About 25 Westside neighborhood associations came to together to ask the Council to put the brakes on approval of the city’s proposed Integrated Development Ordinance. The groups asked for a pause of at least 90 days, but preferably 6 months. The IDO is a comprehensive rewrite of the city’s 40-year-old development plan along with its associated zoning code. The proposed IDO consolidates dozens of separate zoning plans into one inclusive document. City planners and supporters say the update is needed to simplify and integrate the city’s zoning regulations, to streamline the city’s development review and approval procedures, and to improve economic development.
Those opposing the plan say the plan has not been vetted or explained completely and it pushes high density zoning across the city. It also does away with individual neighborhood sector plans, which protect many historic neighborhoods. The folks opposing the plan say the proposed ordinance reflects policies to restrict neighborhood associations and property owners in the administrative and approval process, elevating government and friendly developers above everyone else.
Joe Valles, from the Westside Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, said the IDO is not ready for approval due to too many problems. Valles said the rewrite imposes severe restrictions on people’s rights and gives preferential treatment to developers.
Councilors dealt with about 19 amendments to the plan, some of which were intended to ameliorate some of the issues of concern. Councilors approved some and others not.
There is one more public hearing at 5pm Monday, Nov. 13, before the Council gets set to vote on the massive document. Some of the Councilors have said they want this passed before Mayor Richard Berry leaves office. Valles has said that such a rush is “not good governance.” For more information log on to abc-zone.com, check out the project Facebook page or view the official project youtube video at https:/
Councilors approved a measure prohibiting pedestrians from soliciting motorists and banning motorists from interacting with pedestrians while in the traffic lanes. Councilor Trudy Jones sponsored the “pedestrian safety ordinance” that prohibits collecting or begging for money at intersections. This includes firefighters doing their boot brigades holiday funding drives or folks handing out flyers.
City law enforcement officers can now issue citations when motorists in the travel lanes physically engage with pedestrians along sidewalks and intersections. This means if you hand the down-and-out person on the corner a dollar, you could get a ticket and have to go to court.
The city previously had an aggressive panhandling ordinance, but it was found to violate free speech and due process rights. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico says that citizens have the right to stand in public places like sidewalks and street corners to solicit money.
Councilor Jones said the ordinance is not about stopping free speech, it is about safety for both drivers and pedestrians in a city where there is a high rate of pedestrian deaths. The Councilor, however, did not cite any specific examples of injuries arising from beggar/car interactions.
On a more positive note, Councilors commissioned a new fresco illustrating New Mexico’s deep agricultural roots. The mural, by local artist Frederico Vigil, will soon grace the city’s downtown Convention Center. The 2,540-square foot mural will cost about $293,000 and will take about three and a half years to complete. In addition, Vigil will mentor up to 10 art students in the art of fresco.
When it is done, the finished work will reflect the richness of Rio Grande Valley agriculture and viticulture heritage from Las Cruces to Northern New Mexico. Vigil is also the artist of the fresco in the Torreon at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.
Kudos go out to three Burqueños who are doing something to make a difference. The city’s Arts Board welcomes Dorothy Stermer, the Affordable Housing Board greets Shawn Colbert, and Gary Van Luchene was reappointed to the city’s Ethics Board.
Councilors also got some other business done for Albuquerque citizens when they dealt with the following procedures:
• Accepted a Department of Justice Grant for about $294,000 for an opioid abuse program that will proactively address overdose survivors by connecting them with treatment and support immediately following the overdose. Currently, many overdose survivors have nowhere to go and are released back on the streets with no immediate support or treatment plan.
• Approved a real estate sale of about $750,000 for 113 acres of Burque-owned land in Doña Ana County. We owned the land through a prior land swap and the City of Las Cruces wants it for possible future animal welfare expansion. The land is upon a former landfill so Councilors wanted to make sure there will not be any future liability, satisfied themselves and approved the sale.