Zoning regulations and restrictions are used by our city to control and direct the development of properties within its borders. Since Baguio City implemented the first zoning ordinance on October 1991, zoning regulations should have been religiously followed.
The public hearing and information dissemination which was held last November 11th was headed by Hon. Councilor Leandro Yangot. as one of the proponent of the revised zoning ordinance, he presented the functions and purposes of zoning in the city, specifically the dividing of the residential and commercial areas.
Land-use regulation is designed to guide future development, but many of our ‘kailians’ in Baguio do not feel the positive result of the regulation, wherein they feel that there is already an existing water crisis in the city brought about by congestion and tourism, while the city is still on the process of studying the city’s zoning ordinance.
This is a clear manifestation of a poor planning process that ultimately resulted in an ineffective comprehensive land use plan. The failed master plan shows negative effects of the ordinances, as seen in poor street plans and narrow sidewalks that cause accidents, unorganized plans for public facilities like schools located in the Central Business District (CBD) area, and the violation of building height regulation that opposes safety precautionary measures.
The preservation of open space and conservation for public objectives are mostly not being followed. Most of the buildings and ongoing building constructions, especially in the CBD area, occupy whole lots which are against the restrictions allocated. This violates the provision in the ordinance which clearly states that half of the land area of lots must be left as “open spaces”.
Zoning ordinances must be sensible based on all factors involved, such as the need of the city. The purpose of the restriction must prevent someone from building on the entire lot of land, permitting a part of the area partly open and conserved as an open green space such as parks, for the use of the public as a whole.
As such, Tongtongan Ti Umil- CPA, poses that the Zoning ordinance must consider the following points:
- The city’s building limit must not exceed 6 storeys due to the fact that exceeding this limit will cause environment degradation and endangering public safety in times of natural disasters. There is no assurance that the safety of a building exceeding 6 storeys in height will be guaranteed during earthquakes, even with the uses of earthquake-proof materials, owing to the fact that heavy structures can lead to landslides and sinking.
- Land allocations policies must, first and foremost, prioritize the residents and not the commercial businesses, hotels, etc. The city government must put the needs of the residents as its priority and should not change the existing residential land allocations to accommodate the entry of large businesses and hotels.
- The city, should greatly take into consideration the existing water crisis in the city before implementing a new zoning ordinance. This goes hand-in-hand with the paramount problem in garbage and sewers in the city.
- The ordinance should be based on the concrete conditions of the city. The citizens feel that if the ordinance will be implemented, the informal settlers and their settlements will be left out, if not totally sacrificed.
The zoning ordinance of the city must be in favor to the needs of the peoples and progressively address the existing problems in the city. The development of the city, with the zoning ordinance as one of its tool, must prioritize the development of the well-being of the people and should be focused on those among the urban poor settlers, and not on private properties, businesses and commercial establishments.
Tongtongan Ti Umili – Cordillera People’s Alliance