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Home / Articles / News / Opinion /  Zane's World
NWQ Sketch
A sketch of the proposed Northwest Quadrant development, backed up to the 599 bypass, is a little less incendiary than the NWQ itself.

Zane's World

How to Dialogue

January 28, 2009, 12:00 am

If anyone reading this happens to be one of the multiple Casa Solana residents who left angry messages on my telephone voice mail in the last few weeks, please allow me to apologize for not returning your calls.

It’s only polite to get back to people who telephone but, in this case, there are two mitigating factors. First, issues surrounding Casa Solana and the impacts that it may or may not suffer, should the city move forward with its plan to develop the Northwest Quadrant (NWQ), are matters of public dialogue and should be discussed openly in the community rather than over the telephone between private parties. Second, it was clear that most of the callers had no real need to converse, but, rather, a primal urge to retort, a kind of argumentative petite mort that would only have been disturbed by reciprocity.

However, other Casa Solana residents were more civic-minded and wrote letters to the editor. One resident, La Nueva Casa Solana Neighborhood Association Vice President Nicole de Jurenev did telephone me, but she also wrote a letter [“Our House”] admonishing me for inaccuracy and telling me to get my facts straight.

This kind of exchange is at the heart and soul of public dialogue. A coherent back and forth on a pressing topic, with give and take from all points of view, and we move forward—evolve, even.

It’s too bad de Jurenev, in her defense of Casa Solana and her plea for accurate reporting, proves unable to understand just what a “fact” is.

She fails, in fact, to point out any inaccuracies or misrepresentations of the truth on my part, but she gleefully enters into a few of her own. De Jurenev, presumably representing the neighborhood association of which she identifies herself as vice president, first alleges an equitable historic status between Casa Solana and the downtown/east side historic district. But Casa Solana is not—at least not yet—a historic district. Significant as it may be to the city’s history, it is merely a neighborhood. She goes on to claim that no “infrastructure” is being planned for the NWQ, a neighborhood that—if built—will be only a little closer to Casa Solana than downtown. This lack of consideration for infrastructure will come as a surprise to the professional planners who imagined they were considering exactly that.

Finally, she gets to the core of the issue, claiming that the NWQ development will “co-opt” Casa Solana’s sewers and roads, without the permission of the area’s residents. “Little” Camino de Las Crucitas, de Jurenev claims, will see so much traffic it will split Casa Solana in half, a division similar to what occurred when St. Francis Drive was built.

But the neighborhood doesn’t have the privilege of granting permission and gross exaggerations are not facts and don’t represent accuracy. “Little” Camino de Las Crucitas, at 30 feet wide, with full gutters, curbs, sidewalks and street parking in addition to its two lanes, is about as large as residential Santa Fe streets get. The increased traffic projections—available in PDF form at nw-quadrant.com—show clearly that traffic will never come close to equaling St. Francis Drive, aka US 84/285.

You can’t argue for truth if you don’t know what it is and you can’t encourage dialogue if you’re unable to address what’s actually been said, and the why and how of it.

Another letter [“NW Qualms”]published alongside de Jurenev’s, by Dafyd Rawlings, takes issue with assertions made in this column, but expands the scope of dialogue rather than restricting it with baseless accusations and hyperbole.

Rawlings also is concerned about traffic impacts on Casa Solana, but reasonably concludes that if such concerns have become so palpable for neighborhoods, it may be time to assess the traffic patterns and use in all neighborhoods.

He goes on to challenge my assertion that it’s the “last significant opportunity” for the city to build affordable housing on the north side, suggesting that infill, second floor apartments and granny flats could do the same job. I might argue that he’ll get more resistance to the zoning changes necessary for such a plan than Casa Solano alone could ever mount, but he’s still thinking laterally about solutions and participating in conversation.

The final point Rawlings makes is that the NWQ is not as green as it could be and perhaps not as green as it professes. And he’s right to call me out on rather blithely referring to it as green. The NWQ planning team backed down on many energy and environmentally friendly aspects that were originally considered, and the result, while not “greenwashing” per se, is a bit gutless. If ever there were a time for aggressive leadership, rather than token gestures, in terms of energy and environment, surely that time is now.

Rawlings and de Jurenev represent two kinds of responses to disagreements they found in the same column. Yet one closes off further consideration—even at the cost of truth—while the other enlarges the potential for discourse.

 

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