About

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.

Disappointing Education Proficiency Scores Despite Billions Spent; Low Scores And Reform Delays Blamed On Pandemic;  Patience And More Time Needed To Implement Reforms Mandated By Yazzie v. State of New Mexico

On September 1, 2022, the Legislative Education Study Committee was told that despite more than $1 billion of investments responding to the findings in the Yazzie-Martinez consolidated lawsuit, it was unclear if students named in the lawsuit are “any better off.” According to a Legislative Finance Committee report, much of the responsibility for the failure falls squarely on school districts with the districts having problems implementing remedies to a judge’s findings that New Mexico wasn’t providing a sufficient education system for “at-risk” students. The state Public Education Department has also had issues making sure districts are doing what they need to do.

PED Evaluator Rachel Mercer Garcia had this to say:

“Implementation and oversight challenges remain hurdles to improving student outcomes in our state. …  Given the learning loss associated with the pandemic, New Mexico faces a heightened need to really ensure resources are directed toward evidence-based programs to help support students and catch them up.”

Education Secretary Kurt Steinhaus told lawmakers that oversight is something the PED is addressing in its coming iteration of the Yazzie-Martinez action plan, that will be finalized by the end of September. Steinhaus told lawmakers.

Is it the PED’s [responsibility]  to provide oversight and increase our oversight? Yes. And we are working on that.”

Districts haven’t taken advantage of money set aside for programs the court found would help improve education for “at-risk” students, especially when it comes to extended learning time and K-5 Plus programs. LFC analysts also reported that schools have collectively forgone $400 million in funds for both.

At the same time, school districts have held over cash balances over the years and have seen a more dramatic jump since 2017. At the end of last fiscal year, districts and charter schools were collectively carrying over $525.5 million. It was reported that Bottom of Form

the funding is sometimes held over because districts can’t count on being reimbursed by the PED in a timely way.

Growth in spending on central services, such as human resources, district planning and other costs, has also outpaced the growth of spending on instruction and student support services, according to the September 1 LFC report.

New Mexico has had 4 education secretaries since the July 2018 ruling. and the turnover in leadership has contributed to less than clear response to the landmark education lawsuit.

Secretary Steinhaus reported that PED has hired over 80 people in the 14 months since he became secretary. Steinhaus said this: .

“We have a good team of people, they’re performing at a very high level, and I feel confident that we can move forward. … Are we anywhere close to where we need to be? No, but we are on a path.”

LFC staff have also called for the PED to more closely monitor bilingual programs since there has been a declining participation over the last 10 years as English learners increased.

PED Evaluator Rachel Mercer Garcia Mercer said the department needs to look closer at spending of “at-risk” funding, adding that there’s currently a lack in mechanisms to make sure those dollars are being used.

The Link to quoted news sources is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2534980/lfc-lagging-progress-due-to-district-implementation-ped-oversight.html

REVISITING YAZZIE V. STATE OF NEW MEXICO

On Friday, July 20, 2018, Santa Fe District Court Judge Sarah Singleton ruled in the landmark public education case Yazzie v. State of New Mexico that the state of New Mexico violated the constitutional rights of at-risk students by failing to provide them with an education. The Court ruling centered on the guaranteed right under the New Mexico Constitution to provide a sufficient education for all children. The lawsuit alleged a severe lack of state funding, resources and services to help students, particularly children from low-income families, students of color, including Native Americans, English-language learners and students with disabilities. The Court found that the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) under Republican Governor Suzann Martinez did not do the best it could with the funding it was given by the legislature to the education system.

Judge Singleton wrote in the landmark ruling:

“[The evidence presented at trial] proves that the vast majority of New Mexico’s at-risk children finish each school year without the basic literacy and math skills needed to pursue post-secondary education or a career. … Indeed, overall New Mexico children rank at the very bottom in the country for educational achievement. … The at-risk students are still not attaining proficiency at the rate of non-at-risk students … and the programs being lauded by [the Public Education Department] are not changing this picture.”

According to the judge’s ruling, in New Mexico at the time, 71.6% of the state’s public-school students come from low-income families, and 14.4% are English-language learners. Further, 14.8% of students have disabilities, and 10.6% are Native American. Judge Singleton addressing proficiency rates for Native American students said that in the previous 3 years, those students’ reading proficiency was at 17.6% and their math proficiency was at 10.4%.

GOVERN LUJAN GRISHAM RESPONDS BY SECURING FUNDING

In response to the Yazzie v. State of New Mexico landmark public education decision, Govern Lujan Grisham undertook to fully fund the state’s efforts to reform the State’s public education system and she was highly successful.  It has taken a full 4 years to get the job done.  Lujan Grisham succeeded in securing over $1 Billion dollars for public education during the 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 legislative sessions. In addition to the dramatic increases in public education funding, Lujan Grisham administration created  the Early Childhood Department, issued mandates to the Children, Youth and Families and Public Education departments, and increased the number CYFD social workers by at least 125.

An Early Childhood Trust Fund of $320 million was also created.  The base pay for teachers was increased by upwards of 20% and have risen  to $50,000, $60,000 and $70,000 depending on the level of years of teacher experience.  During the 2022 New Mexico legislative session, more than $70 million was allocated to tribal entities to help offer culturally relevant lesson plans and access to virtual and after-school programs for those students. The money will be used to create culturally relevant learning programs, including Native language programs, for students in the K-12 system.

DISAPPOINTING PROFIENCY SCORES

On Thursday, September 1, 2022, the Legislative Education Study Committee met and New Mexico’s statewide standardized test scores, known as the Measures of Student Success and Achievement (MSSA), were released.  The new MSSA tests were developed by New Mexico educators and were given for the first time in April, 2022 to students in grades 3 through 12.

You can review the 2022 MSSA proficiency percentages at the below links:

https://webnew.ped.state.nm.us/bureaus/accountability/achievement-data/

https://webnew.ped.state.nm.us/bureaus/indian-education/reports/

Legislative Education Study Committee Deputy Director John Sena reported to the committee that the state has made over $1 billion in investments since the ruling identified needs in the education of Indigenous students, English learners, those who are economically disadvantaged and those with disabilities, and despite the millions spent, the test scores were disappointing.

According to data from the Public Education Department (PED), for most grade levels in most subjects, only about a quarter to a third of students met the proficiency standard.  Below are the percentage of students who met the proficiency standard in each subject:

EARLY LITERACY: 31%

LANGUAGE ARTS: 34%

MATH: 25%

SCIENCE: 33%

Note that little over a third of tested New Mexico students overall are proficient in language arts and only a quarter are proficient in math. There were instances of even lower scores. The tests found that just 16% of high school juniors were proficient in math.

The released proficiency assessment results revealed that for 3rd through fifth graders, English learners, students with disabilities, Indigenous students and those who are economically disadvantaged all fell behind overall statewide results in math and language arts.

Across all grade levels, economically disadvantaged students represent upwards of 74% of New Mexico students. The released proficiency test results revealed that economically disadvantaged third through fifth graders came the closest to statewide averages for those grade levels, with over 26% proficiency in language arts and a little under 19% proficiency in math or eight points behind in language arts, and over seven points behind in math.

An Albuquerque Public Schools spokesperson said just over a third of students in the district in grades 3 through 8 were proficient in English and Language Arts and about a fourth were proficient in math. In high school, four out of 10 students were proficient in English and writing and just under a fourth were proficient in math.

A Santa Fe Public Schools spokesperson said their results are closely in-line with the statewide scores.

Education officials during the Legislative Education Study Committee highlighted New Mexico’s recent struggles with uptake in extended learning time and K-5 Plus programs. It was in July that analysts for the Legislative Finance Committee said the programs have seen lagging participation since 2021 and a collectively had to forgo $400 million in funding.

 APS TEST RESULTS MIRROR STATE’S RESULTS

According to the PED data, the proficiency test results for students in Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) were   essentially the same last year for those measured for students across New Mexico.

The testing results for APS students across all grade levels tested were roughly 36% proficient in language arts which is 2 percentage points higher than the 34% for  New Mexico students overall. APS had the same overall proficiency level of 25% in math as the rest of the state.

In the APS school system, the average test results for third through fifth grade Indigenous students and English learners were generally in line with statewide averages for their respective groups.   In both cases, the scores were slightly higher in language arts, and between 2% and 3% lower in math.

APS students in the same grade levels with disabilities and who were economically disadvantaged, however, scored lower in both categories by margins of roughly 2% to 4%.

APS students across all grade levels who were economically disadvantaged represent upwards of 69% and almost 74% of students statewide. According to PED and APS data, Indigenous, Hispanic and Black students fared the worst of any demographic groups in both math and language arts in APS.  The same was true across the state in every grade level tested.

There were a few key areas, including with some student groups identified in the Yazzie-Martinez consolidated lawsuit, where APS students lagged behind. APS had the same overall proficiency level of 25% in math as the rest of the state. In 2019, the last year that complete testing data was available, 31% of APS students overall were proficient in reading and 20% were proficient in math.

While some student groups identified in the Yazzie-Martinez lawsuit in APS generally hovered around statewide averages, others fared noticeably worse. APS Hispanic students were a little under 29% proficient in language arts, which is on par with the statewide average for third through eighth graders, and were over 18% proficient in math, which is 3% points behind the statewide average.

Statewide, 63% of students overall are Hispanic. In APS, that number is 66% at the end of last year’s school year.

Chanell Segura, the chief of schools for APS, said that while the proficiency test results were not what anybody wanted, there was an upside to the data saying it will provide a baseline that would help lay out a path forward for the district. She put it this way in a Albuquerque Journal interview:

“I don’t know that anyone was excited about the data, I don’t think it was a surprise to anybody.  But I do believe that [in] Albuquerque Public Schools specifically … we were very much excited to receive this data to be able to inform our decisions.”

Segura said APS is working to close the gap between those who lag behind and the rest of their cohort in several ways, to include restarting work to weave equity into grading in schools that are interested in doing so, looking into providing 24/7 high dosage tutoring to students and generally improving accessibility to opportunities like AP courses.

APS highlighted in a September 1 news release several initiatives the district has set in motion, including providing professional development to principals that’s tailored to their community’s needs and significant raises for educators. An APS District spokeswoman said it should help attract a diverse crowd of teachers and in turn help students who have historically lagged behind, because students thrive when their teachers reflect the communities, they teach in.

Another initiative both Steinhaus and Segura highlighted was the state’s ongoing efforts to train kindergarten and elementary school teachers in structured literacy which was described as learning to teach the “science of reading.”

In APS, Segura said that’ll take the form of LETRS training, which teaches the skills needed to master reading instruction and has been highly praised by state lawmakers. Segura said this:

“Our focus is that every student matters.  That is our commitment. … We are really trying to drill down to meet the needs of every student and to intervene early, so that we’re working with families, we’re working with the students, and looking at the whole student.”

LOW TESTS RESULTS BLAMED ON PANDEMIC AND NEW TESTING

PED Secretary Kurt Steinhaus said the new scores are what the state expected to see. He said they are in-line with student performance in past years and education leaders have known for nearly 2 years about the severely negative impact the corona virus pandemic has had on learning and school programs.  Steinhaus said the tests are the best way to gauge student progress since the COVID-19 pandemic began, but these low proficiency results are not what New Mexico should be seeing.

PED and APS officials also stressed that comparisons between last school year’s test results which are based on the Measures of Student Success and Achievement (MSSA) assessments, and those the state saw before the pandemic are not valid.   That is  because the new tests are in fact different tests in that they measure fewer grade levels, and some students take specialized tests. That said, the PED estimated when the new MSSA tests were originally announced in 2019 that there still would be some comparability with old data.

