DYNAMICS of LAND USE CHANGE the Case of Commonwealth Avenue Road Widening

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<ul><li><p>8/10/2019 DYNAMICS of LAND USE CHANGE the Case of Commonwealth Avenue Road Widening</p><p> 1/9</p><p>DYNAMICS OF LAND USE CHANGE:</p><p>THE CASE OF COMMONWEALTH AVENUE ROAD WIDENING</p><p>(Section of Katipunan to Litex Roads)</p><p>Commonwealth Avenue was part of the grand plan of President Manuel Quezon to transfer the</p><p>seat of government to a new city, the present day Quezon City. He had envisioned a city with all the</p><p>major government institutions in one location, after he was advised that Manila was not an ideal</p><p>location for the seat of government. Manila was then under the constant threat of attacks from the</p><p>Manila Bay. He then commissioned American architects William Parsons and his assistant Harry Frost to</p><p>draft the plan for his ideal city.</p><p>Commonwealth Avenue, played a vital role in linking the Government Center (the present day</p><p>Elliptical Circle) to the proposed Legislative Building, where The Congress compound now sits. Originally</p><p>intended to be an avenue flanked with the embassies of countries with whom we maintain diplomatic</p><p>relations, present day Commonwealth Avenue was among those project plans that never materialized,</p><p>as it was intended. Nevertheless, it evolved into a business hub that Quezon City can be proud of.</p><p>Build in the late 1960s, Commonwealth Avenue, formerly known as Don Mariano MarcosAvenue, has undergone a number of road widening programs that transformed a four- lane highway to</p><p>the eighteen- lane highway it is today. It proposed to link the Quezon Memorial Circle northwards to</p><p>Quirino Highway, as part of the radial road 7 plan (R7). In the following decades, Quezon City</p><p>population increased exponentially, as developers, representing the formal economy, began to market</p><p>Quezon City as an ideal place to take up residence, offering very affordable home lots to low and middle</p><p>income families.</p><p>Farm lands of the Zuzuarreguis (covering parts of D2, QC) were transformed into residential</p><p>subdivisions, easily distinguishable by the subdivision names bearing the prefix Don and Dona.</p><p>Other developers followed suit. Thus, subdivision developments in the area mushroomed left and right</p><p>of the highway, while multiple road right of way allowed access to interior subdivision developments,</p><p>expanding both eastward, towards San Mateo and Marikina and westward, towards Caloocan.</p><p>The stretch of Commonwealth Avenue from Katipunan to Litex and its neighboring communities</p><p>cover most of District 2 Quezon City. It includes the barangays of Matandang Balara, Batasan Hills</p><p>(largest urban poor community in the country), Bagong Silang Commonwealth, Payatas and Holy Spirit.</p><p>Based on the local government data, the population of these barangays is estimated to have grown to</p><p>1,785,242 with an annual growth rate of 4.12% and a population density of 18,545.</p><p>Urban Development</p><p>Commonwealth Avenue provided access to a number of government buildings namely the</p><p>Commission on Audit, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Electoral Tribunal and</p><p>the House of Representatives. This government initiated investment translated to the development of</p><p>the area surrounding the IBP Complex, particularly the IBP-San Mateo Road, which is an alternate route</p><p>to Marikina and San Mateo, and a number of residential subdivisions (Filinvest) which provided housing</p><p>for government employees, members of congress and their legislative staff.</p><p>Sometime in the 1980s, the road was widened to a 12-lane highway, to keep up with the urban</p><p>sprawl and worsening traffic congestion experienced in Quezon City.</p></li><li><p>8/10/2019 DYNAMICS of LAND USE CHANGE the Case of Commonwealth Avenue Road Widening</p><p> 2/9</p><p>Urban development though the influx of population best characterizes development along</p><p>Commonwealth Avenue. The surge of human settlements resulted in a free-for-all urban</p><p>development, where formal housing developments were punctuated by shanty towns. Subdivision walls</p><p>delineate economic boundaries of residential developments.</p><p>The moneyed communities, in their interest to protect themselves from criminality, build gates</p><p>that regulate the flow of people into the subdivisions. Under PD 1216- Sec2, it has becomemandatory for subdivision owners/developers to donate roads to the local government upon the</p><p>completion of the project, as certified by the Authority. The rule only makes the exception for parks</p><p>and playgrounds as open space which could be donated to the homeowners association, upon the</p><p>consent given by the local government. As such, no homeowners association should refuse entry to</p><p>roads donated to the local government, which in effect became public property upon its donation, and</p><p>thus should be accessible to all.</p><p>In reality, homeownersassociations remain in control of securing subdivision roads , thereby</p><p>rendering the local government toothless in enforcing its jurisdiction over previously turned over roads,</p><p>and the use of the same in gaining access to a network of roads which could ease the traffic congestion</p><p>in some areas during rush hours.