February 9, 2023

After the proposal for a localized tree-cutting moratorium, the city council is also planning on passing an ordinance that would suspend grant of zoning exemptions by the Local Zoning Board of Adjustments and Appeals (LZBAA) for 15 years.
The proposed ordinance authored by all city council members also sought to ban other offices from granting permits such as locational clearances and building and tree-cutting permits.
In the council’s July 20 session, Asst. City Planning and Development Officer Antonette Anaban has asked the city council to pass an ordinance for a moratorium on zoning exemptions to give time for the CPDO to update the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) as well as to review the pending applications for exemption at the CPDO.
Anaban has revealed that several commercial developments have occurred in the city the past few years due to the exemptions granted by the LZBAA and subsequent issuance of related permits such as building or tree-cutting permits by national offices.
An example is Vista Residences, which was granted an exemption by the LZBAA in 2017 and was issued a tree-cutting permit by the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources central office.
The Vista Residences condominium located at Barangay Outlook Drive is a residential zone but was granted an exemption, reason why it was able to proceed with the construction, Anaban said.
Anaban said continuous granting of exemptions defeats the purpose of the Zoning Ordinance and the CLUP.
In an interview with the Courier, Anaban said the CLUP has to be given more teeth to achieve the intent of the ordinance, which is to regulate land use.
“May mga mixed land use. May mag-a-apply ng residential use tapos dadagdagan ng commercial. Hindi dapat ganun,” Anaban told the Courier.
She said there are also developers who begin constructing even before they are issued a permit then pay a measly fine. “Kayang-kaya nilang magbayad ng multa lalo na yung malalaking developer,” Anaban said.
She said that with the updating of the CLUP and the Zoning Ordinance, issues of mixed land use, unauthorized construction, and addition of building floors not contained in the locational clearance or building permit should be addressed.
She said building owners who construct above the declared number of floors contained in the application for issuance of building permit should be demolished, not just made to pay a fine.
Anaban said there should also be collaboration among offices that grant permits to avoid instances where some offices do not grant a clearance but a developer is still able to proceed with development after they are able to get a permit from another office.
“Kailangan ma-address din ‘yung mga local laws at permits obtained from the national government,” Anaban added.
Anaban said the CPDO is eyeing a five to 10-year moratorium but the council suggested to make it 15 years instead.
In the proposed ordinance, exemption may only be issued if another ordinance is passed reclassifying a certain area; when a Presidential proclamation or Congress reclassifies an area; when the classification of the land is in conflict with final order of the court; when, by virtue of the character of the land, the same cannot be used for its intended use of classification in the zoning; and when the reclassification will better serve the public welfare, public interest, and public policy.
“The city government as the regulating agency has that responsibility to counter-check the effects of this exemptions or variance on the use of lands covered in the zoning, thus the need to impose moratorium save for valid reasons,” a portion of the proposed ordinance, states.
Shortly after Mayor Benjamin Magalong sat as chief executive July 1 last year, he announced that of his governance agenda includes the revitalization of the environment and he intends to abolish the LZBAA for its continuing issuance of exemptions.
The proposed ordinance was referred to the committee on urban planning, lands, and housing. – Rimaliza A. Opiña with reports from Jordan G. Habbiling