Monday, October 08, 2012


Think about the money we are about to shell out for the Paseo/I-25 interchange if the voters approve a $50 million dollar downpayment on the project on election day.  The total cost would be over $300 million.  This project, which is needed, is really the result of improperly funding growth on a pay as you go basis in the Albuquerque metro area.

Now, the city council and Mayor want to undo the legislation that was meant to alleviate that problem.  They are supporting rolling back the impact fees that would prohibit such sprawl development running up these deficits in infrastructure that the taxpayers end up paying for the developers.  This is a giant step backwards.  If, as is alleged, the system is currently too complex then fix that.  But it appears that the only area that would see an increase in impact fees would be the core areas of the city while undeveloped property on the fringe would see reductions.  How does this make sense?  Well, only in the political prowess of  developers responsible for unbridled  home building and mortgage ripoffs that got us into our current economic mess.

If the Mayor and Council want to help with economic development they should start a giant effort at helping more expansion of the solar equipment industry in this city.  Today's Journal Business Outlook paints a great picture of that kind of manufacturing effort here.  If the city pols are serious on job creation then they could turn us into a national resource center for this kind of work.


Bubba Muntzer said...

That is indeed a huge mistake. This Austin company the mayor hired to tell him what he wanted to hear goes against everything that the Brookings Institute found in a very thorough study of the effects of impact fees, in which they used all the available research.

What's missing, too, from the Journal's stories is that Albuquerque is just in a race to the bottom with Rio Rancho and Santa Fe with lowering these fees.

I don't see how the mayor can sit there with a straight face and say downtown, where the infrastructure is already there, should have the same impact fee as the barren desert. He calls the old system picking winners and losers, and that is exactly what he is doing with the new one. And the ultimate losers of course will be us when we're asked to foot the bill for the next Paseo debacle he's creating.

And Solar? Isn't that at the other end of the intelligence continuum from more development based around the automobile?

Donald F. Schiff said...

I voted against the city and county bonds for the Paseo expansion yesterday. I know it's needed, but the funding source is inappropriate, in my view. Think about it. This interchange is from an interstate highway to a state highway. Why should city and county residents be paying for it at all, particularly from general (gross receipts) revenues?? That makes no sense at all. It should be funded with state and federal money, PERIOD.

Anonymous said...

I agree that impact fees should not favor one area over another. If there are going to be impact fees, then I think they should be relatively the same everywhere.

However ... The current method of planning the Albuquerque metro is fundamentally flawed, for aesthetic reasons. The cookie cutter approach with mega-developers does not reflect consumer demand for architecturally unique housing. Placitas, Corrales, and Santa Fe are more expensive due to increased demand for architecturally unique homes.

I support the free market, so I support the custom home builders who have established homes with traditional architectural elements in
New Mexico. Indeed, if New Mexico wants to maintain this, and continue to attract talented artists and architects who want to move to NM and build in the Southwest style, then it's best to develop land use and zoning policies that encourage traditional architecture and native plants.

I think that turning Albuquerque-Rio Rancho into another Scottsdale - with expensive cookie cutter homes all the same color - on tiny lots with gravelscaping - is a huge mistake. Most people prefer the unique custom homes in Santa Fe, Placitas, Corrales, and near UNM on Nob Hill, etc.

I think that Berry, Swisstack, Clayton, and MRCOG should establish a minimum density of 0.5 to 2 dU/acre for all vacant land on the west side (half acre to two acre lots). And, a requirement of maintaining 70% undisturbed cover of native oak, pine, juniper, and cactus vegetation, and absolutely no gravelscaping (indeed, these are the requirements in Cave Creek, Arizona, right next to Scottsdale, but with a more ecological approach to development). Native plants and wild grasses absorb water, preventing runoff and flooding, in contrast to gravelscaping.

Then, density, traffic, flooding, and air pollution would all be less, and it would be easier to walk and bicycle due to less traffic, and utilities are cheaper to establish compared to high density condos (infill, downtown). Here's a free link to the recent news from Mayor Berry and the Austin Consultants:

Search the title at ""

Title - City Considers Makeover For Impact Fees

"A proposal heading to the City Council this month would abandon a key principle behind Albuquerque’s current impact-fee system — that it should cost more to build in newly developing areas like the West Mesa."

In addition, Swisstack and Clayton could fence roads leading to rangeland in unincorporated Sandoval Council at the western edge of Rio Rancho, to prevent off road vehicle erosion of native plants that COULD be part of FUTURE custom home properties on two acre lots - Look at these cacti, they are going to die ! These would sell for hundreds of dollars in native plant nurseries -

P.S. Here's a view of Cave Creek, AZ with almost 100% native plant cover -

Here are Cave Creek's Zoning requirements, including laws that require maintaining minimum percentages of natural Vegetation -