On December 26th 2013, Xiamen Planning Department director Zhao Yanjing held a press conference to discuss the public participation initiatives that the planning department would carry out in the city’s future planning projects.
Reporter: The recent Yuandang Lake Pedestrian Path project and the park bench donation program have attracted significant attention from the citizens. Will the planning department use this model next year and open more channels for civic participation?
Zhao: One of the highlights in this year’s city planning is the wide-ranging public participation. We sent the “Beautiful Xiamen Planning Initiative” brochures to tens of thousands of families, as well as using the media to reach the communities. It is the first time that we communicated with the citizens face-to-face and started the public furniture donation. At first we worried whether the citizens would accept these programs. To our surprise, the benches were adopted in a very short time.
Next year we will create more opportunities for civic participation, including public infrastructure and community development projects, such as the bike renting system, and the slow traffic system. We will also utilize some new interaction pathways, such as the Internet, workshops, and the media.
Reporter: Redeveloping the Xiamen Old Town is one of the major strategies of the “Beautiful Xiamen Planning Initiative.” How will the planning department deal with the issues associated with declining public services and loss of historic buildings?
Zhao: Redeveloping a large area in the Old Town can destroy characteristics of Xiamen. The really good cities are like bottles of wine, which took time to make. We are very cautious in terms of demolishing the old neighborhoods, since they are unreplicable and nonrenewable. For example, we did not close the family hotels in an old neighborhood even though they started without formal licenses. They have become part of the neighborhood’s texture, and we change the regulation to fit the practical needs.
Do you know about any other civic participation programs in Chinese cities?
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.
The original article, published in Chinese, can be found here.