Taipei scores a victory against illegal buildings

Taipei scores a victory against illegal buildings

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Since improvements have been made to the 226 illegal structures on the Taipei City Government's "blacklist," an enforced teardown scheduled to begin today has been cancelled.

As of yesterday afternoon, "improvements" have been made to all the structures that previously posed a hazard to public safety, said the Taipei City's Construction Management Office yesterday.

The demolition was called off after government officials inspected and affirmed the safety of the buildings.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je in January ordered that 226 buildings with three units or more home additions on the top floor be "improved" by March 20.

It is common practice that landlords segregate apartments into smaller units for rental. However, too many units with independent bathrooms can threaten the safety of tenants.

Dubbed the "226 Service Project" by the government, owners of the properties are required to cut down the number of apartment units. In some cases, by simply turning a property of three rooms into one with two rooms, landlords can stave off government demolition.

However, when the deadline arrived, there were still eight properties that failed to meet the requirement. Taipei City had planned to enforce the demolition today.

In a sign of compliance, owners of those eight properties gave in and modified their properties over the weekend and then invited government officials to re-examine their properties.

I won't budge on this issue: Ko

As of noon yesterday, layouts of four of the illegal buildings remained unchanged: two on Linsen North Road, Zhongshan District, one on Yucheng St., Nangang District and another on Fuyang St., Daan District.

The Taipei City Construction Management Office said that after 5:30 p.m. all four buildings had passed the test.

A Linsen North Road building was purchased 40-50 years ago, according to its owner. It was once a hotel and therefore contained many rooms. However, the dividers have been torn down to comply with the regulations, he said, adding that he had no option but to absorb the losses.

When attending the 2015 Tour de Taiwan yesterday morning, Mayor Ko was asked for his views on the demolitions. Ko said bluntly the teardown would be carried out as planned.

Asked about a potential backlash, the mayor replied, "there is no way out of this. The government still needs to implement its mandate. We'll tear them down if we have to."

Taipei Government to Target More Properties

A couple of days ago Ko was reportedly fuming over an "expanding" illegal structure at the GTK Country Club in Beitou District. Ko has instructed the government to look into the matter. Now that officials are wrapping up top-floor cases, they are likely to turn their attention to the country club.

Ko had said that he would personally inspect the property after the government removed the illegal additions to the country club.

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