Despite the low tests scores Education Secretary Kurt Steinhaus applauded how far New Mexico has come and acknowledged there’s still ground to cover and he said this:

“New Mexico has come a long way in serving those most underrepresented students.  “We’re not where we want to be. … We still have a long way to go. … I will not be satisfied until we get to that 100%, and that’s not unreasonable. That is doable. … I’m excited about the opportunity that we’ve got in front of us. We’ve got 300 more teachers with licenses in our classrooms. We’ve got a whole bunch of initiatives to address what the test is telling us and start turning the corner for our kids and for our schools, and start moving forward in increasing achievement.”

PROGRESS REPORTED

Despite the low-test scores, PED Secretary Kurt Steinhaus reported to the Legislative Education Study Committee that there has been significant progressed made.  He said New Mexico has filled 300 of its vacant teaching positions, which have been estimated by the PED to be as high as 1,000 at the end of last school year.  He also pointed to pockets throughout the state in which students have improved.  He noted that he’d picked out some of the most outstanding schools and that their growth wasn’t necessarily seen in the rest of New Mexico’s schools. Steinhaus acknowledged there are several areas New Mexico needs to focus on including improving attendance, graduating more students and boosting achievement in all subjects.

Steinhaus said the Public Education Department intends to bring several legislative recommendations to lawmakers for math funding, acknowledging the state’s lower achievement in math than in language arts. Because of that gap the PED department has already launched a math-focused initiative. The PED has said it will assemble a 150-strong math tutoring corps, provide virtual professional development to teachers geared toward math instruction and introduce new math curricula focused on applying math concepts to careers.

The secretary said other states have been able to turn a corner in 10 to 15 years, so it could take that long, but he hopes New Mexico makes progress in a much shorter time period.

The links to quoted news sources are here:

https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/new-mexico-standardized-test-results-show-mostly-25-34-proficiency/

https://www.abqjournal.com/2531147/lesc-four-years-later-its-unclear-if-students-are-any-better-off.html

https://www.abqjournal.com/2531164/aps-test-results-mirror-state-except-in-a-few-key-areas.html

YAZZIE V. STATE/ MARTINEZ PUBLIC EDUCATION ACTION PLAN

On May 14, the New Mexico Public Education Department released a detailed plan to address the landmark public education court case of Yazzie v. State/Martinez and mandated reforms to improve the New Mexico’s failing public education system and offer better and equal opportunities for all students.

The release plan by the Grisham administration is and includes improvements for every aspect of the education system. The link to review the plan is here:

https://mcusercontent.com/fe07174c30216027e5fab1fde/files/8d56cdcc-64d5-1494-dd06-04dfb8209cfd/Martinez_Yazzie_Discussion_Draft_2022.05.09.pdf?link_id=0&can_id=bd62d9bf2703bf57b545d3ed888c0bab&source=email-feedback-requested-nm-ped-releases-draft-plan-to-address-martinezyazzie-ruling&email_referrer=email_1541133&email_subject=feedback-requested-nm-ped-releases-draft-plan-to-address-martinezyazzie-ruling

According to the draft of the plan, it should be considered as a companion to the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) 2022 Comprehensive Strategic Plan which offers remedies to the Yazzie/Martinez decision embedded throughout. According to the plan, the work that lies ahead for NMPED and schools will require systemic change to address the needs of the students and families impacted by decades of neglect and underfunding, including students with disabilities, Native American students, English learners, and economically disadvantaged students. These students account for over 70% of the population in New Mexico’s public schools.

The action plan states that for New Mexico students and their families to realize their full potential, it is incumbent upon both NMPED and its partners, especially the school districts, to do their part in ensuring educational equity, excellence, and relevance for all students. By implementing the recommendations in this plan, all of New Mexico’s public-school students will benefit.

According to the plan of action, NMPED is planning a future in which students are engaged in a culturally and linguistically responsive educational system that meets their academic, social, and emotional needs.

To that end, this action plan is focused on the following long-term goals:

  1. Assuring external factors like race, language, economic status, and family situations do not equate with lower rates of success in educational achievement and career prospects.
  2. Increasing academic proficiency in math, science, and languages to ensure that all students graduate well prepared for the ever-changing world of college, career, and civic engagement.
  3. Eliminating achievement gaps among New Mexico students, particularly English learners, economically disadvantaged students, Hispanics, Native Americans, African Americans, and students with disabilities.
  4. Respecting, honoring, and preserving students’ home languages and cultures by implementing culturally and linguistically responsive instruction and learning for all students.

BIG-PICTURE GOALS

The action plan contains some very big picture goals for public education in New Mexico.

Graduation rates in the last few years have been in the low to mid-70s. The education department wants the statewide graduation rate to get to 90% by 2027. Education leaders also want to close graduation gaps between ethnicities and disadvantaged students.

Another target is improving reading and math proficiency rates. PED leaders want those up by 50% in the next four years.

The plan also focuses on teachers, class sizes, and building on recent successes, including increases in funding. Just this year, the state legislature passed pay raises for teachers and more money for Pre-K programs.

Since the lawsuit, the state has boosted help for economically disadvantaged students, those with disabilities and English learners. It’s also upped funding for more reading programs, extended learning time and more and better internet access.

Outside of funding, PED leadership points out the launch of equity councils and the work to create a response team just for the lawsuit.

The link to news source material is here:

https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/albuquerque-metro/ped-releases-plan-addressing-martinez-yazzie-lawsuit/

DEFICIENCIES IDENTIFIED IN PED YAZZIE V. STATE/ MARTINEZ PUBLIC EDUCATION ACTION PLAN

During the September 1 Legislative Education Study Committee, Alisa Diehl, an  attorney with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty who is working on the legal team representing the Yazzie plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said the action plan is deficient  in 3   key areas.  The 3 areas she identified are:

  1. The plan doesn’t include short- and long-term action steps that are aligned with the court’s findings or that achieve the goals it laid out for the state.
  2. It does not detail the changes that will be needed to meet those goals, like cost and budget analyses or estimated increases in staffing.
  3. Finally, she said, the plan fails to describe how the state will measure how well the actions it’s taking are preparing students for college or careers.

Attorney Deiehl told the committee:

“Without clearly articulated goals of what the state is trying to achieve that are aligned with the findings in this case … New Mexico will continue to fall short … will continue to see a disconnect between appropriated funding and improved student outcomes.”

PED Deputy Secretary Vickie Bannerman responded that the PED is reworking the plan and aims to have its next draft done by the end of the month. The final version will be released in October or November.

It was also reported that the PED is also working on a question-and-answer document addressing some of the feedback it got on the first draft.  Many of the responses focused on improving outcomes for Indigenous students, encouraging efforts to better consult with community members and calling for greater accountability for outcomes in the plan.

Melissa Candelaria, education director at the Center on Law and Poverty and another member of the Yazzie legal team, acknowledged the work the PED has done to develop its action plan. Still, she said it’s evident that there’s still a way to go for New Mexico students.

“The student outcome data and proficiency rates need to be improved significantly, especially for the four student groups in the case. … None of us want to be in litigation forever … but if the state doesn’t come up with a solid plan to satisfy the court’s order, it may ultimately have to intervene as it has done in the past.”

PATIENCE URGED

Albuquerque Democrat Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart  urged patience with the state in implementing the reforms and argued the state is “on track” with making the changes it needs to and said this:

“When you offer new programs, you offer new ideas, you offer new training – it just takes a long time. … K-5 Plus and extended learning were just fantastic before the pandemic, and you can almost say that about anything we’ve been doing. So I just think we should all take a big breath and realize that it is going to take us a while to make these changes.”

The link to the quoted news source material is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2531164/aps-test-results-mirror-state-except-in-a-few-key-areas.html

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The former Republican Governor and the Republican party should be absolutely ashamed of the damage done to New Mexico’s public education system and which was the basis the landmark education ruling of Yazzie v. State of New Mexico.  The former Republican Governor with her public education policies and her Secretary of Public Education appointments, especially the appointment of Secretary Hanna Skandera, contributed and resulted in the state’s failing education system.

In 2018, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham campaigned in part on the platform of creating a “moonshot for public education”.  She did so in part on the realities she faced having to come up with the funding and implementation of the reforms to address the Yazzie v. State/ Martinez reforms.  She also had to deal with the disarray of management and destructive education policies established by her former Republican Governor predecessor that contributed significantly to the deterioration of the states school system. Among those policies she threw out were the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers testing and using an A- F grading system to measure how individual schools measured up against each other with both never a good fit.  Then early 2020, the pandemic hit the state and hit it hard. Schools had to be closed with remote learning implanted.

It must not be forgotten that it was Governor Lujan Grisham’s predecessor former Republican Governor “She Who Shall Not Be Named” who failed New Mexico’s kids by destroying the state’s public education system for a full 8 years year, after year after year.

It is a major mistake for anyone to say that the millions that have been spent over the last 3 years on public education have had no impact on student proficiency results.  What needs to be understood is that the state’s entire public education system is going through a major period of reform and adjustment that will likely take upwards of at least 8 years to complete

It will now take time, patience and funding to turn things around. The state’s education system now has the funding and now must produce the results that the public demands with no more excuses.

 

 

 

 

 

Official Notification And Findings  Of Environmental Planning Commission Decision To Eliminate “Safe Outdoors Spaces” from the Integrated Development Ordinance; Decision Forwarded To City Council To Decide Fate Of “Safe Outdoor Spaces”

It was on June 22 that legislation was introduced by city Councilor Brook Bassan at city council to repeal and to eliminate Safe Outdoor Spaces from the city’s Indegrated Development Ordinance. The repeal legislation was referred to the Environmental Planning Commission (EPC) for review and hearing and to make recommendations to the City Council.  On Thursday, September 15, the City’s Environmental Planning Commission (EPC) held a hearing and voted to Eliminate “Safe Outdoor Spaces”.

 OFFICIAL NOTIFICATION OF DECISION WITH FINDINGS

 The city of Albuquerque has sent to all parties participating in the September 15 hearing the EPS’s official notification of its decision and the specific findings. Following is an edited version of the decision and the findings deleting legal jargon and highlighting in bold findings in order to assist the reader in understanding the decision and in particular the findings:

 PLANNING DEPARTMENT URBAN DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT DIVISION

OFFICIAL NOTIFICATION OF DECISION

The City of Albuquerque City Council requests various text amendments to the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) to remove all references to Safe Outdoor Spaces (SOSs)  …  .

On September 15, 2022, the Environmental Planning Commission (EPC) voted to forward a recommendation of APPROVAL to the City Council [for the removal of all references to Safe Outdoor Spaces in the Integrated Development Ordinance.]”

[FINDINGS OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING COMMISSION]

    1. The request is for a recommendation to City Council would amend the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) to eliminate all references to Safe Outdoor Spaces, or SOSs.

     2.  The IDO was recently updated via the 2021 Annual Update amendment process. Language addressing Safe Outdoor Spaces was included in the amendments, which were adopted via Council Bill . … The 2021 amendments became effective on July 28, 2022 and are part of the IDO currently in effect. The amendments included a definition of Safe Outdoor Spaces, Use-Specific Standards, and some references to them.

    3.   Bill No. O-22-33 was drafted in June 2022 and referred to the Planning Department for EPC review and recommendation. Like other IDO text amendments regarding uses and standards, the proposed text amendments to the IDO … would apply generally throughout the City (City-wide) and fall under Amendment to IDO Text-Citywide. … Therefore, the request is a legislative matter.

     4. On August 15, 2022, City Council adopted Resolution 22-56, which placed a moratorium on review and decision for all SOS applications. The Mayor vetoed the Resolution … on September 7, 2022.

