The Yau Tsim Mong District Council has voted to shut down the pedestrian zone at Mong Kok’s Sai Yeung Choi Street South.
The motion was proposed by Chan Siu-tong, Francis Chong, Wong Kin-san and Wong Shu-ming from the pro-Beijing party Business and Professionals Alliance (BPA) for Hong Kong. It was passed at the Yau Tsim Mong District Council meeting on Thursday with 15 in favour of the motion, one against and one abstaining.
Motions at district councils are non-binding. Transport Department engineer Wong Wing-hing said the government will discuss the recommendation and will report back to the district council in July after completing a new study on pedestrian and traffic flow.
The councillors said that, since the implementation of the pedestrian zone in 2000, they have received countless noise complaints.
At the meeting, district councillor Chan Siu-tong said he was “deceived” by the Transport Department’s plans when they were presented to him in 2000. “As one of those who supported the proposal back then, I feel I need to apologise to all those who, because of the plan, had to put up with pain, noise, and obstructions on the road for the past 18 years.”
The Civic Party’s Andy Yu said that, rather than closing down the pedestrian zone, the solution may lie with licensing and proper management instead.
However, Chan said the government should implement the decision before conducting further studies on the matter.
Pro-democracy group Community March – which petitioned outside the government offices – said they interviewed 126 residents who lived in the area and around half expressed reservations towards shutting down the zone. The residents believed that the noise problem was a result of the police failing to properly enforce the law, the group said.
The street was first designated as a pedestrian zone in August 2000 to ease traffic during rush hour. Vehicles were banned from the street from 4pm to 10pm from Monday to Saturday, and from noon to 10pm on public holidays.
It soon became a popular open space that attracted scores of buskers, performers and photographers, but many residents complained about the noise.
In 2013, the district council voted to open the street to traffic on weekdays. Since early 2014, the pedestrian zone has been restricted to weekends and public holidays.