Philippines unfortunate national minimum minimums
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Brief summary of this reform
Unfortunately, local governments in the Philippines cannot lower or eliminate parking mandates (minimum parking requirements) because parking minimums are specified at the national level and cities cannot set parking minimums below the national guidelines.
Why should you care?
Preventing parking requirements from being adapted to each local context makes them even more harmful than they need to be.
The Philippines is not unique in having the national guidelines on parking requirements. However, the national parking minimums in the Philippines are unusually inflexible in allowing local governments no discretion to set lower or zero parking minimums to suit local contexts, even in locations where high parking minimums would be especially inappropriate.
This case also highlights a wider dilemma over local control versus pre-emption by higher levels of government. Although parking reformers cheer cases in which State or National governments restrain local governments from imposing excessive parking mandates (as in France for example) we are less happy when they impose excessive and inflexible parking mandates on local governments, as in this case.
Key actor type
National Building Code Development Office, Philippines Department of Public Works and Highways
Is it a model or a warning?
what NOT to do
Main parking category
Main parking paradigm shift
Unknown or unclear or not applicable or other
Adaptive Parking thrust
Does not fit neatly into this framework/None of the above
Goals of the reform
The motivations for the Philippines minimum parking requirements are not specified in the building code but presumably they are the usual motivations for parking mandates everywhere, including the belief that developers will not build appropriate parking space without such a mandate.
It is not clear why the country decided to specify parking mandates in the National Building Code rather than leaving it to local discretion. Perhaps the fact that the National Building Code Development Office is located in the Department of Public Works and Highways has something to do with it!
Impetus (what problem, campaign, opportunity or event prompted action?)
Unknown but presumably there was an increase in parking problems as motorization increased.
Detailed description of the reform
Local governments in the Philippines cannot set parking mandates (minimum parking requirements) below the levels specified in the National Building Code set by the national government. Local governments can only set parking mandates equal to or higher than the national guidelines.
Informal or formal exceptions are sometimes granted by local government to allow some buildings to be built with less parking than specified in the National Building Code. However, this is not ideal. It likely opens the door to corruption and gives an unfair advantage to the largest development companies, which have more ability to negotiate such exceptions.
The National Government sets parking requirement guidelines in Table VII.4 of Presidential Decree 1096, otherwise known as the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the National Building Code of the Philippines.
These parking minimums are not as high as many in suburban areas in North America. Nevertheless, some of them do seem extreme for a nation where car ownership rates are low. For example, restaurants, bars and fast food outlets must provide one parking slot per 30 square metres of the customer area and nightclubs, supper clubs, and theater-restaurants must have 1 slot per 20m² of customer area.
Other parking mandates are more moderate, such as shopping centers (one slot per 100m² of shopping area), office building (one slot per 125m² of gross floor area) and so on.
One redeeming feature that reduces the harm of the parking mandates for housing is that housing types aimed at low-income people have much lower car parking minimums. For example, “low-income single-detached living unit with individual lots not more than 100m²” are required to have 1 car parking slot per 10 units. Multi-family living units regardless of no. of stories with an average living floor area of 50m² must have 1 parking slot per 8 units. Multi-family living units regardless of no. of stories with an average living floor area of above 50 m² to 100 m² must have 1 parking slot per 4 housing units.
Results or impacts
I don’t have data on the effects of the national parking mandates in the Philippines.
However, it seems clear that these parking mandates must be hugely excessive for buildings that serve low-income groups in a country that has a very low level of car ownership overall. This comment probably applies to most buildings in lower-income municipalities across the country, including most rural towns.
Conversely, these parking mandates make no difference to developments that aim to serve a high-income groups. Such buildings routinely provide much more on-site parking that is required under the building code.
Sources and acknowledgements
I learned of this feature of the Philippines building code from Robert Anthony Siy, Chief Transport Planner, Pasig City, Philippines.
Implementing Rules and Regulations of the National Building Code of the Philippines (PD1096), Philippines Department of Public Works and Highways https://www.dpwh.gov.ph/dpwh/references/laws_codes_orders/PD1096
Robert Siy (16 November 2019) Parking and the National Building Code, The Manila Times https://www.manilatimes.net/2019/11/16/business/columnists-business/parking-and-the-national-building-code/656269
13 Jul 2021