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  • The Best New Policy Selected by the Citizens of Seoul

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    ‘One Hundred Seeds of Hope (Policy)”: Citizens’ Evaluation Results Announced

    The results of a survey of the public’s response to the ‘One Hundred Seeds of Hope’ policies implemented during the first 100 days of government led by Park Won Soon, the 35th mayor of the city, have been released by the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

    The ‘seed of hope’ to receive the most applause from Seoul’s citizens was the ‘eased enforcement of parking regulations in front of Mom and Pop diners during lunch breaks’ (939 votes), followed by the ‘payment guarantee for subcontractors’ work on construction projects awarded by the Government’(823 votes), the ‘development and deployment of mini fire engines exclusive to alleys in Seoul for the first time in Korea’(744 votes), the ‘arrival of the (life- and safety-rescue) team 119 on site within five minutes’ (740 votes), and the ‘implementation of a “half-price tuition fee” plan at the University of Seoul’(393 votes).

    The survey was conducted online between January 31 and February 3 with the participation of 3,201 citizens, eliciting 20,533 individual expressions of preferences.

    Judging from the survey results, it is obvious that Seoul’s citizens are paying attention to all policies that are closely related to their safety and economy.

    No. 1 ‘Eased Enforcement of Parking Regulations in front of Mom and Pop Diners during Lunch Breaks’

    Starting from November 2011, the City Government eased the enforcement of parking regulations in front of small restaurants along roads with fewer than six lanes during lunch-break hours (11:30~14:00). It would appear that citizens showed the most enthusiastic response to this policy change because they agree whole heartedly with this special concession the city government has made towards self-employed Moms and Pops who run diners.

    For instance, Mr. Kim, who runs a diner in Dongdaemun, said that his eatery had actually seen an increase in revenue thanks to the relaxation of parking regulations during lunch breaks.

    The second most popular policy was the ‘establishment of a system to guarantee payments to subcontractors working on construction projects awarded by the city.’ People who had previously experienced pay delays at construction sites seem to have given this policy a high rating.

    The next most popular policies were the ‘development and deployment of mini fire engines exclusive to alleys in Seoul for the first time in Korea’ and the ‘arrival of life and safety rescue team 119 on site within five minutes.’ The results mirror citizens’ hopes of avoiding fires and accidents in their daily lives and seeing a rescue team arrive quickly when needed.

    The ‘implementation of a “half-price tuition fee” plan at the University of Seoul’ was hot news for some time as it was the first bold move in Korea to cut back on college tuition fees, a source of financial agony for many students and their parents. The policy is now having an impact on other schools throughout the country.

    Other popular policies figuring outside the top five included the (1) expansion of a free environmentally-friendly school lunch policy to the first year of middle school(323 votes); (2) designation of 1,910 outdoor city parks as smoke-free environments (306 votes); (3) implementation of a ‘one-strike-and-you’re-out’ (immediate discharge) policy for administrators of facilities for the disabled(300 votes); (4) alleviation of the childcare burden with the establishment of national/public child day care centers at the rate of one childcare place for every two apartment buildings(286 votes); and (5) billing actual local tax amounts due, excluding tax refunds not claimed by citizens(285 votes).

    A Total of 72 Policy Ideas Received

     ‘Imagination Oasis’ Overflowing with Ten Million Citizens’ Opinions Concurrently with the survey, the city government held an online policy idea contest. Of the seventy-two ideas proposed, fifteen concerned women’s issues, welfare and health(20.8%); fourteen concerned transport and safety(19.4%); ten addressed citizen participation(13.9%); ten related to housing and the environment(13.9%); eight concerned education and culture(11.1%); seven focused on the economy(9.7%); and eight touched on other topics.

    Of the ideas submitted, the one which received the most ‘recommendation’ clicks online was ‘the installation of a warning panel about bus speeds’ (ID: bartlet7). Within the city’s boundary, the speed limit is generally 60km per hour. However, bus passengers often get upset about speeding or reckless driving on the part of the bus driver. The idea here is to install a warning panel in front of a bus driver which signals ‘appropriate,’ ‘fast’ or ‘speeding’ depending on the bus’s speed at any given time. A verbal announcement could be a good substitute, and the three-stage signals could be conveyed either as texts or symbols. Whichever method is chosen, the idea is to give bus drivers a warning in advance.

    The next most popular idea was ‘a solution to increased transport fares’ (ID: keoload). The Metropolitan Subway in Seoul is said to be one of the four most well-organized underground transport systems in the world. The proposed idea is to change the mission of bus transport in town by having it focus on routes that are not covered by the subway, like the system used in Japan. In that way Seoul could reduce its bus traffic while boosting its subway operation. The bottom line is that bus companies could expect to reduce or eliminate their accumulated operating losses by concentrating their bus operations. A reduced bus service in central Seoul would help ease traffic congestion in the city. Due to an increased occupancy rate in its cars, the subway could finally improve its financial status.

    As some of the survey respondents expressed useful opinions in their comments on the “100 seeds of hope” policies, the city will do its best to reflect them in its future policy implementation. Meanwhile, the new policy ideas kindly submitted by citizens on a different occasion will be carefully reviewed and considered for implementation. The details of the seeds of hope policies, the online citizen evaluation, and the resulting policy ideas will be compiled in an e-book and posted on the city website, http://ebook.seoul.go.kr.