City Council Adopts And Rejects Amendments To City’s Zoning Code; Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn Persists In Promoting Duplex Remodel Development In Established Neighborhoods Despite Constituent Opposition; Hoping Fiebelkorn One Term City Councilor

On June 18, the Albuquerque City Council adopted as well as rejected  amendments to the city’s Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) which is the city’s extensive and very complicated zoning code. This is a short summary of what amendments passed and what failed.


One of the biggest complaints of the general public has been that the city council makes repeated changes and amendments to the Integrated Development Ordinance that are often controversial and very difficult to be kept up with by the public.  Since the adoption of the Integrated Development Ordinance by the City Council in 2017, the City Council has amended it upwards of 600 times contributing to confusion and instability in enforcement.  It’s not at all uncommon for city councilors and for that matter Mayor Tim Keller to propose amendments to the IDO promoting their own personal agenda and contrary to the wishes and desires of the general public and voters. This was the case last year when  Mayor Tim Keller and the City Council  promoted Keller’s “Housing Forward Plan” to increase affordable housing with numerous amendments to the IDO which included “casita” and “duplex developments” as permissive uses rather than as  conditional uses in established neighborhoods to increase density and affordable housing. The amendment to make the annual revisions and update of the Integrated Development Ordinance biennial instead of yearly was sought to slow down the extent of the IDO amendments by the City Council.  Regular review and revisions of the IDO will now occur every other year.

EDITORS NOTE: The postscript to this article revisits the enactment of the Integrated Development Ordinance and Mayor Tim Keller’s “Housing Forward Plan”.


The Tribal Consultation Amendment passed unanimously. This amendment requires the city to consult Native American tribes on new developments near tribal lands. Several city councilors expressed interest in requiring tribal consultation for new developments after President Joe Biden began mandating that federal agencies reestablish tribal consultations.

Over the past year, the city Planning Department, Intergovernmental Tribal Liaison Terry Sloan  and  City Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn have been seeking tribal and community input on an amendment to require tribal consultation for new developments near tribal land.  It’s interesting to note that City Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn, who represents District 7 which includes mid town and uptown, has no tribal lands in her district. Pre-submittal tribal meetings will be required for developments adjacent to tribal lands or on land owned by tribes, such as the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Sloan said he hasn’t heard of other municipalities adopting similar zoning requirements, but said he wouldn’t be surprised if other cities followed suit.

According to, it took a full year to get the amendment on the books. Sloan said this:

“It really did come to an incredible crescendo [at the the June 18 city council meeting]. I couldn’t believe it was all unanimous.  I almost jumped out of my seat! … It evolved very nicely. … I think it’s a beautiful piece of work, to tell you the truth. … What it does is it truly recognizes tribal sovereignty and self-determination and recognizing them as partners, as colleagues, collaborators in developments. …It gives the tribes a voice in this process, which they should have had for a long time.”


The Battery Storage Systems Amendment passed unanimously. The amendment was advocated as a key to transitioning to renewable energy and ensuring power grid resilience. An amendment adopted should ensure that if such a system is built in neighborhoods, it complies with certain standards and visually fits into the neighborhood.

Several public commenters expressed concern about the fire danger associated with battery storage systems. Representatives of the Albuquerque Fire Rescue Department (AFRD) sought to quell those fears. According to an AFRD representative, the Electric Power Research Institute reported that in a sample of 500 utility scale battery storage systems, which is larger than what is provided in the amendment, there were 14 fire incidents, and none resulted in injury or loss of life. AFR said it would oversee plan review and train responders on the storage systems.

Councilor Renée Grout asked if, regardless of whether the amendment went through, a battery storage system could still be installed and the answer was “it potentially could”.  Concerned that the installations might be an eyesore, Grout said she was encouraged by the facade requirements. Grout said said this:

“With these protections in there, it may help in the future. … Energy storage is a new technology … we also need to be proactive about the future. It’s good to hear that Phoenix, which is our neighbor, that they’re doing this.”


The Alley Amendment to the IDO Passed unanimously. The amendment requires new multifamily or mixed-use developments to provide lighting if they abut an alleyway.


