do not violate other regulations, the city government said.

“The city government will not demolish Shida Night Market. Our priority will be to deal with vendors that seriously violate regulations,” Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said at Taipei City Hall.

“The effort to form a consensus between residents and vendors will continue, and we expect the solution to serve as a model in handling similar cases at other local communities in the future,” Hau said.

Of the 356 restaurants and shops in the Shida area that violate the urban planning bylaw, more than 100 are on the city government’s blacklist because they have seriously affected the community’s living quality with the air and noise pollution they create, as well as endangering public safety. They will be the target of a government crackdown, the city government said.

Taipei Deputy Mayor Chen Hsiung-wen (陳雄文) said about 40 restaurants and bars that opened this year will also be on the priority list, as these business owners have ignored the city government’s pledge in November last year to stop further expansion of the night market.

The city government will draft regulations by next week to serve as the guiding principle for dealing with illegal vendors in the neighborhood phase by phase, he said.

Under the proposed regulations, the city government would adopt a points system to assess the vendors’ performance. Those who break noise and air pollution, social order and construction regulations will be cited for violations. The city government will then fine or demand that businesses cease operations depending on their overall score, Chen said.

“Vendors that set up stores in alleys less than 6m wide can continue to operate if they manage to follow all other regulations and receive no citations for breaking the law,” he said.

The latest announcement was seen as a change of stance for the city government, which had previously insisted on cracking down on restaurants and shops that had violated the urban planning bylaw.

The move drew criticism from some residents and vendors who questioned the city government’s flip-flop on dealing with illegal businesses in the night market.

Local borough chief Pan Wei-liang (龐維良), in a public hearing with Da-an District (大安) residents yesterday, lashed out at Hau and his administration for failing to keep a promise to clamp down on all illegal businesses in the neighborhood.

“Your administration should implement the law, but it has failed to do so, and city officials owe local residents an apology,” Pan said.

“As to the new assessment system, it will only prompt more residents to report illegal acts by local vendors and trigger confrontations [between residents and vendors],” he said.

A restaurant owner nicknamed A-Ken who shut down his eatery two weeks ago after receiving a NT$60,000 fine for violating the law, said the new measure was unfair to owners that had closed their shops because of the crackdown.

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