On July 30, Dawn Legacy Point filed the first application ever for a ‘Safe Outdoor Space’ homeless encampment. The homeless encampment is intended to provide accommodations for upwards of 50 women who are homeless and who are “sex-trafficking victims” and other vulnerable populations. The homeless encampment is to be located on vacant land at 1250 Menaul Blvd, NE which consists of two large parcels of property owned by the city with an assess value of $4, 333,55.
On August 8, the City Planning Department approved the Dawn Legacy Point application for a Safe Outdoor Space homeless campsite at 1250 Menaul, NE for. 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.
Less than a half mile from the vacant land 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. 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.
The vacant land borders Sunset Memorial Park to the West. It has been reported that workers daily patrol the cemetery 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.
8 APPEALS FILED
The following parties have been identified as filing, or in the process of filing, appeals of the Dawn Legacy Point Safe Outdoor Spaces homeless tent encampment, asking the City Planning Department to reverse its decision and deny the Safe Outdoor Space application of Dawn Legacy for 1250 Menaul:
- Martineztown Santa Barbara Neighborhood Association
- Menaul Middle School
- Life Roots
- Reuele Sun Corporation, a participant in the Menaul Redevelopment Area
- Crown Plaza Hotel, a participant in the Menaul Redevelopment Area
- T-Mobil Cell Phone Call Center
- Sunset Memorial Cemetery
- Greater Albuquerque Hotel and Lodging Association
DAWN LEGACY SAFE OUTDOOR SPACE APPLICATION SERIOUSLY DEFECTIVE
During the June 6, 2022 City Council meeting that approved the Safe Outdoor Space amendment to the Independent Development Ordinance (IDO), and amendment was offered and approved that prohibits sex offenders from being allowed to be tenants and the use of any Safe Outdoor Space. The amendment also requires a 24 hour, 7 day a week on site security/administration at Safe Outdoor Space encampments.
The adopted amendment to the Integrated Development ordinance provides as follows:
“4-3(C)(9)(g) Each Safe Outdoor Space shall include a management plan or security agreement to ensure the safety of individuals occupying the designated spaces. Proof of the plan or agreement shall be required with the application for a Safe Outdoor Space. The plan or agreement shall indicate on-site support on a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week basis. The management plan shall, at a minimum, include the following: i. No person who is a registered sex offender shall be allowed to stay in a Safe Outdoor.”
The City of Las Cruces operates a Safe Outdoor Space encampment known as Camp Hope. Camp Hope has adopted and implemented registration forms, intake forms and promulgated extensive rules and regulations for tenants, including a security plan for its use. The Las Cruces Camp Hope rules and regulations allow sex offenders to use Safe Outdoor Space encampment so long as they registered with the Sherriff and notify schools within a mile of the encampment.
It was on August 8 that Dawn Legacy application was approved for the Safe Outdoor space. The Dawn Legacy application attaches to it as its own adopted rules and regulations those used by the City of Las Cruces Camp Hope to operate the Dawn Legacy Safe Outdoor Spaces at 1250 Menaul, NE, thereby allowing it for use by registered sex offender. The Dawn Legacy applications is rendered defective given that it has failed to provide rules and regulations and has failed to provide a 24/7 management plan or security agreement that is specifically tailored to the 1250 Menaul, NE encampment.
LOOPHOLE APPLICATION PERIOD AND MORITORIUM ENACTED
It was on June 6, the Albuquerque City Council enacted upwards of 100 amendments updating the Integrated Development Ordinance. The legislation passed on a 5 to 4. One of the amendments was for city sanctioned homeless encampments called “Safe Outdoor “Spaces”.
“Safe outdoor spaces” will permit 2 homeless encampments in all 9 city council disitricts with 40 designated spaces for tents, they will allow upwards of 50 people, require hand washing stations, toilets and showers, require a management plan, 6-foot fencing and social services offered. Although the Integrated Development Ordinance amendment sets a limit of two in each of the city’s 9 council districts, the cap would not apply to those hosted by religious institutions.
On June 22, just a few weeks after the Safe Outdoor Space amendment was passed, two bills were introduce, one to stop the city from accepting or approving safe outdoor space applications and the other will eliminate “safe outdoor spaces” from the zoning code altogether.
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 approved could 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.
CITY COUNCIL ENACTS MORITORIUM
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.
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.
Under the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO), appeals of zoning application approvals must be filed within 15 days from when an application is approved and the dealine for filing an appeal was within 30 days of filing of the appeal, the city must hold on the appeal.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
This entire sordid mess involving the Dawn Legacy application approval amounts to nothing more than “LET THE PUBLIC BE DAMNED” by the Keller Administration. It is a very sad commentary when at least 8 appeals have been generated for appellants to jump through loopholes to appeal a decision by the City Planning Department. Sources have also confirmed that the Planning Department resisted taking the appeal filings and went so far as telling applicants they did not have the proper forms or did not have standing to appeal.
There is no getting around it. What the Planning Department did does not pass the smell test. The Dawn Legacy 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 “sex trafficking and exploitation”. It is something that progressive Democrat Keller should be absolutely ashamed of with “sex trafficking and exploitation” victims being housed in tents as a housing solution thereby being exploited again 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 suite 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.
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.
Mayor Keller has lost credibility and public trust. 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”.