On August 16, 2022, the online news outlet New Mexico Sun published a Pete Dinelli column on the City Planning Department granting an application to allow Dawn Legacy Point to establish a Safe Outdoor Space at 1250 Menaul, NE for a homeless tent encampment to house woman who have been victims of “trafficking and exploitation”. Below is the column followed by the link:
HEADLINE: Mayor Tim Keller ‘sneaks’ approval of ‘safe outdoor space’
“On July 30, Dawn Legacy Point filed the first application ever for a ‘Safe Outdoor Space’ homeless encampment. On August 8, the City Planning Department approved the application for a homeless campsite at 1250 Menaul, NE. Dawn Legacy Point said the homeless encampment will provide accommodations for upwards of 50 women who are homeless and who are “sex-trafficking victims” and other vulnerable populations.
The City Planning Department unilaterally reviewed the application behind closed doors with no notice to surrounding businesses or neighborhood associations, no public hearing and no public input. The application was “fast tracked” by the Planning Department to approve the application just 8 days before the City Council was scheduled to repeal the Safe Outdoor Spaces zoning use on August 16.
There is no getting around it. What the Planning Department did does not pass the smell test. The application approval was as sneaky and underhanded as it gets. The planning Department decided it had the authority to simply grant the application before the City Council votes to repeal Safe Outdoor Spaces on August 15.
With acquiescence from Mayor Tim Keller, the Planning Department approved the Safe Outdoor Space on city owned property valued at $4,333,500 to be operated by Dawn Legacy Point and subsidized by the City to house women in tents who are victims of “trafficking and exploitation”. It is something that progressive Democrat Keller should be absolutely ashamed of with “trafficking and exploitation” victims being housed in tents as a housing solution thereby being exploited gain by denying them proper housing.
What is being created at 1205 Menaul, NE is a location for victims to become victims once again. The actual location is troubling and has the potential of becoming a magnet for crime, prostitution or illicit drug trade. It’s located in close proximity to a truck stop known amongst law enforcement for prostitution and illicit drug activity. It’s directly across the street from a major call center, a motel suites and is walking distance of Menaul Boarding School and apartments. Occupants of the ‘Safe Outdoor Space’ are obviously not confined and would be free to go and come as they pleased and could easily wind up uninvited wherever they want to go. This includes the truck stop and disrupting the peaceful use and enjoyment at nearby locations or engaging in illicit activity.
Dawn Legacy Pointe board chair Kylea Good 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 going public and being transparent when you can sneak around city hall with the mayor’s support to get something you want and the general public be damned.
It’s repulsive and irresponsible when applicants Kylea Good and Brad Day proclaim that the Safe Outdoor Space encampment will be for “sex-trafficking victims”. When the words “trafficking and exploitation” are used, what is being talked about are woman who are victims of crime such as kidnapping or forced prostitution. They are saying that they want to provide tents in city sanction encampments to women who have already been victimized believing they are somehow acting compassionate. Victimized women need actual, compassionate treatment and permanent housing that is safe and secured and not living in a tent city.
Safe Outdoor Spaces are not the answer to the homeless crisis. “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.
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. The answer is to provide the support services, including food and permanent lodging, and mental health care needed to allow the homeless to turn their lives around, become productive self-sufficient citizens and no longer dependent on relatives or others.
A Mayor loses credibility and public trust when they cram a political agenda down people’s throats. What Mayor Tim Keller has done is to cram Safe Outdoor Spaces down the throats of surrounding property owners. Mayor Tim Keller has mishandled the homeless crisis, including the closing of Coronado Park. Safe Outdoor Spaces and Coronado Park are Mayor Keller’s symbols and legacy of failure as the city deals the most vulnerable homeless population, female victims of “sex-trafficking”.
The link to the New Mexico Sun guest column is here:
CITY COUNCIL ENACTS MORITORIUM ON SAFE OUTDOOR SPACES
The Dawn Legacy Point homeless tent encampment is a “Safe Outdoor Space” zoning conditional use. “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, requires a management plan, 6 foot fencing and social services offered
On Monday, August 15, the Albuquerque City Council passed on a 6 to 3 vote a moratorium that bars the City Planning Department from accepting or approving any pending applications for Safe Outdoor Spaces. Under the legislation, a complete moratorium is in effect until August 1, 2023, unless the City Council enacts a separate bill removing them totally from the zoning code.
Mayor Keller has up to ten days to decide to veto or sign the legislation of do nothing in which case it becomes law. The fact that the vote was 6-3 likely means the council has the necessary votes to override a Keller veto.
