On August 8, according to the city’s website that provides the listing and locations for the applications for “Safe Outdoor Spaces”, the City of Albuquerque Planning Department approved the Dawn Legacy Pointe’s application for a new Safe Outdoor Space Homeless campsite to be located at 1250 Menaul, NE. The city sanctioned encampment will is intended to provide accommodations for “sex-trafficking victims” and other vulnerable populations.
“Safe Outdoor Spaces” are organized, managed homeless encampments with 40 designated spaces for tents that allows for upwards of 50 people, require hand washing stations, toilets and showers, require a management plan, 6 foot fencing and social services offered. The Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) sets a limit of two in each of the city’s 9 council districts. The cap does not apply to religious institutions.
The link to the city web site is here:
It was on July 30, Dawn Legacy Pointe applied for a Safe Outdoor Space at 1250 Menaul Blvd, NE. The Dawn Legacy Pointe application is for 40 maximum spaces with 50 people as the proposed maximum number of occupants. All the encampment residents will not be confined to the area and will be able to go and come as they please without restrictions.
Kylea Good, who chairs the Dawn Legacy Pointe board, said that the approval represents years of “behind-the-scenes work” on the project. Good said it a project that is greatly needed and she said:
“It’s this moment you feel is just life-changing for so many people.”
Brad Day, an advocate for Safe Outdoor Space and local businessman assisting Dawn Legacy Pointe, told the Albuquerque Journal the public, private and nonprofit sectors have collaborated on the project. He said the nonprofit Street Safe New Mexico is financially overseeing Dawn Legacy Pointe while the new organization gets set up. Day said several businesses also have assisted with the project in some way, including Scott’s Fencing, Cabela’s, Rick Bennett Architectural, Consensus Planning and John and Gavino Lopez Carpentry.
According to Day, both the city of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County are making some financial contributions, too, he said.
The links to related news coverage and quoted news source material are here:
CITY FUNDING TO BE PROVIDED
Family and Community Services Department spokeswoman Katie Simon confirmed the city will be providing financial assistance for safe outdoor space operators but had not finalized specific amounts. Simon had this to say:
“We are working with all our Safe Outdoor Space applicants to ensure that they have the resources to comply with the operations plans for each [approved] space.”
It was Mayor Tim Keller who initially proposed the idea of “Safe Outdoor Spaces” in his 2022-2023 city budget. The 2022-2023 proposed budget released on April 1 provides major funding to deal with the homeless. The current budget includes a total of $950,000 for safe outdoor spaces/encampments. The budget approved includes the following line-item funding:
“$750,000 for proposed “safe outdoor spaces”. … If approved by Council, will enable ultra-low barrier encampments to set up in vacant dirt lots across the City. There is an additional $200,000 for developing other sanctioned encampment programs.”
City voters also approved $500,000 for encampments as part of last fall’s $140 million bond package.
DAWN LEGACY POINTE
According to an August 1 Albuquerque Journal article, Dawn Legacy Pointe is still in its infancy. Kylea Good is the board chairwoman. She said that Dawn Legacy Pointe submitted corporation formation paperwork to the New Mexico Secretary of State and that it will eventually seek 501c3 status from the IRS. Until then the local nonprofit “Street Safe New Mexico” is overseeing its finances.
Good said it will cost an estimated $120,000 to $180,000 to operate the 1250 Menaul Blvd, NE. cite its first year. Family and Community Services Director Carol Pierce said that although the project’s budget is not final, the City of Albuquerque intends to help cover the operating costs.
Dawn Legacy Pointe has made it clear that it intends to provide accommodations for “sex-trafficking victims” and other vulnerable populations. Kylea Good said it would likely be easy to find people and most likely women, though it will not exclude men, willing to stay at the camp. She said she hoped to have the encampment up and running by October and she told the Journal:
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we maxxed out. The truth of the matter is it’s not like we’re looking at just one area. There’s a lot of [human] trafficking and exploitation that goes on around that area of Menaul, but you have a whole city that is dealing with it.”
Brad Day, a local businessman and advocate for safe outdoor spaces, is advising Dawn Legacy Pointe. He told the Journal:
“We did all the documents, and now what we’re going to do is basically work on the logistics of getting all the stuff we need, the tents, the sleeping bags, the air mattresses, get the fence built.”
The link to the full unedited Journal news article is here:
Dawn Legacy Pointe is not a religious activity organization. Dawn Legacy Pointe said the site could be ready for tenants in the next 30-45 days.
