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Please get your facts straight [Zane’s World, Jan. 7: “Howdy, Neighbor”]: At the Neighborhood Law Center conference, a Casa Solana homeowner questioned City Councilor Patti Bushee, “Why was one neighborhood in her district, the historic downtown, getting preservation rights while another, historically contributing Casa Solana, having its rights trampled?” The Northwest Quadrant is an admirable, necessary and totally worthwhile development. The problem is infrastructure. None is being planned.
Casa Solana’s roads and sewer system are being co-opted by the 773 houses planned in the NWQ, without our consent. Little two-lane Camino de Las Crucitas would become a funnel for over 10,000 cars and trucks a day, splitting the neighborhood in half, much like St. Francis Drive did when it was built. Ours is a neighborhood of apartments, duplexes, affordable housing and step-up housing. We are diverse in terms of ages, races and religions, and are mostly working-class folks. Unfortunately, too many of us are eligible for food stamps and recently there have been some home foreclosures. Zane, please get the facts straight about Casa Solana and the NWQ. You need to accurately report on the meetings you attend. Your sense of entitlement is deeply offensive to us. Did you mention that we think Councilor Patti Bushee is doing a wonderful job?
Nicole de Jurenev
La Nueva Casa Solana
Too Legit to Quit
As a resident of Casa Solana, I am deeply offended by Zane Fischer’s comment that my neighbors and I are suffering from what he described as “Rockwellian delusions of stickball and neighborhood strolls.” Mr. Fischer obviously knows little about Casa Solana, especially those qualities that we hope to preserve and protect from the increased traffic that would be generated by the hundreds of new homes to be built by the city as part of its proposed Northwest Quadrant development. I certainly support increased affordable housing, but the city must not ignore our legitimate concerns in the same way that Mr. Fischer has.
While I would agree that the effects of the Northwest Quadrant development adjacent to Casa Solana would be disagreeable to these residents, I among them, I also think the notion of where and how we both provide housing for our citizens and live in this place bears continued challenging inspection. Not only do we need to find a way to allow for affordability, but we also need to dwell in a manner that harmonizes with existing cycles. In a time of dwindling resources, upon which we have volunteered our future generations to subsidize our consumptive lifestyles, we absolutely have to re-examine the nature of the way we live in this place. Thus, we cannot demand that a new neighborhood bend to our needs without all of us agreeing to reduce our impacts. For instance, if we are so very worried in Casa Solana that traffic from the NWQ is going to diminish our quality of life, why are we not questioning both the current traffic that already exists—our very own and all the cut-through traffic—and taking measures to reduce this environmental load?
Zane wrote that the NWQ is “the city’s last significant opportunity to ensure that additional affordable housing is built on the north side.” I disagree. I tend to think of allowing granny flats, second-floor apartment additions to existing houses, infill development, changing zoning to allow housing over commercial in existing commercial zones, and (dare I say it?) taller buildings, to name other possible options. Density is not something to be afraid of and, done correctly, without allowing the automobile to dictate design, it results in, coincidentally, a beautiful and still-functional cityscape. It’s funny, we think of great walking cities in older-built environments around the world: Europe, Japan, Mexico’s old colonial towns, to name a few, but we don’t seem to create the same conditions here to facilitate the same opportunities.
We cannot allow short-term profit and ignorance of long-term planetary health to be predominant drivers of development.
Another comment from Zane’s column that I don’t 100 percent agree with is: “It’s [the NWQ] also the city’s most likely current chance to focus assets and energy on a truly progressive, genuinely green (mostly) and honestly innovative housing effort.” If Santa Fe really wants to be a green city, then we are going to have to intensely challenge ourselves to live much more simply and with greater regard to the stewardship of this land. This is not just an environmentalist attitude; it will be a matter of survivability once we run full speed past peak points in our existing imported resources. I acknowledge that overcoming bureaucratic momentum takes tenacity on the part of designers and political will from all of us, but true housing innovation would be the kind of development that necessarily puts our design decisions squarely on the kind of life we can reasonably sustain, right here from immediately local resources.
I have increasingly become a fan of Zane’s column. I enjoy his insightful perspective and stinging wit. He’s definitely a keeper. Of course, I don’t always agree with him. In this case, it is about his most recent article.
The reason for Santa Fe’s chronic water shortage is primarily due to the ever-expanding construction sprawl, an unfortunate symptom of an ever-expanding global population. The current paradigm requires new businesses and residents acquire new buildings, lest we not forget the sacred cow of job creation at the expense of the environment and quality of life for current residents (including wildlife!). It seems to me that, should we make best use of already-existing infrastructure and give purchasing incentives for already-existing buildings on the market (which number in the hundreds, possibly thousands), the BDDP would be unnecessary, and residents could avoid radionuclides in their drinking water and higher rates.
I have broached this subject with my Councilor Patti Bushee, both on the radio and in person, and she seems resigned to the fact that low-cost housing requires new construction. Should we continue to use up increasingly precious resources at the current rate, the affluent, first-world culture we are accustomed to will become more like the post-industrialized and even-further wasted “impoverished, underdeveloped nations” Zane describes.
Correction: Restaurant owner Sami Jaber [Jan. 14, SFR Talk: “Peace Niche”] does not work for Creativity for Peace, but supports the work the organization does. Creativity for Peace Executive Director Dottie Indyke will speak about the organization’s work from 7 to 9 pm, Feb. 11 at the Santa Fe Complex, 624 Agua Fria St.
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