January 29, 2023

The city council has sought the help of concerned city departments for the formulation of measures to allow transient lodging facilities in the city operate legally.

In a resolution introduced by Councilor Philian Weygan-Allan, the city council requested the Local Zoning Board on Adjustments and Appeals (LZBAA) under the City Planning and Development Office, the City Tourism Office, and other concerned offices to recommend the necessary measures that will legalize the operation of transient lodging facilities and streamline the issuance of business permits to the owners.

Drawing on knowledge from a public consultation conducted by her office, Weygan-Allan said some applicants, especially those located in residential barangays, cannot obtain building permits because their properties are not titled.

The absence of a building permit prevents them from processing their business permits, Weygan-Allan added.

Arch. Johnny Degay, City Buildings and Architecture Office OIC, requested the council to look into Administrative Order 70, s. 2009 signed by then mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr., which states based on Tax Ordinance 2000-001, a building permit is not strictly necessary in obtaining a business permit.

“The necessity of obtaining a building permit is a mode of deterring the construction of illegal structures, but not a condition sine qua non for the issuance of a business permit,” the order stated.

AO 70-2009 also provides the approval of the City Building Official shall be discarded when there is proof of ownership or a right of possession over the place of business; when the structure was built prior to the effectivity of the National Building Code; when there is a pending townsite application; when there is a pending application for a building permit; and when the applicant’s business is a sari-sari store or a small-scale business.

Permits and Licensing Division Chief Allan Abayao said their office requires a building clearance issued by the CBAO and not a building permit for the processing and issuance of a business permit pursuant to Executive Order 2020, s. 2019.

The electronic system cues the applicant’s application form with attached certifications for the Baguio Fire Department, City Planning and Development Office, City Health and Services Office, CBAO, and City Environment and Parks Management Office. The offices have one hour to verify the authenticity of the certifications.

The certification from the CBAO aims to ensure public safety with respect to structural integrity, Abayao said.

Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan said most residential structures rented in various barangays have no titles, no building permits, and no business permits, which he considered opportunity losses on the part of the city government.

Olowan urged the city officials to collaborate and come up with solutions to these perennial problems concerning taxation and land issues.

The discussion arose from a proposed ordinance introduced by then councilor Leandro Yangot, Jr. and adopted by Weygan-Allan.

The proposed ordinance seeks to provide for the appropriate licensing and inspection of transient lodging facilities in the city and to regulate their design, operation, and maintenance. – Jordan G. Habbiling