     5.  The Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Comprehensive Plan and the Revised Ordinances of Albuquerque (ROA) 1994 are incorporated herein by reference and made part of the record for all purposes.

     6.  The request is generally consistent with the following, applicable articles of the City Charter:

 A. Article I, Incorporation and Powers: Enacting a bill to revise and supersede the text of the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) … .

 B.  Article IX, Environmental Protection:  Removing references to Safe Outdoor Spaces (SOS) in the IDO generally expresses the Council’s desire to ensure the proper use and development of land and maintain an aesthetic and humane urban environment City-wide.   

 C. Article XVII, Planning– Section 1: Amending the IDO is an instance of the Council exercising its role as the City’s ultimate planning and zoning authority. The IDO will help implement the Comprehensive Plan and ensure that development in the City is consistent with the intent of any other plans and ordinances that the Council adopts.

      7.  The request is generally consistent with the following, applicable Comprehensive Plan Goals and Policies from Chapter 4: [dealing with] Community Identity:

 A.  Character: Enhance, protect, and preserve distinct communities.

 The request to remove Safe Outdoor Spaces (SOS) from the IDO would generally help to enhance, protect, and preserve distinct communities because it would ensure that SOS are no longer allowed City-wide. However, SOS are only allowed permissively in non-residential zones.

 B.  Identity and Design: Protect the identity and cohesiveness of neighborhoods by ensuring the appropriate scale and location of development, mix of uses, and character of building design.

The request to remove SOS from the IDO would generally help to protect the identity and cohesiveness of neighborhoods because it would ensure that the use is not allowed to be near neighborhoods. There are no use-specific standards or design standards for SOS that would ensure the appropriate scale and location of the use.

 C.  Neighborhoods: Enhance, protect, and preserve neighborhoods and traditional communities as key to our long-term health and vitality [by]

 …  Respecting  existing neighborhood values and social, cultural, recreational resources.

…  Support improvements that protect stable, thriving residential neighborhoods and enhance their attractiveness.

 The request to remove SOS would be consistent in enhancing, protect, and preserving the long-tern health and vitality of neighborhoods because it would remove a use that is temporary, in some instances. A temporary use would not respect neighborhood values because the use is allowable in both Areas of Change and Areas of Consistency. Though only allowable in non-residential zone districts, the use would not stabilize neighborhoods or enhance their attractiveness.

       8. The request is generally consistent with the following, applicable Comprehensive Plan Goals and Policies from Chapter 5 [dealing with] Land Use:

 A. Land Uses: Create healthy, sustainable, and distinct communities with a mix of uses that are conveniently accessible from surrounding neighborhoods.

…  Encourage development and redevelopment that brings goods, services, and amenities within walking and biking distance of neighborhoods and promotes good access for all residents.

… Maintain the characteristics of distinct communities through zoning and design standards that are consistent with long-established residential development patterns.

…  Encourage higher density housing as an appropriate use in the [listed] situations.

 The request to remove SOS from the IDO would generally continue to create and support healthy, sustainable and distinct communities because SOS would no longer be allowed Citywide, which in turn would protect the characteristics of distinct communities. SOS are allowed in a variety of non-residential or MX uses, as well as residential zones when associated with religious institutions, where higher density housing is allowed. By removing SOS as a use, higher density housing will continue to be encouraged on those sites.

 B. Locally Unwanted Land Uses: Ensure that land uses that are objectionable to immediate neighbors but may be useful to society are located carefully and equitably to ensure that social assets are distributed evenly and social responsibilities are borne fairly across the Albuquerque area.

 SOS are currently allowed in all MX zone districts as conditional temporary uses and in NR-C, NR-BP, NR-LM and NR-GM as temporary uses, as well as residential zone districts when associated with a religious institution. The request to remove SOS form the IDO would ensure that SOS as a locally unwanted land use are eliminated, since they are allowed in a variety of zone districts in both Areas of change and Areas of Consistency City-wide.

 C. … City Development Areas: Encourage and direct growth to Areas of Change where it is expected and desired and ensure that development in and near Areas of Consistency reinforces the character and intensity of the surrounding area.

 The request would generally ensure that the character and intensity of development in Areas of Consistency is reinforced by removing SOS from the IDO because the use is currently allowed in areas of consistency with minimal design standards. Furthermore, growth that is desired in areas of change would be generally encouraged in zone districts that SOS are currently allowed on.

      9. The request is generally consistent with the following, applicable Comprehensive Plan Goal and policy pair from Chapter 8 [dealing with] Economic Development:

 Placemaking: Create places where business and talent will stay and thrive.

Available Land: Maintain sufficient land that is appropriately zoned to accommodate projected employment growth in targeted areas.

The request would raise the sufficient land available to accommodate projected employment growth City-side by eliminating Safe Outdoor Spaces. SOS are currently allowed in a variety of non-residential zone districts that could otherwise be developed as businesses.

    10. The request is generally consistent with the following, applicable Comprehensive Plan Goal from Chapter 9: Housing.

 Goal – Homelessness: Make homelessness rare, short-term, and non-recurring.

The request would reduce options to serve people experiencing temporary homelessness by eliminating Safe Outdoor Spaces, places where this population can camp safely, though other options such as shelters and religious institutions, would remain available and would not be affected.

  1.  The applicant’s policy analysis shows that the request is generally consistent with applicable Goals and policies in the Comprehensive Plan … .

 … Therefore, the request is generally consistent with the spirit and intent of the Comprehensive Plan.

    12. The affected neighborhood organizations include all registered Neighborhood Associations and organizations city-wide, which were notified as required.

    13.  The applicant has stated that they are submitting this request, in part, due to an abundance of opposition from constituents about the SOS use.

     14.  On September 13, 2022 Staff was contacted by the Westside Coalition of Neighborhood Associations which expressed concerns about keeping SOSs in the IDO and stated that there are many community members in support of the proposed bill.

  1.  There are many community members who have come forward with concerns about Safe Outdoor Spaces who are in support of the bill [which will elinate SOS from the IDO].

 CONDITION FOR RECOMMENDATION OF APPROVAL

… The definition of SOS shall remain in the IDO as a term.

[The Environmental Planning Commission (EPC) voted to forward a recommendation of APPROVAL to the City Council for the removal of all references to Safe Outdoor Spaces in the Integrated Development Ordinance.]

Sincerely,

CATALINA LEHERNER

for Alan M. Varela, Planning Director

The link to the unedited EPC decision and findings is here:

https://documents.cabq.gov/planning/environmental-planning-commission/September2022/NOD%20PR-2021-001843_RZ-2022-00043_SOS%20IDO%20Text%20Amendment_Amended.pdf

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

What is clear from the EPC ruling  is that what is now occurring within the city is a prolonged political battle to prohibit Safe Outdoor Spaces from being allowed throughout the city, a battle that is being lost by the public with the Mayor and City Council. This is not just an issue of “not in my back yard” syndrome, but one of hostility and mistrusts of  elected officials, especially Mayor Tim Keller, who are viewed as mishandling the city’s homeless crisis despite millions and millions being spent each year to help the homeless with little or no progress being made by Keller and with the homeless crisis becoming even worse under his 5 years in office.

It is an epic political battle being waged between the city’s elected officials and the general public. On one side of the battle are elected the city’s elected officials of Democrat Mayor Tim Keller and Democrats City Councilors Isaac Benton, Pat Davis and Tammy Fiebelcorn and Republican Trudy Jones and City Departments who feel they know best for the city and public.  All 5 are hell bent on creating “Safe Outdoor Spaces” and cramming them down the public and their constituents’ throats ignoring city ordinances and the city’s housing first policy and without public input and contrary to public opinion.

On the other side of the issue is the general voting public who by all accounts are extremely hostile and who are opposed to temporary homeless tent encampments known as “Safe Outdoor Spaces.”  Notwithstanding the objections of property owners and voters, Keller and the 4 city councilors believe they know best and intend to go forward with Safe Outdoor Spaces.

CITY COUNCILOR JONES LOSES CREDIBILITY WITH CONSTITUENTS

On September 7 when Republican City Councilor Trudy Jones voted not to override Mayor Tim Keller’s veto it was a “flip flop” of epic proportions, and she was downright sneaky in the way she did it by not taking calls from constituents the days leading up to the vote.  During city council discussion, the normally vocal Jones on all thing related to the Integrated Development Ordinance sat stoically and then she voted. Only after she voted no to override Keller did she speak to the media and then gave a very lame excuse for her changed vote when she said:

“It’s the right thing to do. … Sometimes, along the line, you have to stick your neck out and do what’s right, not what is politically expected.”

The links to quoted news sources are here

https://www.abqjournal.com/category/news/abq-news

With her reversal of her position on the Safe Outdoor Space moratorium, Republican City Councilor lost a significant amount of her credibility and public trust with her constituents that she had built up over 20 years of service on the council because of her failure to represent her constituent’s best interests and demands. Rumors are swirling that she cut a deal with Keller, but no one knows for certain, and she has not said.

What is truly amazing is that Jones is a former and successful realtor and in all likely knows the detrimental effect Safe Outdoor Spaces will have on real estate values.  This is the same Republican city councilor who sponsored legislation to stop the homeless from pan handling and who also lives in a gated community where tent encampments will not be tolerated.   The problem is, Trudy Jones will likely have the opportunity to once again go against her own constituent’s demands and refuse to eliminate Safe Outdoor Spaces from the IDO when the new legislation is presented.

A FEW TOOLS NOT NEEDED

Repeatedly, Mayor Tim Keller and his administration have said that Safe Outdoor Spaces are a “tool in the tool box” that is needed in his “all above approach” to deal with the homeless. That is simply false, and tools such as Safe Outdoor Spaces need to be thrown out of the toolbox when it comes to the homeless crisis. The only “real tools” here are our government and elected officials who are promoting an unsustainable policy of Safe Outdoor Spaces.  They ostensibly do not know that government sanctioned encampments are being abandoned by major cities and have been found to be a very bad substitute for permanent housing and services which have the most impact on reducing the homeless crisis.

Cities such as Honolulu, Salt Lake City and Seattle, have abandoned their support of government sanctioned encampment such as Safe Outdoor Spaces and have begun implementing ordinances to remove all encampments to move toward a transitional housing or campus model, programs that have been found to bring physical and fiscal safety to communities while reducing crime.  Some 65 cities across the United States have implemented ordinances to remove all encampments.

https://newmexicosun.com/stories/626700965-there-s-a-better-way-to-serve-the-homeless-sanctioned-encampments-aren-t-it

Mayor Tim Keller created a nuisance with city property when he allowed and condoned the use of Coronado Park as a de facto city sanction homeless encampment. Coronado Park had an extensive history of criminal activity including 4 murders, violent crimes and drug trafficking. Keller himself was forced to announce the closure of Coronado Park on June 27 as a result of the extensive criminal activity and the contamination of the grounds of the park that made it a threat to public safety and use.  Safe Outdoor Spaces will in essence become “miniature” Coronado Parks.

The millions being spent each year by the city to deal with the homeless with the “housing first” policy and new Gibson Gateway Homeless Shelter and the Westside Homeless Shelter should be more than enough to deal with housing the homeless, yet Mayor Keller and the 4 City Councilors demand and want more from the public in the form of Safe Outdoor Spaces.  Then there is that matter that Safe Outdoor Space encampments violating the city’s and Keller’s own “housing first” policy by not providing a form of permanent housing and with reliance on tents as 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.

