On June 7, the District 7 Coalition of Neighborhood Association held its monthly meeting. The District 7 Coalition of Neighborhood Associations is one of the largest and most active of all neighborhood association coalitions in the city. It boasts membership of at least the following 11 neighborhood associations:
The Altura Park Neighborhood Association
The Mile High Neighborhood Association
The Mark Twain Neighborhood Association
The Quigly Park Neighborhood Association
The North East Area Resident Neighborhood Association (N.E.A.R,)
The Indian Moon Neighborhood Association
The Sandia High Neighborhood Association
The Alvarado Park Neighborhood Association
The Mc Kinnley Neighborhood Association
The Bel Aire Neighborhood Association
The Hodgin Neighborhood Association
The June 7 agenda included presentations from a representative of the Albuquerque Police Department crime prevention unit, a report from District 7 City Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn and a report from the Office of Neighborhood Coordination. Also in attendance was Bernalillo County Commissioner Eric Olivas. Pete Dinelli was invited to attend the meeting and asked to make a presentation on the history of Neighborhood Associations, the Neighborhood Association Registration Ordinance and the former Safe City Strike Force
EDITOR’S DISCLOSURE: In the interest of full disclosure and transparency, political blogger Pete Dinelli endorsed Tammy Fiebelkorn for City Council when she ran in 2021, an endorsement now regretted.
CONTENTIOUS LINE OF QUESTIONING
Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn’s June 7 report lasted approximately 15 minutes where she reported on the various projects being completed in District 7. She reported on soft ball field renovations at Los Altos Park and listed capital outlay projects in District 7 that have received state funding including Quigley Park renovations, Girard streetscaping, Lomas and Comanche median improvements and the Cutler Park exercise equipment and pollinator garden installations. Fiebelkorn took credit for securing the state funding when the funding was part of the city’s legislative package wish list for the 2023 legislative session.
WHAT’S NAIOP UP TO
What was very revealing is that Fiebelkorn boasted and said the local chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Park (NAIOP) personnel would be taking a bus tour of District 7 on June 8 to look at possible “investment sites and projects.” Fiebelkorn disclosed that she would be giving NAIOP personnel the bus tour. A source has confirmed that only NAIOP membership were allowed on the tour and that it intends to take tours of all 9 city council districts. District 7 is the Mid-heights City Council District, it is one of the most stable districts with built out neighborhoods, apartments and retail shops with very little next to nothing in open space and lots available for development. District 7 includes Coronado Shopping Center, the Commons Uptown Shopping area and Winrock and surrounding established residential areas and parts of the near northeast heights. A 200 unit, high rise apartment complex is currently being constructed across from 2 Park Square and apartments and luxury condos are under construction at Winrock.
It does not take a mental genius to figure out what NAIOP is up to when it takes a bus tour of District 7 for “investment sites and projects.” It is looking for residential properties to target for casitas and duplex development. NAIOP has endorsed allowing casita and duplex development on all residential property in the city. NAIOP is considered the most influential business and political organizations in the city. It boasts membership of over 300 of developers, contractors and investors. It has its own Political Action Committee for lobbying and supports candidates for office. NAIOP membership consistently bids on city construction contracts and contributes to races for city council and mayor usually Republican candidates. In 2013, NAIOP made the enactment of the Integrated Development Ordinance a major priority which repealed many sector development plans enacted over 50 years that protected neighborhoods and historical areas of the city.
FIEBELKORN DISCLOSES HOW SHE WILL VOTE
There are two controversial issues and ordinances that are currently pending enactment by the Albuquerque City Council. The first are amendments to the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) which would allow for the construction of casitas and duplexes in all neighborhoods of the city to increase population density. The amendments are part of Mayor Tim Keller’s Housing Forward ABQ Plan to increase density and affordable housing. The second is a City Charter Amendment that that would replace the current “strong Mayor” form of Government with a city council appointed city manager with the mayor becoming a member of the city council.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The amendments to the Integrated Development Ordinance that will allow for Casita’s and Duplex additions to existing homes will be voted upon by the City Council on Wednesday, June 21 (which has been scheduled for after a holiday.)The council has already decided to limit public comment to one minute per person. The email addresses to each city councilor are listed below.