An amendment that would allow duplex construction as a “permissive use” in established neighborhoods failed on a 6 to 3 vote.  The Council reaffirmed the Land Use Planning and Zoning Committee’s rejection of allowing duplexes as permissive uses ¼ mile beyond the Uptown “urban center” which is in City Council District 7 represented by Tammy Fiebelkorn. The District 7 Coalition of Neighborhood Associations representing 13 neighborhood associations passed a resolution opposing allowing duplexes as permissive uses ¼ mile beyond the Uptown “urban center”.  Voting no were Republican City Councilors Dan Lewis, Brook Bassan, Renee Grout and Democrats Klarissa Pena and Louie Sanchez.  Democrats Tammy Fiebelkorn, Nichole Rogers, and Joaquín Baca voted for the duplex amendment.

The Albuquerque Comprehensive Plan provides that the  purpose of Urban Centers (UC) is to incorporate a mix of residential and employment uses at a lower density and intensity than Downtown. While Urban Centers serve a smaller portion of the region, the intent is to   provide a unifying urban identity for the areas that coalesce around them. Growth is encouraged in Urban Centers.  The Centers and Corridors policies contained in the Comprehensive  Plan encourage higher-density and higher-intensity development in appropriate places to create vibrant, walkable districts that offer a wide range of services and recreational opportunities. There are only two urban centers in the City and they are  the Uptown Urban Center (UC) in City Council District 7 represented by Democrat City Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn and on the Westside at Paseo del Norte and Unser which is a developing Urban Center in City Council District 5 represented by Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis.

The amendment to the IDO failed despite several compromises intended to make the proposal more palatable. That included limiting the areas where duplexes would be allowed to certain areas and only permissively zoning the use for existing homes.  Five of the nine council districts have areas that would have fallen into that category. Four of nine districts would have no areas impacted by the change.

During public comment, people turned out in favor of and against duplexes.  Proponents said duplexes in established neighborhoods would open up affordable housing opportunities. Opponents said the proposal would increase traffic and eat up starter homes around the city.

City Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn said this:

“I find it very fascinating that the reason for opposing it changes every single time we put out a new iteration, but the reasons for supporting it haven’t changed since last year.”


City Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn’s comments and her vote to allow duplex development in established neighborhoods to increase density should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone given the fact that she was “thick as thieves” with Mayor Tim Keller last year as she promoted and voted for Keller’s Housing Forward ABQ Plan to increase affordable housing by allowing casita and duplex development in established neighborhoods. Fiebelkorn did so despite the strong and vocal opposition to it by many of her own City Council District 7 constituents.

People buy single detached homes wanting to live in low density neighborhoods not high density areas that will reduce their quality of life and reduce the peaceful use and enjoyment of their homes and families.  Allowing duplex remodeling, as the IDO Amendment would have allowed, in all likelihood would result in rentals on single family properties and would seriously damage the character of any neighborhood.

People buy their most important asset, their home, with the expectation they can trust the city not to change substantially the density, quality and appearance of their neighborhood. What happened with the enactment of Keller’s Housing Forward ABQ Plan and amendments to the Integrated Development Ordinance was a breach of trust between home owners, property owners and the city and its elected officials who put “profits over people” to benefit the development and investment industry.

Fiebelkorn was one of the 3 city councilors who voted for allowing duplexes as permissive uses ¼ mile beyond Uptown “urban center” which is in her City Council District.  She did so despite vocal opposition to the Amendment by the District 7 Coalition Of Neighborhood Associations who voted to oppose the amendment.

Fiebelkorn has the reputation of simply ignoring constituent concerns and complaints and offending constituents and promoting her own personal agenda without any effort at compromise. A prime example of Fiebelkorn’s hypocrisy and  promoting her own personal agenda while ignoring her constituents is where she advocated the Tribal Consultation Amendment requiring that  tribal interests be conferred with before development but then turn around  and voted for allowing duplex development and remodeling in her district, approved by the planning department, over objections of adjacent property owners.  Fiebelkorn is likely to seek a second term in 2025.  With any luck opposition will emerge and Fiebelkorn will be a one term city councilor.  District 7 needs to elect a city councilor who genuinely promotes the best interests of the district, listens to their concerns and need  and not  just promote a personal agenda.



It was in 2015 that former Mayor Richard Berry during his second term started the rewrite process of the city’s comprehensive zoning code and comprehensive plan to rewrite the city’s entire zoning code. It was initially referred to as the  ABC-Z Comprehensive Plan and later renamed the Integrated Development Ordinance (ID0) once it was passed.  In 2015, there were sixty (60) sector development plans which governed new development in specific neighborhoods. Forty (40) of the development plans had their own “distinct zoning guidelines” that were designed to protect many historical areas of the city. The enactment of the comprehensive plan was a major priority of Berry before he left office on December 1, 2017.  IDO was enacted with the support of Democrats and Republicans on the City Council despite opposition from the neighborhood interests and associations.  Under the enacted Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) the number of zones went from 250 to fewer than 20, which by any measure was dramatic. The IDO  granted wide range authority to the Planning Department to review and to  unilaterally approve development applications without public input.

