The goal is to increase the public parking space available in Baguio at least fivefold.
BAGUIO Mayor Benjamin Magalong and his administration are seeking to put up at least 40 public parking buildings in the city before the term is over to address a lack of parking space for cars in the city.
According to Magalong, the city currently has only 2,700 available public parking slots available for its vehicular traffic, with the goal being to increase it to a minimum of 14,000 slots within three years.
“Parking should generate 14,000 minimum, to 22,000 slots according to our study,” Magalong said.
Figures from the city government indicate a projected 3 million visitors a year to Baguio, with an estimated half a million cars coming and plying the Baguio roads annually.
“Baka kulang pa, so siguro, it’s a challenge to us, kasi may limitations tayo dito,” Magalong said, posing the possibility of having even more public parking buildings rise in the city.
(“It might not even be enough, so probably, it’s a challenge to us because we have limitations here [in the city].”)
The main obstacle in the way of putting up the 40 public buildings, according to Magalong, is the lack of available land. The city is currently looking through its inventory of available public lands, but have only managed to identify 11 usable lots to date.
“As much as possible, we want to put the [parking buildings] up on public land, so we can generate revenue from them,” Magalong said.
Magalong also added that each building will have commercial space in order for the city and investors to profit from the buildings, the profits of which would be either shared in a profit-sharing scheme if on public land, or be kept by the private investors and the land owners if on private land.
“Local government should be run like a corporation that generates revenue,” Magalong said.
The 11 new potential sites as part of the current development plans for parking buildings have been identified, in addition to pre-existing projects that started last year such as the P400 million public parking building set to rise near the Baguio City Hall in the place of the former Baguio City Fire Department (BCFD).
Previously, the city tagged some seven sites for public parking, according to City Planning and Development Officer Donna Tabangin. In total, alongside the BCFD parking space, 8 parking buildings have entered the design phase, leaving the city with another 32 to build. Construction is expected to start within the year, but none of the buildings are slated to finish in 2023.
The P400 million parking project, one of many planned by the Magalong administration, started moving forward in October of last year, according to City Administrator Bonifacio Dela Peña, who said that the parking space is expected to pull vehicular traffic away from the Baguio City Hall and Baguio City Public Market. It is expected to house only 200 slots of parking.
Additionally, the market development project is expected to provide at least 1,200 slots worth of parking space in its design, with said parking space being a condition for the upcoming Swiss challenge, where competitors to SM Prime Holdings may present their counter-offers to the city in a bid to gain the rights to develop the market.
The planned parking structures will primarily be funded by private enterprise, with Magalong saying that of all the 40 structures slated for construction, only the P400m BCFD parking space is government-funded, with the rest being funded either by public-private partnership (PPP) or private initiatives.
In order to fund future public parking projects, the city has taken on talks with private investors late last year, where nine private entities have declared their interest in helping with the city’s parking woes through PPP as part of the city’s development plans.
Under the Growth Node Development Plan, which the nine private entities have been negotiating under, the city seeks to expand economic development outside of the Baguio central business district to decongest vehicular traffic away from the city center.
The move is part of the administration’s Smart Mobility Plan, which is looking into combining increased parking space with various transportation initiatives such as a planned cable car system in order to address worsening gridlock in the city.
“To really implement the three-year program of the Smart Mobility Transportation System, it starts this year, but this is a three year program, what we need is the infrastructure,” Magalong said.