Burning the afternoon sun into the evening, Albuquerque City Councilors tackled a stack of items at their just over five-hour June 7 regular meeting. Still, they left a major chunk on the table, waiting for the next time around.
Kicking The IDO Down The Road
Councilors decided to defer proposed amendments to the Integrated Development Ordinance. One amendment topic, in particular, drew lots of controversy and would address where and how the city will allow future recreational cannabis businesses to operate. The majority of the council said regulating cannabis sales, cultivation and manufacturing operations are complicated, and lots of time is needed. Because the council traditionally takes the month of July off, there was some apprehension about getting the details hammered out sooner rather than later.
Councilor Trudy Jones reminded everyone that this is an annual update with a number of amendments, not just cannabis, that needs to get clarified and adopted in a timely manner.
The debate rolled along, looking for a date where at least a six-pack of hours could be set aside to comb through all of the changes to the city’s master development plan. It was decided that June 17 will be the date of the special meeting to tackle the annual changes and what to do about cannabis in the city’s master zoning planning document.
Municipal Voter ID Repeal—Not
A repeal of the 2005 municipal voter ID requirement failed on a 6-2 vote, with Councilor Brook Bassan not present for this vote. This measure would have amended the city charter to put the city and the state on the same page in their respective elections where voters identify themselves by name, year of birth and address. Not sure what happened here, but it seems the city clerk said the state law is what the county uses to run elections and repealing this law would go a long way to easing confusion, but not all of the councilors listened. The requirement will stay on the books, but it is unenforcible since city elections are now run by the county clerk under state election laws, not city ones. The next municipal election is set for November when the mayor and several council positions are up for grabs and no ID is needed, even though one city law says it is.
Not Today, Gas Tax Question
The council had a debate, then a showdown, to override Mayor Tim Keller’s veto of putting a tax question on a ballot in 2022 to add 2 cents per gallon of gas. The collected money would have gone toward roadway and street repair and improvements that our collective tires so desperately need. The council approved the tax question at its May 17 meeting. Then Mayor Keller vetoed it, saying it was not the time to add this tax to citizens while people are recovering from the pandemic. But it wouldn’t go on the ballot until 2022 and wouldn’t be applied until 2023, causing some councilors to question whether the mayor was playing politics with the veto. At least six votes were needed to override the veto; it failed on a 5-4 vote, even though the question was not set to be on the ballot for at least a year. While tax opponents say correctly that the city already has a one-fourth of a cent transportation tax on most sales within city limits earmarked for fixing roadways, this is not nearly enough to keep our tires safe from potholes.
- Councilors approved a 17,000 square foot building lease and agreement with 10 Tanker Air Carrier to the tune of $101,320 in revenue. This building will be used to store parts and supplies for the big beautiful airplane that carries and drops the red fire retardant that puts out forest fires.
- Gave the thumbs up to establish Complete Street, Pedestrian and Streetscape Improvements to San Pedro from Central to Haines as a priority for city planners and funders. This stretch of San Pedro has been designated as a Main Street corridor and has many minority and women-owned businesses that provide products and services to the greater Albuquerque area, according to the resolution.
- Councilors gave the OK to remove several ruined and dilapidated buildings at 5912 Sweetwater Dr. NW, 400 and 404 Mesilla SE and deferred the same fate for rundown buildings at 1717 Edith Boulevard SE and at 1804 High Street SE.
- Councilors passed a bill changing the traffic code to recognize government-issued disabled parking placards from other states. Prior to this, the city’s ordinance allowed for officers to give tickets to people using out-of-state handicapped placards while parked in disabled parking spaces here in the city. Not a very friendly policy that needed to go.
- Changes were made to the Greater Albuquerque Bicycling Advisory Committee to change the composition of the committee to include active transportation users and changed the name to Greater Albuquerque Active Transportation Committee.
Just about every meeting, a grip of folks gets approved to take seats on the city’s boards and commissions. This time it was Patricia French to the Civilian Police Oversight Agency Board. French is a retired Albuquerque Police Department records supervisor and false alarm reduction supervisor. Her appointment completes the nine-member police oversight board. Other helpful people stepping up include: Jon Sanchez to the Biological Park Board; Paulette Marie Atencia to the Arts Board; Ray Villareal to the Municipal Golf Advisory Board; Isis Lopez to the Youth Advisory Board; Diane Mourning Brown and Kerry Houlihan to the Americans with Disabilities Act Advisory Council and Patricia L. Chavez to the ABQ Volunteers Advisory Board.
The next regular meeting of the City Council is set for a Zoom meeting at 3 pm, Monday, June 21 with a special meeting set for June 17 to tackle the IDO. Watch it at GOV-TV at cabq.gov or on Comcast Cable Channel 16 or on the city’s YouTube channel.