Majority of voters favor compensation deal

By Sun Yuqing (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-06-11 06:40

The results of the vote on Jiuxianqiao Sub-District's housing demolition and compensation policy are in: 2,451 families voted to accept the compensation they had been offered to leave their homes to make way for a rehabilitation project, while 1,228 voted against.

Votes from 32 families from this sub-district in Beijing's Chaoyang District were invalid. Sixty-seven percent of the 5,473 families living in the sub-district cast votes on Saturday.

Voting ended at 9 pm, when the seven ballot boxes were sealed and signed by notary officials. Police carried the sealed boxes to a gymnasium, where the votes were counted under the supervision of residents' representatives and notary officials.

Several media representatives were on hand to document the proceedings.

"The voting proceeded normally, and the result was correct," Ba Changrui, deputy-head of the Jiuxianqiao Sub-District Office, said after the notarized results were announced.

It is unknown when the demolition will start, or whether it will take place at all.

The developer slated to rehabilitate the sub-district will work with the local government to further amend the demolition and compensation plan.

A middle-aged woman who declined to give her name said she hoped the project would begin as early as possible.

"We can't bear to live in these shabby houses any longer. We have to share a toilet, and it's a dirty and hard life. I'm old, and I want to move into a new house before I die," said the woman.

Opponents of the project said they had not been offered enough compensation and that they wanted the developer to cough up more money.

Some residents said the ballots were confusing. One middle-aged man complained that the real purpose of the vote was to get people to agree to demolish the buildings according to the current compensation policy, rather than to ask whether they wanted to demolish them at all. He said some older people might have voted in favor of the policy without knowing what they were voting for.

The renewal project covers an area of 420,000 sq m and will affect 5,473 families living in buildings built in the 1950s. The buildings are known as tongzilou in Chinese because of their tube-shaped structure. Residents of tongzilou must share toilets and kitchens with other families.

The project will be the largest reconstruction project of its kind in Beijing. The old-style buildings are considered dangerous because they are rundown, and maintaining them has become a challenge for the municipal government.

In 2003, Beijing Electronics Holding and Sunshine Real Estate Co Ltd, the project's developer, drew up a plan to build high-end residential buildings in Jiuxianqiao by the end of next year. However, the residents refused to move.

Ba has overseen the housing renewal project since early this year. Under his leadership, residents' representatives and the real estate company met more than 20 times to negotiate, but reached no agreement.

The developer and local government finally decided to let the residents vote.

Ba said the local government would discuss the issue again when the vote had been tallied and could delay the project if opposition proved strong.

(China Daily 06/11/2007 page3)

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