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Councilor Trudy Jones Responds to Guest Column in Albuquerque Journal

Reading Dr. Joe Valles' Letter to the Editor today about the IDO felt like deja vu, because he has been saying the same things and making the same hollow arguments over and over again for months now.

For the past two years, the City has conducted an exceptionally open and inclusive process to inform and educate the public on the IDO.  The City has held more than 350 public meetings and events, but somehow that is not sufficient for Dr. Joe.  The City has held five EPC hearings, four LUPZ hearings, and Monday will be the third hearing before the full City Council, but somehow that is not sufficient for Dr. Joe.  The Council passed 31 amendments during the LUPZ process and 15 amendments last week at City Council, the majority of which came directly from issues and concerns raised by the community, but again, that is somehow not sufficient for Dr. Joe.

At this point I think it's fair to ask whether Dr. Joe (and those who parrot his arguments) truly cares about neighborhood concerns, or whether he is just opposed to a new and improved process that he doesn't understand - and that he seems to have made little effort to learn about.  Councilors and council staff have continued to meet with individuals, neighborhood leaders, individual property owners, and coalitions throughout the process - dozens of meetings in the last few weeks alone. Councilors and staff have been open to meet with and hear the concerns of anyone who has requested a meeting.  Dr. Joe has not asked for such a meeting, nor has he attended any of the public meetings that staff has conducted.

Dr. Joe, let me tell you the facts about the IDO:

  • The IDO introduces protections for neighborhoods not available today- for example, the buffer to Major Public Open Space, the buffer from Heavy Manufacturing for residences, schools, and churches. There is increased notification for neighborhood associations, because under the IDO neighborhood associations will be notified for all applications for site plan requests, whether approved administratively, or by the EPC, DRB. Today neighborhoods are not notified of building permits.
  • The IDO encourages neighborhoods to get engaged early in the process, rather than late in the process, so that they can work collaboratively on a proposed development, through the required pre-application neighborhood meeting.
  • The IDO requires a higher quality of development and seeks to be a predictable process for both neighborhoods and the development community.
  • After the IDO is adopted there is a 6-month effective period. This time period allows for the education and training of the public, the development community, and city staff on the IDO. This time period also allows for amendments to the IDO to address any issues identified during this process.
  • The IDO contains a process for ongoing public participation in its refinement and improvement, unlike the present system of development approval.

The IDO is a plan for all of Albuquerque - residents and developers alike.  In its drafting, there have been many compromises and negotiations to best meet the needs of both.  Is the IDO perfect?  No, of course not.  Is the IDO some sort of sham designed to empower developers and weaken neighborhoods?  Absolutely not!  The IDO and its processes are a vast improvement to the current system, the first of its kind in 40 years, and it will help to bridge the divide between neighbors and "the industry" through transparent and inclusive planning processes.  It's time to stop delaying it, and pass the IDO.


Trudy E. Jones, District 8

Albuquerque City Council