Given the City Council’s vote on the Safe Outdoor Space moratorium, it is more likely than not that the city council will vote down and NOT to support the EPC recommendation to eliminate all references to Safe Outdoor Spaces. The legislation eliminating from the IDO Safe Outdoor Spaces will likely pass on a 5 to 4 vote and Mayor Tim Keller is expected to veto the legislation.  The council will need 6 votes to override the mayor’s veto. Unless City Councilor Trudy Jones comes to her senses or  has some sort of divine epiphany and changes her mind once again and votes to override Keller’s veto, the override will fail on a 5 to 4 vote and Safe Outdoor Spaces will become law.  This is the type of conduct that results in general public distrust of city government.

Voters and residents are urged to contact and voice their opinion and tell all city councilors to vote YES and support the EPC recommendation to eliminate all references to Safe Outdoor Spaces, or SOSs, in the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO).   Their phone numbers and email address are:

CITY COUNCIL PHONE: (505) 768-3100

CITY COUNCIL EMAILS

lesanchez@cabq.gov
louiesanchez@allstate.com
bmaceachen@cabq.gov,
ibenton@cabq.gov,
namolina@cabq.gov,
kpena@cabq.gov,
rmhernandez@cabq.gov,
bbassan@cabq.gov,
danlewis@cabq.gov,
galvarez@cabq.gov,
patdavis@cabq.gov,
seanforan@cabq.gov,
tfiebelkorn@cabq.gov,
lrummler@cabq.gov,
trudyjones@cabq.gov,
azizachavez@cabq.gov,
rgrout@cabq.gov,
rrmiller@cabq.gov,
LEWISABQ@GMAIL.COM,
nancymontano@cabq.gov,
cortega@cabq.gov
cmelendrez@cabq.gov

 

2022 PIT City Homeless Count: 256 Fewer Homeless; 1,311 Total Homeless; 940 Emergency Sheltered, 174 Transitional Housing, 197 Unsheltered; City’s Homeless Crisis  And Visibility Aggravated By Mayor Keller’s Hands Off Crime Policies; City Spending Over $100 Million Over 2 Years To Assist Homeless  

Since being sworn into office as Mayor on December 1, 2017, Tim Keller has made dealing with the city’s homeless as a major priority. To that end, Keller has proclaimed an “all the above approach” to deal with the homeless.  Keller says he is willing to consider any ideas to reduce the number of homeless. Keller has implemented the following policies:

  1. Increased funding to the Family Community Services Department for assistance to the homeless with $40 million allocated in fiscal year 2021 and $60 million allocated in fiscal 2022 and adopting a “housing first” policy.
  2. Advocated for 24/7 homeless shelters including converting the old Westside Jail into a 24/7 homeless shelter and purchasing the Gibson Medical Center for $15 million to convert it into a 24/7 homeless shelter which will serve upwards of 1,000 homeless per day once it’s up and running.
  3. Advocating and supporting Safe Outdoor Spaces (SOS) which 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. Keller set aside $950,000 for the encampments in his 2022 fiscal year budget. Under the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO), 18 SOS encampments are  allowed, 2 in each council district.  Keller vetoed a one-year moratorium on SOS encampments which was upheld by the city council.  A total repeal of SOS encampments is pending before the city council.
  4. Adopted a “no arrest” policy of the homeless for violations of the city’s camping, trespassing and vagrancy laws with an emphasis on citations.
  5. Allowed Coronado Park for 5 years to become a “de facto” city sanctioned homeless encampment, which he closed down in August without any plan for dealing with the 75 to 125 homeless that were displaced.

Throughout all of his efforts, Keller has never outlined the actual number or homeless the city has been dealing with over the past 5 years.  Private homeless providers, many who have contracts with the city to provide services to the homeless, consistently claim the city has upwards of 4,500 to 5,000 homeless at any given time. The 4,500 to 5,000 figure is likely inflated and is not supported by the yearly federal government sponsored survey known as the “Point in Time Survey”.

“POINT IN TIME” SURVEY

Each year the “Point in Time” survey is conducted to determine how many people experience homelessness on a given night in Albuquerque, and to learn more about their specific needs. The PIT count is done in communities across the country. The New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness (NMCEH)  is contracted by the city to do the survey.  NMCEH released the 2022  PIT report breaking down the demographics of the homeless population in Albuquerque.

This blog article  reports on the city of Albuquerque 2022 PIT report statistics citing and editing portions of the report and excludes New Mexico’s and national numbers.  The PIT report is 40 pages long and includes graphs and pie charts outlining the statistics reported.  You can review the entire report at this link:

https://www.nmceh.org/_files/ugd/6737c5_4ecb9ab7114a45dcb25f648c6e0b0a30.pdf

“POINT IN TIME” SURVEY EXPLAINED

The PIT count is the official number of homeless reported by communities to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help understand the extent of homelessness at the city, state, regional and national levels.

The PIT count requires the use of the HUD definition of “homelessness”. PIT counts only people who are sleeping in a shelter, in a transitional housing program, or outside in places not meant for human habitation. Those people who are not counted are those who do not want to participate in the survey, who are sleeping in motels that they pay for themselves, or who are doubled up with family or friends

The PIT count includes a “Sheltered Count”, “Unsheltered Count” and a “Transitional Housing Count.”

The Sheltered Count is the count of people experiencing homelessness who are sheltered in emergency shelter and transitional housing on a single night.  Sheltered homeless also include homeless “residing in an emergency a motel paid through a provider or in a transitional housing program.” It does not include people who are doubled up with family or friends.

The Unsheltered are defined as those who encamp in neighborhood open space areas, alleys, parks, high-traffic areas and points of congregation, meal service sites, and general service sites.   The Unsheltered Count uses surveys and street outreach to account for individuals and families experiencing unsheltered homelessness on the night of the count.

The Housing Inventory Count (HIC) is  an inventory of provider programs within a Continuum of Care that provide total numbers of beds and units dedicated to serving people experiencing homelessness.  There are 5  homeless Program Types:

Emergency Shelter

Transitional Housing;

Rapid Re-housing;

Safe Haven

Permanent Supportive Housing.

EVEN – ODD NUMBER OF YEAR SURVEYS

In even numbered years, only sheltered homeless are surveyed. In odd numbered years, both sheltered and unsheltered homeless are surveyed. Only those homeless people who can be located and who agree to participate in the survey are counted.

The PIT count is viewed as a single night snapshot of the homeless. The City of Albuquerque contracts with The New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness to conduct its annual “Point in Time” (PIT) survey.

Taken together, the Sheltered, Unsheltered, and Housing Inventory counts provide a complete picture of the homelessness response system, with the sheltered and unsheltered counts illustrating the need for services and the HIC illustrating the capacity for providing those services.

2022 POINT IN TIME SURVEY RESULTS

The date selected for the 2022 year’s PIT count was Monday, January 31st.  From February 1st  to 4th, The New Mexico Council to End NMCEH) coordinated activities to tally the PIT count.  Unsheltered count data was collected from people experiencing unsheltered homelessness by street outreach teams making personal contact with the homeless and completing surveys.  The “outreach teams” canvassed neighborhoods, alleys, parks, high-traffic areas, known encampments and points of congregation, meal service sites, and general service sites to engage and survey people who identified as being homeless on the night of January 31st.

The SHELTERED COUNT represents all people residing in Emergency Shelters (ES) and Transitional Housing (TH) projects.

(2022 PIT Report, page 4)

The HOUSING INVENTORY COUNT reports each project’s current service capacity in terms of bed and unit inventory and the total number of people enrolled in Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) and Rapid ReHousing (RRH) on the night of the count.

(2022 PIT Report, page 4)

2009 – 2022 PIT ESTIMATED NUMBER OF HOMELESS 

In even numbered years, only sheltered homeless are surveyed for the PIT survey. In odd numbered years, both sheltered and unsheltered homeless are surveyed. The 2022 PIT report provides the odd number years of shelter and unsheltered homeless in Albuquerque for 8 years from 2009 to 2019 and including 2022:

2009:    2,002

2011:   1,639

2013:   1,171

2015:   1,287

2017:   1,318

2019:   1,524

2021:   1,567

2022:   1,311

The 2022 PIT data breakdown for the unsheltered for the years 2009 to 2022 is as follows:

Chronic homeless:  67%  (homeless 6 months to a year or more)

Veterans:  9%  

First-time homeless:  38%

Homeless due to domestic violence:  16%

Adults with a serious mental illness:  46%

Adults with substance use disorder:  44%

(2022 PIT Report, page 7)

HOMELESS HOUSHOLDS IN EMERGENCY SHELTERS, TRANSITIONAL AND UNSHELTERED  ON JANUARY 31, 2022

The total estimated number of households experiencing homelessness in Albuquerque on January 31, 2022 was broken down into households with one child, without children and with only children in Emergency Shelters, Transitional and Unsheltered.

The total number of households in emergency shelters, transitional housing unsheltered housing on January 31, 2022 was reported as 860.

 (2022 PIT Report Chart, page 6)

 INDIVIDUALS EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS IN EMERGENCY SHELTERS, TRANSITIONAL AND UNSHELTERED ON JANUARY 31, 2022

The total estimated number of individuals experiencing homelessness in Albuquerque on January 31, 2022 was broken down into individuals with one child, without children and with only children in Emergency Shelters, Transitional and Unsheltered.

The total number of individuals in emergency shelters, transitional housing unsheltered housing was reported as 1,311.

(2022 PIT Report Chart, page 6)

TOTALS OF SHELTERED, TRANSITIONAL HOUSING, UNSHELTERED HOMELESS ON JANUARY 31, 2022 

The breakdown of homelessness on January 31, 2022 is as follows:

Emergency sheltered:  940

Unsheltered:  197

Transitional housing:  174

COMBINED TOTAL OF HOMELESS:  1,311

DATA BREAK DOWN FOR A CATEGORIES OF UNSHELTERED, EMERGENCY SHELTERED AND TRANSITIONAL HOUSING

The data breakdown for the categories of unsheltered, emergency sheltered, and transitional housing on January 31, 2022is as follows:

I.  UNSHELTERED DATA BREAK DOWN

The Unsheltered are defined as those who encamp in neighborhood open space areas, alleys, parks, high-traffic areas and points of congregation, meal service sites, and general service sites.

A. GENDER OF INDIVIDUALS UNSHELTERED HOMELESS

The unsheltered homeless January 31, 2022 who responded to the question of GENDER identified their gender as follows:

120 identified themselves as male

56 identified themselves as female

2 refused to identify

1 identified as other than singularly female or male

1 identified as transgender

 (2022 PIT Report, page 7)

B.  AGE OF INDIVIDUALS UNSHELTERED HOMELESS

The unsheltered individual homeless on January 31, 2022who responded to the question of their AGE stated their age as follow:

Under 19:  4

20-29:  22

40-49: 66

50-59: 48

60-69:  12

70-79:  6

80-89: 1

Refused to say: 29

(2022 PIT Report, page 8)

C. ETHNICITY OF UNSHELTERED INDIVIDUAL HOMELESS

The unsheltered individual homeless who responded on January 31, 2022 to the question of ETHNICITY stated their ethnicity as follows:

Non-Hispanic: 138

Hispanic/Latin: 105

Data NOT collected: 12

Refused to respond:  9

(2022 PIT Report, page 9)

D. RACE OF UNSHELTER INDIVIDUAL HOMELESS

The individual unsheltered homeless on January 31, 2022 who responded to the question of RACE stated their race to be as follows:

White: 115

American Indian or Alaska Native: 58

Black of African American: 26

Multicultural: 8

Data Not collected: 4

Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander: 3

Refused to respond:  50

(2022 PIT Report, page 9)

REASONS UNSHELTER HOMELESS GAVE FOR NOT USINGS SHELTERS

Unsheltered homeless respondents were asked “Why do you not use the shelter system?” Following are the most common reasons given with the numbers that responded:

  • “I’m blind and need everyday assistance” (1)
  • “Work” (4)
  • “I don’t like to be separated from my partner” (4)
  • “I’ve never tried” (5)
  • “I got kicked out of shelters” (5)
  • “It’s my choice/I don’t need it” (6)
  • “Pets aren’t allowed” (6)
  • “Anxiety around crowds” (9)
  • “PTSD from being incarcerated” (9)
  • “Transportation” (20)
  • “Overcrowded” (21)
  • “Unsanitary/fear of getting COVID” (22)
  • “Staff Concerns” (23)

 (2022 PIT Report, page 11)

II.  EMERGENCY SHELTERED HOMELESS DATA BREAKDOWN

Estimated number of people living in an unsheltered living condition in Albuquerque during the PIT Counts 2009-2022.

