There was both finger-pointing and back-patting at the Monday, Aug. 16 City Council meeting.
During the often-colorful public comment section, a Catholic priest challenged Councilor Rey Garduño to explain why he spoke at an abortion rights rally [ “Protesters Stand Against Anti-Abortion Group,” Aug. 5-11, 2010]. Garduño declined to be engaged by the mad-dogging man of the cloth. The priest said Albuquerque was becoming “the abortion capital of the nation.” This comment and another about former state Sen. Manny Aragon being “the most successful state senator in New Mexico history” made for a couple of lively moments in an otherwise lackluster meeting.
The hot items on the agenda included a package of five bills sponsored by Councilors Trudy Jones and Dan Lewis that would extend the yearlong moratorium on impact fees for another six months. Mayor Richard Berry, a licensed contractor in the construction industry before he was elected, has said he wants an overhaul of the fees. In the meantime, the moratorium eliminates impact fees altogether for green projects and cuts fees for regular buildings by 50 percent.
A report on the effects of the yearlong moratorium is inconclusive, suggesting a fluctuation in new building may have been more tied to the overall economy than to the moratorium. Over six months, the city did not take in about $1.9 million due to the moratorium, according to the report. The city has hired a consultant to make recommendations for changes to the city’s fee policy.
• Garduño presented a proclamation declaring April 28 Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day. Several people spoke in support of bringing more awareness to this growing problem that affects our veterans and civilian support personnel.
• The Council, with an eye on the future, set up a redistricting committee in anticipation of the 2010 census results. The group would make recommendations on how many Council districts there should be and where the lines need to be drawn.
• To end the meeting on a green note, the Council received a report from a committee outlining how the city should go about regulating community gardens. The committee said the gardens are a good idea and should be allowed on public and private lands, adding that gardeners should practice prudent water conservation methods.