Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday dismissed allegations that the city government would halt all urban renewal projects and insisted that the city administration would continue to promote urban redevelopment to make Taipei a more suitable city to live in.
Discussions about the future of Taipei’s urban renewal projects began after Hau acknowledged the city government’s flawed handling of the Wenlin Yuan project in the city’s Shilin District (士林) in which the city razed two homes owned by a family surnamed Wang (王) last month.
Hau pledged to discuss possible revisions to urban renewal regulations with the Ministry of the Interior.
Taipei City’s Urban Redevelopment Office said last week that it would halt the scheduled demolition of houses in two other urban renewal projects — on Wuhsin Street and near Yongchun MRT Station — that involved landowners who were unwilling to move, until the city government and the ministry completed their discussions on the legal aspects of urban renewal projects.
“We are not suspending all urban renewal projects in Taipei. Right now we have only halted the demolition work in two projects because some landowners have refused to take part in the projects. The city government’s stance to promote urban redevelopment is unchanged,” Hau said.
According to the office, buildings that were constructed more than 30 years ago account for 38 percent of all houses in Taipei City.
Hau said it was necessary to resolve problems of the poor fire and earthquake-resistant qualities of the old buildings and improve the city’s overall aesthetics through urban renewal projects.
Protests against Hau and the city government’s demolition of the Wang family’s homes continued yesterday as advocates of land justice and some urban design students camped at the construction site and said they would not leave until the city government and the construction firm agreed to build two new houses on the demolition site for the Wang family as compensation.
Hau yesterday said the rights of the households who agreed to the Wenlin Yuan project were also involved in the issue, and he expected the construction firm to continue negotiations with the Wang family, as the city government was only responsible for demolishing the homes to make way for an approved project, which has been delayed for almost three years because of resistance from the Wang family.
In response to some advocates’ calls for Hau to apologize to the Wangs over the forced razing of their homes, he said he would not rule out meeting with the Wangs.