There’s going to be a 42-storey condominium building to rise beside the Ateneo de Manila University—and it defies all the zoning restrictions of the Katipunan area.

According to Quezon City Zoning Ordinance No. SP918 S-2000, only buildings up to 24 stories high are allowed along Katipunan Avenue. SMDC’s Blue Residences is 42 stories high. Unfortunately, the City Council, without any public consultation or deliberation whatsoever, granted SMDC an exemption on the very day that the resolution was passed.

Why the hasty exemption? Why the absence of any public deliberation? And why is the city government allowing a 42-storey structure to tower above this academic community? What makes SMDC so special that it was granted an exemption?

I still remember when Katipunan wasn’t such a highly commercialized area. Years back, the street was lined with mom and pop establishments, little eateries that served home-cooked food to the students of Ateneo, Miriam, and UP. Today, every major fast food brand has an outlet in Katipunan, and mom and pop operations have given way to commercial buildings and condominiums.

This is not the first time that SMDC has built a structure that defied the 24-storey rule. Berkeley Residences is 31 stories high. I wonder if that structure was also granted an exemption.

I do hope that the Katipunan community would make a concerted effort to fight this exemption. I hope we get our voices heard on the streets and over the Internet. Let’s tell the QC government our disgust over this questionable exemption.