| 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
SMG has taken the following steps in chronological order to execute and improve the initiative:
(1) April 2008: Launch of the Policy Consulting Group for urban renewal projects.
SMG launched a policy consulting group consisting of public servants and outside experts to figure out fundamental solutions to irregularities committed by associations and conflicts arising between residents with respect to urban renewal projects for more than four decades.
(2) July 2009: Announcement of new policies based on the consulting group’s research results.
In June 2009, the consulting group delivered the results of its 14-month research to SMG. On July 1, SMG announced its new policies regarding the establishment of a transparent information disclosure system and the mandatory presentation of the individual household’s estimated share of the final costs before approval for an association can be issued.
(3) January 2010: Announcement of the Clean-up System.
SMG announced its Clean-up System in January 2010, six months after beginning to work on the development of the system (July 2009). Since the system was not yet backed by legislation, SMG focused on the introduction of the system to the public through briefing sessions and press releases. Association leaders vehemently objected to SMG’s move.
(4) July 2010: Legislation of the Clean-up System and disclosure of the individual household’s estimated share of costs before the establishment of an association is approved.
Legislation eventually resolved the objections of those with vested rights. All of the city’s 685 renewal project associations have now joined the Clean-up System.
(5) June 2011: Launch of the calculation program of the individual household’s estimated share of costs.
The estimated share of costs by the individual landowner is crucial information for his/her decision on whether to join an association or not. A reliable system needed to be established. Following a pilot program to correct any program error, SMG launched the calculation program in June 2011. A total of 146 renewal projects have used the program and disclosed information on the individual participant’s share of costs before associations were formally established.
(6) January 2012: Shift of focus to urban renewal centered on current residents instead of landowners for new and existing controversial projects.
SMG shifted the focus of its urban renewal projects and decided to protect the interests of the current residents of the areas to be redeveloped given the numerous problems associated with the previous landowner-centered development approaches, which depended on the bulldozing of the entire areas to be developed and led to the national frenzy in real estate speculation, demolition of communities, loss of livelihood by mom-and-pop store owners, simmering social conflicts, and infringement of residential tenants’ rights.
(7) May 2012: Pilot survey conducted on the future of an urban renewal project that has stalled for a long time due to conflicts over the directions of the project.
In May 2012, SMG conducted a pilot survey among residents regarding the future directions of an urban renewal project that had stalled for a long time, providing them with information on the individual household’s estimated share of costs.
On July 30, 2012, SMG had the relevant ordinance revised so that the new ordinance would contain specific methods and procedures of the abovementioned survey.
So far, the survey has been carried out for 324 urban renewal sites among approximately 74,000 citizens. Specifically, SMG formed an organization composed of residents supporting and opposing each renewal project, had the estimated project costs calculated by experts, dispatched experts to the sites to deliver precise information to residents and resolve conflicts among residents, held briefing sessions, and ran counseling booths to respond to residents’ inquiries.
| 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
SMG took the lead but encouraged various stakeholders to engage actively in the initiative.
Fully aware that stakeholder engagement is key to the success of urban renewal projects, SMG arranged for all stakeholders to participate in the design and implementation of the initiative.
The initiative has become a success due to the engagement of residents, associations, design and construction contractors, civil society, experts in the areas of urban planning, accounting, real estate assessment, and conflict resolution, and public servants of SMG and district offices of the city.
| 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
A Consulting Group consisting of public servants and experts from the academe and urban renewal business have put their heads together since they designed the Clean-up System.
To break the vicious cycle of irregularities and conflicts involved in urban renewal projects for more than 40 years, SMG determined to expand the roles of public administration through the design and implementation of a Clean-up System worked out by a consulting group joined by outside experts, among others.
Public officials took the lead in designing the Clean-up System.
Public servants of SMG and district offices of the city joined forces to organize the details of the Clean-up System and the monitoring methods at the implementation stage.
Public administration set up organizations exclusive for the verification of the estimated project costs and monitoring of information disclosure practices.
SMG as well as the city’s 25 district offices set up organizations to realize the completely transparent disclosure of information on renewal projects.
Operation by each district office of the Verification Committee, which is composed of experts in various fields, to determine the validity of the calculation of the estimated financial burden on each household prior to the official establishment of associations.
To secure the reliability of the information offered to residents, SMG has ensured that each district office sets up an organization made up of experts in renewal planning, development, assessment, and residential marketing to verify the calculation of the estimated project costs by persons wishing to set up an association.
Joint long-term commitment by residents, experts, and public servants to the entire course of actions ranging from the calculation of costs to the final decision on the direction of projects.
