Alibi V.14 No.9 • March 3-9, 2005 

Council Watch

Singin' in the Rain

The EDO master plan awaits final approval from the City Council.
The EDO master plan awaits final approval from the City Council.
Singeli Agnew

The Feb. 23 Council meeting featured a packed audience but a shortage of councilors with Debbie O'Malley and Tina Cummins sick, Sally Mayer late, and Eric Griego and Miguel Gomez leaving early. Councilor Michael Cadigan postponed his bill fast-tracking Montaño restriping until O'Malley could present her opposing bill. Councilor Martin Heinrich's bill encouraging community participation in Nob Hill planning passed. And Mayer's bill restricting vehicle weight on San Pedro in her District 7 passed after Council President Brad Winter expanded the San Pedro restrictions into his District 4.

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IssueCouncil's TakeReporter's Take
We Are the Champions
Last year Arena Management and Construction (AMC) signed a deal with the city to build an arena that would require no city funding other than purchase of the land at Second Street and Central and some infrastructure. Haha.
Now AMC wants the city to guarantee $70 million in bonds, Rio Rancho is racing toward Arena Heaven, and sources say the Scorpions hockey team, slated for purchase by AMC principal Bill Dutton, is leery about the future.Stay tuned. Griego introduced a bill calling for legal clarification before AMC's contract expires in June. AMC is seeking other private funding, and Mayor Martin Chavez is concerned about rival bidders sidelined by AMC's original financing claims.
The East Downtown Huning Highland Urban Conservation Overlay Zone plan, EDO for short, encourages development along Central and Broadway corridors. Griego introduced floor substitute bills to address concerns and defer redaction until March 7. Stakeholders' comments on the original bills replace Council Take and Reporter's Take.
PRO: Joanne McEntire of 1000 Friends of New Mexico said EDO respects the historical integrity of the neighborhood while allowing investors to build innovative projects. McEntire said the plan encourages mixed use for a more urbane and walkable neighborhood, and it required lower building heights along blocks than on corners.CON: Neighborhood residents Suzy and Steve Charnas say developers will use EDO to breach intact Downtown neighborhoods and further weaken zoning. They opposed increased liquor sales, a big problem in the '80s. Other concerns were gentrification, vehicle congestion, and higher buildings turning Central into a tunnel.
Road to Nowhere
Albuquerque's Planned Growth Strategy impact fee system gives a credit to developers who build infrastructure that the city would otherwise have to build. The state Legislature's House Bill 805 would allow developers to claim credit for any infrastructure built anywhere, regardless of city needs. Cadigan moved a memorial opposing HB805.
Cadigan said a road built to service 10 houses in Rio Puerco would qualify for credits. Griego said all HB805 supporters "had a direct financial interest." Heinrich called HB805 the "most backhanded attempt to circumvent public policy I have seen . . . except maybe for the Water Authority." Winter said he would never voluntarily give up local control. The memorial passed 5-2, Mayer and Loy opposed.Councilor Craig Loy said impact fees were unfair, causing construction to drop in Albuquerque and rise elsewhere. Noting that impact fees hadn't even started, Heinrich said "You can't make a causal relationship before you have a cause." And if rising interest rates slow Albuquerque construction, you can bet impact fees will be blamed for that too.
Got a Rocket in Your Pocket
O'Malley, her constituents angered by the 70-foot-tall Redstone rocket outside the temporary National Atomic Museum, introduced a bill limiting the height of museum exhibits to 26 feet or to the height of the adjacent building. The Old Town rocket would stay in place until the museum moves to its permanent location in 2006.
Heinrich moved O'Malley's bill. Twenty-three people, mostly connected with the museum, opposed the bill, citing freedom of expression and the rocket's educational value. Jeanne Pahls and Bob Anderson supported the bill, arguing the inappropriateness of objects connected with nuclear war. The bill failed 4-1, Heinrich supporting.The Redstone is grossly out of scale for Old Town. On a clear day you can spot that honker from two miles south of I-25's Rio Bravo exit. But the valid purpose of a bill restricting exhibit height was too compromised by its one-issue beginnings. Now, if all those red-hot advocates for free expression would just take on the FCC.
Shielded in My Armor
Twenty-three mortar rounds, three roadside bombs and one ambush--that's what Chris Catechis' little brother has encountered in his first two months in Iraq. Catechis said troops need body armor to wear and to reinforce vehicles. Griego's bill sends APD's surplus body armor to local National Guard and Reserve members deployed in Iraq.
APD Chief Gil Gallegos checked with a Kirtland AFB officer, who said they had all the armor they needed. A New Mexico National Guard officer told Gallegos the APD armor didn't meet their specs and they couldn't legally accept it. Griego said, if nothing else, they could give the armor to military families to send privately. The bill passed unanimously.Stories have flown for two years about Iraq supply problems--from lack of armor to missing rations to the court martial of Major Catherine Kaus for scrounging spare parts and abandoned vehicles for her command. Maybe Iraq's privatized supply operations would allow the APD armor shipments if they were labeled "From Halliburquerque."