On July 30, Dawn Legacy Point filed the first application ever for a ‘Safe Outdoor Space’ homeless encampment. “Safe outdoor spaces” are city sanctioned homeless encampments with 40 designated spaces for tents that will allow upwards of 50 people, require hand washing stations, toilets and showers, require a management plan, 6 foot fencing and social services offered. The Dawn Legacy Point application was approved despite a City Council resolution to repeal and prohibit the land use now allowed by the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO). On Thursday, September 15, the City Environmental Planning Commission (EPC) voted to recommend to the city council to pass the city council resolution to eliminate “Safe Outdoor Spaces” from the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO).
The Dawn Legacy Point 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. Seven appeals of the Dawn Legacy Point Safe Outdoor Spaces homeless tent encampment have been filed. The appellants are asking the City Planning Department to reverse its decision and deny the Safe Outdoor Space application of Dawn Legacy.
The 7 appellants are:
- 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
The City of Albuquerque Land Use Hearing Officer has now scheduled a hearing on all 7 of the above appeal cases on Wednesday, September 28, 2022 at 9:00 am in the Vincent E. Griego Chambers at the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Government Center, One Civic Plaza NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102. The general public is encouraged to attend this hearing as a sign of support to the appealants.
Despite the appeals, sources have confirmed that on August 21 the City began preparing the property for the homeless tent encampment.
ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL GUEST COLUMN
On September 20, the Albuquerque Journal published guest column written by Loretta Naranjo Lopez, the President of the Martineztown Santa Barbara Neighborhood Association, one of the appellants of the of the approved Dawn Legacy Point “Safe Outdoor Space” application for 1250 Menaul, NE. Naranjo Lopez is a retired City of Albuquerque employee having served upwards of 30 years with the Planning Department and the Zoning Enforcement department and she has an extensive background in the city’s zoning laws. Below is the Albuquerque Journal guest column followed by the link:
HEADLINE: Fast-tracked Safe Outdoor Spaces are discriminatory
BY Loretta Naranjo Lopez, Albuquerque resident
PUBLISHED: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20TH, 2022 AT 12:02AM
“The Albuquerque Journal’s Aug. 21 report, “Appeal targets first approved safe outdoor space,” failed to report in any detail the legitimate grounds the Santa Barbara Martineztown Neighborhood Association has in asking the city to reverse its approval of the Dawn Legacy Pointe “safe outdoor space” homeless encampment for women who are sex-trafficking victims. The article was … a biased regurgitation of the applicant’s justification for the homeless encampment.
The application approved by the city was as sneaky and underhanded as it gets. The application was “fast tracked” by the Planning Department to approve the application just eight days before the City Council repealed the Safe Outdoor Spaces zoning use on Aug. 16. The city failed to notify the neighborhood association of the application and failed to allow the neighborhood association to give input on how the neighborhood will be detrimentally affected.
The Planning Department unilaterally approved the application behind closed doors without notice to neighborhood associations or businesses or public hearing or input. The city gave preferential treatment to the applicants, working with them to identify city-owned property to be used and with the city agreeing to fund operating costs and not affording others the same opportunity.
… The security plan offered and approved by the city for the homeless camp is defective and insufficient for the campsite to ensure safety of the homeless and surrounding landowners and businesses.
The operation of the encampment will have a detrimental impact on the Martineztown-Santa Barbara neighborhood. It will adversely affect property values and interfere with residents’ peaceful use and enjoyment of their properties. Occupants will not be confined during the day and will be free to go and come as they please and will wind up uninvited in the neighborhoods.
The Planning Department’s approval of the application is akin to Mayor Tim Keller allowing Coronado Park to become the city’s de facto city sanctioned homeless encampment in violation of the city’s own public nuisance laws and city ordinances. The encampment will be a magnet for crime, prostitution or illicit drug trade. …
The Martineztown-Santa Barbara Neighborhood is sick and tired of the blatant discrimination and racism it has experienced for decades from the outright neglect the city has shown toward the neighborhood. The city has imposed on its residents methadone clinics, has failed to address rising crime rates, failed to provide adequate police protection, failed to provide city facilities like a community center and has allowed property destruction and filthiness throughout the neighborhood. The residents are under siege by the homeless displaced from Coronado Park and now the city wants to allow a safe outdoor space on city-owned property … to house women in tents who will likely be victimized again at the homeless encampment.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The location of 1250 Menaul Blvd, NE for a city sanctioned homeless tent encampment for victim of sex trafficking is very troubling and has the potential of becoming a magnet for crime, prostitution or illicit drug trade. To be blunt, it’s just plain nuts for the city to allow it.
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’ will 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.
Victims of sex trafficking need permanent housing that is a safe place to live and be provided with far more stable housing than a tent in an open area. Forcing victims of sex trafficking to live in tents is nothing more than victimizing them again and its inhumane. What is being created at 1205 Menaul, NE is a location for victims to become victims once again. There is no common sense to it at all. Mayor Tim Keller holds himself out as a progressive and has made housing of the homeless a top priority, yet ostensibly he has no problem with a Safe Outdoor Space to be use for victims of sex-trafficking.
The millions being spent each year by the city to deal with the homeless with the “housing first” policy should be more than sufficient to deal with housing the homeless. Safe Outdoor Space encampments violates the city’s “housing first” policy by not providing a form of permanent housing and with reliance on temporary housing.
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 the homeless crisis is to provide the homeless the support services, including food and permanent lodging, and mental health care needed to allow the homeless to turn their lives around and perhaps become productive self-sufficient citizens. Ten encampments are nothing short of inhumane treatment of the homeless.