TIME LOOPHOLE CREATED BY COUNCIL’S FAILURE TO ACT
It was on June 6 that the City Council enacted a series of amendments updating the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO). One of the amendments was the “Safe Outdoor Spaces.” The legislation passed on a 5 to 4 vote. Voting YES to allow Safe Outdoor Spaces were Democrats Isaac Benton, Pat Davis and Tammy Feibelcorn and Republicans Brook Basan and Trudy Jones. Voting NO were Republicans Dan Lewis, Renee Grout and Democrats Louis Sanchez and Klarissa Pena. Mayor Tim Keller signed off on the legislation making it law.
Under the enacted amendment Safe Outdoor spaces are allowed in some non-residential and mixed-use zones and must be at least 330 feet from zones with low-density residential development. Under the IDO amendment, Safe Outdoor Spaces are allowed for up to two years with a possible two-year extension.
After tremendous public outcry and objections to Safe Ourdoor Spaces by her constituents, Republican City Councilor Brook Bassan, who had voted “YES” and previously voiced support for safe outdoor spaces, did an about face and changed her mind. On June 22, just a few weeks after helping pass the Safe Outdoor Space amendment, Bassan introduced legislation to repeal the IDO amendment and she introduced two bills. One bill introduced would stop the city from accepting or approving safe outdoor space applications and the other will eliminate “safe outdoor spaces” from the zoning code altogether. Bassan wants to bar the city from accepting or approving Safe Outdoor Space applications for a full year unless it officially removes them from the zoning code sooner than that.
During the June 22 meeting the council did not act on the 2 bills and failed to enact the legislation that was to provide for rules and regulations promulgated by the Keller Administration for “Safe Outdoor Spaces”. June 22 was the last meeting of the City Council before it went on “summer break” until August 1.
The city council’s failure on June 22 to take any action on either the bills stopping the application process or repealing the land use resolution resulted in “Safe Outdoor Spaces” becoming a permissible land use on July 28. This allowed a very short time period of 3 weeks to allow individuals and organizations to apply for Safe Outdoor Spaces. Any Safe Outdoor Space application the city approves now can move forward because the land use locks in at the time of a completed application. Complicating matters and making things even worse for the city council is that Mayor Tim Keller out maneuvered the city council and refused to issue a suspension or moratorium on the applications to give the City Council time to reconsider and repeal the Safe Outdoor Space IDO Amendment.
During the August 1 City Council meeting, Republican City Councilor Brook Basaan successfully pushed for an expedited vote on the moratorium bill. With support from Republican City Councilors Renee Grout, Trudy Jones, Dan Lewis and Democrats Klarissa Peña and Louie Sanchez, Bassan was able pull the bill out of the Council’s standard committee process. Voting against the measure were Democrats Isaac Benton, Pat Davis, Tammy Fiebelkorn. The vote on the moratorium is now scheduled for an August 15 vote.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Less than a half mile from the vacant land located at 1250 Menaul Blvd, NE and within walking distance from the property is Menaul School, a private boarding school for 6th to 12th graders. Directly across the street from the property is the T-Mobile Call Center and a Quality Inn & Suites. Going West on Menaul and one block from the property is Carrington College and two apartment complexes.
At Sunset Memorial Park, workers daily patrol the grounds, monitoring the activity of homeless people who have taken to lounging in the various meditative shelters provided for grieving families. The homeless are known to use the various fountains throughout the park to wash themselves or use the fountains as a toilet, despite there being an easy-to-find portable toilets located at the northeast end of the park.
Directly West and bordering the property is Sunset Memorial Park and Cemetery. Immediately East of the Freeway is the massive TA Travel Truck Stop on University that can accommodate parking of upwards of 150 semitrucks. Within law enforcement circles, the truck stop is known for prostitution and illicit drug activity. Immediate south of the truck stop on University Blvd is the Crown Plaza Hotel. It’s ironic that a few years ago it was proposed that the city buy the Crown Plaza Hotel for about $8 million and dedicate it as a homeless shelter.
ZONING IS “NON-RESIDENTIAL – LIGHT MANUFACTURING”
The property located at 1250 Menaul Blvd, NE is zoned NR-LM. NR-LM stands for “NON-RESIDENTIAL – LIGHT MANUFACTURING ZONE DISTRICT (NR-LM)” Section 2-5(C)(1) of the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) provides that “the purpose of the NR-LM zone district is to accommodate moderate-intensity commercial, light assembly, fabrication, and light manufacturing uses, while buffering adjacent lower-intensity, Residential and Mixed-use zone districts from the traffic, noise, and other impacts of those uses.”
