Candidate, Santa Fe City Council District 2
The current development process for residential, commercial or public projects is heavily weighted towards the developer, with official public input requirements limited to the Early Neighborhood Notification (ENN) stage and without explicit accountability measures for how ENN input ultimately gets integrated into planning decisions. Further, despite the name, Early Neighborhood Notification meetings aren’t held until after the developer has invested lots of time and resources, and city staff have also invested time and resources to guide the development toward the approval process. There is no comparable support from the city for impacted communities that may have concerns about a project. Rather than engaging communities as creative problem-solvers and collaborative partners in development opportunities and challenges, this limits community participation to supporting or opposing. When concerns exist, community members have no option but to oppose the development at the ENN, at the Planning Commission and at City Council.
What changes will you propose so that community driven development has equitable support from city staff, and is valued as much if not more than private profit driven development?
First, we have to codify community engagement much earlier in the process--before development begins, and then as it progresses. After codifying that process, we must train city staff and ensure we have adequate staffing to support community driven development. The needs of a community have to be developed by the community before development begins so that any development considered fits into the vision the community--and future communities--have for their neighborhoods.
What changes will you propose so that impacted communities are immediately alerted to development opportunities and consulted and engaged meaningfully when a developer steps forward with a proposed plan?
Much of the opportunity for development should come from the community itself. That prevents a mismatch between what a developer proposes--and may have invested resources in, and thus has a financial stake--and what the community actually needs. Once development is proposed, a community should be engaged in ongoing conversation over what development is needed in their area, which includes the infrastructure from the City to ensure the development is what the community actually needs.
What do you believe the role of the community is in community development?
Community is the driving force behind community development. The role of the community is to share vision for the future for the community, keeping in mind the future residents and changes that will come with time. The community must consist of all stakeholders in the area--people who live there, work there, play there, and go to school there.
What do you believe the role of the City is in community development?
The City should work to facilitate community conversation, to ensure that the voices of the community are heard. The City also has an obligation to undergird any conversations with discussions of infrastructure needed to make community vision come to fruition. Finally, the City must promote policy that supports community involvement in development conversations.
What values, besides monetary, should be considered in approving or denying a development?
We have to consider our climate and the health of our people. Development has a great impact on the health and wellness of residents, and we must build cities that can address the growing climate crisis. Development must also be done with quality of life values behind it: Where can children play? Where can adults access job services? Where do people shop? Where do people interact? What can we do to make all of these experiences better and more accessible?
A disparity exists between services, infrastructure improvements, and quality of life amenities in the different parts of the City. Despite commitments to address inequities in investment and improve services, infrastructure, and amenities in the area annexed by the City in the area north of Airport Rd, development has been limited to new housing developments. This area of town is already the most densely populated area of the city with the greatest number of households with children and yet there remains no library, no parks, no teen center, no senior center, no community center, no grocery stores, no commercial areas, no public spaces, no centers for arts and culture, no recreation centers. It also has the highest number of immigrants, Hispanics, Indigenous, African Americans and people living in poverty. It was also the most impacted community during the pandemic, having more infections and deaths than any other in Santa Fe. The lack of services and amenities contributed directly to those outcomes.
What are your plans for bringing these needed services and amenities to the area?
There are two ways the City can increase services in this area. First: identify the services the City can provide and make plans to invest resources--both monetary and staff--into making those services a reality. This includes things like municipal centers to provide services to children, youth, and seniors. Second: the City can provide economic development incentives for services that are typically privately owned or typically not provided by the city, like grocery stores, healthcare access, and other pressing needs.
How can we ensure greater equity in development moving forward?
This comes from involving the community, and assessing at the City where the greatest need in the community lies. This includes historically underrepresented populations and populations on whom development has the greatest impact: in public health, environmental justice, accessibility, and basic services. If we involve community voices, we can identify the ways to satisfy those needs, rather than trying to force development that is wrong for communities.
What level of services and amenities should be present before more housing is built, and how do you determine that?
Development of services and amenities has to happen concurrently with the development of housing, because unless we increase housing inventory in Santa Fe, we will continue to displace and unhouse Santa Feans. But we have the opportunity to look to infill housing in areas of town that already have abundant services, as well as infrastructure to make the city more accessible to all.
The majority of mobile home parks in Santa Fe are on the Airport Road Corridor. Mobile homes and parks are an important affordable housing stock/source. Mobile homes parks house essential workers who are the foundation and driver of Santa Fe’s economy. There are fears that these mobile home communities will be sold to developers to build market rate housing and other commercial developments, displacing entire communities and their residents.
What do you propose to avoid this potential crisis?