2009: 931

2011: 387

2013: 144

2015: 183

2017: 384

2019: 567

2021: 413

2022: 197

Following is the data breakdown reflecting the number and categories of homeless in emergency shelters in Albuquerque on during the PIT Counts 2009-2022.

Identified as chronically homeless: 341  (36%)

Identified as households without children:  491 (80%)

Identified as veterans:  43 (4%)

Identified as adults with a serious mental illness:  236 (25%)

Adults with substance use disorder: 127 (13%)

Adult survivors of domestic violence:  58 (6%)

(2022 PIT Report, pages 6 and 12)

EMERGENCY SHELTER DATA BREAKDOWN FOR JANUARY 31, 2022

The total emergency shelter reported for January 31, 2020 is 940. 

A. GENDER OF EMERGENCY SHELTERED HOMELESS

The emergency sheltered homeless who responded to the question of GENDER on January 31, 2022 identified their gender as follows:

565 identified themselves as male

371 identified themselves as female: 371

1 identified as “Non-Binary”

3  identified as transgender

(2022 PIT Report, page 12)

B. AGE OF EMERGENCY SHELTERED HOMELESS

The emergency shelter homeless  during the PIT Count on January 31, 2022 who responded to the question of their AGE stated their age as follow:

Under 19:  191

18-24:  45

24+: 704

(2022 PIT Report, page 12)

C. ETHNICITY OF SHELTERED HOMELESS

The emergency shelter homeless on January 31, 2022 who responded to the question of ETHNICITY stated their ethnicity as follows:

Non-Hispanic: 518

Hispanic:  422

(2022 PIT Report, page 13)

D. RACE OF SHELTERED HOMELESS

The emergency sheltered homeless on January 31, 2022 who responded to the question of RACE stated their race to be as follows:

White: 607

American Indian or Alaska Native: 138

Black of African American: 86

Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 19

Asian or Asian American: 4

(2022 PIT Report, page 13.)

III.  TRANSITIONAL HOUSING HOMELESS DATA BREAKDOWN

There were a total of 174 individuals in transitional housing on January 31, 2022

Following is the data breakdown from transitional housing programs data breakdown on January 31, 2022:

53 identified as households without children

18 identified as veterans

15 identified as adults with a serious mental illness

8 identified as adults with a substance use disorder

10 identified as adult survivors of domestic violence

(2022 PIT Report, page 13.)

A. GENDER OF TRANSITIONAL HOUSING HOMELESS

Transitional housing homeless on January 31, 2022 who responded to the question of GENDER identified their gender as follows:

70 identified themselves as male

82 identified themselves as female

21 identified as Non-Binary

1 identified as transgender

(2022 PIT Report, page 14)

B. AGE OF TRANSITIONAL HOUSING HOMELESS

Albuquerque transitional housing homeless on January 31, 2022 who responded to the question of their AGE stated their age as follow:

Under 18:  75

18-24:  32

24+: 67

(2022 PIT Report, page 14 )

C. ETHNICITY TRANSITIONAL HOUSING HOMELESS

Albuquerque transitional housing homeless on January 31, 2022 who responded to the question of ETHNICITY stated their ethnicity to be as follows:

Non-Hispanic: 60

Hispanic: 114

(2022 PIT Report, page 15)

D. RACE OF TRANSITIONAL HOUSING HOMELESS

The transitional housing homeless on January 31, 2022 who responded to the question of RACE stated their race to be as follows:

White: 117

American Indian or Alaska Native: 11

Black of African American: 12

Multiple races:  33

Asian or Asian American: 1

(2022 PIT Report, page 15 )

2021 POINT-IN-TIME (PIT) REPORT

On June 22, 2021, Albuquerque’s 2021 Point-In-Time (PIT) report was released that surveyed both sheltered and unsheltered homeless. In 2021, the PIT survey asked where people stayed the night of January 25.

Major highlights of the 2021 PIT report are as follows:

There were 1,567 sheltered and unsheltered homeless people living in Albuquerque, a slight increase over the 2019 count of 1,524 homeless. The 2020 homeless count is 2.8% higher than in 2019 and 18.9% more than in 2017, despite the pandemic limiting the 2021 counting efforts.

The 2021 PIT count found that 73.6% of the homeless population was staying in emergency shelters, transitional housing or using motel vouchers rather than sleeping in alleys, parks and other “unsheltered” locations. The 73.6% in the 2021 count is much a higher than the 2019 and 2017 PIT counts.

Albuquerque’s unsheltered homeless decreased from 567 people in 2019 to 413 in the 2021 count.

42% of Albuquerque’s unsheltered were defined as chronically homeless, meaning they had been continuously homeless for at least a year and had a disabling condition.

21% said they were homeless due to COVID.

37% were experiencing homelessness for the first time.

12% were homeless due to domestic violence.

30.19% of the homeless in Albuquerque self-reported as having a serious mental illness.

25.5% self-reported as substance abusers.

Note that a whopping 55.69% combined total of those surveyed self-reported as having a serious mental illness or were substance abusers.

The link to quoted statistics is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2402560/homeless-numbers-see-little-change.html

https://www.cabq.gov/family/documents/2019-albuquerque-pit-count-final.pdf

2019 AND 2017 POINT-IN-TIME COUNT

According to the 2019 Point-In-Time count, there were 1,524 sheltered and unsheltered homeless people counted in Albuquerque. This is 206 more homeless than the 2017 PIT count that recorded 1,318 homeless people in the city limits.

The 2017 survey found that there were 1,318 people reported experiencing homelessness on the night of the count, which then was an increase of 31 people over the 2015 PIT Count. The 2015 survey count found 1, 287 people reported experiencing homelessness on the night of the count.

For 2017, 379 people self-reported as chronically homeless, which was an increase of 119 people over the 2015 PIT Count. PIT counted 39 more people who self-reported as chronically homeless who were sheltered and 80 more people that self-report as chronically homeless who were unsheltered in 2017. The 2019 PIT report states that most people experiencing unsheltered homelessness in Albuquerque were residents of Albuquerque before becoming homeless.

The link to quoted statistics is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1355819/annual-count-shows-citys-homeless-numbers-up.html

https://www.petedinelli.com/2021/07/06/2021-point-in-time-survey-is-yearly-snapshot-of-citys-homeless-we-have-a-moral-obligation-to-help-homeless/

CITY DOWNPLAYS 2022 PIT COUNT

Tony Watkins, the New Mexico Council to End Homelessness, director for homeless assistance, downplayed the 256 fewer homeless found by the PIT survey saying the cold temperatures on January 31 were a factor in this year’s count.  The Albuquerque Department of Family and Community Services, which partners with the coalition on homeless issues, went even further to downplay the report and said in a statement:

“We always appreciate new data from the Point-In-Time count, but we know that it’s an undercount. We need to base our services and solutions on the situation today, not yesterday, or six months ago when the count was taken.”

The link to the quoted news source is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2534188/albuquerque-homeless-count-declines.html

CITY’S FINANCIAL COMMITMENT TO THE HOMELSS CRISIS

The Keller Administration has adopted a housing first policy when it comes to dealing with the homeless crisis which also includes funding provided to at least 10 service providers.

During the 2021 fiscal year that ended June 10, 2021, the Family and Community Services Department and the Keller Administration spent upwards of $40 Million to benefit the homeless or near homeless. The 2021 adopted city budget for Family and Community Services Department provides for mental health contracts totaling $4,329,452, and substance abuse contracts for counseling contracts totaling $2,586,302 and emergency shelter contracts totaling $5,688,094, affordable housing and community contracts totaling $22,531,752, homeless support services contracts.

Mayor Keller’s 2022-2023 approved budget that began on July 1, 2023, significantly increased the Family and Community Services budget by $24,353,064 to assist the homeless or near homeless by going from $35,145,851 to $59,498,915. A breakdown of the amounts to help the homeless and those in need of housing assistance contained in the 2022-2023 budget is as follows:

$3,773,860 total for mental health contracts 

$2,818,356 total substance abuse contracts for counseling, up by $288,680 from last year.

$42,598,361 total for affordable housing and community contracts with a major emphasis on permanent housing for chronically homeless.

$6,025,544 total for emergency shelter contracts

$4,282,794 total homeless support services, up $658,581 from last year.

The links  to the adopted 2021-2022 and 2022-23 approved budgets are here:

https://www.cabq.gov/dfa/documents/fy22-approved-budget-numbered-w-hyperlinks-final.pdf

https://www.cabq.gov/dfa/documents/fy23-proposed-final-web-version.pdf

GIBSON GATEWAY HOMELESS SHELTER

On April 6, 2021, Mayor Tim Keller announced the city had bought the massive 572,000 square-foot Gibson Medical Center, formerly the Lovelace Hospital for $15 million.   The massive facility is being transformed into a Gateway Center Homeless Shelter. On September 3, 2022, it was reported that the Gibson Gateway Homeless Shelter will open sometime in the Winter of 2022 and that the shelter will assist 1,000 homeless a day and the shelter will be 330 bed homeless shelter.

The first phase of the facility when opened will feature 50 emergency shelter beds exclusively for women. It also includes 20 beds for medical respite, which will provide people without other options, a place to recuperate from illness or injury. It also includes 20 beds for medically supervised sobering. The shelter services will concentrate on serving people picked up by APD police, or other first responders, but who do not belong in the emergency room or jail. That includes those who are intoxicated, dealing with mental illness or “down and outs” as they are commonly described by first responders. The city estimates 1,500 people could go through the drop-off each year. The “dropoff  for the down and outs” will initially have 4 beds.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

It should come as absolutely no surprise, and it’s downright pathetic, that the City’s Family and Community Services Department and the service providers go out of their way to disparage the results of the PIT report by dismissing it as an “undercount”. The likely reason for downplaying the survey results is that millions of dollars are at stake for the department and the service providers.  Thier dismissive attitude is a reluctance to be questioned or challenged and be held accountable for how much money is being spent and the results they are achieving. What cannot be refuted are the PIT survey statistics over the last 5 years are very consistent and do not support the contention that the City’s homeless count is anywhere near what they are claiming.

The 2022 point in time survey when compared to the surveys taken 2021, 2019 and 2017 is by far the better of the surveys given the depth of information provided when comes to individual and households of homeless, gender, age and ethnicity who are sheltered, in transitional housing, or who are unsheltered.  The surveys taken together provide an in-depth analysis of the city’s homeless crisis.