Residents set up a resident council that will decide on the future of a given renewal project in areas where the promotion of renewal projects is strongly contested. Public servants and experts join hands to provide the resident organization with all the necessary information including the estimated personal financial burden on the part of the participating residents.
SMG fully pays the expenses incurred for the implementation of the initiative.
SMG has paid the fees required for the setup of the Clean-up System, development of a program designed for the calculation of the estimated personal financial burden, and charges for experts’ services.
| 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
(1) Participation of all the city’s 685 associations in the initiative including a number of organizations not legally required to do so.
The participating associations include those that are not required to join the initiative or groups that vehemently opposed the implementation of the initiative at the outset. They fully disclose all of their information to the public through the support of public administration.
(2) More than 10 million citizens have visited the Clean-up System and obtained access to more than 220,000 pieces of information on it.
Since the system launch in 2010, more than 10 million visitors have used over 220,000 pieces of information on the Clean-up System conveniently without going through the procedure for information disclosure application. Such has enhanced the public’s oversight of operations of the associations, boosting the transparency of the urban renewal projects.
(3) A total of 148associations have reached reasonable conclusions on whether to continue their proposed renewal projects with information on the estimated financial burden on project participants.
Through SMG’s implementation of the Clean-up System and disclosure of financial information on the individual landowner’s share of costs, a total of 148associations have reached conclusions on whether to proceed with their original plans or not; thus reducing the risk of various projects being halted halfway due to conflicts among residents.
(4) 324 renewal projects that had remained at a standstill for a long time due to disagreement among residents have reached conclusions through the service of public administration regarding the individual participant’s estimated share of costs.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government suffered from the problem of hundreds of communities being torn apart owing to conflicts and confrontations among residents over whether to proceed with urban renewal projects. The individual resident’s share of costs kept rising.
Public administration had the representatives of both camps meet, calculated the estimated financial burden per household, and held a referendum among residents. A total of 19 areas decided to apply for revocation of renewal projects, and 131 associations decided to dissolve; the rest voted to go on with their renewal plans. A number of social conflicts have been resolved through residents’ own decisions.
| 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
(1) Establishment of a regular monitoring system regarding the disclosure of information.
District offices as the primary overseer of associations monitor the associations’ performance in terms of the disclosure of information twice a month. Immediate corrective actions are demanded of associations that have failed to fulfill their obligations.
In addition, the monitoring results are posted on the Clean-up System. Residents can lodge complaints regarding their own associations’ negligence. Public administration, associations, and residents can check one another and post the results on the system 24/7.
(2) Resident engagement and implementation of verification procedures to determine the credibility of the calculation of each household’s estimated share of costs.
Those wishing to form an association and push through with a project are tempted to lower the estimated financial burden of each participating household. Thus, information on the cost estimation must undergo reviews by the Verification Committee at the relevant district office.
Public administration can calculate the estimated costs for projects for which associations have already been established. The representatives of both camps meet to review the calculation including the calculation methods. Finally, the calculation is verified by the Seoul Institute.
| 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
(1) Vehement resistance from people with vested rights at the beginning of the implementation of the initiative.
Previously, association leaders, construction companies, and many others enjoyed vested rights to renewal projects through monopolized information on renewal projects. They strongly opposed the implementation of the initiative on the grounds that such would infringe residents’ right to self-rule. They obstructed the progress of public hearings and protested against the legislative campaigns.
On the part of the public servants of district offices, they were reluctant to cooperate with SMG in both education and implementation of the initiative on the grounds that things went well for more than four decades without the initiative, and that they could not afford to take on extra workload. Such hindered the progress of the initiative remarkably.
(2) Slander and false accusations between two camps obstructed ordinary residents’ reasonable decision making.
In areas where public administration delivers information on the project cost estimation for residents to make the final decision on a given project, opposing camps hurled false accusations against each other despite the administration’s briefing sessions with them. Attempts by such residents to induce mistrust in public service have ended up obstructing residents’ rational decision making.
(3) To overcome such obstacles, public administration enhanced communication with citizens and stabilized the initiative through legislation.
Despite strong protests from some residents, SMG continued to hold briefing sessions with residents while underscoring the importance of the initiative on mass media. As a result, citizens have shown absolute support for the initiative.
Agreeing to the necessity of making improvements in the process of urban renewal projects as per the proposal of SMG, the National Assembly amended the relevant law on Apr. 15, 2010. Other local governments in Korea are preparing to use the improvements made in Seoul as a benchmark.
(4) To stop the spread of disinformation at the source, SMG dispatched public servants and conflict experts to the sites.
SMG has set up counseling booths in areas that are agonizing over their future. It dispatched seasoned public servants and conflict experts to the booths to curb any disinformation spread among residents and ensure that both camps will not engage in any form of illegality acts.