Minimal parking areas in Baguio

>> Sunday, April 9, 2017

Alfred P. Dizon

BAGUIO CITY – I was standing in front of Jollibee along Session Road here across Philippine National Bank waiting for the light to turn green so I could cross the road when a Toyota Hi Ace van stopped, window rolled down and passenger, asked, “Saan po kaya kami puedeng magpark ditto na malapit?
It was around 4:30 p.m. so I told him to go to Burnham Park, SM or Cathedral grounds, all pay-parking areas.
“Wala bang puedeng parking area dito na hindi kailangang magbayad?
I suppressed the urge to point at the sky, noting they were visitors, so I told them to just try these areas first and if they couldn’t find a parking space, then they could go to Baguio Convention Center grounds where no parking fee is charged.
I actually just came from Harrison Road where I was lucky enough to find a parking space when a vehicle left.
Parking in this tourism resort is a nightmare and takes a lot of time particularly for visitors since parking is not allowed in almost all roads, including those in barangays.            
Parking along Session Road is not allowed from 6-9 a.m. and 4-7 p.m. Even in adjacent Upper Mabini, parking is not allowed day and night with only six slots allowed in front of GP Building from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Parking is not allowed along these roads when Mabini is a one-way road while, traffic is not heavy along Session during no-parking hours.
A traffic summit was recently held but then, nothing much has changed and most roads are still no-parking areas. City officials could try on an experimental basis to allow parking along Mabini and Session night and day and they may be surprised it won’t affect traffic that much.
The number coding scheme is working well, considering volume of vehicles in the city. But recently, the city council passed on first reading a proposed ordinance amending the “Baguio City Number Coding Scheme” ordinance.
Authored by councilor Edgar Avila, the measure proposes exemptions to number coding scheme. A report of Gaby Keith of city information office and intern Cassey Francis says proposed amendment states “self-driven motor vehicles, motor bikes of senior citizens and/or differently-abled persons (PWDs)” be included in exemptions.
The city’s number coding scheme currently exempts the following:  chartered mini-buses outside the City of Baguio used for lakbay-aral or excursion purposes; government-owned motor vehicles with red plates used in the performance of official functions; vehicles of Philippine Postal Corporation used for mail delivery and armored cars used by banks for bulk money transfer.
Also exempted are motor vehicles used in emergency, water delivery trucks when assisting in fire control, service vehicles of public utility companies performing emergency repairs within the number coding zone, school services registered by the Land Transportation and Regulatory Board ferrying preschool, elementary and high school students from 6 to 9 a.m. and 2-6 p.m. in schools located within the number coding zone.
Others are private motor vehicles and chartered public utility vehicles of visitors, tourists, vacationers, or participants of sanctioned activities such as conventions, conferences and assemblies.
“There is a need to suit special needs of senior citizens and differently-abled persons,” the proposed ordinance states.
The city council also passed on first reading a proposed ordinance designating parking spaces for persons with disabilities (PWDs) in all buildings, business establishments, offices and all similar structures here. These would be required to provide parking spaces or be penalized.
Authored by councilor Elaine Sembrano, the proposed law says the magna carta for disabled persons does not provide parking spaces for motor vehicles driven by PWDs on buildings, facilities and utilities for public use accessible to them.
If finally approved, it will be known as “PWD Parking Ordinance of Baguio City” and will direct all business establishments, offices, buildings or any similar structure open to the public in the city to provide parking spaces for vehicles driven by PWDs or for vehicles carrying a PWD and a customer or client of the business establishment or office.
PWD parking slots shall be located at an area nearest the main entrance or exit of the parking facility and have enough space for a person to transfer from the vehicle to a wheelchair and be away from ramps and curbs to allow mobility.
The designated PWD parking slot shall be properly identified either through a sign stating it as “Parking Slot for PWD” or a painting in yellow with black stripes of a wheelchair over the pavement designated as such.
No person apart from those identified by the ordinance shall occupy or block any of the designated PWD parking slot or allow or approve the use thereof by an unauthorized person, except, during emergencies like medical, fire, calamity or any similar event where the movement or parking of emergency vehicles is of utmost necessity.
A PWD driving a vehicle or a driver with a PWD passenger shall present to parking attendant valid PWD identification card issued by the city social welfare and development office or the Dept. of Social Welfare and Development to avail of the PWD parking slot. 
The identification card of the PWD driver or passenger shall be displayed inside the vehicle visible to the public.
If an unauthorized vehicle is found obstructing, standing or parked in the PWD parking slot, the manager or owner shall be authorized to remove or tow the vehicle to a proper parking space. 
Towing charges shall be paid by the vehicle owner or driver.
Any person found to have violated any of the ordinance’s provisions shall be subject to penalties:  reprimand for first offense, P2,000 for second, P3,000 and eight hours community service for third and P5,000 or imprisonment of not more than thirty days or both upon the court’s discretion for the fourth offense.
The two proposed laws may have good intentions. But then how does one define a “person with disability” as regards the proposed laws? Should a person who has a hearing or eye problem be even allowed to drive? One time, an elderly man backed on me at the top of Session Road beside the old PLDT office, I was about a meter away at his back and when he started his engine and moved backwards, I honked my horn incessantly but he still continued until his back bumper hit my car front bumper badly denting it. All he could say sheepishly was “pasensya na.” It was obvious he had a sight or hearing problem.

A man who has an amputated leg could still drive an automatic vehicle without a clutch using his good foot, but then, like we said, should a person who is deaf or has bad eyesight be allowed to drive?  


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