With the crisp air of taking care of business in the virtual chambers, Albuquerque City leaders did some routine business, took care of a couple controversial items, and gave a shout out for trees and research animals. For future reference, the Council has made the move to meet by Zoom only for the rest of the calendar year.
How-to For Safe Spaces
On a 6-3 vote, after at least a dozen amendments, Councilors passed legislation that will require Safe Outdoor Spaces to get a special use permit to operate. These are supervised sites with basic services where homeless can sleep in tents or cars. As part of a permit, operators of safe open spaces will need to have experience working with homeless populations or have experience managing organizations that work with homeless people, have an operating plan that has security, outlines expected conduct, policy on pets, neighborhood agreements and have someone who will be available 24/7 to handle complaints and other issues.
Councilors Trudy Jones and Louie Sanchez co-sponsored the legislation even though they were on opposite sides of the issue. Jones in favor, Sanchez not so much. Councilors Isaac Benton, Pat Davis and Dan Lewis gave the thumbs down. Some say the added layer was not needed as the Planning Department already does a thorough review of applications.
No Coin For You
A new version of a pedestrian safety ordinance that was struck down last year by a federal judge was passed on a 7-2 vote. The bill still makes it a crime to occupy city roadway medians where traffic flows at 30 mph or more and with less than four feet of flat surface and makes it a crime to stand or walk in travel lanes unless crossing legally. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico sued the city when a similar but more restrictive ordinance was passed in 2017. U.S. District Judge Robert Brack ruled against the city, saying it violated free speech. The city tweaked it in 2019 but the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld Judge Brack’s ruling in 2021. This was a measure requested by Mayor Tim Keller. And we will have to see how it does this time around when the ACLU gets wind of it.
- $11.6 million in housing funds to a more than a dozen organizations waiting to help with the housing crisis in our city. This added to another $14 million the Mayor threw in the voucher pot to get people housed.
- Amended permit requirements for food vendors at growers’ markets.
- Said yes to the sale of up to $3 million in short-term lodger’s tax bonds to spruce up some of the city’s tourist facilities and attractions.
- Saving some research animals by getting the city’s Animal Welfare Department to work with the University of New Mexico Science Center College of Nursing to use disposed-of animal tissue for the spay and neuter clinics for biomedical research.
- Made the Urban Tree and Canopy Grant Program official, thereby allowing it to continue, expand and plant more trees.
Albuquerque City Councilors Trudy Jones and Pat Davis announced last week that they are making room at the government dais for new faces by choosing not to run for re-election in 2023. Jones and Davis have been solid anchors for their respective parties bringing reason, compassion and common sense to the debates. They both leave big voids for the voters to fill.
The next meeting of the Albuquerque City Council is set for 5pm on Monday, Dec. 5. For more information, agenda and meeting links, go to cabq.gov.