Dawn Legacy Pointe has withdrawn its application for a Safe Outdoor Space for a city sanctioned homeless encampment to house 50 woman who are victims of sex trafficking in tents near the Big I on Menaul. A “Safe Outdoor Space” is defined as a lot, or a portion of a lot, developed to permit homeless encampments with 40 designated spaces for tents, allowing upwards of 50 people, require hand washing stations, toilets and showers, and require a management plan, fencing and social services offered.
The application withdrawal comes after a March 16 appeal decision by City Land Use Hearing Officer Steven M. Chavez granting the appeal of 7 organizations. Appealing the Planning Department decision were the Santa Barbara-Martineztown Neighborhood Association; Crowne Plaza hotel; LifeRoots Inc.; Sunset Memorial Park, Greater Albuquerque Hotel and Lodging Association; Menaul School; and Albuquerque Hotel Project. The SOS would be a tent encampment for 50 homeless woman who are victims of sex trafficking. The postscript to this blog article contains a short history of the appeal and the grounds for the appeal.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Private Attorney at Law Pete Dinelli assisted pro bono with the writing of the Santa Barbara Martineztown Neighborhood Association appeal of the Dawn Legacy application for a Safe Outdoor Space on Menaul and has reported on www.PeteDienlli.com the activities of Mayor Tim Keller and the City Council on their efforts to enact and include the permissive zoning use Safe Outdoor Spaces in in Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO).
City Land Use Hearing Officer Steven M. Chavez ruling was not final and it was referred to the City Council with the recommendation that the council reverse the Planning Deparments approval of the permissive land use. Under the Integrated Development Ordinance, the city council has the ultimate and final authority over all land use applications with the Mayor having no veto authority. The City Council is scheduled to act on the hearing officer’s recommendations at its until April 3 meeting week, but that will now likely be cancelled.
APPEAL OF APPLICATION
The city Planning Department’s approval of the Dawn Legacy Pointe’s application was one of the most divisive decisions not only for the actual location of the SOS but for the manner in which it was approved in the first place by the Keller Administration. The application was approved behind closed doors, the Keller Administration gave preferential treatment to the applicant including identifying city owned property and committing financial resources and not giving adjacent property owners notice of the application. The 7 appellants argued the SOS would detrimentally impact the area. Dawn Legacy Pointe submitted a very defective application.
The hearing officer found that 3 of the 7 appeals should be dismissed for “lack of standing”, meaning a condition that a party seeking a legal remedy must show to bring a claim, finding the appellants were not close enough to the proposed SOS and could not make “a rational, clear cause and effect connection of generalized crime with the proposed SOS use not based on conjecture.” The hearing officer did find that the Dawn Legacy Pointe’s application was seriously defective, incomplete and did not have all the required documents and security plans for review. The hearing officer also found that the Planning Department’s review process and notice requirement were also defective or deficient.
Last year, the City Council approved safe outdoor spaces on a 6 to 4 vote. After strong public outcry, City Council Brook Basaan changed her vote and attempted to exclude them. A 5 vote majority of the City Council now opposes safe outdoor spaces, and the city council on 3 occasions passed legislation to outlaw or otherwise stymie them. Mayor Tim Keller’s vetoes of the legislation and the council not having the votes to override the veto’s have ensured they remain possible. Mayor Keller lacks authority to veto City Council decisions on land-use appeals like the Dawn Legacy Pointe case.
THREAT TO CARRY ON
After announcing the withdrawal of the application, Brad Day, a volunteer consultant for Dawn Legacy Pointe, announced defiantly he plans to submit another application, and perhaps even more than one, in an effort to give Albuquerque’s homeless population new options. Day said this about future applications:
“We’re not going to stop until we start making some dents in this homeless problem. … We will make sure there is no question that all the documents are there, more than enough.”
Day declined to not say for sure if the next application would be for the same site, said it was a possibility, but he is looking also at other locations. He declined to identify the other sites. The City did not say if it intended to continue to offer the city owned Menaul property to be used for a Safe Outdoor Space.
