Baguio strengthens zoning law implementation to attain road map to 2020

BAGUIO CITY -– City Planning Officer Evelyn Cayat said the city will soon implement the newly approved revision of the city’s zoning ordinance which identifies what structures can be built or what business can operate in certain areas in Baguio in order to maintain ecological balance.

Cayat, during the weekly forum on the city’s environment code on Thursday, said a task force is being formed to implement the provisions of Zoning Ordinance 306 passed by the city council in December 2016.

She said the ordinance dictates the number of stories a building project in a particular area of the city can have.

She revealed that in high density residential and commercial areas, buildings can only have a maximum of eight stories from the road level. This is an amendment to the ordinance passed after the 1990 killer earthquake where the city government limited the maximum height of buildings to four stories from the road level. This was passed due to the city’s experience during the earthquake where high rise structures were felled by the jolt.

Cayat explained that under the amendatory ordinance, the underground levels were not considered in the limit because of the mountainous terrain of the city where structures built need to be dug low to strengthen the foundation of the building. This is aside from the fact that there are very few flat areas in Baguio. “From the road level, you should only see a maximum of eight stories,” she said.

More than the height limit, the building owner must first have an environment compliance certificate (ECC), otherwise, such will be a violation and the city building office can require the removal of the excess levels.

The Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) which includes the zoning charts the city’s physical and economic development with the aim of preserving the city’s ecological balance.

Cayat on Monday said the plan also guides, controls and regulates the “development of the city, protects the character of the different identified zones, promotes and protects the health, safety, peace, comfort and convenience and the general welfare of our people as well as our unique environment.”

Under the CLUP, land uses were designated and were zoned as residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, watersheds or forest reservation, parks and others. The permitted uses of each zone were also spelled out in the plan.

Cayat said that to decongest the central business district, commercial zones were designated at the outskirts like in Naguilian Road, Irisan, Camp 7 and Marcos Highway.

There were also rules for the preservation of the watershed and forest reservations.

The plan also enhanced the disaster risk reduction management of the city with vulnerability profiling which describes the city’s topography and slope, drainage, flood points location, geology, landslide susceptibility and sinkholes.

Cayat said “the importance of maintaining our ecological balance and conservation of the resources has been increasingly becoming clear in the last two decades. It has now become necessary for the city to recognize this fact and plan what is known as ‘sustainable development’”.

“This means that the requirements of the present generation in terms of economic growth and community development (to provide basic needs) are met without compromising on environmental protection and thus will ensure that every generation will leave clean air, water and soil resources for the future generation.”

The CLUP defines the utilization and uses of the city’s various zones and serves as the basis in the implementation of the city’s zoning ordinance.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan, chair of the City Development Council (CDC) which drafted the updated CLUP, said the CLUP serves as “our City’s road map to 2020” and “our blueprint for our City’s physical and economic development toward a safer and healthier environment.” Liza T. Agoot/