Parking or the lack of it

Now that we are entering a hybrid work and face-to-face school system, we are saying hello again to an old friend. Traffic.

As we scramble to get our schedules and itineraries fixed up to plan our trips properly and hopefully avoid the congested roads, three lawmakers have filed House Bills to try and combat the problem slowly creeping back.

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The Proposed Bills

Representatives Joey Sarte Salceda (House Bill 679), Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco (House Bill 31) and Bernadette Herrera-Dy (House Bill 1524) have all filed House Bills that they believe will work to help solve our traffic problem. All three bills are practically the same: the bills mandate that before buying a new car, the buyer is required to present proof and submit an affidavit that he/she has the appropriate parking for their new vehicle.

If passed, the No Parking, No Car law will task the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to work and coordinate with Local Government Units (LGUs) when implementing the mandates of the law. Both agencies will check the required parking before giving the green light to the new vehicle buyer. Three-year suspensions will be given to new owners to be found violating the requirement, and there will also be a 50,000 PHP fine.

The major difference is that House Bill 31 also calls for the rule to extend outside of Metro Manila; the other two seem to be Metro Manila-centric. Other heavily urbanized areas like Angeles, Bacolod, Baguio, Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Dagupan, Davao, Iloilo, Naga and Olongapo will be included in the scope area. The Bills also state that the LTO can add to these areas if needed. 

The No Parking, No Car bill may seem simple, but is it something that can actually be implemented? We have some points that we think will need further discussion.

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The Pros

PRO: Decongesting Streets

If you've watched any of MMDA TFSO boss Edison “Bong” Nebrija's videos on social media regarding road clearing, then you'll know many vehicles are parked on public roads or sidewalks next to the owner's house or business. Heck, one only needs to drive around to know that there are a lot of parked cars in places where they really shouldn't be like the so-called Mabuhay Lanes or Christmas Lanes. 

If a No Parking, No Car law gets passed, it could help prevent these streets from being congested further. 

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PRO: Promotes responsible car ownership

Owning a car really carries with it a responsibility to maintain it, pay for the amortizations, registrations, and other requirements. It's not that much different from owning a house, as a homeowner does need to budget for things like house repair, utility bills, taxes, amortization dues, and so on and so forth. 

Securing proper parking that isn't blocking a street is another. 

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PRO: Penalizes corruption 

It may seem like a burden to motorists, but the bills also prescribe penalties for officers of the concerned implementing agencies and offices. If an officer or government employee is found to have falsified an approval without the necessary documents, then they will be met with sanctions. 

If the implementation by the LTO and LGUs is done right, it (theoretically) means no more under-the-table dealings. Inspections will be done by the LGUs to the applicant’s home to confirm parking space and reported straight to the LTO.

The Cons

CON: Extra Cost

Of course, it's not all rosy, and perhaps the biggest problem here is cost.

Motorists are already tired of the costs. Actually, everyone is. That's arguably why there has been much resistance to motoring-related laws and policies that the government has tried to implement. Think of the child seat law, the anti-distracted driving act, or the implementation of PMVIC. We don't actually have to look further than the implementation of the no-contact apprehension programs. 

Every time the government tries to push something that incurs extra costs and inconvenience to motorists, the law or policy gets criticized online, so much so that the political leaders relent and suspend it, defer it, or make it optional. 

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CON: It's Not Equal

Another question that arises is how will the No Parking No Car law applies to people who live in subdivisions or gated communities. 

Earlier we mentioned that decongesting a Mabuhay lane for its intended purpose is a Pro, but when it comes to people who have 3-4 car garages in these gated subdivisions, are they allowed to purchase as much as they can fit into their garages? Wouldn’t it come out unfair to not let someone who really needs a car for their work or income and not letting him purchase because of this law against someone who can just keep on buying even if they just need 1-2 (but have 3-5) for work every day?

Can this law even be used by homeowners associations? Will this law bring back the issue of class amongst vehicle owners and the automotive industry as a whole? 

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CON: Open To Abuse

The proposed law puts the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Local Government Units (LGUs) in charge of the implementation, but we know there are "enterprising" individuals who will be looking for connections to exploit for profit. If there's anything we know for certain is that the fixer business is very much alive and well.  

Let’s face it, money definitely talks. Especially when applying for requirements in these scenarios. A lot of under-the-table dealing happens, which is why this law may be open to further abuse by characters in the system.  

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CON: What about second-hand and current owners?

Much of the bills focus on procuring a new car and presenting documentation to a dealership, but what about second-hand cars? Will also purchasing a second-hand car have this parking requirement? What will the ramifications be for the segunda mano car market? What's the case for vehicle owners who want to sell their existing car? Are they to demand for the same documentation from a prospective buyer? Should they be responsible enough to check if the person they are selling to has ample parking space?

More importantly, what about existing car owners? How will it actually affect vehicle owners that are already parked on public roads? If the intended purpose of the bill is to decongest roads, shouldn't it focus on clearing existing cars already clogging public roads? Will they be required to present documentation and proof of parking when they renew their registration? 

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The purpose of the proposals seems to tackle a problem and are worded to be straightforward. And that may be where the potential issues are. Will being simple and straightforward be enough to tackle a multifaceted problem?

Have these lawmakers looked at and checked every angle? Will there be people exempted? Will their exemption be because of their duty or their wealth? Will the average person who wants to buy a car on a budget with only one parking space be at par with the super-wealthy who live in these gated communities with several at their disposal? There are quite a few gaps and pitfalls and we expect that there will be a lot of resistance to such a law being pushed for adoption.