Candidate, Santa Fe City Council District 3
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?
As head of the policy committee on the Planning Commission, I have been working to change the ENN process. The current process is unacceptable for the reasons that you have outlined. The first step we're working on is to ensure that the community has access to information about a development as soon as it is proposed and throughout the process instead of just a few days before the ENN meeting. We're also working on creating a true mediation process for situations where the community is concerned about a development. Three minutes of public comment isn't sufficient - we need genuine conversation and engagement.
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?
See above response.
What do you believe the role of the community is in community development?
The city is its best when the people are its voice. We'll never speak as one voice, and that's a good thing, but in the chorus we find shared values. I've been an activist in this community for several decades, and through that work I've had the honor to meet some of the best people, some of the kindest, the brightest, the most passionate. This city is filled with people who believe in it, want great things for it, and are willing to roll up their sleeves and put in the work to make it happen. To be the best Santa Fe, there must be collaboration between the city and the community.
What do you believe the role of the City is in community development?
See above answer, but I will also provide an example: as an activist, I organized community meetings between neighbors and their representatives in city government; as a city councilor I would revive similar meetings.
What values, besides monetary, should be considered in approving or denying a development?
Development should ensure nearby access to healthy food; green space; recreation; and services for youth, families, and aging populations. We also need to consider water, traffic patterns, walkability and sidewalks, historic districts and aesthetics, and safety concerns such as ensuring adequate street widths so emergency vehicles can access the area even when cars are parked on the side of the road.
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?
During the upcoming revision of the land use code, I'm very interested in revisiting the Airport Rd. Corridor overlay to ensure we're managing that area appropriately. It's very important the community have a voice in decision-making in that process. The lack of amenities north of Airport Rd. is a major problem, and one I've been advocating to address for a long time. Community activists (including myself) helped raise money to be used for a park in the South Meadows area. Behind closed doors, the city instead decided to build housing on that land. I and one other planning commissioners worked together to delay the vote for 120 days so the community had the opportunity to be heard, and today the land is split between housing and a 20-acre park. I also volunteered with a group called Food Oasis which advocated that a healthy grocery store and a bodega be approved for the area north of Airport Rd. because the area is a food desert.
How can we ensure greater equity in development moving forward?
See above response.
What level of services and amenities should be present before more housing is built, and how do you determine that?
Areas with housing should also include, at minimum, green space and access to healthy food. We also need to look at how the development will impact city infrastructure like traffic.
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?
During the upcoming land use code revision, I would like to re-zone the areas that are currently mobile home parks in such a way so that if they are redeveloped, they can only be redeveloped into affordable housing.
Do you support the idea of a Land Trust that could protect these communities?
Although a Land Trust is a good idea, that property is privately owned, so there isn't a way to force the owners to put the land into trust. But we can look at protecting the area through zoning.
What other ideas do you have to protect working-class Santa Feans and generational residents from displacement?
Lack of affordable housing is the biggest issue driving displacement in our city. We need an all-of-the-above approach to tackle the affordable housing problem. In another candidate questionnaire we recently filled out, when asked which approaches for increasing affordable housing we think City Council should explore further, I said yes to every option and the other candidate said no to every option. (You can see the answers on question 9A here: https://www.oldsantafe.org/d3questionnaire.html )
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?
As we work through the revision of the land use code we can ensure there are environmental and land use safeguards to help address some of these concerns.
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. Under our city's current system, there is a severe deficit in long-term planning to the detriment of our community. Under the current development approval processes, the city is only able to look at the impact of a single development and cannot look at the impact that multiple projects in the same area will have in concert. As a result, we're building, but we aren't building community. As a city councilor, I would work to change these systems, and to ensure that the voices of our neighbors are part of developing the new system.
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, I have long been an advocate of green spaces, and I'm endorsed by the Sierra Club.
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?
A team of teenagers on my campaign serves as my youth cabinet. I am so impressed by the young people in our district, especially by their resilience, but they shouldn't have to be resilient. They deserve better than they're getting. The City Council tends to stay away from school and youth matters because they view them as the work of the state and the schools, but there is no reason the City Council can't collaborate with the schools to provide services and support for our youth. We don't need to be siloed in this way. Let's bring the schools, the Council, the community, and especially, ESPECIALLY our youth to the table and make our plans together.
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, absolutely. We need to show the youth of our community that they matter to us. We do that by showing up for them and giving them the opportunities they deserve.