December 7, 2023

■  Rimaliza A. Opiña 

The plan to redevelop Session Road into what city planners describe as “inclusive” road – able to accommodate pedestrians, motor vehicles, and cyclists, and is visually pleasant – continue to elicit misgivings from the public.

In the third of the series of public consultations initiated by the City Planning, Development, and Sustainability Office (CPDSO) and the City Engineering Office on Nov. 7, businessmen who attended the meeting about the plan to convert the road into a five-lane road, use of uniform color for buildings, imposition of uniform size and uniform font design of signages of establishments, use of QR code to check a building’s tenants, and prescribing an area of where business names may only be displayed, showed hesitance as the redevelopment failed to tackle se-veral issues.

Among these include: who will shoulder the expense in repainting, limitations in the repairs to be done in heritage buildings, the rights of business enterprises to retain their logos, and the regulatory measures on the use of the road itself.  

“We are talking about the redevelopment of Session Road but with respect to the aesthetics only. What about regulation about its use?” asked businesswoman Criselda Lopez.

She said the noise pollution and the unregulated movement of cyclists at Session Road were not mentioned in the redevelopment.

She added this has long been unacted by City Hall, even with her filing a formal complaint.

The University of the Cordilleras School of Engineering and Architecture’s proposal for the use of QR code in buildings as alternative to a building directory is also unclear.

“Will the QR code be provided by the building owner? Is it an app? Will this be incorporated in our business permit? On the repainting, will this be shouldered by the LGU or purely by the businessmen?” Lopez asked.

Affected businessmen also opposed the proposed mandatory use of a “Baguio font” as uniform design for business signages to address the “visual clutter” along Session Road, saying they are willing to follow a prescribed size and placement of logos and/or trademarks but not change these, as this is part of their identity as a business.

The designers from UC have proposed that use of the logo may only be displayed inside the establishment but the signage at their frontage should adopt a uniform design depicting a style that would identify the “Baguio brand.”  

Former City Hall employee, Marlene de Castro, added city planners and partners in the academe who helped with the redesign should have considered cost, the benefit to other sectors, and the timetable of when the plan will be implemented.

Last month, the city council approved the redevelopment plan, which requires P120 million even while studies on its impact are ongoing and detailed costs of the project are still being finalized.

CPDSO representative Elias Aoanan said this is why there is a consultation so they can gather more inputs from the public.

He said the plan is not cast in stone and can still be revised if necessary.

The other proposed redesign of Session Road is to convert the road into a five-lane road, removal of the center island, sidewalk expansion to promote pedestrian mobility and allow the provision of open spaces and areas with shade trees.

There will be no more parking areas, but spaces will be allotted for loading and unloading zones.

The CEO said the proposed redevelopment aims to achieve symmetry on Session Road, which means the width of the lanes going up and down and the sidewalks, among other spaces, will have the same measurements.