Council OKs affordable housing proposals 

Last night, the Santa Fe City Council approved a series of measures affordable housing advocates say will help with the housing squeeze ($TNM). One amendment maintains a current option for developers to pay a fee rather than add affordable units to their projects, but the fee will increase 20 percent each year for five years until it doubles. Another change reduces development fees by 15% for  "low-priced dwelling unit" projects. Lastly, builders will be allowed to set aside 15% of their units for people with low to moderate incomes. The Santa Fe Housing Action Coalition, and other advocates, support these shifts to the city's inclusionary zoning regulations, the history of which can be read here.

In hot water

The Santa Fe City Council voted 6-2 yesterday to update the city's 40-Year Water Plan, which includes a controversial proposal to build a pipeline from the Santa Fe Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plant to a location along the Rio Grande adjacent to the Buckman Direct Diversion. That pipeline will enable the city to send treated effluent water back to the Rio Grande in exchange for return flow credits; currently it flows down the lower half of the Santa Fe River. The pipeline proposal—introduced by City Councilor Peter Ives a week ago—has met opposition from environmental organizations, Santa Fe County officials and residents. Those concerns include the impact on the regional water tables; the consequence to downstream farmers and acequias; and the overall lack of transparency and lack of public input in the city's process.

Photo op bungle

Mark Oswald at The Journal North points out that District Attorney Marco Serna's recent fundraising email pictures the Democratic candidate for New Mexico's 3rd Congressional District seat with former Española Mayor Richard Lucero, currently facing allegations of raping young boys decades ago. Lucero is not identified in the email but tells the Journal that he is, in fact, supporting Serna in the crowded race (the last time we counted there were eight candidates) and also that Serna is his cousin. Serna's campaign manager and twin brother JonCarlo Serna says a "junior campaign staffer" sent out the email without approval and has been disciplined, and that the photo was taken prior to the allegations against Lucero.

Feds want NM lawsuit dismissed

US government lawyers argued for dismissal yesterday of a lawsuit filed by the state last June against Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and top immigration officials. The suit, in which the city of Albuquerque is a co-plaintiff, claims that immigration officials skirted their responsibility by releasing thousands of immigrants into Las Cruces, Deming and other communities. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham described the situation as a "derogation of duty." The state ultimately helped communities pay for the costs of helping those immigrants who were left in those areas. Lawyers for the federal governments say the state and Albuquerque have no standing to bring it, as the release program is not formal, but based on the discretionary decisions of immigration officials. Citing a backlog of federal cases in New Mexico, US District Judge James Browning said yesterday it may take a while before he renders a decision regarding the case.

Art is long

The New Mexico Museum of Art's new Vladem Contemporary has received the go-ahead to start construction. The State Historic Preservation Office approved the $12.5 million project on Guadalupe at Montezuma Ave., with minor changes. The structure will still be two stories high, despite objections from some members of the public. And the mural on its side—painted in 1990—will still be eliminated, despite some requests for its conservation. The final approved design reduces some window space and removes some metal scrim that would have covered the window areas. Groundbreaking is scheduled for next year, and the museum is slated to open in 2021. The New Mexico Museum of Art says the new galleries at Vladem "…will be a showcase for the study and exhibition of international, national, and local post-war and contemporary art."

Photo ad features Santa Fe

Santa Fe, NM-based photographer Cira Crowell is in training for her next photography project. That's not dark-room work; it's daily interval trail running at 8,000 feet above sea level with a fully-loaded pack plus hiking up to 12,000-elevation weekly. That's because her next project will take her back to Nepal (she's trekked more than 800 miles in the Himalayas) to capture Mount Everest beyond its westernized image for the project "Envisioning Everest." "I'm really acclimatized by living at this elevation, and that's an important part of the training," Crowell tells Gear Patrol magazine in a Leica-sponsored feature on her work. Yes, that's paid content, aka an ad for Leica, but it also features wonderful photography and video of Crowell, her work and Santa Fe.

Siler Yard deep dive

Hyperallergic magazine recently profiled Siler Yard: Arts+Creativity Center, an innovative project here intended to provide affordable live/work space for artists and makers of all types. After years of hard work and many ups and downs, construction is slated to begin in March, 2020. New Mexico Inter-Faith Housing Group COO Daniel Werwath, whose organization is a development partner on the project along with Creative Santa Fe, talked about its goals of including the broader Santa Fe arts community—crafts people and other creators who might not normally see themselves fitting under the arts moniker—in the project. "To me, that is a big piece of this," Werwath told the magazine. "Making a statement about what the contemporary creative culture in Santa Fe is, and to start tracking toward a more authentic identity for this stuff."

NM United on the road

New Mexico United's soccer players are heading out today on a statewide holiday tour, during which the team will be collecting donations for schools and community organizations. Santa Fe will not get a visit, but the team is heading to Española tomorrow, where it's asking for art supplies and soccer balls at the Family Learning Center pre-school. The team also will be visiting Grants, Farmington, Gallup and Albuquerque this week. Other communities are slated for team visits next week.

Enjoy it while you can

Today's forecast calls for sunny skies with a high near 49; north wind 10 to 15 mph. Tonight's low will be in the 28-degree vicinity. Tomorrow remains mostly sunny with a high near 51. The mostly-sunny-skies forecasts will transition to a chance-of-precipitation forecast on Saturday night: Rain and/or snow could happen throughout the latter half of the weekend as of now.

Thanks for reading! As a rule, The Word finds end-of-the-yearism beyond tedious, but makes an exception for Time Magazine's choice of Greta Thunberg as 2019 Person of the Year.