A total of 8,658 illegal structures have been erected since Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) took office less than two years ago, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Chou Po-ya (周柏雅) said yesterday, accusing the Taipei Construction Management Office of protecting the owners of illegal structures at the expense of city residents’ safety.
Citing statistics compiled by the office as of Thursday, Chou said that 79 of the illegal structures are large ones spanning at least 200m2, including the Songshan Temple columbarium, a parking lot in the Central Pictures Corp Building on Bade Road and a billboard erected by a sports equipment company in a basketball court in Xinyi District (信義).
A city bylaw stipulates that illegal structures erected after 1994 should be deemed “new” and removed.
The city is overrun with 28,174 “new” illegal structures that cover a total floor space of 300,000 ping (991,736m2), the equivalent of three Taipei 101 skyscrapers, Chou said, calling them an “embarrassment” to Taipei.
Ko promised Chou during a council question-and-answer session in November last year that he would remove any large illegal structure by early April.
Since the mayor’s pledge to tackle illegal structures, the rate at which they are increasing has accelerated from about 300 to more than 400 new violations each month.
During a question-and-answer session with Taipei Construction Management Office Director Chen Huang-cheng (陳煌城) on Thursday, Chou asked why the office had carried out several mediation meetings for some illegal structures, but failed to take action against them.
According to the law, only one mediation session is allowed for each illegal structure before authorities mete out the necessary punishment, Chou said, accusing the office of flouting the law.
Chen said the owners of the illegal structures resorted to Taipei city councilors’ influence to prevent their property from being torn down.
Office statistics showed that an illegal structure on Bade Road registered as “citizens’ housing” has still not been dealt with after 41 mediations, and another one in Shilin District (士林), which is also listed as a home, underwent 37 mediations.
Chou said the billboard in the basketball court was reported as an illegal structure in April, adding that despite two mediations, the office has not taken any action against it.
He asked Taipei Department of Urban Development Commissioner Lin Jou-min (林洲民) when the billboard would be removed.
Lin said that the office would tear down the billboard in two weeks.
Office spokesman Horng Der-haur (洪德豪) ascribed the surge in illegal structures to the public’s growing enthusiasm for reporting illegal structures.
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