The Wangs vs. developers saga

This is a very interesting landmark case that deserves a thread of its own… if it doesn’t have one aolready. It has been mentioned several times before and there are some intersting updates. Since whatever happens there affects me -as a tenant of a place that is also under the wrecking ball- I would like to hear the opinions of cool headed fellow Forumosans on this matter.

Yeah, I really can’t get my head around this case as the level of reporting is just not sufficient. While I think the overall case highlights that the laws favor developers over citizens, and that the city is not going to be improved by what is happening but only made more unaffordable (and will be just as ugly in a few years), I do not think the 75% threshhold is some kind of human rights violation when compensation is so generous.

This is not like the issue of farmers losing their land to bogus “science parks” and getting a tiny amount of money in compensation.[/quote]

It was more like 95% in agreement, although the project could have gone ahead without including the Wang property (as they lived in two separate houses) - that however would have reduced the developer’s profit margin.

Tsai was talking about public urban renewal schemes (公辦都更) before the election that would only need agreement from 2 in 3, or even 1 in 2 residents. I support this policy- redevelopment would have to be in the public industry (it could include a certain number of affordable units or social housing units, more public space etc). But you would still have the problem of people who are unwilling to move.[/quote]

There is nothing wrong with a threshold but individual rights must be better protected and as you say the public interest has to be at the heart of this. And it is most definitely not. the Wang’s had a house that was more than 100 years old. It was obviously functional and should have been preserved. Urban regeneration in the west is often about redesigning neighborhoods using the original style and foundations: such as turning industrial areas in hipster urban neighborhoods. More public space should also be required but as I wrote above it only is on paper; in reality it gets eaten up by more apartments.

So whether the Wangs were in the wrong in some sense, this was purely about making money and building generic high rises. There was no public good served by it at all. I think we probably agree on that.

As for your point about the value of these new highrises, do you really think they have the value they do? These generic cheaply built tower blocks are worth NT50-70 million a unit? It’s hype. They are valued because investors think they will continue to rise in value and not because they are better made or better managed.[/quote]

Update from Taipei Times:

[quote]Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday said he would consider meeting with residents who are in support of the stalled Wenlin Yuan urban renewal project in Taipei’s Shilin District (士林), amid threats from the group that it would launch a protest against the city government’s poor handling of the development.

Construction on the project’s apartments has been stalled since the city government forcefully dismantled two apartments owned by a family surnamed Wang (王) in March, sparking an ongoing protest from the family and anti-urban renewal activists.

Amid the deadlock, the 36 households who agreed to cooperate with the project yesterday urged Hau and the city government to step up efforts to resolve the dispute, threatening to launch a protest if they failed to do so.

The protest plans come in the wake of the death of the younger brother of Hsieh Chun-chiao (謝春嬌), director of a self-help association organized by households that agreed with the project. She said her brother, who died last week of kidney failure, had been waiting to live in his new home for the past three years and the city government has not done enough to solve the fighting over the project.

[/quote]

Could be quite a sparse thread. We need a ‘tumbleweed’ smiley :cactus: .

To be honest, I think most of the (fact-based) comments have been made already in other threads. The rest would just be wild speculation. The only thing I find interesting about this case is that there is such an animal as an “anti-urban renewal activist”. I wonder if that’s how they describe themselves, or if it’s the “look at these Luddites!” label that’s been pasted on them by the media? I mean, it’s hard to see how someone can be anti-renewal, if you take renewal to mean what it says in the dictionary. I suppose what they’re actually against is the kind of renewal that simply involves allowing property developers to make a godawful mess while constructing buildings and communities that are (technically speaking) almost identical to the ones they replace. This phenomenon is hardly unique to Taiwan though - similar stuff happens in Europe.

What sort of opinions are you looking for?

Just something to shed some light on what is really going on -or at least, better speculation, as the end game is Heaven knows what- and maybe some hypothesis as to how this will affect future renewal projects of a similar kind. In our case, this happening stopped our development cold.

Another interesting case, but more complicated, is what is happening on Renai, where an old community built on ground that belongs to the State -being NTU or I think the Ministry of Defense is alos involved there- is also under the ax. This also has its own group of activists fighting to keep the old homes.

I think its interesting to see what a goddamn mess the whole process has become. I’ve heard the regulations are changing so that you need a 100% of peoples agreement now, this will create it’s own set of problems. I think the redevelopment should proceed on a building to building basis, what happened here was a developer taking control of an entire block, I can’t agree with that personally, it infringes too much on individual property rights. There is far too much of this thing going on all over the country whereby local officials and developers collaborate at the expense of the environment and local property owners. It’s really no different than how Communist party officials have gained most of their wealth in the PRC.
Another interesting thing is the lack of listed structures and planned zones.
Taiwan badly needs urban renewal projects but they need to be done right.

[quote=“headhonchoII”]I think its interesting to see what a goddamn mess the whole process has become. I’ve heard the regulations are changing so that you need a 100% of peoples agreement now, this will create it’s own set of problems. I think the redevelopment should proceed on a building to building basis, what happened here was a developer taking control of an entire block, I can’t agree with that personally, it infringes too much on individual property rights. There is far too much of this thing going on all over the country whereby local officials and developers collaborate at the expense of the environment and local property owners. [color=#FF0000]It’s really no different than how Communist party officials have gained most of their wealth in the PRC[/color].Another interesting thing is the lack of listed structures and planned zones.
Taiwan badly needs urban renewal projects but they need to be done right.[/quote]

Bingo. Monkey see, monkey do. Lack of original thinking, I’m telling ya.

100%? That’s what it was and the new regulations were meant to address the impossibility of projects getting approved.

Back to the drawing board.

Yes 100%, it just seems impossible for Taiwan to make any change without getting bogged down these days in graft and incompetence.

On a related note, the Taipei Times has a two part report on the Huaguang Community saga:
taipeitimes.com/News/feat/ar … 03566212/1

Very scary, indeed, that the mess of land ownership has come to a face off due to greed. The big consortiums will make millions, the poor people get bulldozed over. Same as everywhere, as has been before and will be again.

It seems incredible that they did not find homes for the former long-term residents, some of whom are even mainlander families who moved over here with the KMT administration. Again the lack of civil society here shows it’s face.

This does illustrate how difficult it can be to implement an urban redevelopment system that is not perverted by the government and developer kleptocracy.

What puzzles me is the lack of continuity: I know quite a few ex civil servants who were assigned homes, have eventually sold such properties that could be assumed were State owned, and became richer. But these people have been fined with back “rent”. I do not understand, there should be some story missing why in once case it is different and another it is not.

There is a similar case in Xindian, the 4 Chang’s neighborhood and also uphill in Wulai. Same story: old WWII veterans or retired civil servants, some have papers (??!!) some don’t. Property is hot now. Big trouble ensues.

How did they do it in, let’s say, Da’an Park or Treasure Hill?

[quote=“headhonchoII”]It seems incredible that they did not find homes for the former long-term residents, some of whom are even mainlander families who moved over here with the KMT administration. Again the lack of civil society here shows it’s face.

This does illustrate how difficult it can be to implement an urban redevelopment system that is not perverted by the government and developer kleptocracy.[/quote]

The city government originally said they’d provide low-cost public housing for any residents who needed it. I don’t know whether they followed through with that though.