Protecting the rights of landowners should be one of the central focuses of an upcoming overhaul of the Urban Renewal Act (都市更新條例), a move prompted by the controversy surrounding the recent forced demolition of two homes in Taipei, lawyer Tsai Chih-yang (蔡志揚) said yesterday.
Developers had “too much influence” during the drafting of earlier amendments to the law and this time revisions should focus on the rights of landowners, individuals and the government, Tsai said during a hearing held by a group of Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers.
Lawmakers were partly to blame for passing a law that was so flawed and did not include any clauses favorable to landowners, he said.
Tsai is a member of an advisory group set up earlier this week by the Taipei City Government to provide professional guidance on how the city should undertake future urban renewal projects.
The group was established in the wake of the eviction of the Wang family in the city’s Shilin District (士林) last month to clear the way for a new residential -complex, which critics have said was a violation of the family’s property rights.
The Ministry of the Interior has promised to propose a draft amendment to the Urban Renewal Act within three months to address its shortcomings.
Coalition for the Victims of Urban Renewal leader Peng Lung-san (彭龍三) said the term “public interest,” which appears in Article 1 of the law, should be clearly defined and used to refer to public infrastructure.
There should be a mechanism that allows landowners to opt out of urban renewal projects when their property is not considered hazardous and the project in question does not involve public infrastructure, he said.
Urban Renewal Division head Chen Hsing-lung (陳興隆) said that the Construction and Planning Agency had so far come up with more than 20 proposed revisions to strengthen the protection of landowners’ rights.
Three public hearings will be held in the coming weeks to allow all sectors of society to express their opinions, he added.