Members of the West Side Coalition of Neighborhood Associations are alleging that the city of Albuquerque's planning staff intentionally set out to severely weaken the rights neighborhoods currently enjoy to weigh in on development decisions, and they released copies of city Planning Department notes they obtained to back up their claims.
It's the latest chapter in the tug of war between many of the neighborhood groups and the city over the proposed Integrated Development Ordinance, a massive rewrite of the city's zoning regulations.
In one document, an outline of a Jan. 3, 2014, " brainstorming session" with city planning staff, the staff wrote things like " Keep neighborhoods under control" and " growth no matter what. "
In written notes dated July 16, 2013, the staff list higher density as one of the goals, and appear to suggest that neighborhood associations have " too much power. "
The West Side Coalition released the records to reporters on Monday, and members of the group confronted city councilors about it during Monday night's council meeting. The coalition asked the council to defer action on the IDO for at least 90 days " until the obvious attempt of the IDO to remove neighborhoods and neighborhood associations from the development and redevelopment process is removed. "
But the council majority made it clear that it planned to forge ahead with the IDO and vote to approve it at a special meeting next Monday. And councilors indicated they would not be taking public comment at that meeting.
Nevertheless, Council President Isaac Benton did ask city planning staff to address the concern that neighborhood associations were being minimized in the development process.
" The neighborhood associations are powerful allies to the planning department, helping us to make sure that good development happens in Albuquerque, " said Mikaela Renz-Whitmore, a senior city planner.