Proposed Land Uses: Commercial, Institutional, Parks/Playground, Infrastructure/Utilities
This is the City’s CBD. The present use is proposed to be retained because development is too entrenched to be disrupted. To make the present use work, more effective policies should be in place. Examples: Cluster zoning (i.e. related or homogenous establishments in one zone, etc.). The experience of locals (and visitors too, I assume) is that for any given shopping day downtown shoppers need to go all over the place, here and there, on different routes hence hopping from one public transport into another, just to complete their basic list of purchases (which is why SM Baguio despite its symbolism of local landscape intrusion is also loved, for its convenience shopping especially when shoppers are particularly not in the mood to run all over town or when it’s raining). Abolition of free parking on this stretch of the CBD (which means City Hall should have something up its sleeve about this continuing and growing issue). Dismantling of decrepit buildings from the 1990 earthquake (what is City Hall waiting for these years, planning to sell them later for scrap?). Clearing downtown of sidewalk or itinerant vendors and relocate them to a more conducive central space allocated for informal business (City Hall should’ve resolved where to relocate them a long time ago). Relocating the bus terminals to a more appropriate place (I’ve always wondered why the bus terminals are in the middle of downtown). Putting in place a more rational traffic scheme, considering that the CBD in size is only a quarter of Makati CBD, around the size of the Greenbelt area. Integrating green spaces into the whole CBD and maintaining these (is City Hall so poor as not to allocate regular workers for the CBD maintenance?).
Leonard Wood Road
Proposed Land Uses: Institutional, Commercial, Residential, Parks/Playground
This is the stretch immediately outside the CBD, that leads to Brent College, Teacher’s Camp, and onward to the Mines View Park. The current use is proposed to be retained, with minimal further commercial development (which is slowly encroaching, unplanned, toward the area). The few government offices located here can be relocated somewhere in the CBD, as what the PhilHealth local office did, so that then public offices are all downtown. This stretch is one of the more quiet and aesthetically areas adjacent to the City, reminiscent of old Baguio, and it should strive to retain this neighborhood identity.
Proposed Land Uses: Residential, Institutional, Commercial, Infrastructure/Utilities
Magsaysay area is an older part of the CBDs and one of the more run down areas, which is to say this area should be prime target for urban renewal. This stretch is found the public market and older university campuses (St. Louis University). The current use is proposed to be retained with a more rationalized zoning policy in place. Examples: A better traffic scheme (traffic here is a cause for elevated blood pressures first thing in the morning and last thing in the afternoon, and so it isn’t surprising that heart diseases are high in the country’s cities). Abolition of free parking along this stretch. Relocation of sidewalk vendors into an allocated central space/area to clear pathways and sidewalks. Cluster zoning (as opposed to the current chaotic pattern of dress shops being found next to vulcanizing shops which are next to food vendors and the like).
Proposed Land Uses: Forest, Institutional
The way this land is being pulled both ways, it is a monument to the so-called “tragedy of the commons.” The area, following the departure of the US Military, should not have been converted into commercial use. Instead, the buildings left by the US Government should’ve been leased out for institutional use, such as for R&D (in scientific research such as agroforestry, modelling landscape scale urban planning & management), Cordilleran cultural studies, and perhaps even a hub for Cordilleran arts (ala Hollywood or Broadway), activities that don’t destroy the landscape but rather help promote sustainable development and showcase local identity and expertise. It is irony that the Philippine Government allowed degradation of the area whereas foreigners – the US Military/Government – took care not to impinge on the landscape and its water resources while they were there. It is unjust that much (or almost all) of the benefits from present use of the land accrue to non-locals and nothing for the host/local community whose members bear the brunt of development happening on it (e.g. a golf course used by a few, on one of the City’s major watershed and remaining forest, in the midst of increasing water scarcity for the City).
Other important areas: Loakan-Kias
Proposed Land Uses: Forest, Industrial, Infrastructure/Utilities, Residential, Commercial, Institutional, Parks/Playground
Here is located a free trade zone that includes Texas Instruments and Moog (major contributors to the region’s GRDP), the Loakan airport, and the Philippine Military Academy. The area can be developed as a secondary growth node to the CBD (one reason is that it is large and populous enough, with catchment areas from Kias/Itogon and Camp 7/Kennon). Signs are in place that it is moving toward that state. In the past few years, the area is rapidly being blighted with irrational patterns of settlement, commercial, and institutional establishments. City Hall should step in to do damage control planning (proactive planning is already out of the question) for the area.