High rise building suspension has to go through process – Mayor

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan on Monday said suspending the construction of high rise buildings in the city is doable but would entail a whole new process of amending the city’s zoning ordinance which had just been revised in 2016.

The mayor, who was reacting to a suggestion broached during the Senate hearing on the creation of the Baguio-La-Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay (BLISTT) Development Authority for a moratorium on the construction of eight-story structures in the city, said the issue had been “thoroughly debated” when the city laboriously drafted the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and the enabling zoning ordinance in consultation with the various sectors.

“Technical people were consulted and all aspects were considered including the safety and viability of the structures in the framing of the CLUP and the ordinance,” the mayor said.

He said the issue on whether there is a need to limit the building height had been resolved in the deliberation as experts opined that the soundness of the structures does not depend on the height of the buildings but on ensuring their structural stability which means compliance with the national building and safety codes including the soil test requirements.

These findings convinced the city council to allow the construction of buildings up to eight stories in areas classified as commercial and high density residential zones in approving the CLUP and the zoning ordinance.

“If the issue is on the safety, I believe this had already been answered by experts. If the issue is overdevelopment necessitating suspension on high rise buildings, then it has to go back to the city council, call back the experts and follow the process again,” he said.

The city’s CLUP which charts the city’s physical and economic development from 2013-2023 along with its implementing ordinance Ordinance No. 63 series of 2016 entitled “Adopting the Revised Comprehensive Zoning Regulations for the City of Baguio and Providing for the Administration, Enforcement and Amendment thereof and for the Repeal of all Ordinances in Conflict therewith” had been ratified by the Housing Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB).

The CLUP, its sectoral studies for year 2013-2023 and the amended zoning ordinance were approved by the city council in 2016.

Under the CLUP, land uses were designated and were zoned as residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, watersheds or forest reservation, parks and others.

The CLUP’s development policies and regulations focus on the observance and maintenance of the geo-physical integrity of the city pursuing sustainable development at levels following resources carrying capacities;

Enhancement or improvement of the natural landscape and aesthetics of the area should be the primary consideration in the introduction of any land uses, structures and other developments; preservation and enhancement of natural resources (air, water, forest) to their best and sustainable uses; preservation or restoration of cultural heritage or historical or scientific sites and resources at their pristine status; decongestion of highly dense areas following standard levels;

Provision of efficient and effective circulation or access and other urban development services or facilities or utilities in all governance units in accordance to their roles and functions in the overall city development; and land uses shall conform or complement the development roles of adjacent LISTT municipalities in the province of Benguet and the region in general. /Aileen P. Refuerzo