The Taipei City Government has set up an independent advisory panel to review urban renewal regulations and mechanisms, with its findings and recommendations to be presented to the Ministry of the Interior in one month, the city said yesterday.
The move by the city government comes amid a controversy surrounding the Wenlin Yuan urban renewal project in Taipei’s Shilin District (士林).
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said the advisory team had been established to examine the legal aspects of urban renewal policies and regulations, while looking for ways to make the current mechanism more comprehensive and avoid future controversies over urban renewal projects.
“There are more disputes related to urban renewal projects in Taipei than any other city in Taiwan and we don’t want the dispute over the Wenlin Yuan project to have a negative impact on other projects or slow down the redevelopment of the city,” Hau said at Taipei City Hall.
The advisory team, which includes six academics and experts, will operate independently from the city’s urban renewal board and Hau said city officials would take the panel’s suggestions to heart.
Panel member Chang Chin-oh (張金鶚), a land economics professor at National Chengchi University, yesterday emphasized the independence of the advisory panel and said that it would focus its examination on ongoing renewal projects as well as push for legal revisions, including amendments to the Urban Renewal Act (都市更新條例).
“We worry that the dispute over the Wenlin Yuan project could stall other urban renewal projects and therefore we need to learn the lessons from this project, review current regulations and move forward. The advisory team was not set up to endorse the city government and we will offer our suggestions based on our professional judgement,” he said.
Disputes over the Wenlin Yuan project escalated last week after the city government forcefully evicted a family surnamed Wang (王) and demolished their two homes to make way for the project, which will turn 38 old houses into a 15-story apartment complex.
The Wangs were the only family who had refused to take part in the urban renewal project. However, the law stipulates that as long as a construction firm has obtained the consent of 75 percent of the property owners on a site, it can ask the government to demolish the rest of the buildings without the consent of the remaining owners.
Chang yesterday declined to comment on the city government’s decision to proceed with the demolition and said the matter would be discussed when the panel holds its first meeting.
The other academics and experts on the panel are Chin Chia-ho (金家禾), a real-estate professor at National Taipei University; Lin Chien-yuan (林建元), a professor at National Taiwan University’s Graduate Institute of Building and Planning; Ho Fang-tzu (何芳子), from the department of architecture and urban design at Chinese Culture University; Tsai Chih-yang (蔡志揚), a real-estate attorney; and Chen Yu-lin (陳玉霖), former director of the Taipei Real Estate Asset Evaluation Association.