Recent Major Legislation and Accomplishments
APD Reform and Public Safety. No issue is as important as the safety of our families and community. This past year, the Council approved a gross receipts tax increase dedicated primarily to public safety, including hiring more police officers as well as providing better behavioral health and social services for persons in need and/or living on the streets. I will continue advocating for important changes to community policing that brings neighbors and the City together to fight crime and build a better APD. I’m sponsor of the current legislation for civilian police oversight; and I am pleased that we now have a Mayor and Police Chief who are aligned with policy reform as well as our needs as an older, urban district. I fought for the new emergency rescue units at Fire Stations 2 and 4 that have greatly improved response times. I pushed for the APD Public Safety District in Downtown to help keep this vital commercial and institutional area strong.
Behavioral Health and Homeless. Multi-layered solutions to address homelessness are gaining traction. I’m working with the Keller administration and the County to increase the effectiveness of our behavioral health system and build supportive housing for homeless and other persons needing ongoing counseling and other services. In 2014, I sponsored a task force of state and local elected officials, the courts, health providers, insurers, consumers, and advocates for the wide spectrum of people suffering behavioral health issues and homelessness. The task force’s recommendations now serve as the framework for implementation of the County’s tax and City programs to address critical needs, such as Albuquerque Heading Home and Albuquerque Street Connect. I also am listening to residents and businesses suffering the negative effects of homelessness. In conjunction with advocacy for a new supportive housing project, I sponsored legislation requiring the City to work with the Wells Park neighborhood to make specific infrastructure and maintenance improvements for the overall safety and economic well-being of the area.
Workforce/Affordable Housing. I have committed my professional life as an architect to Affordable Housing; it’s one of my proudest achievements. In every previous capital budget, I’ve sponsored increased funding for this critical need in our General Obligation (GO) Bond elections. Please support it when you go to the polls this November! I also secured City funding and worked with County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley to secure County funding for acquisition of the 5-acre Brown property on North 4th Street for a multi-use retail and mixed-income housing project. (Commissioner O’Malley and I were the co-sponsors of the highly successful Workforce Housing Trust Fund. Since enacted, the fund has helped construct over a dozen projects.)
Complete Streets. Our streets belong to all users and pedestrian safety is a concern for every neighborhood. In 2015, the Complete Streets Ordinance was passed unanimously by the Council. It changed the way we design new streets and rehabilitate old ones, requiring that all modes of mobility—driving, walking, biking, taking the bus—be accommodated. I’ll continue to advocate and seek funding for projects that improve our streets for everyone’s benefit while in turn strengthening our neighborhoods and local businesses. The Council recently passed, and the Mayor has approved, my proposal for a 20 mph pedestrian safety zone in Downtown.
Railyards Redevelopment. The Railyards can be one of the most important economic drivers for our district and the City. In 2007, I assembled the funding to purchase this incredible asset, which is now on the National Historic Register. This year, again with the strong support of Mayor Keller, $7.5M in public investment was passed by the NM Legislature to restore the site, while an additional $5M in City GO funding will be on November’s ballot. With careful public oversight, this development will benefit our quality of life and our economy. The success of the Railyards Sunday Market and the intention of CNM Community College to relocate their film school to the site hint at the great potential for future economic and cultural development.
Major Multi-Modal Street Projects. Street safety is critical for our district. I continue to work with neighbors and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center to improve the intersection and roadways at 12th Street and Menaul Boulevard, with enhanced pedestrian and bicycle facilities, landscaping, and safety. I also fought to re-secure funding for the Rio Grande & Candelaria project, now under construction, and the project on Rio Grande Boulevard to calm traffic and improve the pedestrian and bicycle environment. Previously 8th and 10th Streets in Barelas, and MLK Blvd in Sycamore were rebuilt with bike lanes and better sidewalks.
Urban Forestry and North Valley Trail. Trails and trees are major elements of the quality of life in our district. In 2014, I was instrumental in getting funding for a permanent City Forester. In cooperation with the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD) and Bernalillo County, we are constructing a tree-lined multi-use trail along the Alameda Drain on Second Street NW from Matthew NW north to the county line. It will tie into ongoing redevelopment on North 4th Street, including the retail and housing plan for the Brown property, the UNMH clinic, and improved pedestrian ways.
Parks, Libraries and Small Projects. Using the very critical council district capital set-aside funds (also on the GO Bond election), I have funded numerous small improvements to the City facilities that serve our neighborhoods. I try to strategically use these funds as local matches to requests for capital funding from our great state legislators, to get projects completed quickly and with more “bang for the buck.”