We shouldn’t displace some Santa Feans to create market rate housing for others, simply because we are selling to the highest bidder. We need to codify policies to prevent displacement and the destruction of housing in which people already live, especially the people who keep our city running. Further, we do ourselves a disservice to take an entire category of housing out of our housing mix, which needs a variety of types of housing to be successful. This is particularly true of housing that enables people who work in Santa Fe to be able to live in Santa Fe.
Do you support the idea of a Land Trust that could protect these communities?
I am very interested in the idea of Community Land Trusts. I would like to know more, and hear from more people in the community who have been working on this issue. I think we need many more tools to give people much more agency and protection to live where they want to live.
What other ideas do you have to protect working-class Santa Feans and generational residents from displacement?
An outrageous number of those who work in Santa Fe cannot afford to live in Santa Fe, and we must ensure that living in Santa Fe is accessible to all workers, which starts with keeping working class Santa Feans here. Fully funding the Affordable Housing Trust Fund is a start to addressing the housing crisis--a public health crisis--which means we have to pass the ballot measure on affordable housing in November. We need to strengthen tenants’ rights in Santa Fe and increase penalties on landlords who do not respect those rights.
District 3 borders the industrial zone adjacent to Airport Road and 599, and as such is the most impacted by potential emissions and other toxic pollutants. The area north of Airport Rd, the most densely populated, most diverse and poorest, is the most directly impacted. As it is home to the majority of Santa Fe’s children and youth, as well as an area that is extremely underserved and consequently has higher pre-existing health conditions, the additional risks posed by the industrial zone and proposed expansion is of great concern. This is an Environmental Justice crisis.
How do you propose to mitigate or eliminate these extra risks to our community?
My professional work is centered around providing youth solutions to the climate crisis. In these circumstances, we must listen to the feedback from and solutions identified by our youth. When approving development, we have to take a hard look at the environmental impact of any development and ensure that the health and welfare of our residents is not impacted. We also have to look to infrastructure to reduce emissions in this and other corridors in the city, which are overwhelmed with car traffic, fueling emissions. If people are able to and educated on the impact of getting around the city without a car, we will see dramatically reduced auto emissions on the areas of town most impacted by car traffic.
Will you support a Cumulative Impacts rule so that proposed new or expanded operations must be reviewed taking into consideration the existing environmental, health and socioeconomic conditions of the impacted communities?
Yes. The more information we can gather about these effects of development the better. We cannot continue to develop in a way that ignores the quality of life of Santa Fe’s residents on the south and west sides of town. If we aren’t planning with the climate crisis, the housing crisis, and public health crises in mind, we will find ourselves with poor quality of life in new developments that haven’t taken these factors into consideration. We must live with the idea of our children and our children’s children in mind.
Will you support public investments in the area that help mitigate impacts, such as increasing the tree canopy, eliminating pavement and concrete, increasing open space and green areas?
Yes, 100%. Each of these plays a critical role in maintaining the health and welfare of Santa Fe’s residents and takes into account the climate crisis. Increasing vegetation that is drought and climate resistant, building a tree canopy, eliminating pavement and concrete to combat the heat island effect, and preserving green areas for people in every area of town to enjoy is a key part of addressing the ongoing climate crisis and the quality of life for Santa Feans.
The state has invested in a Community Schools (CS) strategy which provides funding for a Community Schools Coordinator at high need schools. This person helps to coordinate services and support for low income students and their families, in partnership with a council that is family and community driven. This is a proven strategy for supporting student learning and wellbeing. SFPS has several schools with a Community Schools Coordinator, mostly on the Southside. Another organization, Communities In Schools (CIS), is already coordinating services and support at these schools. This presents an opportunity for the CS strategy to have an impact beyond the schools, and change the community conditions in which the children and their families live. This is also a proven strategy that supports student learning and wellbeing, but also creates opportunities for the families and neighborhoods that the schools serve. Would you support a city-school-community partnership that would focus on transforming adverse community experiences and conditions? What might that look like?
Would you support a city-school-community partnership that would focus on transforming adverse community experiences and conditions? What might that look like?
Yes! My work is partnering with schools to empower students to address the climate crisis with their own innovative solutions and I have seen firsthand how that partnership improves the lives and wellbeing of young people. The City has made strides in this area, but needs to increase out-of-school programming for young people, from children to older youth and teens, as well as programming for adults and seniors. The City also needs to increase community participation in how it provides services and what services it provides to ensure that the services the City develops are what the community needs. The City can work more directly with the schools to involve youth in City activities and services.
Would you support targeted public investments in the neighborhoods, like job training, adult education, increasing home ownership, bringing city services and amenities, increasing out of school recreational opportunities, etc?
Yes. The City can bring job training and adult education directly to the areas of our city that need it most, making it free and accessible to all. We can also increase investment in homeownership programs, both in education from the city and through partnerships with nonprofit organizations in town. We also must continue to prioritize services in underserved populations in Santa Fe