Immediately after concluding her report, Fiebelkorn was asked point blank how she intended to vote on allowing changes to the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) that will allow for the construction of casitas and duplexes in all existing neighborhoods of the city. She was also asked how she intended to vote on the Charter Amendment calling for a city manager form of government. Fiebelkorn said she will vote YES for Mayor Tim Keller’s “Housing Forward ABQ Plan” which includes allowing casitas and duplex development. She said she will vote NO on the charter amendment calling for a change in the city’s form of government with a City Council – City Manager.
Pete Dinelli and other neighborhood representatives voiced their objections that voting “YES” to allowing casitas and duplexes was a wrong for District 7. A N.E.A.R. resident suggested delaying the Housing Forward proposal until the recently-appointed Governor’s state commission on affordable housing had made its recommendations. Councilor Fiebelkorn said the city council would not hold off on its housing plan and she refused to change her mind.
Fiebelkorn concluded her report by asking the coalition not to believe everything reported on her by the press and on social media outlets. She said there have been false reports and quotations attributed to her regarding her position on issues. The comment was taken to include politcal blogs such as www.PeteDinelli.com which has been critical of her actions and votes. She said if anyone had any questions, they could can call her and she would answer the questions. She also said she would always attend the coalition meetings to report, but she is known to simply leave the meetings after her reports showing absolutely no interest in the business of the coalition.
After her presentation, a coalition board member challenged Fiebelkorn objecting to her voting to allowing casita and duplex developments in all neighborhoods to increase density. The board member argued forcefully that casitas and duplexes will destroy established neighborhoods, they will be too costly and will only benefit developers and that they will not solve the city’s affordable housing and rental shortage and only make it worse. Fiebelkorn disagreed without elaborating. She ignored the arguments made and said her mind was made up and she would vote YES despite any objections.
Former District 7 City Councilor and current District 7 Coalition of Neighborhoods President Janice Arnold-Jones asked Councilor Fiebelkorn to support an amendment to the Housing Forward proposal that would make construction of casitas and duplexes in R-1 neighborhoods a conditional use requiring notification to surrounding property owners and affording appeal rights to them rather than a permissive use giving the city planning department exclusive authority to approve them. Arnold-Jones expressed the opinion that this was a reasonable compromise. Fiebelkorn tersely responded NO, said the planning department appeal process delayed too many projects and said her mind was made up and there was nothing to discuss.
A coalition board member noted that not a single person present at the coalition meeting were in support of casita and duplex developments. Fiebenkorn responded saying she did not care. She said the proposal to allow casitas and duplexes has city wide support from civic and charitable organizations, homeless advocacy groups and providers and the development and business community, such as NAIOP.
Fiebelkorn ignored that she was speaking to a room full of her own constituents who were opposed. Her subsequent comments were down right offensive. She said it was her responsibility to represent all voters of the district and that her constituents she has talked to have told her they are in favor of casitas and duplex development. She did not disclose who she had been talking to in the District. What was downright offensive was when she said the District 7 Coalition was not a large enough group to be reflective of the district concerns and needs.
FIEBELKORN FABRICATS ELECTION PLATFORM
Fiebelkorn became very dismissive and condescending to a board member who challenged her veracity over what she claimed to have campaigned on when she ran for city council. She said the subject of increasing density and low-income housing was an issue in her city council race and at debates and forums she participated in while running for city council in 2021.
