A full house of citizens greeted the Albuquerque City Council at its Oct. 7 regular meeting as the governing body worked on development rules, traffic on one-ways and sports tourism as hot topics of discussion.
A good chunk of the crowd was there to see if Councilors would reject a recommendation from the Land Use, Planning and Zoning Committee to—in simple terms—approve a couple of bills that would mix up zoning specifications drawn from from the city’s former master zoning development document with zoning specifications from the recently passed and cleaned-up Integrated Development Ordinance. This topic drew quite a few speakers from the business, development and economic sectors who thanked the Council for not going backwards and making development even more confusing. A representative speaking for a handful of area business organizations, builders and developers said that the new Integrated Development Ordinance’s predictability is key to attracting healthy development to the city.
Some citizens spoke in favor of the LUPZ committee recommendation of taking parts of the old zoning document and putting it into the new because they felt their unique neighborhoods were not being protected as well under the new zoning rules. One resident said that the IDO does not protect the historic neighborhoods. Another resident asked for the Council to appoint a liason for Councilor Don Harris, who she says did not respond to his constituents when they reached out to him to discuss concerns with the IDO. Councilors pretty much ignored this comment but Councilor Trudy Jones did step up and say that there is a process in place for individual and group property owners to address concerns or changes that they may want to make to their properties.
While the recently proposed gun legislation was not on the agenda, that did not stop folks from showing up to speak both for and against the three bills that would ban firearms from being carried into city government buildings, make it a misdemeanor for guns to be left unsecured and unattended and broaden the city’s school shooting bill to include threats made to any public or government building.
One speaker proudly encouraged Burque gun owners to blatently disobey these laws if passed because of the perceived unconstitutionality of messing with the Second Amendment. Another speaker reminded the crowd that the Second Amendment was written about single load muskets, not any of the high capacity magazine, automatic weapons of today.
Dang. There have been at least 528 car crashes from 2014 to 2017 along Lead and Coal, the city’s two one-ways in and out of Downtown and the University Area. Here is the breakdown of the reasons for those collisions: 172 were due to driver inattention, 73 happened because of failure to yield, 66 accidents were caused by failure to obey traffic signals, 39 included a improper turn, 28 happened because of excessive speed, 26 accidents occurred because of following too close, 24 involved an intoxicated driver and 24 drivers passed a stop sign illegally.
Folks living in the lovely neighborhoods along these speedways want to see the city do something because, as one resident said, “It is scary to even walk across the streets.”
The city’s traffic guru Johnny Chandler said the city recently changed the green light times. “If you go 30 miles an hour, you should hit every green light,” he said.
Councilors approved $28 million in funding for upgrades to area facilities to increase the city’s recreational tourism and conventions. The original bill was tweaked but in essence here is how the money will be spent: $1 million for upgrades to Isotopes Park; $3 million for the Convention Center, $10 million for Los Altos Park; $2.5 million for more hot air balloon landing spots; $3.5 million for a soccer facility; $3 million for the Jennifer Riordan Spark Kindness Complex; $2 million for Downtown Innovation; $2.5 for an indoor track; $1 million for the Westside Visitor Center; $500,000 for the Northwest Mesa Gateway. The monies come from Lodgers’ Tax funds and Lodgers’ Tax Improvement Bonds. Mayor Keller said the inspiration for this was the $34 million dollars in local impact dollars from the recent hosting of the National Senior Games.
Mr. Party Patrol, aka Councilor Brad Winter—along with Councilors Ken Sanchez and Trudy Jones—introduced a $150,000 funding measure to boost the city police department’s crackdown on alcohol- and gun-infested underage house parties. The proposed funding was only introduced on Monday night and will be debated at the Oct. 21 meeting. The announcement came just a few days after a Sandia High School student died after a shooting at a house party. An Albuquerque Police Department spokesperson said there have been at least 20 shootings tied to house parties so far this year.
Mayor Tim Keller said his administration, including the police department, which would implement any funding, is working on a new Youth Violence Intervention strategy. Both Keller and Police Chief Mike Geier said they will not bring back the “party patrol” that only targeted teen drinking but will be integrating social services to nip teen violence in the bud. In 2007, a federal judge ruled that the city’s party patrol officers who entered a home without a warrant violated the owner’s constitutional rights.