makati rezones

The city of Makati is revising its zoning code. Zoning, for the cities that use it, is the one legal instrument that pretty much defines the fabric of built environment -and so, defines the spaces and places we live and work in.

Makati's new zoning code -well, not new, really as it is a revised zoning code -changes some of the allowed uses and ups the floor area ratio* (thereby the building intensity, e.g. how tall or how massive buildings are) in various areas of the city. I think Makati uses a traditional Euclidean or Functional zoning, defining the allowed uses (commercial, residential, office, etc.) and using FAR (floor area ratio) to prescribe building heights and bulks.

I'm saying "I think" because I couldn't find a copy of either the new or old zoning ordinance online. (Note to all city goverments: PUT YOUR ZONING CODE ONLINE!!) I did find a pdf of a powerpoint presentation (pdf 1.9mb) given to the Makati City Council sometime August of 2006 that outlined the changes.

You can navigate/check out the zoning changes on the map on this page though it might be be use the larger map as for some reason, not all my placemarkers are showing on the map on this page. The map has no street names, so you can cross reference the streets (at least for the CBD) using this flash map. If you have GoogleEarth, you can download the overlay image here (kmz 855kb file).

Over the next 5-10 years, expect to see the following changes:

  1. Convenience retail (small stores, ala 7-11) on the ground floor of the buildings along Ayala Ave. before Makati ave. and along Makati Ave. towards Paseo de Roxas.
  2. In Legaspi and Salcedo Villages, new residential towers will rise along Dela Rosa, on the backside of the office buildings along Ayala Ave. and along Valero St. (The lots there are mostly occupied by structured and surface parking. Also expect a 25% increase in building heights as they raised the FAR from 6 to 8.)
  3. We'll see more intense development (taller buildings) on the north side of Sen. Gil Puyat (Buendia) from EDSA to Ayala Ave. (the Bel-Air/Jupiter St. side).
  4. More intense commercial development is allowed between Yakal and Malugay Sts. (north of Buendia)
  5. Expect buildings to double their size/height along Pasong Tamo (on both sides of EDSA)
  6. And also more intense commercial development on Pasong Tamo before Dela Rosa
  7. Ditto for (more intense) commercial development along the western side SLEX between Zobel Roxas and Cash & Carry.
  8. More intensive neighborhood scale commercial along Zobel Roxas before SLEX
  9. Expect 30% taller buildings along both sides of the stretch of EDSA between Guadalupe and Estrella.
The new code also anticipates the changes in the Fort Bonifacio masterplan and greenlights the redevelopment of the old Colgate-Palmolive and SC Johnson compounds and the Metro Club into high-rise residential, office and commercial spaces. The two properties across Estrella st. from Rockwell is part of the development's expansion plan. (Looks like they will be building more residential towers and maybe some BPO office space.)

There were a few bulletpoints about "innovations" in the pdf that got me piqued, namely (my notes in italics):
  • Granting of density bonuses (bonus in exchange for what?)
  • TOD (Transit oriented development!! Where?)
  • Green spaces (public spaces, I hope! and maybe in exchange for density bonuses.)
  • Land readjustment scheme (as a way to reshape the small irregular lots in the older, low-rise, dense areas of the city)
  • Heritage zone (I guess for the old poblacion)
  • TDR (Transfer of Development Rights!!)
I'd love to see more details about this list.

Makati's new code also calls for the creation of the Office of the Zoning Administrator -which could mean more transparency and better enforcement or more bureaucracy.

I know Makati isn't alone in revising its zoning ordinance. Manila is doing it too (and I'm waiting for a friend to send me a copy of Manila's new code. Word is, they are removing heavy industrial zones and bringing in Planned Unit Development. - My comments on that new code, once I review it.)

The new zoning codes are testament to the continuing growth and change in our megacity and, hopefully, opportunities to improve our cities.

Interactive map via MapLib.Net
Here's a graphic that better explains how FAR and lot coverage define building heights and bulks.


mehitabel said...

As an urban planner, what is your assessment of these changes? Will these result in a better space plan for Makati? My impression is that these changes will bring about higher population density for Makati. Will the city be able to support this in terms of being able to provide sufficient parking space, an efficient traffic flow, good waste management and other services such as schools, hospitals, policing etc.

Urbano dela Cruz said...


