Jerry Worrall, president of WSCONA, and consequently the primary spokesperson for many residents on the West Side, testified on behalf of the coalition’s 21 member associations at the Albuquerque City Council’s March 6 discussion of the ABC-Z Comprehensive Plan.
WSCONA’s goal, he said, was to obtain a deferment of the revisions to the Plan for several months in order to more closely examine its potential impact on communities.
During the Final Action portion of the Council Agenda, when public testimony regarding the Plan was given, he highlighted issues WSCONA’s Executive Committee had prepared in requesting a deferral:
- Bernalillo County needs to be involved in the ongoing changes because City and County properties are next to each other in many places.
- Goals of the Plan revision have not been met for:
- Improved protection of Neighborhoods/Special Places
- Economic Development and job creation
- Long standing water and traffic issues
- The Integrated Development Ordinance has to be completed and accompany the plan for approval
- The term “Defined Accountability Unfunded” must be identified in any ordinance to eliminate unfunded liabilities
- Coors must be designated a scenic or a premium transit corridor
At the end of the meeting, which lasted until 11 pm and heard from some 50 people, the Council decided to continue its deliberations for two weeks to analyze the numerous floor amendments that were offered.
During the Public Testimony portion of the meeting, Mr. Worrall also spoke about severely reduced staffing for the Office of Neighborhood Coordination when it was under the City’s Planning Department. The office was reduced to a single person, and many services to neighborhoods were eliminated, he said. “This lack of support and services led to the reduction of membership among neighborhood associations and coalitions. Rebuilding those organizations is paramount to obtaining community input.”
He promised that WSCONA will pursue answers to its questions aggressively and to report on progress. The burden is also on everyone across the City, he added, to raise their own questions about the Plan and to seek answers.
Some 50 people offered public comments as the City Council discussed the ABC-Z Plan in detail at its March 6 meeting. As the clock moved to 11 pm, the Council decided to postpone its vote on approval of the Plan until March 20.
Those who approached the microphone were generally evenly divided between individuals and groups who asked for the plan to be given more time for analysis and debate, and representatives from the development community who argued that sufficient meetings have been held and that the plan as it stands is worth approving.
The delay to the next Council meeting was justified as time to review several amendments that had been submitted, but community representatives noted that Councilor Ken Sanchez argued in support of a longer delay — as requested by several speakers — of several months.
If the Council had adopted the updated Comp Plan, the draft would have been submitted to the Bernalillo County review and approval process.
WSCONA representatives support a move to postpone final approval of the Plan for at least six months so that more detailed comments could be provided on the long and technical document.
Dr. Joe Valles, a member of the WSCONA Executive Committee, believes that the “Development Community is heavily involved in the genesis, writing and promotion of the ABC-Z Comp Plan,” noting that proposed amendments to existing plans do away with what he calls “pesky” neighborhoods’ involvement in the land-use process.
He also says the new plans eliminate major Sector Development Plans that were fought for and are currently working for their targeted communities.
In a note to WSCONA members, he notes that both the Commercial Association of Realtors-New Mexico and the City’s Planning Department sent out recent emails calling for support of the Plan. They both endorse the amendments with “generalized-glorified attributes,” and mimic each other’s words in talking points.
He concludes that, while these points may sound attractive to the unread, the details of the complex plan chart an unrealistic path.
Some of the Sector Development Plans being changed, for example, were specifically adopted to keep rampant apartment development at bay in order to accommodate job-creating zoning. The current market trend in ABQ is to build apartments. Many of the plans contain C-2 Zoning and, if recent attempts to accommodate apartments through commercial zoning is any indication, then “say goodbye to the opportunity of having offices, shopping and jobs in those sector plans.”
Dr. Joe Valles, writing on behalf of the Inter-Coalition of neighborhood associations, has asked City Council President Isaac Benton to defer consideration of the ABC-Z Plan for at least six months, citing its complexity, potential for dramatic impact across the city, and piecemeal rollout by City planners.
His email to Councilor Benton says:
The Inter-Coalition Panel must consider these amendments to the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Comprehensive Plan as a Regionally Significant Matter. Intended as the overriding planning design for how the City (and County) will develop for the next 30 years, these proposed amendments are still a work in progress. Though highly touted as ‘making all things simpler,’ attempts to read the massive document dictates otherwise as you well know.
Continue reading Coalition Wants more time to consider ABC-Z
If you live west of the river in Bernalillo County and are part of an organized neighborhood that is recognized by the City or County, you can be the neighborhood / homeowner association’s representative to WSCONA.
Here are but a few of the issues that WSCONA is addressing to reflect the wishes of the people of the West Side:
- APD staffing
- Lack of progress by APS in improving educational effectiveness
- Job growth
- Changes to the ABC-Z Comprehensive Plan
But broad participation is needed. A cohesive message, based on widespread support, is essential to gaining the attention of politicians, news organizations and other key decision makers.
Through WSCONA, you can gain thoughtful consideration and, if appropriate, support for your positions.
See if what we offer is what you are looking for in making the West Side all it can be.