City/County Lawmakers in The House
Local legislative bodies moving forward and the sound’s so soothing
The City Side
Councilors gave the green light to electric scooters and other kinds of shared transportation vehicles such as bicycles and small, wheeled vehicles to operate in the public rights of way. This means they will have the same rights on city streets, highways and sidewalks. The ordinance includes requiring vendors to go through a permitting process and get city approval for each of the scooter station locations. The city will also collect a small fee daily for each scooter rented.
Councilor Isaac Benton opposed the measure, saying he had concerns about the city’s legal liability and whether the Albuquerque Police Department could handle enforcement of these wheeled contraptions. APD Chief of Staff John Ross assured the Council table that officers are ready to enforce any laws required to keep the two-wheeled racers in line. We already have shared peddle bicycle stations so this should be a fun addition to the ways Burqueños zoom around town.
In an effort to boost the number of police officers on the city’s streets, Councilors approved $3 million in funding to help entice cops away from other law enforcement departments. The bill will pick up the tab to run a shorter, 9-week training program for 30 to 40 officers from other law enforcement agencies who are already sworn and certified. The money will also pay for fence jumping officer’s uniforms and equipment. It is an abridged training program to get them up to speed with city ordinances and police department policies. Police folks would like to see 950 officers by the end of 2018; there are currently about 865 sworn APD police officers.
Councilors joined with Bernalillo County to preserve 34 acres of Crestview Bluffs as a historic urban green area. Most of the land is in the county with a small chunk crossing the imaginary line into the city. The location is about 3/4 of a mile west of the Rio Grande, immediately south of Central Avenue and a short distance east of Old Coors Drive. It is accessible off Central Avenue, Churchill Road and Gonzales Road.
In the preserve, there are 152 wildlife species with 17 of those being recognized as sensitive. And to boot, there has been evidence that New Mexicans have been living at that site, and all along the banks of our mighty grand river, for 12,000 years. It is within the boundaries of the 1692 Atrisco Land Grant. Plans for the site include hiking and walking trails, picnic areas, outdoor classrooms, cultural and biological conservation programs, and wild life viewing spots.
• The Council approved easing the crackdown on city home and business owners using barb wire to protect their property. The reprieve will last until Oct. 2020 but does not allow any new permits for such ersatz security systems to be issued while city zoning folks figure out what to do about this sharp problem.
• The Council voted unanimously to support an effort to develop a Medicaid buy-in plan for city residents.
• Councilors also gave the thumbs up for the administration to negotiate with Honeywell International to lease space at the Double Eagle airport and authorized several grant applications for law enforcement, litter and beautification projects as well as for projects supporting our families and aging citizens.
• Importantly, the Council accepted a report on the 2018 third quarter expenditures for the Court Ordered Settlement Agreement with the US Department of Justice. Dr. James Ginger, the monitor overseeing the federal consent decree, was paid $399,744 during this three month period with a total of $3.65 million paid to him since the beginning of the CASA. In total, during this three months alone, the city paid more than $1.6 million to implement, enforce and monitor police department reforms.