The most troubling comments made by Fiebelkorn were that she said she ran and was elected on the platform of increasing housing density. City Councilor Fiebelkorn become visibly upset and angry when she was confronted by Pete Dinelli with a copy of a November 18, 2021 letter she wrote that outlined in no uncertain terms her 4 priorities she would concentrate on if elected city councilor. She refused to accept a copy of the letter. She made the ludicrous argument that she campaigned on environmental issues and that increasing housing density was part of protecting the environment.
Fiebelkorn’s November 18, 2021 letter was a letter to the Albuquerque Journal which was also posted on the political blog www.PeteDinelli.com as part of an endorsement. The Fiebelkorn letter contains no language and no platform advocating for increasing housing density and low income housing development in District 7.
The letter outlines her 4 priorities for District 7 and states in part as follows:
“The priorities I’ve heard from District 7 residents:
Safe streets with more programs to address substance abuse and behavioral health, with equal rights and protections for all residents, regardless of race, religion, ability, or identity.
Relief from the COVID pandemic for working families and small businesses.
A transition to a clean energy economy, with reduced utility costs, cheaper and cleaner transportation options, and healthier air and water.”
City policies that protect and respect all animals.”
The full text of the November 18, 2021 Fiebelkorn letter can be read in the postscript to this blog article.
ISSUES IN CITY COUNCIL 2021 ELECTION RECALLED
District 7 Albuquerque City Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn was elected to city council in a runoff on November 2, 2021. District 7 is the Mid-heights city council district and includes Coronado Shopping Center and Uptown surrounding areas and parts of the near northeast heights. She has been a resident of the district for 20 years. It was the very first time she has sought public office. She prides herself in being an unabashed highly progressive Democrat and animal rights advocate. She is an avowed vegetarian and goes so far as to encourage others to become vegetarians. On November 18, 2022 Fiebelkorn sent out a Thanksgiving email best wishes to her constituents that said in part:
“I encourage everyone to consider making your Thanksgiving celebration cruelty-free this year.”
The 2021 municipal election included the City Council races in the 5 odd number city council districts of Districts 1,3,5,7 and 9 as well as the Office of Mayor. The issues in the 2021 municipal election were as clear as day. The hot button issues were the city’s skyrocketing property crime rates, violent crime and murder rates, the APD sworn personnel levels, the DOJ consent decree reforms, the economy, the homeless proliferating city neighborhoods and parks unabated and the city’s response to the COVID pandemic. The city council issues did not include on any level the lack of affordable housing and rentals to the general public.
EXAMINING THE FAILED RECORD OF TAMMY FIEBELKORN
Since being sworn into office on January 1, 2022, City Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn has sponsored and opposed enactment of city ordinances that reflect that she has her own personal agenda. The following actions and votes are worth noting:
1. City Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn supported the amendment to the city’s zoning laws to allow for Safe Outdoor Spaces as well as opposed efforts to override vetoes by Mayor Tim Keller. Safe Outdoor Spaces are city sanctioned homeless encampments located in open space areas that allow for upwards of 50 homeless people to camp, require hand washing stations, toilets and showers, require a management plan, 6-foot fencing and provide for social services.
The council voted to allow 18 Safe Outdoor Spaces, 2 in each city council district. The issue became one of the most divisive issues in the city with property owners, neighborhoods and neighborhood associations demanding repeal. Three attempts were made to repeal or fund safe outdoor spaces that passed on a 5-4 vote, but were vetoed by Mayor Keller but the council failed to override the veto with the mandatory 6 votes. Fiebelkorn refused to vote to override Keller’s veto.
2. Last year during the city councils redistricting efforts of all 9 City Council Districts to conform with the United State Census, Democrat City Councilors Tammy Fiebelkorn and Pat Davis teamed up and sponsored a redistricting map that was the most radical of all the maps voted upon. The Davis/Fiebelkorn District 6 and District 7 maps reflected a dramatic departure changing the borders of both districts. Their concept map essentially gutted both Districts and carved them up to the benefit of Tammy Fiebelkorn to give advantage to Fiebelkorn for reelection.
