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We need better long-range planning

January 27, 2019 GMT

The most shocking, disturbing and urgent local issue of our times is the lack of city-county long-range planning that is not occurring. In fact, there is almost a total lack of communication between the two entities.

Sure, individual city councilors, the mayor and the county commissioners talk at parties, political events and regularly scheduled meetings of the Buckman Direct Diversion, the Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Solid Waste Management Agency. But these are just pieces of the total puzzle of cooperation. The former city manager and the county manager used to meet weekly, but all of this is not enough. There are no formal city-county planning meetings (and especially those to which the general public and press are invited).


You can’t just stop long-range planning because it is hard, time-consuming and has costs. The lack of planning will make everything you do more difficult, take more time and ultimately will cost you more in the long run. There are some bright spots with the “new strong mayor” Alan Webber (“City, county, school district could join forces on housing,” Dec. 4). But citizens deserve this communication across the complete spectrum of issues: behavioral health, transportation (roads, bikes, buses, walking, planes and trains), crime, homelessness, the economy and jobs, housing, education, recreation, utilities, water and drought management, historic preservation, arts and culture, libraries, and the general quality of life.

The milestones of long-range planning were:

• 1974 Southwest Sector Plan.

• 1999 City General Plan.

• Arterial Roads Taskforce planning of 2003-06 and previous planning of ART back to 1994.

• The N.M. 599 Corridor Plan and federally designated Waste Isolation Pilot Project limited-access route planning.

• The joint City-County Southwest Sector Plan in the years 2003-06 called for a “Transition Zone” between the higher allowed density of the city and Agua Fría village. This was a rural residential zoning of 1-3 units per acre. Resolutions by both the city (then-Councilor Rebecca Wurzburger) and county (then- Commissioner Virginia Vigil) called for a buffer zone around Agua Fría village.

• The Regional Planning Authority (which has not met since 2011) studies of the annexation areas in 2007-09.

• A joint city-county meeting in June 2017, led by County Commissioner Anna Hansen and hosted by the county to talk about annexation, the Regional Emergency Communications Center and other planning efforts where the city pledged to meet quarterly or semi-annually and that has never happened.


Notice the dates on these past efforts — nothing has effectively happened in the last decade. It is the day-to-day hard work of making things better for the constituents of both the city and county that needs to take place.

Take for example Henry Lynch Road/Richards Avenue. In 1994, Agua Fría village met with the city and county Public Works Departments because no one was maintaining the road. We found at that time there were nine jurisdictional changes between city and county ownership and four on maintenance authorities.

By sitting down, we were able to reduce the ownership to six jurisdictional changes on ownership and two on maintenance authorities, so that the whole road was able to be maintained. Time passes, people retire, and relationships and agreements are forgotten, and once again, the road is barely maintained. This is true of other city-county roads such as West Alameda, Rufina Street, Lopez Lane, etc.

What are the opportunities for more city-county cooperation? Or at least both parties saving face when citizens question what is going on? We need to be innovative.

William Mee lives in Agua Fría village in Santa Fe.