Baguio lacks real citizen participation in urban planning

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BAGUIO CITY  – An urban planner cited the primary defect in the city’s overall development is the absence of ‘real citizens participation’ that caused the implementation of sporadic development in strategic areas of the Summer Capital.

Arch. Rafael Chan, founder of the RG Chan and Associates, said ‘real citizens participation’ is defined as the harmonious working relationship between the government and the private sectors that should be backed up with visionary individuals in order to put in place the desired state of development in the city.

Chan was the special guest of the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders Association – Baguio-Benguet Chapter (CREBA-BBC) on Wednesday’s 3rd monthly business meeting held at the Palazo d BLISS Café and Restaurant along Military Cut-off road.

He explained the city government was able to partially achieve the city’s desired development but it failed in terms of achieving the overall purpose of why the city was built by American urban planner Arch. Daniel Burnham when Gov. Cameron Forbes envisioned the city as a city on a hill considering its mountainous characteristics.

Chan pointed out the failure of the city government to adopt and update its comprehensive land use plan (CLUP) will translate to chaotic development in the city aggravated by tremendous traffic problems and dissatisfied population which should not be the case considering that people of the city are intelligent planners and visionaries who know the supposed direction of the city.

“The land use plan is the blueprint of the supposed regulated development in the different parts of the city to prevent the possible occurrence of chaotic development that would bring the city to nowhere,” Arch. Chan stressed.

The well respected urban planner and developer criticized the city government on the way it handled the previous conduct of public hearings relative to the pending land use plan of the city, saying that there was no ‘real citizens participation’ during the said consultations because the public was simply made to listen on the proposal instead of the public being heard on their insights on how development in the city must be undertaken by the government.

According to him, embracing ‘green architecture’ is part of the latest trends of good urban planning because it will help sustain the environment of a certain locality for the benefit of the present and future generations, citing that the burden should not be placed on the local officials alone because citizens have also the obligation to observe discipline in their daily lives, specially the proper disposal of garbage, observing simple traffic rules and regulations among others in order to contribute in building a well planned urban center.

For his part, Engr. Mario R. Alzona, Jr., CREBA-BBC president, said Arch. Chan’s revelations on the state of urban development in the city is timely and congruent with the organization’s theme for this year which is “Gearing Towards Sustainable Urban Development Through Environment Preservation and Protection’ that is why the group will continue to actively participate in the crafting of appropriate politics by the local government so that the development thrust will be pursuant to the trend of the times which is to preserve and significantly improve the state of environment of the city.

He disclosed the CREBA-BBC already submitted to the city council a resolution calling for the organization of a Baguio City Development Authority that will be composed of non-politicians with background on urban planning in order to craft the overall development master plan of the city so that the sporadic development will be reduced.

“We submitted our proposal to the city council last February but it seems no significant action has been made by our local officials on the important suggestion that we had made. There must be updates on how our proposals are being acted upon by our local officials,” Alzona said.

Alzona challenged city councilors and concerned department heads of the city government to be open minded in dealing with suggestions, recommendations and proposals being submitted to them for consideration and that they must also have the courtesy of updating the proponents on the latest action of their offices on the pending matters so that more individuals and groups will be encouraged to provide the city with pieces of advise on how to deal with the current problem of sporadic development.

By Dexter A. See

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