This Albuquerque Free Press article on the two-year rewrite of the City’s comprehensive plan known as the ABC-Z project should be mandatory reading for all candidates for Mayor and City Council before they are asked a question on the topic and their eye’s glaze over.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “gentrification” as “the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents.”
Gentrification by any other name still means displacement.
It sure does look like the rewrite of the City’s Comprehensive plan known as the ABC-Z project is nothing more than making “gentrification” an official city policy.
According to the City, the rewrite of the comprehensive plan is an attempt to bring “clarity and predictability” to the development regulations and to attract more “private sector investment”. (See Albuquerque Journal “City trying to weed out redundant regulations”, page A-1, February 20, 2017)
Currently, there are sixty (60) sector development plans which governs new development in specific neighborhoods.
Forty (40) of the development plans have their own “distinct zoning guidelines” that are designed to protect many historical areas of the city.
Examples of areas of the city governed by long standing sector development plans include Barelas, Hunning_Highland, Silver Hills, Nob Hill and Old Town.
There are also historical overlay zones that will be affected.
It is being proposed that the number of zones go from 250 to fewer than 20, which by any terms is dramatic.
City Planning Department Director Suzanne Lubar claims that updating the comprehensive plan is necessary to keep up with growth trends because Bernalillo County’s population of 680,000 is expected to grow by 300,000 by 2040.
The City argues that with the rewrite of the comprehensive plan, it will be able to administer and enforce the city’s zoning system consistently.
The city’s web site on the plan rewrite claims key goals include “improve protection for the city’s established neighborhoods and respond to longstanding water and traffic challenges by promoting more sustainable development”.
Economic development and job creation are also being argued as a benefit to rewriting the Comprehensive Plan.
Using the words “promoting more sustainable development” means private developers and development organizations like NAIOP want to get their hands on older neighborhoods and develop them as they see fit with little regulation at the best possible cost to make a profit.
There is merit to what many critics say that the rewrite is nothing more than the “gutting” of long standing sector development plans by the development community to repeal those sector development plans designed to protect neighborhoods and their character for the sake of development.