The links to quoted news source materials are here:
MENAUL PROPERTY BEING LOOKED AT FOR GARBAGE TRANSFER STATION
In addition to the Dawn Legacy Pointe plan to establish and operate a “Safe Outdoor Space” at 1250 Menaul Blvd, NE to provide a tent encampment for 50 women who are homeless and who are “sex-trafficking victims”, the city’s Solid Waste Department wants to use 1 of the 2 adjoining city owned parcels of land for a garbage transfer station. The transfer station would allow individual city trash trucks to drop off their loads so larger vehicles could then transport the garbage to the landfill. It has been reported that while the city has looked at other sites for the garbage transfer station, the Menaul property is the only location currently under consideration.
MENAUL METROPOLITAN REDEVELOPMENT AREA (MRA) APPROVED
In February and March the Albuquerque Development Commission and the Albuquerque City Council respectively approved Menaul Metropolitan Redevelopment Area (MRA). The newly created MRA is directly East on Menaul and borders the freeway and the Dawn Legacy Point SOS area. The Menaul Boulevard corridor is characterized by its important role within the economy of Albuquerque. The area is well located and central to the city with access to both Interstate 40 (I40) and Interstate 25 (I25) and in close proximity to the rail lines and the airport. There are stable and well-established neighborhoods to the north.
COMMENTWARY AND ANALYSIS
It’s a damn shame that Mayor Tim Keller and his Administration have pushed as aggressively as they have in establishing Safe Outdoor Spaces. Keller and his administration have put the public through the emotional wringer by requiring residents, businesses and neighborhood associations to file appeals, spend enormous amounts of time and energy, attorney fees and emotional capital to stop safe out door spaces. This is all because of Mayor Keller refuses to listen to people. He has the attitude of “let the public be damned” and “I know what best for my city”. This is not the way government is suppose to work and its not Keller’s City as he runs around with a smile on his face and a grin in his voice telling everyone he knows what’s best for our neighborhoods.
The threat by Brad Day and Dawn Legacy Pointe that they intend submit other applications for Safe Outdoor Spaces need to be taken seriously by the city, neighborhood associations and businesses. The City Council has already approved amendments to the Integrated Development Ordinance that allows 2 Safe Outdoor Spaces for each of the 9 city council districts for a total of 18. Two applications have already been approved, one at the city owned property westside shelter and one at the “Coming Home” unhoused facility on Candelaria.
Now that Dawn Legacy Pointe has withdrawn its application for a Safe Outdoor Space, the Keller Administration needs to withdraw immediately the availability of the city owned lots at 1250 Menaul Blvd, NE for any Safe Outdoor Spaces. The City Council needs act immediately and enact legislation that prevents the city from making available for safe outdoor spaces any city owned open space zoned for industrial, commercial or residential use.
Safe Outdoor Spaces have been one of the most divisive issues in the city for the last full year. Safe Outdoor Space city sanctioned homeless encampments are not just an issue of “not in my back yard,” but one of legitimate anger and mistrust by the public against city elected officials and department employees who have mishandled the city’s homeless crisis and who are determined to allow them despite strong public opposition. The general public has legitimate concerns that Safe Outdoor Space homeless tent encampments will become crime-infested nuisances, such was the case with Coronado Park, another Tim Keller bright idea. The homeless crisis will not be solved by the city but must be managed with permanent housing assistance and service programs, not nuisance tent encampments. City residents and businesses need to be vigilant.
The Planning Department and the Family and Community Services Department went out of their way to give preferential treatment and financial aid to the Dawn Legacy applicants for a Safe Outdoor Space for unhoused woman who are “sex-trafficking victims”. Never mind the fact that victims of sex trafficking need stable and permanent housing and services and placing such women in tents to live is very degrading and revictimizes them again.
It was Mayor Tim Keller who on April 1, 2022 first advocated for “Safe Outdoor Spaces” by sneaking $950,000 in his 2022 general fund budget for them. The City Council haplessly agreed to Safe Outdoor Spaces zoning amendments and then reversed course after public outcry and anger. Three times the City Council attempted to exclude them but they failed with Keller vetoing the city council measures.