A major and surprising takeaway of the past 4 surveys is the actual number of the city’s homeless has hovered between 1,311 to 1,567 over the last 5 years as follows:

2017:   1,318

2019:   1,524

2021:   1,567

2022:   1,311  

The 1,311 figures in the 2022 PIT report is the lowest number of unsheltered reported for the last 5 years.  According to the 2022 PIT report there were 256 fewer homeless in January 2022 than in January 22.  This is very surprising given the public perception that the homeless crisis has only gotten worse in the city under Mayor Tim Keller.

It is not a crime to be homeless. The city does have a moral obligation to help the homeless, especially the mentally ill and the drug addicted, and it is doing so with the huge financial commitment that is being made with services and shelter.  Even though as a community there is a moral obligation to help the homeless, that does not give the homeless the right to trespass, camp and break vagrancy laws whenever they want and wherever they want.

The biggest and likely reason for the perception in the increase of the homeless is that the homeless have become far more visible to the public and far more aggressive where they illegally camp in parks, on streets, in alleyways and in city open space areas.   Mayor Tim Keller bears most of the responsibility for the homeless crisis becoming far more visible in that over the last 4 years the city and the Albuquerque Police Department under Keller’s orders did not enforce the city’s trespassing, vagrancy and nuisance abatement laws when it comes to the homeless. Keller essentially took a hands-off approach to deal with the homeless when it came to enforcing the city’s ordinances and laws as they relate to the homeless.

HOMELESS ARE MORE VISIBLE BECAUSE OF NO ARREST POLICY

In 2017 the city entered into a stipulated settlement agreement in the McClendon federal case where the city agreed that people accused of nonviolent misdemeanors such as shoplifting, petty larceny and prostitution will not be arrested where there are no circumstances requiring an arrest. The primary reason for the settlement was to prevent jail overcrowding. It had nothing to do with the homeless.

When it comes to “homeless crimes”, such as illegal camping, criminal trespassing and loitering, Mayor Keller took the APD “no arrest” policy a major step further which was ill advised. Keller and APD adopted a policy that arrest was very last resort to deal with the homeless and citations would be the strict policy.

At one point, police discretion to make arrests of homeless was taken away from APD.  The Family Community Service Department was given authority over APD to decide what homeless would be arrested and when, relegating APD to the role of public safety officers.  APD was allowed to make arrests of the homeless when the circumstances warranted such as the commission of felony.  The policy giving the Family Community Service Department authority over APD policy was later withdrawn.

CORONADO PARK  

The mayor’s policies dealing with the homeless changed when Keller was essentially forced to close Coronado Park and displacing upwards of 125 homeless.   Mayor Tim Keller created a nuisance with the city property when he allowed and condoned the use of Coronado Park as a “de facto” city sanction homeless encampment.

Coronado Park had an extensive history of criminal activity including 4 murders, violent crimes and drug trafficking. Keller himself was forced to announce the closure of Coronado Park on June 27 as a result of the extensive criminal activity and the contamination of the grounds of the park that made it a threat to public safety and use.

SAFE OUTDOOR SPACES TOOL NOT NEEDED

Repeatedly, Mayor Tim Keller and his administration have said that Safe Outdoor Spaces are a “tool in the toolbox” that is needed in his “all above approach” to deal with the homeless. That is simply false, and tools such as Safe Outdoor Spaces need to be thrown out of the toolbox when it comes to the homeless crisis. The only “real tools” here are our government and elected officials who are being used to promote an unsustainable policy of Safe Outdoor Spaces. Ostensibly, they do not know that government sanctioned encampments are in fact being abandoned by major cities and have been found to be a very bad substitute for permanent housing and services which have the most impact on reducing the homeless crisis.

Cities such as Honolulu, Salt Lake City and Seattle, have abandoned their support of government sanctioned encampment such as Safe Outdoor Spaces and have begun implementing ordinances to remove all encampments to move toward a transitional housing or campus model, programs that have been found to bring physical and fiscal safety to communities while reducing crime.  Some 65 cities across the United States have implemented ordinances to remove all encampments.

https://newmexicosun.com/stories/626700965-there-s-a-better-way-to-serve-the-homeless-sanctioned-encampments-aren-t-it

The millions being spent each year by the city to deal with the homeless with the “housing first” policy and new Gibson Gateway Homeless Shelter and the Westside Homeless shelter should be more than enough to deal with housing the homeless, yet Mayor wants more from the public in the form of Safe Outdoor Spaces.  Then there is that matter that Safe Outdoor Space encampments violate the city’s  and Keller’s own “housing first” policy by not providing a form of permanent housing and with reliance on tents as 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 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.

The millions being spent each year by the city to deal with the homeless with the “housing first” policy and new Gibson Gateway Homeless Shelter and the Westside Homeless shelter should be more than enough to deal with housing the homeless. Then there is that matter that Safe Outdoor Space encampments violate the city’s  and Keller’s own “housing first” policy by not providing a form of permanent housing and with reliance on tents as 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.

RESET OPPORTUNITY

Mayor Tim Keller should consider the 2022 PIT report as a reset opportunity. The report found that the total individual unsheltered is 197 homeless which should be manageable by law enforcement.  It is likely these are those who refuse to accept any kind of assistance and want to be left alone. Given the upwards of $100 million being spent over two years and the opening of the Gibson Homeless Shelter, Keller has no excuse in dealing with the 197 unsheltered.

Unlawful encampment homeless squatters who have no interest in any offers of shelter, beds, motel vouchers from the city or alternatives to living on the street and want to camp at city parks, on city streets in alleys and trespass in open space give the city no choice but to make it totally inconvenient for them to “squat” and force them to move on or be arrested by APD.

ABQ Journal Guest Column: Fast-Tracked Safe Outdoor Spaces Are Discriminatory; Appeals Of “Safe Outdoor Space” Tent Encampments For “Sex-Trafficking Victims Scheduled For September 28; Public Encouraged To Attend

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:

  1. Martineztown Santa Barbara Neighborhood Association
  2. Menaul Middle School
  3. Life Roots
  4. Reuele Sun Corporation, a participant in the Menaul Redevelopment Area
  5. Crown Plaza Hotel, a participant in the Menaul Redevelopment Area
  6. T-Mobil Cell Phone Call Center
  7. Sunset Memorial Cemetery
  8. 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.

https://www.abqjournal.com/2533679/fasttracked-safe-outdoor-spaces-are-discriminatory.html

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.

 

 

City Council Enacts “Status Quo” Redistricting Map; Council Rejects Davis/Fiebelkorn Gerrymandering Efforts To Affect Minority Influence In Their Own Districts

Every 10 years, the City Charter requires that the Council appoint a committee composed of an equal number of representatives from each of the 9 Council District to review and make recommendations regarding redistricting the 9 Council Districts based on information from the Federal Census. The committee is called the City Council Redistricting Committee. The Committee was made up of 18 members, one voting member and one alternate member from each of the 9 City Council Districts.

The Committee was tasked with using the population data from the official 2020 U.S. Census along with any other pertinent information to make a report recommending changes in the Council District boundaries that the Committee decides are necessary based on constitutional principles governing voting rights, population, compactness and other related factors.

Research & Polling, the most reliable and accurate polling company in New Mexico and for decades has helped with congressional and legislative redistricting, was hired as consultants and provided the committee with 5 initial Concept Maps, titled Map A through E. In addition, the City and Research & Polling contracted with DistrictR, an online mapping tool that allows the public to submit their own maps.  4 additional maps were  submitted by citizens, including a map proposed by Democrat City Councilors Pat Davis and Tammy Fiebelkorn.

On June 29th the Redistricting Committee met for the final time. The committee decided not to settle on a single map but rated and ranked each of the 8 maps. After rating each map, the committee voted to send all 8 maps to the City Council for their consideration and final selection. The Committee rated each of the 8 maps on a 5-point scale, ranging from 0 to 4.

On June 29 the Redistricting Committee voted to rate and ranked the maps as follows:

1.Concept Map A scored the highest with a total rating of 24 and an average rating of 2.7.
2. Citizen Map 2 scored the second highest with a total rating of 19 and an average rating of 2.1.
3. Concept Map D scored the third highest with a total rating of 16 and an average rating of 1.8.
4. Citizen Map 1 scored fourth highest with a total rating of 13 and an average rating of 1.4
5. Citizen Map 5 scored fifth highest with a total rating of 12 and an average rating of 1.3
6. Citizen Map 3 scored sixth highest with a total rating of 9 and an average rating of 1.0
7. Concept E map and Citizens Map 4 tied for seventh highest place each with a total rating of 7 and an average rating of 0.8

https://documents.cabq.gov/council/2022%20Redistricting%20Report.pdf

COUNCIL VOTES TO ADOPT CONCEPT MAP A

On Monday September 19, the Albuquerque City Council voted 6-3 to approve Concept Map A that resets all 9 City Council Districts without making any major changes to existing council district borders.   Redistricting experts referred to it as “minimal change” map.  Only 5.8% of the city’s population are moved into new city council districts.  It was Democrat Westside City Councilor Klarissa Peña, District 3, and Republican NE Heights City Councilor Brook Bassan, District 4, who co-sponsored the Concept Map A, the minimal change map.

Democrats City Councilors Pat Davis, Isaac Benton and Tammy Fiebelkorn voted against the map.   Each of the 3 supported at least one different option they contended would have amplified minority voices. All 3 councilors disparaged the adopted council map as the “status quo” option.  City Councilor Pat Davis in particular had this to say:

“If we’re going to keep doing the same thing, we’re going to get the same results. …  If it’s frustrating to all of us that not much seems to change up here, I think part of it is it’s easy to keep the same districts because we [as councilors] just got elected and we know those neighborhoods, but they don’t challenge us to think in new ways or build new coalitions.”

Davis submitted an amendment intended to better empower the city’s International District, but it failed on a 3-6 vote with only Davis, Benton and Fiebelkorn voting in support.

City Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn for her part failed to secure support for an alternative map and amendments to Concept Map that would have created 4 Hispanic-majority districts, one more than the map the council ultimately approved. Fiebelkorn did so without support of the only 2 Hispanic City Councilors on the 9-member Council, city council, Klarisa Peña and Louie Sanchez.

City Councilor Peña made it clear with her support of Concept A map that it was the best map option. Peña said the other maps considered would actually harm marginalized communities.  She acknowledges that the approved Concept Map A would not create 4 Hispanic “majority” districts like Fiebelkorn was advocating, but she defended it by saying that Hispanics are still the largest share of the population in 5 out of the 9 City Council districts. Peña put it this way:

“I just want to make sure [that] when we’re having these conversations about representations for minorities, we [acknowledge minorities do] have representation [now].”

Three of the 9 city council districts will not change under the adopted redistricting map. Those districts are District 3 represented by Democrat Klarisa Peña, District 4 represented by Republican Brook Bassan and District 9 represented by Republican Renee Grout.

The link to quoted news source material is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2533691/council-opts-for-minimal-change.html

APPROVED CONCEPT MAP A

Concept Map A scored the highest with the city council redistricting committee with a total rating of 24 and an average rating of 2.7. The objective of this map was a minimal change map to account for population changes and minimize voter confusion. No incumbents are displaced nor paired against each other.

The approved Map A addresses the disproportionate population growth the city has seen west of the Rio Grande. To compensate for the change in population, it extends Downtown-based District 2 across the river. Under the new boundaries, District 2, currently represented by Benton, absorbs some neighborhoods west of the river between Central and Interstate 40.

The approved map “shrinks” the geographic size of District 5.

The city’s northwestern-most district, represented by Republican Dan Lewis, currently has about 16% more people than ideal for balancing purposes. Some neighborhoods are taken out the north side of Montano and moved to District 1 which is represented by Democrat Louie Sanchez.

The Northeast Heights-based District 8, represented by Trudy Jones, adds some terrain from Fiebelkorn’s District 7 by expanding south to Comanche between Wyoming and Eubank.