Under the Davis/Fiebelkorn concept map, District 7 would have kept part of its existing Northeast Heights area, but then would have sweep west of District 6 and taken up the Nob Hill area and the Mesa del Sol development area. Both the International District and the Nob Hill areas are considered highly progressive and are currently in City Council District 6 represented by Pat Davis. The Nob Hill area along Central under the Davis/Fiebelkorn redistricting concept map would have been shifted to District 7 and be represented by City Councilor Fiebelkorn and would have jettison south to include the Mesa Del Sol development. The International District in the Southeast Heights would have remain in the newly aligned District 6 but the State Fairgrounds area and the Uptown area including Coronado Shopping Center and Winrock would have been shifted from District 7 to District 6. The Davis/Fiebelkorn District 6 and District 7 maps were rejected by the city council and came in last on the voting.
3. City Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn advocated for inclusion of rent control measures in the 2023 City of Albuquerque New Mexico legislative package. The 2023 New Mexico legislature overwhelmingly rejected rent control.
4. Fiebelkorn sponsored the Residential Tenant Protections Ordinance. It failed on a 4-5 vote. The ordinance was a form of rent control and an attempt to regulate any and all fees that are a part of the application process and interfered with private contract rights. The ordinance required landlords to disclose to potential applicants all application and other fees provided for in the lease agreement. The ordinance mandated that each time a property owner imposes a fee, they would be required to supply documentation proving their costs to the tenant. The ordinance would have dictated elements of the application process and mandated how many applications could be processed at a time. Fiebelkorn herself said this about her Residential Tenant Protections Ordinance:
“Most of the landlords in our city are fair, transparent, very clear with what folks are going to get. It’s the few that are making it really hard.”
What Fiebelkorn essentially said with her sponsorship is she wanted to make the entire apartment rental industry miserable with city fees and bureaucratic mandates because “It’s the few that are making it really hard.”
5. Fiebelkorn sponsored the “Residential Rental Permit Ordinance” and it failed to be enacted by the city council. “Residential Rental Permit Ordinance” provided that “No person shall operate any residential rental property without a Residential Rental Property Permit (RRPP) from the City of Albuquerque.” This would have included owners of one single rental home. The ordinance would have created a new permitting process for all rental units which would include various annual fees for landlords and property owners. The permit ordinance also imposed daunting disclosure requirements that are a repetition of information contained in documents already on file and easily accessible or in the possession of the city, county and state government.
6. The city council voted 7-2 to enact the amended “Pedestrian Safety Ordinance” which specifically bars individuals from standing in or entering street and highway travel lanes unless they are “legally crossing.” The original ordinance was challenged in court by the ACLU as being too broad violating first amendment rights and it was declared unconstitutional. The ordinance was amended so as not to violate the constitution and was again enacted by the city out of public safety concerns for drivers and panhandles. It has no provision prohibiting drivers from giving handouts.
The new ordinance specifically bars individuals from standing in or entering street and highway travel lanes unless they are “legally crossing.” It also prohibits using or occupying medians on 30 mph or faster roads where there is not a flat surface of at least 4 feet wide having no greater than 8% grade. A city council legislative analysis determined that the ordinance will affect just over 17% of the linear feet of higher-speed arterial roadway medians across Albuquerque. Nonetheless, these are the medians on roadways with the highest traffic flows and highly visible to the driving public. In other words 83% of medians in the city will be available for constitutionally protected free speech activities.
In voting NO, Fiebelkorn said this:
“I’ve been an activist for 44 years. … When I’m protesting something or holding up a political sign, it matters where you are. I don’t want to have a political sign three blocks from where I wanted to have it.”