Good question. Unfortunately a zoning code is but half of the picture. Revising the zoning ordinance (ZO), in most cases (and i think it holds true for makati) is part of a response to a Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP). That plan lays out both population growth estimates and job growth estimates -along with estimates for traffic flows and the demands for city services. (All Philippine cities and municipalities are required by law to prepare CLUPs and accompanying zoning ordinances.)

What I can read from the ZO is that the emphasis in Makati is on expanding commercial development -with some highrise residential development. That means the ZO changes are driven by fiscal considerations (tax receipts) rather than by livability, or jobs-housing balance considerations.

That being said, Makati's current density of 16-17K/km2 is not unmanageable. Although the density soars to above 50K/km2 in some areas (Comembo, the Rembos, Cembo, etc.)

Comparatively, Manhattan's population density is (as of 2000 census) 25,850/km2.

The ZO changes alone won't create a more livable city. The ZO changes only create the envelope for development. The ZOs must be informed by a good strategic and spatial assessment of the context and the growth facing the city. And that assessment, in turn, should be founded on shared community values. (e.g. -"that people are more important than cars, etc.")

(BTW, Makati's CBD and the surrounding villages (largely the Ayala developments) were the first areas in MM to be served by a sewerage treatment plant. The water concessionaires are supposed to be expanding capacity.)

mehitabel said...

Thanks for responding to my question. The last time I was in Makati, there was already gridlock in the Ayala area where once upon a time, it was a showcase for a well-planned community. I cannot imagine how the new ZO will be able to create order from what it seems to me near chaos during the peak hours.

I wonder if there is in place a process for public consultation so that those who will be intimately affected by the ZO changes can voice their concerns. Considering that Makati's plan is driven by fiscal considerations and is not consistent with the job-housing balance that CLUP seeks to establish, isn't this planning process then a futile exercise if the resulting comprehensive plan is just a mish mash of parochial designs.

I hate to ask this but I will anyway---are we certain that the ZO changes are not driven by personal motives alone?

Urbano dela Cruz said...


Your concerns are valid, though I suspect that we would be hard put to make "personal motives" stick as an accusation at the level of a ZO-wide change.

It would probably be true at the single lot or district level changes. In the early 90s, there was a huge political battle in Forbes Park -between landowners who wanted to allow hi-rise and commercial development along McKinley Road and landowners who wanted to keep the low-density, large lot zoning in the village. The proponents of the change were largely onwed property along McKinley, and so would benefit most from the upzoning. The antis won that one, although they did rethink the deed restrictions -allowing larger lot coverages so homeowners could add accessory units.

But I digress...

I know the city is required by law to consult the public about changes to the ZO. The consults are done mainly during City Council meetings. As in many cities, few from the general public really attend city council meetings - and so the discussions are usually dominated by vested interests. You do point to the need for a much more comprehensive public involvement process that should have accompanied the creation of the CLUP.

Bottomline, we all SHOULD be concerned about land use decisions because they determine the quality of life in all our communities. Further, land use changes, unlike electoral politics, shape our lives over the long term (25 to 50 years) and in very concrete (no pun intended) terms. -Land use determines how we live, where we live and work, how we move about, what kind of energy we use, etc.

That being said, your concern about traffic congestion is a bit misplaced, but not surprising. Most car owners/users notice and complain about changes in city development because they get impacted by the density via traffic congestion.

Makati's congestion is a sign of its success as the country's premier financial district and main generator of white collar (read: middle-class=likely car owners). Having more and higher density residential adjacent to the business district would actually help traffic congestion IF residents in these new developments opted to walk rather than drive to work.

There are many ways to attack and solve traffic congestion - foremost among them is to make alternatives (read: public transport, walking, biking) more attractive and more efficient.

peterangliongto said...

I understand that the current rezoning plan is opposed by three villages/ barangays: bel air, urdaneta and san lorenzo. It is a sad state of affairs when a handfull of rich people can oppose progress for the greater good. Opening up these villages or even just allowing greater density even purely for residential will allow a greater amount of people to walk to work. Unfortunately one of the key problem features of urban planning in MetroManila is it's hugely disfuntional decentralized nature which by policy and law allow barangays or streets to prevent changes even when it is deemed by the greater majority as neccesary and individual cities and municipalities to plan and regulate solely for their constituents when the reality is MM is one entity. Until we are able to overcome these obstacles, making MM (GMA) will be a unnecessarily difficult undertaking.

