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December 2, 2010

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Home » Metro » Entertainment and Culture

City closes businesses in historic complex

ALMOST 80 illegal shops and other businesses in historic residential buildings in a Jing'an District community were told yesterday to close or face fines and have their possessions removed.

Jubilant elderly residents of the 70-year-old Jing'an Villas complex on Nanjing Road W. gathered in the narrow streets to watch officials deliver letters to businesses.

Residents had claimed the shops were disturbing their lives through noise and pollution and feared the area was being developed into a commercial zone by stealth.

The 79 illegal businesses - including restaurants, cafes and theaters - were warned to shut up shop or their owners would be fined between 10,000 (US$1,500) and 50,000 yuan and have their stock and fittings removed by law enforcement teams.

The warning letters were issued by police and more than 30 officials from the city's food and drug department, the industry and commerce administration, the urban management team and the district housing department.

Advertising boards along the streets were carried away by officials, while some restaurants and cafes immediately closed their black iron doors, pretending not to be open for business.

According to housing officials, the shop owners violated the Residential Property Management Regulations by converting residential apartments into shops without permission. They promised the owners a short period of grace to pack up and turn shops back into apartments. A deadline has not been decided.

A housing official surnamed Han told Shanghai Daily that they would conduct another spot check soon.

"Thank God that governmental officials finally heard our pleas," said a resident surnamed Cai in his 70s who lives above a restaurant, "Now I no longer have to suffer smoke from kitchens, noise and security problems."

In contrast, some shop owners were angry, claiming the crackdown was unjustified and prompted by media reports. "I've been running a dumpling shop here for 25 years but no one ever told me that my business was illegal," said the owner of a popular snack shop in the complex, "Now after media reports, they take action."

According to the director of Jing'an District Industry and Commerce Administration, surnamed Feng, the shops were inspected in the past, but officials had decided to leave them. "Many workers came to buy meals in the complex," said Feng. "Moreover, some shop owners are poor and need the businesses to support their families."

Han said the neighborhood committee has been told to offer jobs to poor shopkeepers affected by the crackdown.


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