On June 6, 2022, the Albuquerque City Council is scheduled to consider at its last regularly scheduled meeting before it takes a summer break until August two amendments to the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO).
The amendments will create two new “land use” zoning areas that will allow 2 separate types of city sanctioned homeless encampments in all 9 city council districts for a total of 18 city sanctioned homeless encampments.
One is called “safe outdoor spaces” the other “living lots”. City sanctioned homeless encampments will be permitted in open space areas and “commercial, business park and manufacturing zones and in some mixed-use zones”.
“Safe outdoor spaces” will permit homeless encampments with 40 designated spaces for tents, allow upwards of 50 people, require hand washing stations, toilets and showers, require a management plan, 6 foot fencing and social services offered.
“Living lots” will permit homeless encampments for tents, cars and recreational vehicles. No management plans, no rules, no regulations no security and no fencing mandates would be required.
Coronado Park is the city’s sanctioned “de facto” homeless encampment where services to the homeless are offered. With 70 to 80 tents crammed into the park it is proof that government sanctioned encampments do not work. The park has an extensive history of lawlessness including drug use, violence, murder, rape and people suffering mental illness.
OPEN EMAIL TO CITY COUNCIL
On June 6, the following email was sent the all City Councilors and Mayor Tim Keller:
June 6, 2020
To: All Albuquerque City Councilors
From: Pete Dinelli
CC: City Council Services
Re: VOTE NO ON LIVING LOTS AND SAFE OUTDOOR SPACES AMENDMENTS TO INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT ORDINANCE
The purpose of this email is request that the Albuquerque City Council Vote “No” on the “safe outdoor spaces” and “living lots” amendments to the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO.) The City of Albuquerque Planning Department has failed to secure sufficient input from the community and all city council districts as to the public’s desire and support of the amendments. A city council sponsored city-wide survey is in order.
Research shows that housing is the most effective approach to end homelessness with a much larger return on investment than offering government sanctioned encampments. Given the millions the city is spending each year, it needs to continue with the approach of offering programs, building shelter space and making beds available for its homeless population.
Albuquerque is making a huge financial commitment to help the homeless. Last year, it spent upwards of $40 million to benefit the homeless. The 2023 proposed budget significantly increases funding for the homeless by going from $35,145,851 to $59,498,915. The city contracts with 10 separate homeless service providers throughout the city and it funds the Westside 24-7 homeless shelter. The city has bought the 572,000-square-foot Lovelace Hospital Complex on Gibson for $15 million that currently has space of 200 beds or more and transforming it into the Gateway Center Homeless shelter.
Being homeless is not a crime, but the homeless crisis will not be solved by the city, but it can and must be managed. Providing a very temporary place to pitch a tent, relieve themselves, bathe and sleep at night with rules they do not want nor will likely follow is not the answer to the homeless crisis. The answer is to provide the support services, including food and lodging, and mental health care needed to allow the homeless to turn their lives around, become productive self-sufficient citizens, no longer dependent on relatives or others.
On June 3, APD Chief Harold Medina issued a formal recission of Special Order SO 22-46. The special order prevented APD from enforcing littering, trespassing and other laws and ordinances against the homeless unless the Family Community Services Department (FCS) personnel requested such enforcement and only after a 72-hour notice to vacate. APD police is no longer required to seek permission from FCS personnel and can enforce the laws that deal with the homeless.
The city cannot just ignore and not enforce its anti-camping ordinances, vagrancy laws, civil nuisance laws and criminal laws nor pretend they simply do not exist. Squatters who have no interest in any offers of shelter, beds, motel vouchers or alternatives to living on the street really give the city no choice but to make it totally inconvenient for them to “squat” and force them to move on.
THE CAMPUS MODEL
While Gateway Hub at the former Lovelace Gibson Medical Center is a step in the right direction, because of its design, will not be large enough to serve the needs of the homeless population in unsanctioned encampments. Therefore, the City Council needs to consider the The Campus Model that will provide an additional step to the Gateway Homeless Shelter for transitioning to permanent housing. Alternative to Encampments.