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Albuquerque City Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn is the epitome of what is so very wrong with the Albuquerque City Council today. She is an elected official who will do and say anything to win an election. Once elected, she ignores her constituents needs and concerns and advocates her own hidden, personal politcal agenda over the objections of her own constituents. She simply does not listen and does what she damn well feels like doing. Her reputation is one of being highly abrasive, engages in personal insults and is condescending and dismissive with anyone who disagrees with her. She is known to only met with a select few of her progressive supporters. It has gotten to the point that many within her city council district are so angry with her that they are actively seeking others to run against her in 2025 to make her a one term city councilor. Lets hope she is replaced in that she has been a disappointment and does not represent the best interests of District 7.
KELLER’S “HOUSING FORWARD ABQ PLAN”
It was on October 18, 2022, that Mayor Tim Keller announced his “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. According to Keller, the city is in a major “housing crisis” and the city needs between 13,000 and 30,000 new housing use. To add the 5,000 new housing units, Keller is proposing that the City of Albuquerque fund and be involved with the construction of new low-income housing. The strategy includes “motel conversions” where the city buys existing motels or commercial office space and converts them into low-income housing. It includes allowing both “casitas” and duplex additions on existing residential properties. City officials have said that 68% of the city’s existing housing is single-family detached homes with 120,000 existing residential lots with already built residences. The amendment will allow one “casita” and one “accessory dwelling” unit on all built out lots which could double density to 240,000 housing units or triple density to 360,000 housing units.’
City Councilor Fiebelkorn did not attend a single one of the 5 public meetings sponsored by the Keller Administration on Mayor Keller’s Housing Forward ABQ Plan. Therefore she is not aware of the strong hostility and opposition expressed by hundreds who attended those meetings.
It was a full year after Mayor Keller won a second term and after Fiebelkorn was elected to city council that Mayor Keller proposed his Housing Forward ABQ Plan which includes amendments to the city zoning laws to allow for casitas and duplex development. Yet Fiebelkorn claims that housing density and low-income housing was an issue in her city council race and was part of her platform for city council that got her elected. The obvious explanation for Fiebelkorn fabrication is so she can say she is voting they way her constituents want her to vote and she was elected on the issue. One board member of the District 7 Coalition of Neighborhood Association went so far as to say he attended the forums and debates where Fiebelkorn appeared and he claimed Fiebelkorn is lying that she campaigned on the issue.
KELLER’S PLAN FOR CASITAS AND DUPLEXES NEEDS TO BE REJECTED
The housing shortage is related to economics, the development community’s inability to keep up with supply and demand and the public’s inability to purchase housing or qualify for housing mortgage loans. The shortage of rental properties has resulted in dramatic increases in rents. Keller is using the short-term housing “crunch” to declare a “housing crisis” to shove his Housing Forward ABQ Plan down the throats of city property owners. Keller’s Albuquerque Forward Plan is advocating zoning changes to increase density by severely relaxing zoning restrictions to favor investors and the developers that will destroy entire neighborhoods.
The Keller Administration has never discussed the actual cost of construction of 750 square foot casitas and duplex remodeling. They simply presume property owners will be able to afford to do it themselves which is not likely given the high cost of construction and materials. Home builders serving the Albuquerque area estimate the cost to build residents in Albuquerque is between $175 to $275 per square foot. It’s a cost that equally applies to casitas and duplex development. To build and construct a 750 foot casita or duplex at the $175 foot construction cost would be $131,425 (750 sq ft X 175 = $131,421) and to build both $262,848. These are just actual construction costs. The addition of plumbing, sewer, electrical and gas hook ups and permits will likely add an additional $30,000 to $50,000 to the final construction costs.
Not once has the Keller Administration ever discussed the actual cost of construction of 750 square foot casitas and duplex remodeling nor who will be able to afford such remodeling and construction. They simply presume property owners will be able to afford to do it themselves which is not at all likely given the high cost of construction and materials. The truth is very few people have the financial ability to invest another $130,000 to $250,000 in homes they already own. The casitas and duplexes will be used predominantly by developers and investors as rental units, either for housing or business use and do not expect that rents will come down nor that there will be more low income housing.
