BAGUIO CITY – A one-year freeze on the construction of commercial establishments and issuance of building permits for such is being mulled in the city to give it a breathing spell in face of the threats of “urban decay.”
The city council is now studying a proposed ordinance to enact said temporary moratorium which proponent Councilor Perlita Rondez said would mean a temporary prohibition of all commercial construction, to include construction of new commercial buildings and additions to existing buildings and on the issuance of all building permits for commercial constructions within the city.
The moratorium will exempt applications for the issuance of a building permit for any remodeling of a commercial building where the square footage of building construction does not exceed 10 percent of the total square footage of the existing or previously existing main building, excluding basements; and existing applications for building permit or occupancy permit for prior to the effective date of the ordinance.
Rondez said the proposed moratorium will be good for 12 months which the alderwoman said is a “definite and reasonable period of time within which to consider the Comprehensive Land Use Program, the pursuance of the Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay (BLISTT) Development Plan or other ordinances or regulations… which shall regulate the issuance of buildings permits to commercial buildings in a manner that will create conditions essential to the public health, safety and general welfare of the citizens of the City and provide a framework for the orderly growth and development of the county while preserving and enhancing the natural heritage of the City.”
“There are current resounding clamors to “BRING BACK THE SCENT OF THE PINES” and “STOP THE URBAN DECAY” of the City as she is slowly losing her attractiveness, both to the residents and the tourists alike. Rights, as well as just and equitable expectations of close by property owners are being affected by the congestion resulting from new and improper development of business persons or entities who are insensitive to the rich history and culture of the City. Such improper development severely impacts on the City’s ability to provide adequate services, including efficient traffic, solid and liquid waste management, water supply, public health, fire and safety services, preservation and enhancement of the natural heritage and distinct culture of the City. The City is vulnerable to moderate to high risk natural disasters such as earthquakes (high), landslides (high), and flooding (moderate). The City has experienced and is currently experiencing, on a regular historic basis, such natural disasters including the 1990 killer earthquake and yearly landslides that caused and continue to cause loss of life and catastrophic property damage to the residents,” Rondez noted
Rondez said the city council has determined that there is a need to provide for the more orderly development of commercial buildings within the territorial jurisdiction of the City and that it is in the best interests of the public health, safety and general welfare of the citizens of the City to do so.
“It is timely to revisit the BLISTT Development Plan and integrate the same with the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) of the City in order to create more room for an expanded and organized land use development plan. The construction of new commercial buildings within the City’s territorial jurisdiction during the pendency of any such consideration of the Comprehensive Land Use Program will irreversibly change the character of the City to the possible detriment of her residents,” Rondez said.
“Commercial buildings have a higher density, require more expansive land space, especially at the congested urban core, usually are high rise structures, and thus serve as more potential risk factors for loss of life and damage during natural disasters. The Local Government Code of the Philippines has empowered cities to regulate development of land within the territorial jurisdiction...;
Rondez further said the city is engaged in the process of revising its comprehensive land use plan (CLUP), and intends to develop revised zoning regulations in accordance with such comprehensive plan which take into account current conditions within the City requiring more open and green spaces.
“The City is determined to thoroughly study the impact of continued construction of commercial buildings, such as limitations on the height, number of stories and size of buildings and other structures, the percentage of lots that may be occupied, the size of easements, and common areas, other open spaces, the density of population, and the location and use of buildings, structures, and land for trade, industry, residence or other purposes nor regulations providing density credits or severable development rights. To provide for adequate time for study, analysis, public review, and finalization of the revised comprehensive plan and enactment of ordinances in accordance therewith; and, to preserve the status quo within the City, so that the benefits of such revised comprehensive plan and ordinances adopted in accordance therewith will not be lost, the City desires to enact a temporary moratorium and temporary prohibition on commercial construction and the issuance of building permits for same,” she said.
“The population growth of the City of Baguio according to the National Census and Statistics Office (NCSO) ballooned from 280,766 residents in 2005 to 372,533 in 2008. The growth rate between the years 2005 to 2008 was a staggering 25%. If left unresolved, by 2025, the City of Baguio is projected to have a population of 600,000 or the population will double by then. This is only resident population;
“Currently, there are estimated to be more than 6,000 residents per square kilometer of the City. The rapid growth in the City is continuing to entice real estate development due to prospects of boundless earnings. The continued construction of more commercial buildings in the City makes demands on her one of a kind charm and sense of place, and her appealing quality of life. As a chartered City, Baguio just turned 100 years old.
The measure which Rondez intends as an urgent ordinance will be discussed by the body on second reading soon. – aileen p. refuerzo