Fri, Mar 27, 2015 - Page 4 News List

Activists urge urban renewal process change

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Members of the Taiwan Alliance for Victims of Urban Renewal yesterday hold placards outside the Taipei City Government offices in protest at perceived problems with the private urban renewal process.

Photo: Chung Hung-liang, Taipei Times

Activists yesterday called on the Taipei City Government to address problems in the private urban renewal process.

Taiwan Alliance for Victims of Urban Renewal representatives said that even as the city moves to initiate high-profile, publicly directed urban renewal projects, it should not ignore privately directed urban renewal projects, which made up 90 percent of all renewal projects under the previous municipal administration.

Alliance director Peng Lung-san (彭龍三) said that city residents are denied a full voice in the current urban renewal process, with open debate banned at public hearings of the city’s urban planning commission.

He added that corporate representatives hold a majority of seats on the commission, leading to a lax interpretation of the rule concerning “volume awards” (容積獎勵) for urban renewal projects.

While the awards are meant to be used only to improve residents’ quality of life, in practice they serve mainly to generate profits for builders, he said, adding that builders are sometimes allowed to construct buildings with an area several times that of the buildings they replace.

Peng said that such awards hurt residents’ quality of life by increasing population density and leading to safety hazards.

The alliance called for the city to open up the approval process for privately directed urban renewal projects, and to allow real debate and live streaming of hearings.

The Alliance also said that industrial representatives should be removed from the Urban Planning Commission and that volume awards should be restricted.

The alliance called on the city to stop all consideration of using eminent domain powers to force property owners to participate in urban renewal projects.

While the city has yet to begin exercising such powers, it started accepting applications from developers in 2012, he said.

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