As concerns remain on the state of buildings after last week's 5.8-magnitude earthquake in Istanbul, the government is set to launch a reinforcement regulation for thousands of buildings. The government will present a new regulation to the Parliament soon to enable reinforcement of buildings in the city's Avcılar, Bakırköy and Kartal districts. The regulation is expected to cut red tape over reinforcements which cannot be done due to incompatibility with zoning plans.
Vedad Gürgen, head of the Infrastructure and Urban Transformation Department of the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning, says the new regulation will give an opportunity to citizens to improve their buildings for sustainability against the damage of a disaster and will clear hurdles on the issue. "This is a way to fix what we call ‘sick' buildings. We will remove conditions for reinforcement under zoning plans. Our priority is saving buildings that may suffer from damage in an earthquake," he said.
Under the current legal procedures, reinforcement involves a thorough reparation of a building which in turn, requires a separate license. Gürgen says building owners faced regulatory hurdles for reinforcement under the current laws. "You have a six-story building that has everything ready, but when you apply for a license from the municipality, it can be rejected as changed zoning plans means only four-story buildings are allowed in that particular area and you have to trim two extra floors," he said. Gürgen said the regulations will still be tight and under the supervision of companies and agencies tasked with inspecting buildings. "You still won't be able to do it on your own terms. Eligible companies and universities will draft reinforcement projects and license will only be issued after thorough inspection," Gürgen said. Those who illegally built extra floors and built residences in illegally owned plots will be exempt from reinforcement and instead, they will be demolished. The government also partially covers loans building owners will receive from banks for reinforcement projects.