The vote was bipartisan. Voting YES for the moratorium where Republicans Brook Bassam Renee Grout, Trudy Jones, and Dan Lewis who were joined by Democrats Klarissa Peña and Louie Sanchez. Voting “NO” on the moratorium were Democrats Isaac Benton, Pat Davis and Tammy Fiebelcorn.
Before passing the moratorium legislation, the City Council amended the bill to ensure that the moratorium stopped the City Planning Department from approving any “pending” applications and to add language stopping the city from authorizing any “Safe Outdoor Space” on city property.
The prohibition to stop the city from authorizing “Safe Outdoor Spaces” on city own property was likely in reaction in part to the City Planning Department approving a Safe Outdoor Space Homeless campsite application made by Dawn Legacy Point to be located at 1250 Menaul Blvd, NE.
The tent encampment is to be located on two parcels of city own open space lots at 1250 Menaul, NE. The city sanctioned encampment is intended to provide accommodations for “sex-trafficking victims” and other vulnerable populations.
Still pending before the city council is another resolution that will totally eliminate and prohibit “Safe Outdoor Spaces” from the Integrated Development Ordinance altogether. The City Council will likely vote on the legislation eliminating or prohibiting Safe Outdoor Spaces from the IDO within a month to 6 weeks.
MARTINEZTOWN – SANTA BARBARA NEIGHBORHOOD APPEAL
On Monday, August 15, the Martinez Town – Santa Barbarbar Neighborhood Association (SBMTNA) filed an appeal requesting the City Planning Department to reverse its decision and deny the Safe Outdoor Space application of Dawn Legacy for 1250 Menaul. Specifically, the neighborhood association wants the City and the Planning Department to set aside and rescind its approval and not allow any Safe Outdoor Space at 1205 Menaul, NE.
Under the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO), appeals of zoning application approvals must be filed within 15 days from when an application is approved and within 30 days of filing of the appeal, the city must hold on the appeal.
On August 16, the City Planning Department sent a “Notice of Appeal” to SBMTNA that its appeal filing had been accepted and that a Notice of Hearing will be sent scheduling the appeal before a Land Use Hearing Officer. The assigned docketing information is:
CITY COUNCIL APPEAL NUMBER: AC-22-11
PLANNING DEPARTMENT CASE FILE NUMBER: PR-2022-007490, VA-2022-0023
APPLICANT: Santa BarbaraMartinez Town Neighborhood Association
AGENT: Loretta Naranjo Lopez
The major grounds for the appeal are outlined in the appeal documents filed and they are:
- The City Planning Department failed to follow City policies, procedures, and regulations required for the approval of the Safe Outdoor Spaces and applications for “special use” or “conditional use” zoning.
- The city planning department “fast tracked” the Dawn Legacy application to approve the application just 8 days before the City Council could repeal the Safe Outdoor Space amendment on August 16 thereby acting in bad faith and to the determent of other property owners and businesses in the area.
- The City of Albuquerque Planning Department unilaterally decided to review and grant the Dawn Legacy Point application behind closed doors without any public input, without notice to adjacent and surrounding property owners and without any public hearings.
- The City of Albuquerque failed to notify the SBMTNA of the Safe Outdoor Space application filed by Dawn Legacy Pointe for 1250 Menaul NE and failed to allow input thereby denying the association due process.
- The City Planning Department gave preferential treatment to the Dawn Legacy applicants by working with the applicants to identify city property to be used for a Safe Outdoor Space and with the City Family and Community Services Depart agreeing to fund operating costs, with both city departments not affording other potential applicants the same opportunity.
- The city council failed to enact operating procedures for Safe Outdoor Space encampments and failed to provide direction to the City departments charged with approving or disapproving Safe Outdoor Spaces applications and has allowed approvals to be made without any kind of objective, standards-based decision-making process.
- Dawn Legacy has submitted a plagiarized operating procedure of a nonprofit unsanctioned encampment in another city and the City accepted those operating procedures.
- The security plan offered Dawn Legacy Pointe and approved by the city for the homeless camp is defective and insufficient for the campsite to ensure safety of the tenants.
- The City of Albuquerque Planning Department and the Solid Waste Department are knowingly allowing the establishment of a public nuisance in the form of a Safe Outdoor Space in the Martinez Town Santa Barbara Neighborhood. The Planning Departments actions are tantamount to the City allowing Coronado Park to become the city’s DeFacto city sanctioned homeless encampment in violation of the city’s own public nuisance law and city ordinances.