Very few people have the financial ability to invest another $130,000 to $250,000 in homes they already own. The casitas and duplexes will be used predominantly by outside investors and developers as rental units. More outside investors are buying multifamily properties around the city. According to New Mexico Apartment Advisors CEO Todd Clarke,there are currently 1,999 investors looking in the Albuquerque multifamily market, a number that has increased sixfold since before the pandemic.
Supporters of casita and duplex development argue it is needed to increase density, create affordable housing and to get away from “urban sprawl”. They repeatedly make the misleading representation that many within the community want additional housing for extended families making reference to “mother-in-law quarters”. Calling casitas “mother-in-law quarters” is nothing more than a ploy to make the proposal palatable to the general public.
TELL THE CITY COUNCIL TO VOTE NO TO ALLOW CASITA’S AND DUPLEX DEVELOPMENT
On Wednesday, June 21, 2023, the city council should vote NO on Mayor Keller’s casita and duplex amendments to the Integrated Development Ordinance. The email addresses and phone numbers to contact each City Councilor and the Director of Counsel services to voice your opinion are as follows:
CITY COUNCIL PHONE: (505) 768-3100
TAMMY FIEBELKORN’S PLATFORM IN HER OWN WORDS
NOVEMBER 18, 2021
“I’m Tammy Fiebelkorn, and I’m running for Albuquerque City Council because I care. I care about the environment, I care [about] women’s rights, equality, unions, workers, public safety and community health. I believe in social justice and want to make sure every decision made by City Council is looked at through an equity lens.
I love living in District 7. It’s been my home for two decades. My partner, Paul, and I reside here with our furry and feathered kids: Frida (17-year-old mutt), Frijolito (12-year-old mutt), Cinderella (9-year-old mutt), and Mr. T (69-year-old paralyzed parrot). We love this district because it has the best of all worlds—great parks, vibrant small businesses, an incredibly diverse population, and lots of entertainment options for people young and old.
Just like other parts of Albuquerque – and cities nationwide, we have our share of challenges. I know this firsthand, from walking door-to-door daily for the past six months. During that time, I’ve heard stories of incredible compassion, courage, and heartbreak. I’ve met people struggling to pay their bills, coping with increased crime, living with the negative impacts of climate change on a daily basis, and working together to make our community stronger and better. Here’s what I’ve learned: Albuquerque is still a place where we take care of one another.
The priorities I’ve heard from District 7 residents:
Safe streets with more programs to address substance abuse and behavioral health, with equal rights and protections for all residents, regardless of race, religion, ability, or identity
Relief from the COVID pandemic for working families and small businesses
A transition to a clean energy economy, with reduced utility costs, cheaper and cleaner transportation options, and healthier air and water
City policies that protect and respect all animals
I was born in Grants and raised by a divorced single mother. We were poor. My mother struggled to keep us housed and fed. I was the first in my mother’s family to go to college. Now I am a small business owner and an environmental economist, having earned degrees in economics and finance from Northeast Louisiana University and a master’s in natural resource economics from Colorado State University. I have advocated for over thirty years to reduce energy use, environmental impacts, and energy burdens on working families, including helping to pass the landmark Energy Transition Act and the Efficient Use of Energy Act.
I am passionate about animals and ensuring that everyone is safe from family violence, including children, animals, adults, and seniors. I founded Positive Links, a nonprofit organization dedicated to training law enforcement officers and social workers about this issue. As someone who had breast cancer, I know that our health—as individuals and as a community—is more important than anything.
I know what it’s like to struggle and have to decide whether to pay the rent or the utility bill. I believe we all need to take care of one another. My Republican opponent has already attacked me in a mail piece and has the backing of an enormous PAC, funded by real estate development and big oil interests. I hope I can count on your support because we have a lot to do, District 7.
I invite you to find out more at www.tammyforalbuquerque.com and I ask for your support.”