I WAS quite excited to learn that there is a move from the City Council to not just update but actually create a new Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) for Cagayan de Oro City. As a local governance consultant I could not stress more the importance of a well planned CLUP in achieving progress.
You see, there are more than a hundred plans for different agencies and different areas in a local government unit be it on health, social services, infrastructure, and waste management. But the mother plan and the blueprint of progress of a city is its CLUP which encompasses all plans on a 10 to 15 year stretch. Inside a good CLUP is the proper classification of areas where housing should sprout, where industries should be located and where agricultural land should be preserved.
It would be very easy to spot if the city has a terrible CLUP, all you have to do is look at the traffic situation to check ease and connectivity of different areas. We can look at how city centers are either spread out or congesting in a particular region, or whether drainage systems are existent and are interlinked. We can also look into the hazard prone areas if they have been occupied by people or are declared no-build zones. We can also check the trends of flooding in the city to see if the urban landscape is really well planned.
Those were only very few indicators but I am very certain that even with just those in mind we can already assess that Cagayan de Oro’s CLUP, if there is ever one, is terrible.
By overhauling the CLUP, we can reclassify lands that shall be responsive of our actual needs as a growing metropolitan. We can create economic zones that are strategically spread out so as not to decongest certain areas while we design better connectivity and traffic flow. We can also isolate industries for safety reasons at the same time preserve the environment by classifying green areas amidst the growing urbanization.
By creating a new CLUP we will also be able to get the actual figures of our population with ages, sexes, and social status, which will greatly help in designing how much of the area should be allocated for housing and what infrastructures are needed per barangay. We can already project how many schools, or health centers should be built in certain areas based on actual need and not based on who is the barangay captain or because the councilor or the congressman resides in the area.
Ideally as well, all plans and programs of each department in the LGU should be anchored on and aligned with the CLUP and not based on suppliers and kickbacks. The yearly budget will not be derailed as well with the delusions of grandeur by some politicians because the direction of progress has already been set. And a good CLUP can also be used to lobby national funds and even international grants as well as attract investors.
By creating a new blueprint for the city, we can also make everything future ready, from growing traffic, to sprouting infrastructures, to influx of industries.
So yes, I am all in for creating a new CLUP. And for City Councilor Ian Nacaya to suggest this would make him by far the smartest in the City Council.
My only fear is that, if this task on planning falls on the wrong hands, and by wrong hands I mean those who claim to be experts but are actually not, or worse, those who have great parcels of land have have vested interests in adding value in their real estates then we will still end up with a mediocre plan that will never address any problem at all. It may just yet be the most expensive band aid we will ever buy and use.