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Development Concepts for the Six Identified Growth Areas in the Master Development Plan

       Recommended Development Concepts for the Six ( 6) Identified Growth Areas

                  in the Master Development Plan of the City of Zamboanga

I.   Introduction:

         The City of Zamboanga is not only major urban center in Western Mindanao but is essentially a trading hub and a gateway to Southern Philippines. In terms of its strategic location, it can have a catchment area 20 times its population. Just like many other rapidly growing cities, it is also pressed with various critical and sensitive issues and concerns like traffic congestion and narrow roads, squatting and urban blight, environmental degradation, uncontrolled agricultural land conversion, etc. With its vast land area and wide variety of natural characteristics and resources, many possibilities or alternatives for growth and development are open. Hence, with the multitude of development challenges that the city is facing, the city had to carefully identify and judiciously consider various development strategies, so that when implemented vigorously will achieve the aims of development of the city.

       While endowed with generous natural resources, basic to the city’s development thrusts, however, are the preservation, conservation and protection of its natural environment. Therefore, the general approach will always be through the sustainable utilization of natural resources with due regards for the environment.

          In the Master Development Plan (MDP) of the city, to facilitate and accelerate growth, one of the development strategies recommended, is a planned “spatial break-out” to secondary and tertiary centers. These centers will perform “urban satellite” functions to leapfrog the agricultural spaces and mitigate the inevitable “ribbon development” that causes the urban sprawl along the east and west coast highways and even adversely affects the amenities of the countryside.

          The planned satellites are situated both in the west and east coasts of the city. In the west coast,  two areas are identified; a) Ayala – Talisayan – Cawit – Recodo Cluster Barangays, occasioned by the presence of the ECOZONE and b) Labuan, the most potentially possible to serve as a commercial center even for the southern municipalities of Zamboanga del Norte, being a progressive barangay nearest to the said province. In the east coast; these are; c) Mercedes, the proposed site for the new international airport, d) Sangali, because of the existing fishing port complex; e) Curuan, as the crossroad to Zamboanga del Norte, and f) Vitali, the frontier to Zamboanga Sibugay.

         The discussions on the Development Concepts for each of these identified growth areas will follow the subject on the Approaches. Each concept will cover what development directions and intensity of growth each center envisions respectively. How their specific roles and functions will have impact on the natural environment, as well as how they will greatly contribute to the overall development direction of the city, in becoming A globally competitive, culturally enriched garden city by an empowered community with a free trade zone, balanced ecology and sustainable development”.

         The discussion of the various identified over-all development strategies that may be applicable to all the growth centers is at the last portion of this paper.

II. Approaches in the Formulation of the Development Concepts:

         The early Plans prepared by the local government units (LGUs) encompassed all uses of land, private property, public sites, and transportation and further represented by maps. Planners then, envisioned these Plans as master designs focusing on the physical development of the LGU’s territory, detailing the general location and extent of new public improvements as well as private developments in the distribution among various classes of land uses, like residential, commercial or industrial uses, and designed for long-term application. Although early plans tended to establish an end-state, premised on the assumption that future conditions can be sufficiently predicted, planners’ experiences revealed otherwise. Not only is it difficult to expect a specific zone to be confined to a specific land use, but it is also unrealistic to expect that all future factors that affect land use can be anticipated.

          Over the years, planning concepts and practices have continued to evolve and a number of new ideas had taken roots and even started to branch out, maturing in the process as each planning concept version got pruned and shaped by planning practitioners and educators. Today’s plan version, the nature of the plan has shifted from an elitist, inspirational, long-range vision that was based on fiscally innocent implementation advice, to a framework for community consensus on future growth that is supported by fiscally grounded actions to manage change.  Its coverage has expanded to include both the natural and built environment and its format also shifted from simple policy statements and a single large-scale map of future land use, circulation and community facilities, to a more complex combination of text, data, maps and timetables.

         The formulation of the respective development plans for each identified growth areas of the city, are targeted for long-term development as well as determining the use of the land, but the approach shall not be limited to the more rigid, rule-oriented traditional land use and land demand activities techniques. However, although certain changes in focus, process, subject matter and format has been made, said changes are meant to enrich and have a more effective implementation of plans to meet new and more complex land issues, which actually are among the most controversial items in local government agenda. Moreover, the traditional concept of a plan is not entirely abandoned. Instead, the various innovative practices that are not mutually exclusive are combined into a Contemporary Hybrid Plan, integrating Design, Policy, and Management to cope up with growth at the same time create a new land use governance systems whose influence can broaden the conceptual arsenals of local planners. The common elements of these systems are:

·          Consistency    –   between plan and regulations, among government inter-agencies or within the LGU or Barangays within the planned area.
·          Concurrency    –    between infrastructure and new developments
·          Compactness  –    of new growth, to limit urban sprawl or encroachment in the environmentally critical areas
·          Affordability     –    of new housing and other new developments
·          Economic Development  –   “managing to grow” based on need and capacity
·          Sustainability  –     of natural systems

        Likewise, growth shall be shaped to build community, promote pedestrian and transit use, protect natural amenities and existing residential and employment areas and ensure diversity of people and activities, thus future development may even be directed to mixed neighborhoods, since many of which are already established.

        Further, the initial development approach to consider for these identified growth areas should be multi-directional and not be limited to development either from above or below. Therefore, they must work upwards, downwards and sideward simultaneously to have a judicious blending of the two to meet the challenges faced by the growth centers because, development is a task that can be accomplished well, only when it pervades all aspects and levels of a society. It has to be initiated not only from above and below but also at all intermediate levels.