City Councilor Pat Davis’ District 6 will absorb parts of what is now District 2, including the area east of Interstate 25 between Lomas and Gibson.

The overall boundary changed to the City Council Districts can summarized as follows:

The city council districts are identical to current districts with respect to Districts 3 (Peña), District 4 (Bassan) and District 9 (Grout).

District 5 (Lewis) lost population and the boundary with District 1 (Sanchez) moves north to the bluff south of the Petroglyph Estates.

District 2 (Benton) crosses the river between Central and I-40 to Coors taking the West Mesa and Pat Hurley neighborhoods from District 1 (Louie Sanchez).

District 6 (Davis) moves west into District 2, (Benton) from Buena Vista to I-25 between Gibson and Lomas. District 6 (Davis) also takes the University West area (including Carrie Tingley Hospital) from District 2 (Benton).

District 7 (Fiebelkorn) moves south into District 2 (Benton) from I-40 to Lomas between I-25 and Carlisle not including the University West area.

District 8 (Trudy Jones) moves into District 7 (Tammy Fiebelkorn) from Montgomery to Comanche between Wyoming and Eubank.

 COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The City Council was under no legal obligation to adopt any one of the 8 maps and could have conceivably rejected all 8 maps and start from scratch and ignore the work of the City Council 2022 Redistricting Committe and their rankings. The Albuquerque City Council is commended for doing the right thing in adopting Concept Map A, despite the gerrymandering efforts of Democrat City Councilors Pat Davis, Isaac Benton and Tammy Fiebelkorn.  It is easy to see how the redistricting of all 9 City Council Districts could have affected the balance of power on the City Council with one or more Districts becoming a swing District. With that point in mind, Concept Map A was the one concept map that maintains the status quo.

All 3 councilors argued that they wanted to “amplify minority voices” and create districts that gave “marginalized communities”, especially Hispanics, more representation on the City Council.   This coming from 3 white progressive Democrats without any assistance or the votes from the 2 Hispanic City Councilors. The truth is that Pat Davis, Isaac Benton and Tammy Fiebelkorn were attempting to gerrymander their own selfish best interests by reducing the numbers of minorities in their districts or marginalized voters in their own districts thereby by making their districts more to their liking

SINISTER INTENT OF CONCEPT MAP 4 WAS TO REDUCE MINORITY INFLUENCE

What must not be forgotten is that Citizen Map 4, which came in last with the rankings by the re-districting committee, was originally the citizens map prepared and submitted by City Councilors Pat Davis and Tammy Fiebelkorn.  The Davis/Fiebelkorn concept map was the most radical map of all the 8 maps under consideration. All the other 7 maps made adjustments that were very minor in comparison and essentially tweaked” the existing districts, respecting the existing borders and neighborhoods and communities.

The Davis/Fiebelkorn District 6 and District 7 maps reflected in their proposed Concept Map 4 represented a dramatic departure changing borders. The concept map essentially gutted both Districts and carved them up to the benefit of Democrat Tammy Fiebelkorn to give advantage to Fiebelkorn for reelection.

Under the Davis/Fiebelkorn concept Map 4, District 7 would have kept part of its existing Northeast Heights area, but then would have sweep west of District 6 and take up the Nob Hill area and the Mesa del Sol development area. Both the International District and the Nob Hill areas are considered progressive and are currently in City Council District 6 represented by Pat Davis.

he Nob Hill area along Central under the concept map would have  been  shifted to District 7 and be represented by City Councilor Fiebelkor and would have jettison south to include the Mesa Del Sol development.  The International District  in the Southeast Heights would 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.

Simply put, the Davis/Fiebelkorn Citizen redistricting Map 4 was an abomination. It is a prime example of gerrymandering at its very worse designed to protect newly elected incumbent Tammy Fiebelkorn while the departing City Councilor Pat Davis thumbed his nose at his own City Council District 6.

City Councilor Fiebelkorn said of the Davis/ Fiebelkorn concept map submitted would have given the International District’s “large, culturally significant population” a more united voice on the council, yet she does not represent them. She said she thinks International District residents may have more in common with residents just north of Lomas than with the current district that includes Nob Hill, which she called a “completely different demographic” one ostensibly more to her liking because it is considered the most progressive area of the city.

Tammy Fiebelkorn was being a hypocrite and opportunistic to say after a mere 5 months in office at the time:

“One of the baselines of redistricting is that we find ways to make marginalized communities have a voice. … I want … what would be the best to make sure everybody is represented in a fair and equitable way. … we [must] find ways to make marginalized communities have a voice. … [and give] large, culturally significant populations [a more united voice on the council].”

Fiebelkorn was not talking about her own district when she says she wanted to help the marginalized have a voice. She was referring to the International District, a minority area she did not want to be included in her own new district. Fiebelkorn does not currently represent the Nob Hill area, yet she was advocating just that by cutting it out and placing it in District 7 and cutting out an area viewed as more conservative and ignoring those she currently is supposed to be representing. Simply put, Fiebelkorn wanted to “raid” District 6 and absorb the highly progressive Nob Hill area, knowing full well it will increase her own reelection chances.

City Councilor Pat Davis was nothing but the hypocrite he has always been when he said at the time his map was originally offered:

“I think we should have some different voices on the City Council. … If you look at it now, the entire east side of the city is represented by white folks, and I think that shows the current districting is leaving some people out of the process.”

THE WHITE PRIVILEGE THREE

Isaac Benton, Pat Davis, and Tammy Fiebelkorn do not want to admit it, but they are those very “white folks” that Davis complained about.  All 3 pretend to know what “marginalized communities” as they essentially stick their noses into minority issues pretending they want to protect minorities when all 3 are essentially “white privilege”.  They did so without so much as asking the two Hispanics on the city council for help and support.

It is not at all difficult to figure out what so called progressive Democrats Isaac Benton, Pat Davis and Tammy Fiebelkorn were up to with their own maps and amendments to Concept Map A that was adopted.  What they really wanted to do is to reduce the influence of minorities, especially Hispanics, in their own City Council Districts to reflect their own “white privilege” backgrounds and to increase their own reelection chances.

The City Council saw right through the efforts of Isaac Benton, Pat Davis and Tammy Fiebelkorn and they did the right thing and voted to approve Concept Map A without their amendments that maintains the status quo.

The link to a related blog article is here:

Two “White Folk” City Councilors Pat Davis And Tammy Fiebelkorn Seek To Gut Council Districts 6 and 7 With Proposed Redistricting Map To Help The “Marginalized”; What’s Needed Are Two Additional City Council Districts, Not “Political Movida”; June 8 Redistricting Committee Meeting

EPC Votes To Recommend Striking “Safe Outdoor Spaces” From Integrated Development Ordinance;   A Political Battle Of Epic Proportions Of  Elected Officials Telling  Public “We Know What’s Best For You”;   A “Few Tools” Not Needed

On Thursday, September 15, the City Council nominated, and Mayor appointed Environmental Planning Commission (EPC) voted to Eliminate “Safe Outdoor Spaces” from the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO).  The vote was 4 to 3 to delete all references of Safe Outdoor Spaces in the IDO effectively outlawing the conditional land use anywhere in the city. Two of the 9 commissioners were not present for the hearing.  It was on June 22 that legislation was introduced by city Councilor Brook Bassan at city council to repeal and to eliminate Safe Outdoor Spaces amendment to the IDO.   The repeal legislation was referred to the Environmental Planning Commission (EPC) for review and hearing and to make recommendations to the City Council.

EPC HEARING PRESENTATION AND TESTIMONY

The hearing began with a very detailed analysis of the legislation presented by a representative  of City Councilor Brook Basaan who is the sponsor of the legislation calling for elimination of Safe Outdoor Spaces from the IDO.  The presentation went through numerous provisions of the IDO and identified how Safe Outdoor Spaces violated the IDO provisions and the spirit and intent of the IDO.

During the course of the September 15 hearing, and after the presentation of Councilor Basan’s city council legislative analysis, the public was allowed to speak, with each speaker given a mere 2 minutes. The overwhelming majority of the testimony given by   members of the general public was in opposition to Safe Outdoor Spaces. Representatives from neighborhood associations, including the Santa Barbara Martineztown  Neighborhood Association,  Wells Park Neighborhood Association and the Greater Albuquerque Business Alliance, a coalition of downtown businesses, testified in opposition to Safe Outdoor Spaces.   The main arguments made by those opposed to Safe Outdoor Spaces include the following:

  1. The City Council amendment for Safe Outdoor Space is not well planned out.  Safe Outdoor Spaces will not be safe despite security plans and will be magnets for crime.
  2. Safe Outdoor Spaces in the form of “tent encampments for the homeless” constitute temporary housing that has been found to be the least effective means with dealing with the homeless. Many city’s that once embraced city sanctioned homeless encampment such as tent encampments are abandoning them in favor of more permanent housing.
  3. Safe Outdoor Spaces will be detrimental to the neighborhoods and surrounding business and interfere with the peaceful use and enjoyment of property, both private and public property, and will reduce property values and interfere with redevelopment efforts.
  4. The Safe Outdoor Spaces provisions are not in conformity and contradict the numerous provisions of the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO), including relating to “higher and best use” of property and the intent and goal of the IDO to have reasonable, responsible redevelopment provisions that do not hinder development.
  5. Annual updates and amendments to the IDO, such as is the case with Safe Outdoor Spaces, are enacted without public support or input. The Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) annual amendment process undertaken by the City Council is seriously flawed and is defective and does not allow for community input for major types of amendments affecting communities, such as Safe Outdoor Spaces.   There is no complete review of data coming from the Planning Department to the EPC for IDO Amendments.  Substantive amendments to the IDO are not being fully investigated and vetted by the Planning Department for recommendations to EPC as was the case with Safe Outdoor Spaces.
  6. Safe Outdoor Spaces violates the city’s “Housing First” policy jeopardizing millions of dollars in federal funding by offering temporary housing and tent encampments to the homeless.  In the 2021 fiscal year, the city spent $40 million and in the 2022 fiscal year will be   spending $60 million to assist the homeless and much of the federal funding will be placed in jeopardy because of Safe Outdoor Spaces.
  7. Safe Outdoor Spaces are nuisances and are in violation of city ordinances dealing with nuisance abatement on real property, especially property owned by the city. The following city ordinances were cited to the EPC:

The City’s nuisance abatement ordinance defines nuisance as:

“Any parcel of real property, commercial or residential, … on which
… illegal activities occur, or which is used to commit, conduct, promote, facilitate, or aide the commission of … any [felony or misdemeanor, including illicit drugs and prostitution]”

The city’s nuisance abatement ordinance prohibits “public nuisances” as follows:

“It shall be unlawful for any owner, manager, tenant, lessee, occupant, or other person having any legal or equitable interest or right of possession in real property … or other personal property to intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently commit, conduct , promote, facilitate, permit, fail to prevent, or otherwise let happen, any public nuisance in, on or using any property in which they hold any legal or equitable interest or right of possession.”

See City’s Nuisance Abatement Ordinance, Section   11-1-1-10 Public Nuisances Prohibited. 

The City of Albuquerque’s Uniform Housing Code also defines “nuisance” as:

“(1) Any nuisance known at common law …

(2) Any attractive nuisance which may prove detrimental to children whether in a building, on the premises of a building, or upon an unoccupied lot. …

(3) Whatever is dangerous to human life or is detrimental to health, as determined by the health officer.

(6) Inadequate or unsanitary sewage or plumbing facilities.

(7) Any violation of the housing standards set forth in this code.”