Only in the screwed up “Burque World” of Mayor Tim Keller can it be imagined that 2 adjoining lots of prime commercial property own by the city worth upwards of $7 million would be used for a Safe Outdoor Space for a tent encampment for women who are “sex-trafficking victims” and then the city would construct and run a “garbage transfer station” next to it and approve a Metropolitan Redevelopment area. As has been originally proposed both the Safe Outdoor Space and the Solid Waste Transfer station would literally border on the West of the Menaul Metropolitan Redevelopment Area. The optics are so very representative of the kind of failed Mayor Tim Keller has become and how messed up he operates and thinks.
HISTORY AND GOUNDS FOR SOS APPEAL
It was on Friday, March 16, in a 48 page decision, that City Land Use Hearing Officer Steven M. Chavez granted the appeal of 7 organizations to stop the City and the charitable organization Dawn Legacy Pointe from constructing a Safe Outdoor Space (SOS) on two city own lots located at 1250 Menaul Blvd. NE.
It was on September 28, 2022 after an appeal hearing that Land Use Hearing Officer Steven M. Chavez sent back to the Planning Department the original Dawn Legacy Pointe application, The hearing officer ordered the City to give legal notice to adjacent property owners and hold a hearing on the application. The City Planning Department had originally granted the Dawn Legacy application for the SOS behind closed doors without giving notice to surrounding property owners, neighborhood associations and businesses as require by law. The Planning Department held no public hearing on the application and the Family Community Services Department gave Dawn Legacy assistance in identifying city property for the SOS, assisted with its design and with the application and agreed to provide funding.
On December 22, 2022 the Planning Department granted for a second time approval for Safe Outdoor Space (SOS) on the city owned lots at 1250 Menaul Blvd, NE. The proposed Legacy Point Safe Outdoor Space is within walking distance of Menaul School, across the street from the T-Mobile Call Center and a Quality Inn & Suites, it borders Sunset Memorial Park and one block Carrington College and two apartment complexes and immediately East of the Freeway is the massive TA Travel Truck which is known in law enforcement circles for prostitution and illicit drug activity. Immediate south of the truck stop on University Blvd is the Crown Plaza Hotel
MAJOR GROUNDS FOR APPEAL OUTLINED
The Santa Barbara-Martineztown Neighborhood Association outlined the major rounds for their appeal which are worth noting:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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 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.
6. 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 allowed approvals to be made without any kind of objective, standards-based decision-making process.
7. Dawn Legacy submitted a plagiarized operating procedure of a nonprofit unsanctioned encampment in another city and the City accepted those operating procedures.
8. 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.
9. The City of Albuquerque Planning Department and the Solid Waste Department knowingly allow ed 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.
10. 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.
11. The operation and existence of a Safe Outdoor Space encampment at 1250 Menaul NE have had 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.
12. 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.
13. 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 will 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.
ALLEGATIONS MADE BY OTHER APPELANTS
In addition to the above grounds for the appeal offered by the Santa Barbara-Martineztown Neighborhood Association, other appellants have alleged their own unique argument againsts the Dawn Legacy Point Safe Outdoor Space. Those argument includeD the following:
Menaul School argued that the safety of their students will be placed in jeopardy by the encampment and that the encampment will attract other homeless to school grounds. The school said uninvited homeless have already been on the school grounds resulting in security measures taken,
Sunset Memorial Park argued that it is already experiencing unacceptable trespassing of the homeless requiring increasing security and cleanup efforts. Homeless have been reported trespassing on the cemetery grounds using fountains for bathing and defecating and interfering with burial ceremonies. The cemetery believes that the Dawn Legacy Point Safe Outdoor Space will contribute to the problem.
The Crown Plaza reported an unacceptable number of the homeless have accosted its clientele in its parking lot and on hotel property and that the Safe Outdoor Space will attract more homeless to the area or its occupants to the motel soliciting from the hotel clientele.