</p><p>According to the Local Governments Subdivision Administration Unit, homeowners association </p><p>cannot refuse entry to these roads, precisely because these roads are for public use, to be enjoyed not</p><p>only by residents of the subdivisions, but also by the general public.</p><p>In my opinion, the local governments inability to provide security to these community at a level</p><p>they require, makes them cede authority over such matters, to the detriment of the general public, who</p><p>have every right to use these roads, specially as alternate routes to avoid traffic congestion.</p><p>Human Settlements</p><p>Human settlement, prior to the road expansion can be characterized as mostly, single family</p><p>dwellings of modest to average size. Today, formal housing types vary from single family dwellings, totown houses/duplex, low rise condos and high rise condominium. This translates to increased</p><p>population densities, a larger demand for utilities and services, a greater demand for education and</p><p>employment, more economic activity, more revenues for the government in terms of real property tax</p><p>and other taxes, an increase in road use and pollution, and an increase in solid waste production.</p><p>The market for high end residential living became an off-shoot of the road expansion. As the</p><p>city transitions into an urbanized area, it becomes more attractive to the high end market. Apart from</p><p>high density condos, high end residential developments have likewise become major players in the citys</p><p>economy, bringing in more revenues, with minimal demand for consumption spending on the part of</p><p>the government. (Tivoli Royale, Vista Real Estates, Ayala Heights)</p><p>Traffic</p><p>The road expansion of Commonwealth Avenue can be viewed as a two-edged sword, as far as</p><p>traffic is concerned. Though Commonwealth Avenue is notoriously dubbed the Killer Highwayto this</p><p>day, it has brought about benefits beyond the expectations of those who regularly use the road.</p><p>It has greatly eased traffic congestion specially during rush hours, with the exception of the</p><p>bottleneck caused by the narrow Tandand Sora flyover. The wider avenue likewise allowed more buses</p></li><li><p>8/10/2019 DYNAMICS of LAND USE CHANGE the Case of Commonwealth Avenue Road Widening</p><p> 3/9</p><p>and jeepneys to ply more routes and in greater number, making the suburban city more accessible and</p><p>investor-friendly.</p><p>The DPWHs response to the death of Lourdes Simbulan led to the road assessment of</p><p>Commonwealth Avenue by a third party group of consultants in 2011. It proved vital in minimizing the</p><p>occurrence of accident by implementing the recommendations given in the study. Some of these</p><p>measures included the stricter implementation of the speed limit, the bus-PUJ and motorcycle</p><p>segregation by means of designating lanes, the MMDAs re-study of U-turn slot locations , increasing the</p><p>weaving distance, the provision of road warning signs and fences to discourage jaywalking, and the</p><p>reconfiguration of pedestrian overpass.</p><p>The significant drop in the occurrence of accidents prompted the MMDA in 2013 to implement</p><p>the same speed limit for stretch from Batasan to Dona Carmen.</p><p>Mixed reactions came from different segments of society. Civil society groups proposed that</p><p>government should regulate the issuance of LTFRB bus franchises, while Partyt list member 1UTAK</p><p>aired concern with regard to the practice of making bus drivers work 10-16 hours on the average to</p><p>meet the daily boundaries set by bus companies. Rep. Teddie Casino reacted by drafted a bill for PU busdrivers to receive fixed salaries, and do away with the boundary system.</p><p>DSWD Inefficiency</p><p>It is noteworthy that urban poor children as young as 3 years old can be seen begging on the</p><p>highway and getting on and off public utility vehicles to beg from commuters, while their mothers chit-</p><p>chat with friends from a distance. This practice exposes these children to unnecessary risks, condones</p><p>child labor and abuse, and irresponsible parenthood.</p><p>There are likewise solvent-sniffing children who are often seen loitering near the pedestrian</p><p>overpass, either begging or engaging in petty crimes.</p><p>The DSWD, which holds office just a few kilometers away allows these things to occur right</p><p>under their noses, in spite of repeated reports made by the citizenry.</p><p>The Formal Economy</p><p>From small, single story leasable space to multi-story office buildings, full- fledged companies</p><p>and major banking institutions-this is perhaps the biggest contribution of the road widening program to</p><p>the urbanization and shift in land use patterns for the area in study.</p><p>The wide avenue opened the doors to investments from BPO companies which in turn</p><p>generated employment for the young urban population. With a high purchasing power, theseemployees gave rise to businesses such as malls, coffee shops, restaurants, bars and 24-hour</p><p>establishments that cater to their needs. Condominiums and townhouses became in fashion as housing</p><p>units for urban professionals.