The Taipei City Government yesterday issued a request to the Ministry of the Interior to seek a constitutional interpretation of the Urban Renewal Act (都市更新條例) in its latest effort to solve disputes over a controversial urban renewal project in Shilin District (士林).
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said that the question of whether the act conflicted with the Constitution was raised by the Wang (王) family, whose two stand-alone apartment blocks were torn down last month by the city government to make way for a urban renewal project, and that the city government expected the ministry to seek a constitutional interpretation to address the concern.
The city government made the move after Hau met with the family members on Tuesday to address their concerns. The Wang family had resisted moving from the homes in which they had lived for six generations, but the city government evicted the family and demolished the buildings because more than 90 percent of households in the area had agreed to move.
Critics say the forcible eviction of the family was a violation of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to property.
As Hau’s city government softened its stance and expressed its willingness to address the Wang family’s concerns, Hau yesterday also called on the construction firm to show goodwill by dropping a lawsuit against the family and supporters over tearing down the fences on the construction site, and allegedly damaging the firm’s reputation.
“I think it’s a good thing that the case attracted a wide range of discussions on urban renewal, and we hope the construction firm and the Wang family can sit down and solve the problems,” he said.
While Hau promised to help the Wang family address the concerns, a group of landowners who agreed with the project yesterday urged the city government and the -construction firm to fulfill their promises to complete the new 15-story apartment complex in two years.
“Hau Lung-bin said he was pained by the process. We feel more pain than him because we have been waiting for a new home for three years now,” a local landowner surnamed Lin (林) said.
Hau yesterday said the only responsibility of the city government was to demolish the buildings on behalf of the construction firm to facilitate the project and that the construction firm was obligated to address issues regarding the construction of the new apartment building.
“It is inappropriate for the city government to serve as a mediator for negotiations between the construction firm and the Wang family,” he said, adding that a non-profit organization should be found to handle the negotiations.