City of Albuquerque and  14-3-1-4 ROA 1994 of Housing Code, Definitions for public nuisance.

CITY ATTEMPTS TO DISCREDIT PRIVATE CITIZENS

After the public spoke, the planning department representatives proceeded to attempt to discredit the arguments made by the public who testified.  It became obvious to those who had testified that the city representative were advocating the Keller Administration policy supporting Safe Outdoor Spaces.

City representatives took issue and challenged Pete Dinelli and his request to be recognized as being a qualified expert in nuisance abatement laws. Dinelli has been a licensed private attorney for 43 years, 28 in government service, who offered his expert legal opinion on the city’s nuisance abatement laws, which he enforced for a full 8 years on behalf of the city as Director of the Safe City Strike Force. The absurd argument was made by an assistant city attorney that the EPC cannot qualify anyone to be an expert who testify before them under oath, yet expert testimony and presentations are given before the EPC on a regular basis and EPC hearings are often “quasi-judicial”. Dinelli gave his expert legal opinion that Safe Outdoor Spaces constitute a public nuisance under the City Nuisance Abetment Ordinance, and he read into the record the above provisions of city ordinances.

City representatives were not at all suttle with their opposition to the proposed legislation to eliminate Safe Outdoor Spaces from the IDO and advocated that the EPC commission recommend a “do not pass” of the legislation to the City Council. City planning officials went so far as to offer “alternative findings” prepared in advance and ask for a delay so the EPC could consider alternatives that ostensible the Keller Administration wanted.  The EPC decided to go forward with a vote anyway and voted 4-3, with 2 commissioners being absent.

At the conclusion of the September 15 EPC hearing, the committee adopted upwards of 4 pages of very detail findings in support of their ruling to recommend the elimination of Safe Outdoor Spaces from the Integrated Development Ordinance. Those finding outlined and extensive number of provisions of the IDO that Safe Outdoor Spaces violate. The EPC recommendation will now be referred to the City Council Land Use and Zoning Committee for further hearings and ultimately the legislation will be presented for a vote to the full City Council.  It is the City Council that has the ultimate and final authority over land use issues.

MAYOR KELLER VETOS MORITORIUM OF SAFE OUTDOOR SPACES

On Monday, August 15, the City Council passed the moratorium on a 6 to 3 vote that barred the City Planning Department from accepting or approving any pending applications for “Safe Outdoor Spaces”. Before passing the moratorium, the City Council amended the bill to ensure that the moratorium stopped the City Planning Department from approving any “pending” applications and to add language stopping the city from authorizing any “Safe Outdoor Space” on city property.  Under the legislation, a complete moratorium was to be in effect until August 1, 2023, unless the City Council enacts a separate bill removing them totally from the zoning code.

The vote was bipartisan. Voting YES for the moratorium where Republicans Brook Bassam Renee Grout, Trudy Jones, and Dan Lewis who were joined by Democrats Klarissa Peña and Louie Sanchez. Voting “NO” on the moratorium were Democrats Isaac Benton, Pat Davis and Tammy Fiebelcorn.

On Friday, August 26, in a late afternoon and what amounts to a “sneaky announcement” to ensure little media attention, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller announced he vetoed the Albuquerque City Council legislation that placed a moratorium on “Safe Outdoor Spaces.”

Keller argued in his veto message that the city cannot afford to limit its options for addressing homelessness and said he understood how new policies sometimes take time to refine after testing.  Keller wrote in part in his veto message:

“We need every tool at our disposal to confront the unhoused crisis and we need to be willing to act courageously. … However, reasonable time, testing and piloting has not been allowed”.

The link to the quoted news source article is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2527750/new-keller-veto-aims-to-save-safe-outdoor-spaces.html

COUNCIL FAILS TO OVERRIDE VETO

On September 7, the Albuquerque City Council voted “NO” to override Democrat Mayor Tim Keller’s veto of a one-year moratorium on the application process for “Safe Outdoor Spaces”.   In order to override the veto, 6 YES votes were needed.  The 4 who voted NO to override were Republican Trudy Jones who joined Democrats Isaac Benton, Pat Davis and Tammy Fiebelcorn.  The 5 who voted YES to override the veto. Were Republicans Brook Bassam, Renee Grout, and Dan Lewis who were joined by Democrats Klarissa Peña and Louie Sanchez.

During the September 8 city council meeting, discussion about the veto went on for more than an hour. The city council heard from more than 15 people who signed up to comment, and from several councilors who spoke both for and against Safe Outdoor Spaces.

What is interesting to note is that City Councilor Trudy Jones for more than a few days ignored or would not respond to calls and questions from her constituents who wanted to voice their support for the veto and who wanted to know how she intended to vote. During the September 8 City Council debate on the veto, Jones remained stoically silent and then when the time came to vote, she voted NO without any explanation for her reversal.

Councilor Jones in an interview after the vote was asked why she changed her vote and she had this to say:

“It’s the right thing to do. … Sometimes, along the line, you have to stick your neck out and do what’s right, not what is politically expected.”

The links to quoted news sources are here

https://www.abqjournal.com/category/news/abq-news

https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/albuquerque-city-council-fails-to-override-veto-of-safe-outdoor-spaces/

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

What is clear from the EPC vote is that what is now occurring within the city is a prolonged political battle to prohibit Safe Outdoor Spaces from being allowed throughout the city, a battle that is being lost by the public. This is not just an issue of “not in my back yard” syndrome, but one of hostility against elected officials, especially Mayor Tim Keller, who are mishandling the city’s homeless crisis despite millions and millions being spent each year to help the homeless with little or no progress being made by Keller and with the homeless crisis becoming even worse.

It is an epic political battle being waged between the city’s elected officials and the general public. On one side of the battle are elected the city’s elected officials of Democrat Mayor Tim Keller and Democrats City Councilors Isaac Benton, Pat Davis and Tammy Fiebelcorn and Republican Trudy Jones and City Departments who feel they know best for the city and public.  All 5 are hell bent on creating “Safe Outdoor Spaces” and cramming them down the public and their constituents’ throats ignoring city ordinances and the city’s housing first policy and without public input and contrary to public opinion.

On the other side of the issue is the general voting public who by all accounts are extremely hostile and who are opposed to temporary homeless tent encampments known as “Safe Outdoor Spaces.”  Notwithstanding the objections of property owners and voters, Keller and the 4 city councilors believe they know best and intend to go forward with Safe Outdoor Spaces.

CITY COUNCILOR JONES LOSES CREDIBILITY WITH CONSTITUENTS

On September 7 when Republican City Councilor Trudy Jones voted not to override Mayor Tim Keller’s veto it was a “flip flop” of epic proportions, and she was downright sneaky in the way she did it by not taking calls from constituents the days leading up to the vote.  During city council discussion, the normally vocal Jones on all thing related to the Integrated Development Ordinance sat stoically and then she voted. Only after she voted no to override Keller did she speak to the media and then gave a very lame excuse for her changed vote when she said:

“It’s the right thing to do. … Sometimes, along the line, you have to stick your neck out and do what’s right, not what is politically expected.”

The links to quoted news sources are here

https://www.abqjournal.com/category/news/abq-news

With her reversal of her position on the Safe Outdoor Space moratorium, Republican City Councilor lost a significant amount of her credibility and public trust with her constituents that she had built up over 20 years of service on the council because of her failure to represent her constituent’s best interests and demands. Rumors are swirling that she cut a deal with Keller, but no one knows for certain, and she has not said.

What is truly amazing is that Jones is a former and successful realtor and in all likely knows the detrimental effect Safe Outdoor Spaces will have on real estate values.  This is the same Republican city councilor who sponsored legislation to stop the homeless from pan handling and who also lives in a gated community where tent encampments will not be tolerated.   The problem is, Trudy Jones will likely have the opportunity to once again go against her own constituent’s demands and refuse to eliminate Safe Outdoor Spaces from the IDO when the new legislation is presented.

A FEW TOOLS NOT NEEDED

Repeatedly, Mayor Tim Keller and his administration have said that Safe Outdoor Spaces are a “tool in the tool box” that is needed in his “all above approach” to deal with the homeless. That is simply false, and tools such as Safe Outdoor Spaces need to be thrown out of the toolbox when it comes to the homeless crisis. The only “real tools” here are our government and elected officials who are promoting an unsustainable policy of Safe Outdoor Spaces.  They ostensibly do not know that government sanctioned encampments are being abandoned by major cities and have been found to be a very bad substitute for permanent housing and services which have the most impact on reducing the homeless crisis.

Cities such as Honolulu, Salt Lake City and Seattle, have abandoned their support of government sanctioned encampment such as Safe Outdoor Spaces and have begun implementing ordinances to remove all encampments to move toward a transitional housing or campus model, programs that have been found to bring physical and fiscal safety to communities while reducing crime.  Some 65 cities across the United States have implemented ordinances to remove all encampments.

https://newmexicosun.com/stories/626700965-there-s-a-better-way-to-serve-the-homeless-sanctioned-encampments-aren-t-it

Mayor Tim Keller created a nuisance with city property when he allowed and condoned the use of Coronado Park as a de facto city sanction homeless encampment. Coronado Park had an extensive history of criminal activity including 4 murders, violent crimes and drug trafficking. Keller himself was forced to announce the closure of Coranado Park on June 27 as a result of the extensive criminal activity and the contamination of the grounds of the park that made it a threat to public safety and use.  Safe Outdoor Spaces will in essence become “miniature” Coronado Parks.

The millions being spent each year by the city to deal with the homeless with the “housing first” policy and new Gibson Gateway Homeless Shelter and the Westside Homeless Shelter should be more than enough to deal with housing the homeless, yet Mayor Keller and the 4 City Councilors demand and want more from the public in the form of Safe Outdoor Spaces.  Then there is that matter that Safe Outdoor Space encampments violating the city’s and Keller’s own “housing first” policy by not providing a form of permanent housing and with reliance on tents as 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.

Given the City Council’s vote on the Safe Outdoor Space moratorium, it is more likely than not that the city council will vote down and NOT to support the EPC recommendation to eliminate all references to Safe Outdoor Spaces. The legislation eliminating from the IDO Safe Outdoor Spaces will likely pass on a 5 to 4 vote and Mayor Tim Keller is expected to veto the legislation.  The council will need 6 votes to override the mayor’s veto. Unless City Councilor Trudy Jones comes to her senses or  has some sort of divine epiphany and changes her mind once again and votes to override Keller’s veto, the override will fail on a 5 to 4 vote and Safe Outdoor Spaces will become law.  This is the type of conduct that results in general public distrust of city government.

Voters and residents are urged to contact and voice their opinion and tell all city councilors to vote YES and support the EPC recommendation to eliminate all references to Safe Outdoor Spaces, or SOSs, in the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO).   Their phone numbers and email address are:

CITY COUNCIL PHONE: (505) 768-3100

CITY COUNCIL EMAILS

lesanchez@cabq.gov
louiesanchez@allstate.com
bmaceachen@cabq.gov,
ibenton@cabq.gov,
namolina@cabq.gov,
kpena@cabq.gov,
rmhernandez@cabq.gov,
bbassan@cabq.gov,
danlewis@cabq.gov,
galvarez@cabq.gov,
patdavis@cabq.gov,
seanforan@cabq.gov,
tfiebelkorn@cabq.gov,
lrummler@cabq.gov,
trudyjones@cabq.gov,
azizachavez@cabq.gov,
rgrout@cabq.gov,
rrmiller@cabq.gov,
LEWISABQ@GMAIL.COM,
nancymontano@cabq.gov,
cortega@cabq.gov
cmelendrez@cabq.gov