HOW long will the Cebu City Government withhold the building permit applications of 31 medium- and high-rise buildings it is currently keeping at bay following the Metro Ayala blaze?
In a news conference last Friday, Mayor Tomas Osmeña said the gag order on the permit applications may run until July, or until a better option is agreed upon based on the public hearing on his plan to ban high-rise buildings in the city.
“Number one, we haven’t gotten yet the report from the fire department. At least six months, and then after six months, there might be no more buildings above four stories. I am not motivated by what’s popular or not,” he said.
Once it is implemented, Osmeña said the maximum height available for developers will be limited to four stories.
The mayor said that the same thing is practiced in Beverly Hills, California.
“One of the most livable cities in the world is Beverly Hills. All the buildings more than three stories tall there are at least 40 years old,” he said.
But the opposition councilors are standing pat on their opposition to the mayor’s plan.
Instead of banning new skyscrapers, the opposition suggested that the City Government check existing buildings before setting updated safety measures.
In a press conference last week, Councilor Edu Rama told reporters that the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) should inspect existing edifices since their systems may be outdated.
Councilor Joy Pesquera echoed the sentiment, saying buildings constructed before 2000 do not have fire-detecting devices, such as sprinklers and smoke detectors, among others.
Prior to the press conference, Barug-PDP Laban Councilors Raymond Garcia, Philip Zafra and Jose Daluz III called the measure “anti-development and anti-business.”
Earlier, they said that instead of prohibiting developers from building high-rise edifices, the firefighting capabilities of the BFP should be improved, among others.
Osmeña has since slammed the opposition’s comments.
He said the lives of the people should not be compromised in favor of economic growth.
Aside from the possible ban on high-rise buildings, the mayor said he is also pushing for the installation of ventilation machines and an inspection of sprinklers inside establishments.
“We have to rethink the situation. Have you heard of anywhere in the Philippines where the sprinklers worked? Do we have a standard on what the sprinklers should be like? In the United States, everything has to pass the Uniform Planning Code. I learned that when I was there,” he said.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on January 14, 2018.
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