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Berry Left Out Public, Again

Berry Left Out Public, Again

ABQ told that ABC-Z Plan 'will be good for you – trust us'

Mayor’s New Urban Plan ‘Pushed Down the Public’s Throat’

Outreach meetings were productive for developers, not Joe Citizen



The so-called “simplified” total revision of the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Comprehensive Plan, or the ABC-Z Plan, is well under way, intended as the overriding planning design for how the city (and county) will develop for the next 30 years.

Though highly touted as “making all things simpler,” an attempt to read the massive document dictates otherwise.

And though the plan is still a work in progress, city councilors – most of whom likely haven’t read the far-reaching 500-page document – are primed to vote on it at the March 20 City Council meeting.

Good sense would dictate the advisability of deferring a decision until the public has had an opportunity to reasonably review and understand its potential ramifications and had a meaningful opportunity to be heard.

The fact is, the document was made available in piecemeal fashion – it was a consistent moving target. The snag is we have to pass it to know what’s in it.

As should have happened with Albuquerque Rapid Transit plan and the North Valley Transfer Station, the City Council owes the public accountability prior to approval of the ABC-Z Plan – not after.

Sector plans – plans affecting individual neighborhoods – should be revisited periodically for compliance with their original intent and changed circumstances. But take, for example, the oft-displayed pile of sector plans the Planning Department anguishes over. Without an appropriate audit of these plans, how can the city definitively declare that not one sector plan out of that pile is working out for its targeted community?

It’s irresponsible to eliminate all sector development plans without assured certainty about financial and other ramifications of this initiative. All we’ve received thus far is a subjective generalization “that it will be good for you – trust us.” But then consider ART.

Various neighborhood associations and coalitions have repeatedly requested that the Planning Department delay the ABC-Z plan until the complete draft of its new zoning code companion, the Integrated Development Ordinance, is reviewed.

This request was rejected outright by planning. Again, we have to pass it to know what’s in it. The public should be allowed to review the documents together. The City Council likewise should consider the massive revisions as integrated plans.

When asked directly what the hurry was to get these plans approved, youthful planners stated, “It will make our jobs easier, and we don’t know what the next mayor will do with it.”

That is just a laughable reason to push this down the public’s throats.

As structured, the ABC-Z public meetings were often not productive for the general public. The meetings were presented in a very controlled approach with little effective time between revisions for the public’s comprehension. It’s been a productive process for the development community – not so much for a discouraged public.

This op-ed addresses only “the process.” More troubling fundamental elements exist in the plan itself. The public’s participation in the land-use approval process is largely eliminated. Instead, those decisions will lie solely at the discretion of the Planning Department. What could possibly go wrong with that?

Speeding up the review process gets you less review. So who benefits?

As to Bernalillo County, where that governmental entity stands on the ABC-Z Plan is still a mystery. So far, it’s been all City Hall and very little public.

Dr. Joe Valles is an Albuquerque dentist who is active in his West Side neighborhood association.


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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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