Page 49 of the Integrated Development Ordinance found here:
Allowable uses for property zoned NR-LM are provided in table 4-2-1 of the Integrated Development Ordinance. Table 4-2-1 lists “Safe Outdoor Spaces” as a CT (Conditional Primary, Temporary use) for property zoned for mix use and T (Temporary) use on property zoned “non-residential”.
NORMAL APPLICATION PROCESS
Under normal procedures and precedent, when an application for a “special use” or “conditional use”, which includes Safe Outdoor Spaces, is made by a private entity the City Planning Department assigns the application to a zoning hearing examiner to determine if it will be approved. Public notice is then given to surrounding property owners and the general public. A notice of zone change must be posted on the property and adjoining landowners and neighborhood must be given the opportunity to attend and be heard by the zoning hearing officer. The hearing officer decision can be accepted or rejected by a private entity or appeal the decision to the Land Use Planning And Zoning Committee and ultimately the City Council. The city council has the final and ultimate authority. Normally it is a six month to a year process to secure a zone change and it can take even longer.
CITY OWNERSHIP AND ASSESED VALUE
Real property records researched and reviewed Valere McFarland, a community activist and member of Women Taking Back Our Neighborhood found that 1205 Menaul, NE, totals more than 15 acres in two plots. One plot is 11.73 acres plot and a second plot is 3.89 acres. Both plots are owned by the city of Albuquerque and have a combined assessed value of $4,333,500.
According to Bernalillo County Assessor’s Office records reviewed, following are the plot numbers and assessed value of the land:
Parcel ID Property 1 located at 1205 Menaul, NE:
Plot Number 101505924018931414CA
City of Albuquerque
11.7263 acres including a warehouse
Parcel ID Property 2 located 1205 Menaul, NE:
Plot Number 101505927224131420CA
City of Albuquerque
TR1 PLAT OF TR1 LANDS OF M-T INVESTMENT
5,717 sq. ft. warehouse is on the property, assessed value unknown.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
There is no getting around it. What Keller did and what has happened does not pass the smell test. The approval of the Dawn Legacy Point application for a Safe Outdoor Space is as about as sneaky and underhanded as it gets for Mayor Tim Keller to intentionally exclude the general public from participating in a land use planning and zoning process.
With Keller acquiescence, the City Planning Department has approved a Safe Outdoor Space on city owned property valued at $4,333,500 to be operated by a third party and subsidized by the City to house women in tents who are victims of “trafficking and exploitation”. It is something that so called progressive Mayor Tim Keller should be absolutely ashamed of with the treatment of victims of “trafficking and exploitation” being encouraged to live in tents as a housing solution and exploited once again by denying them proper housing.
TWO REPUBLICAN CITY COUNCILLORS NOT TO BE TRUSTED
The general public and the voters can thank Republicans Brook Bassan and Trudy Jones being the swing votes that have now allowed Safe Outdoor Spaces to become a reality. Republican Backtracking Basaan has lost much of her credibility and respect from her constituents. Republican Trudy Jones has earned the reputation of speaking out of both sides of her mouth and one who cannot be trusted by her constituents.
Republican Trudy Jones is a former realtor who has enjoyed significant financial support over the years from the Real Estate and the Development community. Privately, Jones told many of her constituents she opposed Safe Outdoor Spaces but she then turned around and voted YES to support the IDO amendments.
One of the most nefarious votes by the Albuquerque City Council occurred in late 2017 and its was the rush to vote for the final adoption of the Integrated Development Ordinance before the municipal election and the election of a new Mayor. Many neighborhood associations had requested the City Council to delay its enactment until after the 2017 Mayors race and the City Council ignored the request.
Republican Trudy Jones was a major supporter and advocate of the Integrated Development Ordinance. Jones has a history of having no problem with city planning holding meetings and granting variances without public input. In 2019, it was Jones who sponsored R-19-150 wherein the Development Review Board (DRB) was granted discretionary power under the IDO to hold hearings and grant variances without the requisite standards of notice and the right to be heard.
Under the Jones sponsored legislation, the term “to hold public hearings” was changed to “hold meetings” and “variance” was replaced with “waiver.” The changes diminished the public hearing process and discredited zoning policy making in favor of neighborhoods. It is a policy change without public engagement favoring one sole stakeholder, the development community or landowner. The IDO blatantly removes the public from the development review process.
DAWN LEGCY POINTE GETS BEHIND CLOSED DOORS ZONING APPROVAL
What has occurred with the Dawn Legacy Pointe application for a Safe Outdoor Space is that it was “fast tracked” by the City Planning Department with the blessing of Mayor Tim Keller to approve the application just 5 days before the City Council can repeal the Safe Outdoor Space amendment on August 16. Confidential sources have confirmed that Brad Day met with Mayor Tim Keller after the application was granted and they celebrated the approval in the Mayor’s Office.