</p><p>Car dealerships became an indicator of progress as a growing population acquired more money</p><p>that enabled them to spend for these luxuries. Major commercial banks supplied the option for</p><p>housing, car and business loans that continued to propel the economy.</p></li><li><p>8/10/2019 DYNAMICS of LAND USE CHANGE the Case of Commonwealth Avenue Road Widening</p><p> 4/9</p><p>Home depots are slowly replacing small hardware companies, sash companies and furniture</p><p>shops in the area, which is actually indicative of an economic gentrification. So have established dub</p><p>shops substituted small-scale vulcanizing, machine and car maintenance shops. It is unclear if these</p><p>enterprises developed on their own or, if these small scale businesses are being eased out by business</p><p>owners who have the capital, who in turn just hire the manpower to provide the service. It probably</p><p>requires a more in depth study to know the implications of such a shift.</p><p>Supermarkets thrive side by side with the public markets and talipapa since these cater to</p><p>people from different economic backgrounds. Malls with different clientele likewise sprout like</p><p>mushrooms, seemingly oblivious to the possible traffic they will create once operational.</p><p>In my opinion, the proposed construction of an SM mall along Amsterdam Road, next to the</p><p>Residences at Commonwealth development is expected to create a traffic bottle neck for residents</p><p>from Vista Real, Tivoli Royale, Capitol Park Homes among other neighboring villages, due to a very</p><p>narrow street servicing the area.</p><p>More private schools are founded to meet the growing number of students requiring theirservices, as affordable fast food restaurants near schools provide them budget-friendly meals.</p><p>Different religions fight over followers, as both major and minor groups establish their places of</p><p>worship in an attempt to gain a steadier foothold. As a result, more often than not, the informal</p><p>economy takes advantage of the heavy foot traffic by setting up businesses ranging from selling street</p><p>food, fruits and vegetables, religious articles, DVDs and the like right outside the compounds of these</p><p>churches. As a result, crowd control and petty crime soon become the problem of the government.</p><p>The construction of mortuaries and columbaries proved significant, as 24-hour establishments</p><p>and flower shops flourish to meet the demands of a steady clientele.</p><p>Informal Settlements and Informal Economies</p><p>As I had observed informal settlements began to proliferate along the highway, particularly near</p><p>Luzon Avenue and the creek near BF Homes Quezon City. Before we knew it, areas without known</p><p>structures became magnets for informal settlers. With the designation of Payatas as a garbage</p><p>dumpsite in the 1990s, the informal settlement population ballooned. The ravine which was deemed</p><p>unfit for habitation, turned into a squatter colony overnight, as scavengers flocked to the dumpsite to</p><p>earn their living.</p><p>It also gave rise to informal businesses along the Manggahan Road and Litex Roads</p><p>intersections, as street hawkers turned the highway into a big market place, causing horrendous traffic</p><p>in the area. There were numerous attempts by local government to clear the highway of vendors. But,time and again, whoever is assigned to head the clearing operation, turned up dead.</p><p>Of the 6 lanes of the highway, only one or two lanes became passable. Then Mayor Sonny</p><p>Belmonte conducted an public dialogue which included the barangay, market and hawker officials and</p><p>the police and law enforcement, in order to reach an agreement with regard to the problem. It was</p><p>settled that plant boxes will be situated along the highway to prevent vendors from encroaching on</p><p>streets.</p></li><li><p>8/10/2019 DYNAMICS of LAND USE CHANGE the Case of Commonwealth Avenue Road Widening</p><p> 5/9</p><p> Late last year, a QCPD officer assigned to Task Force Commonwealth, in charge of operations</p><p>against illegal vendors was ambushed. A few days later, 20 illegal vendors on the Litex pedestrian</p><p>overpass were charged for selling their wares on non-designated areas. To date, the flower boxes have</p><p>been replaced by steel fence, but vendors continually sell their wares right where they can be seen by</p><p>law enforcers.</p><p>In the case of informal settlement and informal economies, obviously the local government is atthe losing end in such a scenario. Apart from being unable to extract real property tax, they are likewise</p><p>not receiving proceeds from the conduct of business from these informal businesses. Furthermore,</p><p>these communities pose as a liability since a great number of them are dependent on social services</p><p>provided by the government.</p><p>Solid Waste Management</p><p>Disposal of garbage account for a large portion of local government expenditures. As such, the</p><p>council passed ordinance SP2235, Series of 2013 requiring all households in Quezon City to share in the</p><p>burden of solid waste disposal by charging a garbage fee, based on the area of their real property. Of</p><p>course, this will be a subject of debate since garbage collection used to be a service provided for by the</p><p>local government, at no added cost to its citizenry.</p><p>The Local Government and the MMDA</p><p>It is perhaps t...</p></li></ul>