Kicking the soccer ball down the road, planning for climate change and balloon landing spots were waiting for the nine-member council upon its return from summertime break.
Climate Plan Approval
Without any fanfare councilors approved major updates to the 2009 Climate Plan. It was hidden on the consent agenda and was passed without debate. This is a comprehensive, community-driven policy and an action plan put together by 19 members of Albuquerque’s frontline communities, or from communities that are impacted “first and worst” by the effects of climate change, according to city documents. It took about six months to work out the 50 strategies in the newly revised climate action plan. In 2020 the city adopted the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code, which set more energy-efficient standards.
The 50 strategies include sustainable buildings, renewable energy, clean transportation, recycling and waste, economic development and climate conscious neighborhoods and resources. Once approved by the council, the city will implement the plan across departments.
Chris Melendrez was chosen as the new director of council services. This is the person who oversees all the folks that provide council support services, constituent services, community relations, policy evaluation and development services on track. It’s a big job akin to herding cats. Melendrez, an attorney, is a familiar face around city hall as he has been working there since 2013 when he joined the city as a senior policy analyst. He has been a calm voice at the council meetings, explaining policy and legal ramifications. In 2018 he joined Legal Services as the associate director and senior legal advisor for the City Council. His resume shows he is more than competent and should keep the city’s top deciders doing the things they are supposed to do.
Urban sprawl impacts things that fly including hot air balloons. The City Council accepted a 20-page report with suggestions for possible balloon landing sites that the city may want to acquire some time in the future. The list has about 12 suggested sites in and around the Balloon Fiesta Park on the north side of Albuquerque. The task force came up with a wide range of landing suggestions—from property owners marking their land with large Xs to designate a safe landing place to buying a 91-acre piece of property that could be used as a balloon landing spot and also as a multi-purpose sports field. This report is a good thing as hot air balloons are part of what makes Albuquerque unique, and balloons need safe places to land year-round.
Ditches Are Deadly
Introduced for discussion at an upcoming meeting is legislation for an arroyo safety study to look at ways to make our drainage system safer after four citizens were killed recently by heavy flooding. Floodwaters can flow from storms miles away even while the skies overhead are clear. Our homeless neighbors often seek shelter in and around the cement drainage network. They can be unaware of pending flood waters racing down the arroyos, therefore an on-site alarm system of some sort would save lives. Check out The Paper.‘s coverage of this issue by reporter Justin Schatz who asked the question, “Where is Albuquerque’s flash flood warning system?”
Kick the Soccer Ball
The big ticket item was not on this meeting’s agenda, but it was teased. At issue is whether or not to send a $50 million tax revenue bond resolution to the Burque voters to fund a multi-use stadium. While the proposed stadium is mainly intended to contain the exuberant New Mexico United soccer team and its fans, it can be used for other purposes. If the council approves the resolution, then the question will go to the voters on Nov. 2. This is a gross receipts tax revenue bond proposal, so taxes will not be raised and it will not take away from other programs, according to the city bean counters. We’ve done this before, in 2001, when the City Council passed a $10 million bond to renovate Isotopes Park.
No decision was made, but there was plenty of public comment. Some of the tasty tidbits include: The owner of the New Mexico United said they want to be inclusive and have a positive impact on the area. One passionate speaker said the stadium is for all of Albuquerque. Another speaker said the city is acting like getting a soccer stadium is a crisis, but it is not, and the city has other things to worry about. One citizen pulled no punches when she said this was a gross misuse of public funding.
The council will tackle this hot topic at its next match-up Aug. 16.
Several items were deferred to the next meeting. A proposal adding 2 percent set-aside funds to the Capital Implementation General Obligation Bond Program. That is a mouthful, but what does it mean? This fund is designated for the planning, construction and rehabilitation of capital infrastructure in historically underserved neighborhoods.
Pushed off until Aug. 16 is the adoption of the Candelaria Nature Preserve Resource Management Plan. This is important because the Candelaria Nature Preserve is a 167-acre gem tucked in the North Valley by the Rio Grande Nature Center. The management plan provides educational and recreational opportunities and contributes to a network of Rio Grande migratory bird refuges along the Rio Grande. Check it out here: cabq.gov/candelaria-nature-preserve
A couple of nuisance abatement decisions were put off giving respite for a little longer to some rundown properties. Also put off until mañana was an amendment to the city’s budget ordinance, passing a tax increment district for the South University of New Mexico area and three bills related to free bus fares for all riders. Sounds like municipal procrastination at its best.
Look for the helpers. A stack of city board and commission re-appointments were approved: Joe C. Mckinney to the Landmarks and Urban Conservation Commission; Taura Livingston to the ABQ Volunteers Advisory Board; Magdalena Vigil-Tullar and John Castillo to the Personnel Board; Lisa Huval to the Affordable Housing Committee and Sean Jariwala to the Lodger’s Tax Advisory Board.
The next meeting of the City Council is set for a Zoom meeting at 5pm, Monday, August 16. Watch it at GOV-TV at cabq.gov or on Comcast Cable Channel 16 or on the city’s YouTube channel.