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District 2 Newsletter

August 22, 2017 Newsletter from City Councilor Isaac Benton

Immigrant Friendly City

US Attorney General Sessions has singled Albuquerque out for our so-called sanctuary city status, likely because of the Council’s recent re-affirmation of the existing City policy.  In response, Mayor Berry denied that “sanctuary’’ exists here, explaining that he had ended it in 2010.

Actually, our policy was never ended and is not “sanctuary” but rather a longstanding immigrant-friendly stance dating back to 2001. In no way does it prevent local or federal enforcement against dangerous criminals –  foreign nationals or otherwise (not referring to minor civil infractions here) - nor does it provide sanctuary to them. In fact the FBI, DEA and APD regularly work together to fight local, international and interstate crime.

We don't want law-abiding, contributing, responsible but undocumented working residents avoiding all interaction with law enforcement to the detriment of overall public safety. Such heavy-handed politically motivated action by local government does not fit anywhere, but particularly here.  As we are sometimes reminded, "the border crossed New Mexico did not cross the border!"  ;-)

Legislation of Interest

  • Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO):  An updated zone conversion map has been added to the website, along with the official Land Use Planning & Zoning (LUPZ) committee draft.  LUPZ hearings have been scheduled for August and September; the next hearing will be Wednesday, September 13 at 5:00 pm in the Council Committee Room, 9th floor of city hall.
  • Neighborhood Recognition R-17-233:  On Monday, introduced legislation establishing that no new recognized or non-recognized neighborhood associations shall be created by the City under the existing Neighborhood Association Recognition Ordinance, unless in compliance with certain interim procedures, during a time in which the ordinance is updated by the City. Please note that this will not impact any existing associations as they are currently configured. It is in response to several divisive conflicts between neighbors, proposed new associations, and existing neighboring associations which  wished to expand boundaries, form new City-registered structures, etc.
    • As you know, earlier this year, City Council moved the Office of Neighborhood Coordination (ONC) from the Planning Department to Council Services.  I believe that as a result, the Council and residents collectively have a responsibility to address weaknesses and shortcomings in the existing Neighborhood Association Recognition Ordinance  We have observed for some time, even before the ONC was moved to Council Services, conflicts, confusion, and disagreements that are often the result of a lack of clarity and/or direction in the ordinance.  
    • I intend to review such concerns carefully with Council staff and the ONC to identify areas of concern and present options for addressing them.  Any possible proposed revisions to the ordinance will be discussed as a completely public process without any rush. I encourage you and your members, and non-member neighbors to get involved.
    • The bill that I introduced Monday does not make changes to the Neighborhood Association Recognition Ordinance, and has no effect of existing associations as they are presently configured.  It simply “presses pause” on City expansion of existing or registration of new associations, unless they follow interim guidelines.  
    • R-17-233 will be referred to LUPZ for a hearing Wednesday, August 30 at 5:00 pm in the Council Committee Room, 9th floor of city hall (1 Civic Plaza).
  • ART Evaluation R-17-177: At Monday’s meeting this bill sponsored by Councilors Lewis and Harris, calling for an operational analysis of ART, was on the agenda.  We conducted debate and heard competing amendments with regard to timeline for the analysis.  I strongly support the need to gather data about the operation of ART at the earliest practicable time after full operations begin.  The debate was primarily around an amendment that would have commenced the study six months after operations begins, as opposed to the Federal Transit Administration standard of two years.
    • I believe there to be a middle ground at which would commence collecting data, but not attempt to draw conclusions from the data until the completion of the two year period.  I also continue to support strong outreach and assistance to businesses along the corridor.  The two-year amendment prevailed on a 5-4 vote with my support, and Councilor Lewis withdrew as a sponsor of the bill.  The bill was subsequently deferred for one month.  I and Councilor Davis will be discussing possible co-sponsorship with Councilor Harris.

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Isaac Benton
City Councilor, District 2