On June 6, the Albuquerque City Council at its regularly scheduled meeting and before a remarkable turn out of voters, decided to defer action on 2 of the most controversial issues pending before it.
COUNCIL DEFERS CHANGES TO INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT ORDINANCE
Well over 100 people signed up to testify for and against the proposed amendments to the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) which is the city’s comprehensive zoning laws. The annual update of the IDO has been pending since November of last year when Mayor Tim Keller announced that he wants “transformative changes” to the city’s zoning laws and declaring a housing crisis in affordable housing.
There have been at least 3 city council committee hearings on the changes and 5 public presentations by the Keller Administration where hundreds have attended to voice opposition. The proposed legislation is sponsored by City Councilors Isaac Benton and Trudy Jones and is part of Mayor Tim Keller’s Housing Forward initiative. Both Benton and Jones have already announced that they are not seeking re-election to the council with the municipal election scheduled for November 7 when 4 city council positions will be on the ballot.
The most controversial amendments to the IDO would allow for the construction of casitas and duplexes and they are part of Keller’s Housing Forward ABQ Plan. It is a “multifaceted initiative” where Keller has set the goal of adding 5,000 new housing units across the city by 2025 above and beyond what private industry normally creates each year. The zoning code amendments would make both casitas and duplex additions “permissive uses” and not “conditional uses” as they are now and have always been historically.
According to city officials, there are 120,000 residential lots that have existing homes. With the construction of “casitas” and “two family home” additions, also known as duplexes, density could double to 240,000 with casita structures alone or triple to 360,000 with both casitas and duplex home additions.
A “conditional use” requires an application process with the city Planning Department, notice to surrounding property owners and affected neighborhood associations and provides for appeal rights. A “permissive use” would give the Planning Department exclusive authority to issue permits for construction without notices and hearings and with no appeal process. Objecting property owners and neighborhood associations to the permissive casita and duplex uses would be relegated to filing lawsuits to enforce covenants and restrictions.
Should the proposed changes to the Integrated Development Ordinance pass without amendment, large swaths of the city zoned for single-family houses would be opened to casita and duplex development. Other proposed changes include eliminating building height limits for multifamily and mixed-use buildings, and reducing parking requirements for multifamily housing.
The city council decided to delay voting on the bill and the amendments until July 19.
The link to the news source is here:
COUNCIL DEFERS CHARTER AMENDMENT CREATING CITY COUNCIL-CITY MANAGER
First term City Councilors Republican Renee Grout and Democrat Louie Sanchez are co-sponsoring a proposed City Charter amendment that that would require voter approval and that would end the “strong mayor” form of government Albuquerque adopted in 1974. The charter amendment would transfer all the mayor’s executive and city management duties to a city manager chosen by the city council.
This is what is referred to as a “weak mayor” form of government. The mayor would preside over city council meetings and vote at council meetings only in the event of a tie. The appointed city manager would assume many of the powers now held by the mayor, including the authority to appoint the police chief and other department directors. According to the proposed legislation, the council would appoint the city manager, who would “organize the executive branch of the city,” and the mayor would “be recognized as the head of the City government for all ceremonial purposes.”
During the June 6 meeting, the City Council voted 5-4 to amend the measure to make the mayor a voting member of the council and the City Council would have 10 voting members which could result in tie votes.
In the original proposal, the mayor would only have cast a vote to break a tie and would “have no administrative duties.”
In order for it to pass, it must pass with a super majority of 6 votes. The city must file the measure with Bernalillo County no later than August 29 to get it on the November 7 election ballot. The measure as proposed and if passed by voters would not take effect until after the next mayoral election which will occur in 2025.Bottom of Form
The city council voted to deferred the charter amendment until June 21.
The link to the news source is here:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The deferral of both the annual amendments to the Integrated Development Ordinance as well as the charter amendment that could dramatically change the city’s form of government is what is referred to as “political kick the can”. It’s a politcal game that is downright dangerous especially as it relates to changing dramatically our form of government and real property rights.
It’s more likely than not all 9 city councilors have already made up their mind how they intend to vote on both measures, but they continue to act coy, saying as little as possible, or nothing at all, so as not to offend. It’s a pathetic little game played by politicians with weak backs with hidden personal agendas to avoid controversy and accountability and to avoid taking votes before hostile audiences of voters. They do it in the hopes that time will provide a cooling off period hoping that the controversy will subside, the public will forget and go away and perhaps pressure will change a final vote. It is deferrals such as these that has given politicians such as this city council such a bad reputation.
Voters need to show up in droves on June 6 to voice their opinion if the city’s form of government should change giving more power to the city council. Voters need to show up on July 19 to voice their opinion of the zoning amendments that will have a dramatic impact and reduce real property rights.