Urbano dela Cruz said...

hi peter,

you said "key problem features of urban planning...it's hugely disfuntional decentralized nature"

which pretty much sums up the problem of almost any metropolitan region in the world. only a handful have moved to strengthen regional cooperation and planning. It's a function of how metropolitan regions grow -by individual cities and towns growing into each other. Of course they are separate juridictions and if there is one thing that is true in any organization (but particularly governments), it is easier to give power than to take it away, which is basically what a regional planning regime will do.

There are ways around it, the central government for instance can link infra investments to requirements for inter-jurisdiction planning. Or they can tweak tax requirements around major infra nodes to encourage development in those areas.

As to bel-air, urdaneta and san lo. I think urdaneta is going to get rezoned anyway (my guesstimate is that over 90% of the lots in the village are all corporate owned and are just waiting for the rezone to redevelop (it is the most logical expansion area for the CBD). Sanlo knows it has to give up the Amorsolo corridor. Bel Air is the problematic one.

Of course car traffic is the issue for all of the villages. I'd rather we open up pedestrian lanes -greenways and bike lanes through the villages, to encourage more people to walk. (lord knows we've made enough concessions to vehicular traffic)

peterangliongto said...

Thank you for your response. I understand of course that the problem of MM may not be totally unique. Nevertheless one can not be too envious of the coordinated planning of a Singapore or the Chinese cities with whom the mandate of power to change things resides within a central authority. It's one reason why progress (at least in the "hard" infrastructure parts) seems so much quicker. I understand one of the reasons Mayor Lernier (tama ba spelling anyway the guy from curitiba ! :)) was successful was that it was implemented during a time when Brazil was essentially under martial law under a Junta hence able to push through with his ideas. With the dismantling of the MMC and it's replacement with the MMDA, it's been difficult with local politics always superseding national or at least regional concerns. e.g. Manila essentially killing lrt4 or Makati with it's insistence to createan intersection in Kalayaan/C5. It would take congress to make the neccesary changes or a lot of money. Even with the belair/urdaneta/sanlo issue, I was thinking initially that a tax on such properties might work but raising property taxes alone may not do the trick and you would need congress to do a special assesment which is almost a sure nonstarter. Anyway since this is a non rant site I guess a law that would allow LGU's to tax undeveloped rezoned property a special assesment similar to the the idle land tax would be the best thing to push for on a regulatory level to move things forward. A dangerous thing unless other brighter ideas are out there. Good day.

Urbano dela Cruz said...

so peter, are you saying you'd rather live in a dictatorship of sorts for the sake of better urban planning?

the dean of my old school used to pine for "aesthetically aware authoritarians" -if only so we can get things done quicker. (and he was talking about his frustration with projects in China!)

that being said, there have been major urban planning disasters committed under dictatorships. too many to list here, actually.

and, yes, politics (and consequently planning decisions) in any democracy (mature or otherwise) is messy. the only way to get things done is to fully engage the politics.

i linked to it in my reply to your comment in my latest post, but check out the description of the Chicago Metropolis 2020 plan in the link:

"Metropolis 2020 is also focusing on the harmonization of decentralized policies in order to achieve a stronger regional planning. The Chicago metropolis is in fact an agglomeration of 273 ‘independent’ localities, so regional plans suffer the permanent threat of a resolute “not in my backyard”. M2020 recently managed to unite the separate planners of Infrastructure and of Housing in a single department that is regionally supported and backed."

273! and what is our challenge? 17+, maybe double that if you bring in the southern tagalog and the central luzon jurisdictions.

as to taxation and zoning, different zones have different tax assessment rates so having an underdeveloped and out of zone property (say a single family house in a commercial zone) should automatically mean a higher tax assessment for the property. that way the zoning should work with the tax policy to shape development.

I say "should" because some municipalities have their zoning and tax policies aligned, and some may not.

the LGU code, which gives our localities control over property taxes, should encourage a greater correspondence between the two.

peterangliongto said...

I'd like to see a stronger regional government or MMDA with the power to coordinate planning , raise taxes and implement policy. It could be elected directly or by the various cities but it must be able to execute even against Cities which do not cooperate. While an NGO lobby as suggested in the article could have some effect, this would be very cumbersome at best if not entirely inutile. This unfortunately would require a act of congress so it probably won't fly. Anyway that would be my preference.

The tax thing theoretically should work. Let's see lang if stands up in court when the barangay sues! hehe.

Bradpetehoops said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Marti Torno said...

Does anyone have any idea of how much air rights cost along Valero st? What is the FAR for commercial there? If 35 floors will be built on a 2000 sqmt land.

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