“The Campus Model recognizes that there are two categories of homeless individuals: the transit homeless and the local or ‘real’ homeless. The Campus Model is geared to serve the local homeless population. The Campus Model works effectively because it separates the truly local homeless population from the non-local transient population.
The truly homeless are a local population that benefits from services and wishes to better themselves. The transient homeless is a population that travels from city to city, takes advantage of handouts, and has no desire to better themselves. This population consists of those who panhandle and/or commit crimes to feed their drug and/or alcohol addiction. They indeed welcome a handout, but they have no desire to better themselves. Thus, they can destroy a local community.
The Campus Model should be located outside the city where larger tracts of land at cheaper prices can be purchased. Two possible locations are: (a) The existing Westside Emergency Housing Center. It is a county/city operated facility, but the city owns the land. The existing building will need to be razed but there is land to utilize while this is being done. (b) A second site may be the Double Eagle II airport where the city also owns large areas of land.”
The link to a quoted blog article on the campus model is here:
“Safe outdoor spaces” and “living lots” will be a disaster for the city as a whole. Both will destroy neighborhoods, make the city a magnet for the homeless and destroy the city efforts to manage the homeless through housing. The city council needs to reject both zoning allowances.
Below are blog articles containing research with links published in the last 2 months on the subject. These blog articles have been sent to the city council and are requested to be made part of the council record.
Dinelli ABQ Journal Guest Column: “Why won’t mayor, APD chief get homeless out of parks?; NEWS UPDATE: APD Rescinds Special Orders Not To Enforce Laws Against Homeless In City Parks; APD Must Demand Immediate Removal Of Unlawful Encampments
APD Chief Harold Medina Abuse Of Power: Orders APD Sworn Not To Arrest Homeless For Trespassing At City Parks; City Gives 72 Hour “Notices To Vacate” Unlawful Encampment When Immediate Removal Should Be Ordered
Judy Young and Valere McFarland Guest Column: Campus Model Is Better Alternative To “Living Lots” And “Safe Outdoor Spaces”
Guest Column By Valere McFarland, Ph.D : “Housing Best Solution To Solve Homeless Crisis, Not City Sanctioned Homeless Encampments”; City To Purchase Tents; Council Needs To Vote NO Rejecting “Living Lots” and “Safe Outdoor Spaces”
City Purchased Tents Proposed For “Safe Outdoor Spaces”; “Tent City’s” Will Destroy City’s Permanent Housing Efforts; Scant Evidence Found On How Permanent Homeless Shelters Affect Surrounding Community; Safe Outdoor Spaces Will Make City “Land of Encampments”
Brook Bassan Wants “Living Lots” and “Safe Outdoor Spaces ” For Homeless; Proclaims “Our Unhoused Neighbors Need Help”; They Are “Illegal Squatters”; Bassan Ignores City Now Spending $114 Million For Services and Shelter For Homeless; Garbage Collection Rate Hike To Clean Homeless Encampments Obscene With $1.4 Billion Budget
Link to Dinelli article “ABQ Will Be “The Land of Encampment” With 45 City Sanctioned Homeless Encampments; ABQ Journal Advocates Pilot Project; Journal Center Would Be Ideal Location For Pilot Project; The Rise Of Tent Cities In America; Permanent Shelter, Enforcement Actions, Solution To Encampments, Not Tent Cities”
City Sanctioned Homeless Encampment Coming To Open Space Area Near You!; City Council To Allow 45 Homeless Camps For 1,800 Homeless And Allowing Up To 40 Tents; Councilors Need Their Heads Examined And Tour Coronado Park
ABQ City Council Schedules Public Hearings For Zone Changes To Allow 45 City Sanctioned Homeless Camps Spread Out Over All 9 City Council Districts; Rules Relaxing Converting Nonresidential Properties To Residential Use; Public Encouraged To Attend Or Contact Their Counselors