Biz Buzz: To vote or not to vote
September 20 is a date closely watched by residents of the gated Ayala Alabang Village, and the fireworks during the run-up to this date are just as dramatic as any national election.
As villagers debated whether to open more gates to decongest traffic in this upscale subdivision, a group of homeowners opposed to this controversial gate-opening initiative (mostly residing in the area near the proposed gateway) have asked the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) to stop the village association from holding a referendum on the matter, from making use of any association funds for this exercise, as well as to declare as void the results of such referendum (if it would push through).
In a 30-page complaint filed with the HLURB dated July 28, the group of anti-gate advocates said the referendum was “without factual bases,” “premature” and “useless,” noting that the opening of the gate was beyond the power of the members of the association board to carry out and implement.
The group noted that property developer Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) had stated that it would agree to the opening of the gate only if there was a written affirmative vote of at least 75 percent of lot owners residing in the affected area (San Jose and Santiago Streets) since the modification was not part of the original master plan.
To date, 56 percent of the lot owners in these affected areas had submitted their written objection to the opening of a new gate near their backyard.
“Respondents’ insistence of holding it can only be on the vain hope and speculation that a favorable vote would put pressure on ALI to agree. And that makes speculation the whole reason for the referendum,” the petitioners said.
The lot on which the road to be built to connect to the wall which will be dismantled to build on the proposed new gate is not part of the common area and as it remains the exclusive property of ALI with the whole bundle of ownership rights intact, complainants said ALI’s right as owner was “complete and undiminished.” As such, complainants are banking on ALI standing pat on its right to impose such conditions.
The complainants added that the village association have not conducted any proper technical study to establish the traffic congestion problem or that the only solution to such would be the opening of new gates or that such opening of new gates could be undertaken while avoiding the resulting noise and air pollution, safety and health hazards and security risks.
Even assuming that the referendum could be validly held, the group said the process by which the association is conducting so was “being unfairly, if not dishonestly and ineffectually carried out.”
To date, petitioners said the actual questions to be asked during the referendum were not disclosed. Neither was there disclosure on details on the implementation of the gate openings (including the costs) nor on how ALI’s objection could be addressed.
The group added that there were some who believe that the P54-million price for the Filinvest lot (through which the proposed San Jose gate will pass) was “way too low,” adding “they are entitled to know whether there are undisclosed conditions that enable Filinvest to equalize the exchange of values on the purchase.”–Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
‘Life and death situation’
A group of residents advocating the opening of more gates in Ayala Alabang called Resident’s Initiative for New Gates (RING) wrote to Biz Buzz to say that more than 800 residents have now signed the petition backing the association’s decision to put the matter of gate opening into a referendum.
Among the signatories was former President Ramos.
“Our referendum will push through on Sept. 20. We believe the majority will show that they stand behind the need to open more gates. As we are a democracy, it is hoped that the will of the majority will prevail,” RING said.
When the Ayala group developed and sold the initial phases of AAV in the early 1980s, it was initially designed to be a small community of a few hundred homes, RING said. The surrounding areas were acquired piece by piece over several years. “At present, we are a village of over 500 hectares, representing 5,358 households of over 20,000 residents. In addition to this, we are host to five schools,” RING said.
Dela Salle Zobel (with 4,100 students), Paref Woodrose (1,200 students), Maria Montessori, The Learning Child and Virgin Mary Immaculate School are the schools that the village hosts and apart from the students, their employees and faculty members add to village traffic.
At the same time, Ayala Country Club has estimated 4,000 members while St. James Church and a charity foundation, SOS Children’s Village are likewise situated in the village.
The total number of vehicle access stickers issued last year was 30,709.
“Ayala Alabang is the equivalent of a small city shaped like one giant cul-de-sac. To design exits for a community of this size in only one direction is a major flaw in urban planning,” RING said. The pro-gate advocates lamented that the smaller Ayala villages in Makati have more gates than Ayala Alabang, which has only three gates and one thoroughfare. It noted that Dasmariñas Village, with 5,654 residents, has six gates and five thoroughfares while North Forbes, with 2,500 residents, has four gates and three thoroughfares.
“We, residents, are vulnerable to any problem in movement on Commerce Ave. In recent times, we have had the experience of being trapped in our own village,” RING said.
“In the case of Typhoon Glenda, we could not get out of our village for 48 hours. The other week there was a flash flood on Commerce Ave. that extended inside our village. There was a 30-minute window were two of the three gates were impassable—this highlights the risk we have. With the threat of more natural disasters we need to act decisively, proactively, and not after the fact.”
Pointing out that this matter has become a “life and death” situation, RING quoted Lifeline’s estimated ambulance response time: “[It] used to be [that] response [took] seven minutes, on scene stabilization five minutes and transportation 15 minutes to the hospital and 15 minutes back to base [for a] total turnaround time of 42 minutes for the ambulance from call to return to base. Now it’s 1.5 to 2 hours to do the turnaround.”
RING added a few anecdotes: “One victim of a motorcycle accident has already bled to death waiting for the ambulance to return. Another resident in critical condition took 40 minutes to get to Asian Hospital, which is less than three kilometers away from the village gate. A US citizen/tenant whose son has a bleeding disorder took two hours to get to Asian (a 5-km distance from her house).
“Thankfully, despite unsavory and unfounded accusations leading to a lawsuit, our barangay leaders and board have stayed the course,” RING said.–Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
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