- The City of Albuquerque Planning Department did nothing to provide processes for development decision of 1250 Menaul NE to ensure a balance of the interests of the City, property owners, residents, and developers and ensure opportunities for input by affected parties.
- The operation and existence of a Safe Outdoor Space encampment at 1250 Menaul NE will have a determental impact on the Martinez Town Santa Barbara neighborhood and will adversely affect property values and interfer with residence peaceful use and enjoyment of their residential properties.
- The encampment as proposed for 1205 Menaul, NE will become 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. The location 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.
Under the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO), appeals must be filed within 15 days from when an application is approved. On August 8 the City Planning Department approved the Dawn Legacy application. The IDO also requires that within 30 days after an appeal is filed, a hearing must be held on the appeal. In the case of the Martineztown-Santa Barbara Neighborhood Association, the hearing must be held on or before September 14.
PLANNING DEPARTMENT REFUSES TO ACCEPT APPEALS; TIME RUNNING OUT FOR OTHER APPLICANTS TO APPEAL
Confidential sources have confirmed that when Santa Barbara-Martinez Town Neighborhood Association attempted to file its appeal on August 16, the agent attempting to file the appeal was turned away. The planning department initially refused to accept the filing of the appeal. It took over 4 four hours before the appeal documents were accepted and only after a threat was made by the Martineztown-Santa Barbara Neighborhood Association that it would go to the press and complain.
Another confidential source has claimed that the Crown Plaza has attempted to file an appeal, and the Planning Department has refused to accept the appeal. It is also understood that the Menaul School and the T-Mobil call center across the street from the Dawn Legacy Safe Outdoor Spaces want to file an appeal.
The City Attorney and the City Clerk, if they have any lick of sense of fair play and due process of law, should contact the Planning Department and tell it to knock it off refusing to accept appeal filings of those who have a legitimate right to appeal by those who want to appeal.
Because the Dawn Legacy Point application was approved by the Planning Department on August 8, the other effected property owners have only until August 23 to file their appeal.
APPEAL MUST MOVE FORWARD
Despite the city council placing a moratorium on Safe Outdoor Spaces, it was a moratorium only for “pending applications” and not “approved applications” such as the Dawn Legacy Point “Safe Outdoor Space” located at 1205 Menaul, NE
The Martineztown – Santa Barbara neighborhood has made it clear it intends to keep moving forward with its appeal. The Martineztown-Santa Barbara Neighborhood Association feels that it has been betrayed and discriminated by the city with the city totally ignoring the historic community’s needs for decades.
Loretta Naranjo Lopez, president of the Matineztown – Santa Barbara neighborhood association said this:
“The association is tired of the discrimination and racism toward the neighborhood. … The city has imposed on the residents’ methadone clinics, crime, property destruction and filthiness throughout the neighborhood. The residents and their properties have been under threat for a long time. This needs to stop now.”
“As you can understand, [we are] very angry that the city didn’t even have the decency to meet with us. … We cannot take it anymore. Something has to get done. There has to be a plan. And they need to listen to the community. … We have no services here no community center for the seniors or the youth. We were, we’re tired of what they’ve done to us.”
Victor Apodaca, a resident of Martineztown-Santa Barbara said this:
“You know, now they’re hearing our voice, you know, they apparently it didn’t seem like they just, they had a, they had a solution. You know, they shut down Coronado Park without having a solution.”
Sources have said that the homeless that have been evicted from Coronado Park are making their way to Martineztown an attempting to set up camp at its park and other open space areas.
The links to quoted news source material are here:
In the event that the Planning Department hearing officer decides not to grant the Martineztown-Santa Barbara appeal, the neighborhood association would have the option to appeal the decision to the city council as a whole. The City Council has the ultimate authority to grant or denying zoning change applications.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
In New Mexico politics, this is what you call brazen “political movidas.”
The entire process and sequence of events from Mayor Tim Keller supporting and funding “Safe Out Door Apaces” to the tune of $950,000 and cramming a political agenda down the publics throats, to the city council creating and reversing course to allow Safe Outdoor Spaces, to Dawn Legacy Point filing an application for a ‘Safe Outdoor Space’, to the city giving preferential treatment to Dawn Legacy Point for location and operations funding, to the City Planning Department fast tracking and granting the application, to the Planning Department refusing to accept appeals all reeks of political corruption and incompetence at all levels of city hall.
It is this type of city government dysfunction and sinister “political movidas” that results in contempt of elected and government officials.