The City of Albuquerque Planning Department unilaterally decided that it would review the Dawn Legacy Point application behind closed doors without any public input, without notice and without a public hearing. Ostensibly, it decided it had the authority under the IDO to simply grant the application before the City Council votes to repeal Safe Outdoor Spaces on August 15.
A major contributing factor no doubt with the decision is that the City owns the property and ownership gives the city the right to use the property as it sees fit. Coronado Park is a prime example when Mayor Keller essentially unilaterally decided to use the park as a DeFacto homeless encampment in violation of city ordinances and nuisance law.
Kylea Good, who chairs the Dawn Legacy Pointe board, even bragged that the approval represents years of “behind-the-scenes work” with the Keller Administration and others going along to get approval at the exclusion of the public. Why bother to go public and be transparent when you can sneak around city hall with the Mayor’s support to get something you want and the general public be damned.
VICTIMIZING WOMAN VICTIMS AGAIN
What is truly repulsive and totally irresponsible is when Kylea Good and Brad Day proclaim that the Safe Outdoor Space encampment at 1205 Menaul will be for “sex-trafficking victims” and other vulnerable populations. Good went so far as to say it will likely be occupied by woman first and said:
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we maxxed out. The truth of the matter is it’s not like we’re looking at just one area. There’s a lot of [human] trafficking and exploitation that goes on around that area of Menaul.”
When the words “trafficking and exploitation” are used by Good, she is talking about woman who are victims of crime such as kidnapping or forced prostitution. She is saying that she wants to provide tents in city sanction encampments to woman who have already been victimized believing she is somehow acting compassionate when such woman need actual, compassionate treatment and permanent housing that is safe and secured and not living in a tent city. What Mayor Tim Keller, Kylea Good and Brad Day are creating is a location for victims to become victims once again.
It’s the actual location of 1205 Menaul, NE that is the most troubling. The encampment has the potential of becoming a magnet for crime and prostitution or illicit drug trade given that it is in close proximity to a truck stop known for prostitution and illicit drug activity amongst law enforcement. Then there is the fact that it is directly across the street from a major call center and a Quality Inn & Suites and within walking distance of Menaul Boarding School and apartments. Occupants of the Safe Outdoor spaces are not confined and are free to go and come as they please and could easily wind up uninvited wherever they want to go, including the truck stop, and disrupt the peaceful use and enjoyment at any one of those locations or engage in illicit activity themselves.
The homeless crisis will not be solved by the city, but it can and must be managed. Safe Outdoor Spaces represent a very temporary place to pitch a tent, relieve oneself, bathe and sleep at night with rules that will not likely be followed. Safe Outdoor Spaces are not the answer to the homeless crisis. The answer is to provide the support services, including food and permanant lodging, and mental health care needed to allow the homeless, and yes those who are the victims of human trafficking, to turn their lives around, become productive self-sufficient citizens, no longer dependent on relatives or others.
“Safe Outdoor Spaces” will be a disaster for the city as a whole. They will destroy neighborhoods, make the city a magnet for the homeless and destroy the city’s efforts to manage the homeless through housing. If the City Council allows for “safe outdoor spaces” zoning, it will be a major setback for the city and its current policy of seeking permanent shelter and housing as the solution to the homeless crisis.
A Mayor loses credibility and public support when they cram a political agenda down people’s throats. What Mayor Tim Keller has done is to cram a Safe Outdoor Space on property zoned “NON-RESIDENTIAL – LIGHT MANUFACTURING” and down the throats of surrounding property owners. The disastrous ART Bus Project is Mayor Richard Berry’s legacy of failure. Mayor Tim Keller’s mishandling of the homeless crisis, including the closing of Coronado Park, and now Safe Outdoor Spaces, is becoming Mayor Keller’s symbol and his dark legacy of failure when dealing with the most venerable homeless population. Just think of it, we have 3 more years this kind of failed leadership ahead of us.
On August 15, City Council will meet and consider the repeal of Safe Outdoor Spaces. The email addresses and phone numbers to contact Mayor Tim Keller and Interim Chief Administrative Officer Lawrence Rael and each City Councilor and the Director of Counsel services on or before August 15 and to express an opinion on the Legacy Point application are here:
MAYOR’S OFFICE PHONE: (505) 768-3000
CITY COUNCIL PHONE: (505) 768-3100