News, Oct. 4:  “Take Me Home, County Codes”

Realities on the Ground

The first and ultimate test of sustainability must be legality. Matt Grubs' article is important reading for all of us who want to foster sustainability in Santa Fe County and within the city limits as well. … Being a graduate of the UNM School of Community and Regional Planning and a resident of Northern New Mexico for 35 years, I have come to appreciate Territorial Governor Lew Wallace's maxim, "All calculations based on experience elsewhere fail in New Mexico."

Whether we are adopting a subdivision or zoning ordinance, or a sustainable land development code, it is imperative that it be implemented in a realistic, fair, equitable and consistent manner. In the Santa Fe area, there are many private roads serving small subdivisions. It is an artifact of land ownership and subdivision unique to this area. When a citizen/property owner requests a permit to modify their home, it is reasonable to request a proportionate improvement to these private roads. After all, you don't get what you don't pay for. There is a difference between a garage addition and constructing several new homes. The key here is that there be a request that is fair (proportionate) and consistent with the adopted policy. …

There will always be a creative tension balancing the rights of the individual and those of the commons. Sustainability codes must be implemented in a way that does not create a taking, provides just compensation if warranted, and is proportional to the request. In each case for permit review, we must ask if there is an "essential nexus" between the permit conditions and legitimate state interest, and whether or not the degree of the exactions required by the permit condition bears the required relationship to the projected impact of the proposed development. If variances are frequently required or suggested by staff as a remedy, then the code and implementing regulations should be reviewed and revised to reflect the realities on the ground in Santa Fe County.

Dan Pava
Sustainable Santa Fe Commission

News, Sept. 19:  “The Same, but Different”

Reality-Based

The New Mexico Public Education Department is refusing to answer who or what is behind the push to lower scientific standards for students of public education in this failed state of New Mexico. …

The age of this glorious creation, Planet Earth, is not 6,000 years, like it states in the Bible. Thanks to science and carbon dating, it's estimated to be around 4.5 billion years old!

Here in the reality-based community, in just the last 65 short years in that massive span of time, the human population has exploded from 2 to 7 billion. How could this not impact the planet, species, resources, and yeah, its climate? Mother Nature is intricately connected.

Also for the pro-life people in New Mexico, where the Medicaid birth rate is nearly 75 percent, isn't family planning and subsidized contraception far cheaper than welfare and food stamps for life?

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge" (Isaac Asimov).

Brian Fejer
Albuquerque