On October 18, 2023,  Mayor Tim Keller declared that the city was  in need of between 13,000 and 33,000 housing units to address the city’s short supply of housing and that upwards of 40 new people move into the Albuquerque area every day who are in need of housing, Mayor Tim Keller announced his “Housing Forward Abq” plan.  According to Keller, the city needs to work in close conjunction with the city’s residential and commercial real estate developers to solve the city’s housing shortage crisis.

Keller said the goal of his Housing Forward ABQ plan is for the city to bring 5,000 new housing units to the city by 2025. He is proposing to do so mostly through the redevelopment of hotels, or conversions to permanent housing, and changing city zoning codes to allow for the development of “casitas” and duplexes in established neighborhoods. .

In 2023, Mayor Tim Keller pushed for enactment of two major amendments to the  Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) as part of his Housing Forward ABQ Plan to increase affordable housing by increasing density in established neighborhoods. One amendment allows one 750 foot “casita” or one  “accessory dwelling” unit on all built out lots which could double density to 240,000  housing units.  The second amendment would have allowed “duplex development” on existing residents where 750 square foot additions for separate housing would be allowed on existing residences which with casitas would have tripled density to 360,000.  Mayor Keller called the legislation “transformative” updates to Albuquerque’s Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) to carry out his “Housing Forward ABQ”.  

The amendments contained in the legislation was to allow the construction of 750 square foot casitas and 750 square foot duplex additions on every single existing R-1 residential lot that already has single family house built on it in order to increase density. The amendments as originally proposed would allow one “casita” and one “duplex addition” with a kitchen and separate entrance to an existing structure on all built out lots.  City officials said at the time  that 68% of the city’s existing housing is single-family detached homes with 120,000 existing residential lots with already built residences.

The zoning code amendments would have made both casitas and duplex additions “permissive uses”.  Historically, they have always been “conditional uses”.  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 to surrounding property owners. Objecting property owners and neighborhood associations to the permissive casita and duplex uses would be relegated to filing lawsuits to enforce covenants and restrictions.

The Albuquerque City Council voted 5-4 to approve the zoning code changes with amendments made to the  Integrated Development Ordinance The version of the bill that ultimately passed on a 5-4 vote was amended extensively. The city council voted to allow casita construction as a “permissive use” in all single-family R–1 zone and reduce parking requirements for some multifamily properties and changing building height limitations. This was a major change supported by the development community. The city council voted ultimately to strike the amendment and to not allow duplexes to be permissively zoned in R–1 zone areas, which make up about two-thirds of the city.

On July 6, 2023, Mayor Tim Keller signed into law the zoning amendments that embody his “Housing Forward ABQ Plan”.  It allows  casita construction on 68% of all built out residential lots in the city.  Casita construction is now a “permissive use” on all single-family R–1 zones giving the Planning Department exclusive authority to approve casitas over objections of adjoining property owners.

The Keller Administration was able to narrowly secure some victories on the “Housing Forward ABQ Plan.”   Measures that PASSED included allowing two “Safe Outdoor Spaces” in all 9 City Council Districts, casita construction in established residential areas of the city to increase density and reducing restrictions on motel conversion projects to allow for easier development.  Measures that FAILED included allowing duplex development on existing housing to increase density, reducing parking requirements for multifamily developments and increasing building heights for some apartment buildings.

Links to related blog articles are here:

An In-Depth Analysis of Mayor Keller’s “Housing Forward ABQ Plan”; Plan Met With Hostility And Mistrust by Public; Viewed As Destroying Neighborhoods To Benefit Developers


Opinion Columns On Keller’s ABQ Housing Forward Plan; Allowing Casitas’s And Duplex Development On 68% Of City Residential Lots Caters To Developers And Will Destroy Neighborhoods


Mayor Tim Keller’s “Housing Forward ABQ Plan” And Efforts To Increase Affordable Housing Failing; Will Not Likely Produce 5,000 Units Of Affordable Housing By 2025 As Keller Caters To Developers


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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.