Sat, Dec 13, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Ko Wen-je nominee vows city development changes

PRIVATE-PUBLIC DIVIDE:Lin Jou-min said cases like an urban renewal project in Shilin should be dealt with privately and the city government should not intervene

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Lin Jou-min (林洲民), who is to take on the role of director of the Taipei City Department of Urban Development, is critical of the current urban renewal policies and eager to make changes in the capital.

Having no previous experience of working in government, the Taipei mayor-elect Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) appointee said: “I agree with Ko Wen-je that Taipei is an ugly city, but I am confident that we can fix it bit by bit, and transform the city.”

“Some people might think Ko is thinking too far ahead when he talks about what Taipei will be in 50 years, but it does not mean that you will only see the change 50 years from now,” Lin said during an interview after his appointment was confirmed by Ko.

“We will actually let people see that there have been small changes made in the city every few months,” he said.

“I must say that making the city look beautiful is only superficial,” he added. “What is more important is to make some profound changes.”

Lin said he is eager to work and already has something planned before his inauguration in two weeks.

Lin received a master’s degree in architecture and urban design from Columbia University in New York, worked as an architect for 12 years in the city, owns his own architectural firm and has taken part in several urban design projects.

In addition, he has also won several architecture and urban design awards in Taiwan, the US and Germany.

He renounced his US citizenship to work in Ko’s city government.

“I think the urban development department is too much like a contractor, because it only passively accepts applications for privately initiated urban renewal projects and works with construction firms,” Lin said. “I think that the department should take a more active role in designing and initiating urban renewal projects to transform the city.”

He said that, once sworn in, he would distinguish between public and private urban renewal projects.

Lin said cases like the Wenlin Yuan (文林苑) urban renewal project in Shilin District (士林) — which was initiated by a construction firm and stalled due to opposition from a family living in the area — are more like private land disputes, and while the city government is legally allowed to intervene, it should refrain from doing so.

“For disputes in the private sector, the city government should just allow the parties to negotiate instead of intervening,” Lin said

Lin said he would try to talk with councilors who have complained over what they said is a slow urban renewal process.

“There should not be a fight between the councilors and me, because I want to get things done and they want to get things done as well,” he said.

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