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ROUGH CUTS: About time for a city architect cum urban planner

We agree with the idea espoused some months back by the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP)-Davao Chapter that owing to its booming economy, Davao City needs to have a City Architect’s Office. No, not necessarily a new department at City Hall; but maybe just a unit at the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO).

Yes, we believe that at this point in time an office in the local government of Davao City needs to be created to oversee the aesthetic dimension of the city’s urban growth. And if the said office is to be given even more premium by putting it at the level of a department, then it must be occupied by someone who is not only an architect but a certified urban planner as well.

And we think as well that this can be done. All the City Council has to do in cooperation with the Human Resource Management Office (HRMO) and the City Planning and Development Office or CPDO, is to look into the model of the inception of the Office of the Building Official (OBO) in the overall structure of the City Engineer’s Office (CEO).

Actually, there is not much that can be done in aesthetically improving Davao City’s downtown area. It has become too saturated with all sorts of buildings ranging from office, individual residential houses, business establishments, medium and high rise condos and a sputtering of blighted communities located along the coastal areas, in river banks and creek sides. And the only way this set-up can be restructured into the ideal city center is to mandate the change of the landscape.

However, this is close to impossible; unless the city government can force the informal settlers to evacuate the site of their houses that they do not own, or government can offer legitimate house and lot owners in blighted agglomerations affordable housing renovation loans or generally acceptable relocation sites.

But again, how can the city do it when it has not even made significant headways on its development plan for the wide swath of area along Quezon Blvd. leveled off by a huge fire in April of 2014?

Nonetheless, we can see the relevance of an Office of the City Architect in the planning of the development of the city’s suburban peripheries which are now the target of investors for locating their business and industrial establishments.

However, the city still needs to develop the road network that will make the uptown areas more attractive to the big-time businessmen. That is why we have been strongly advocating for the construction of a new diversion highway for the interior part of the city and a coastal road for the shoreline areas.

And should this be realized as the plans for these are already approved and lately have been able to get funding sources, a city architect cum urban planner’s office becomes even more relevant.

Along with this idea of the UAP-Davao, we also see the need for the city government to revisit the existing zoning ordinance so that the creation of a new landscape of Davao City is complemented and free of any hitches.

Yes, when the city is freed from the clutches of the deadly corona virus (CoViD 19) pandemic that is presently pre-occupying the minds and hands of our local officials, may be the inception of a City Architect”s or Urban Planner could be included in their list of priority measures.

While under the present personnel organizational structure the city has its Planning and Development Office which is tasked to coordinate and harmonize the physical development plan of the city, it cannot be denied that the hands of the experts in that city department are full. What with all the efforts initiated by the local officials to make Davao City advance economically? Because of this the aesthetics of the city is neglected and relegated to the back burner.

Hence, it is our take that a unit to be incepted at the CPDO solely to focus on the planning for a physically more livable Davao City for the next generation is already a “must” of the time.

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