Morning Word

Planning Commission Green-Lights Midtown Master Plan

Vice President Kamala Harris plans visit to New Mexico

Planning Commission recommends Midtown approval

The Santa Fe Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval last night of a master plan and other proposals to redevelop the city-owned Midtown Campus. The vote came after development review staff and an “applicant team” responded quickly to friction that erupted publicly when the Santa Fe Public Schools Board of Education and owners of nearby commercial property rebuffed the plan earlier this week. Both objected primarily to depictions of street connections spreading outward from the 64-acre city property onto private land. Consultant Daniel Hernandez, leader of the team composed of contractors and economic development department staff, told commissioners the team had in the last week removed most of the references to outside properties at the request of nearby landowners. He noted, however, that those “conceptual” details were included in the original proposal because the team anticipated adjacent development would happen later. Forrest Thomas, an owner of the St. Michael’s West shopping center, said local businesses that lease spaces there, such as Santa Fe Bite, Amanda’s Flowers and others located in the path of some envisioned roads would be hurt by the proposal. The commission recommendation included a condition of approval that none of the graphics, text or suggestions about off-site property in the master plan materials would be considered official parts of the plan, as well as a condition removing a road that ends at the St. Michael’s West shopping center property line. City Council has the final say next. The planned district is intended to ensure “cohesive development” over time and is not expected to be completely executed for up to 15 years. The city aims to eventually issue requests for proposals and sell or lease some tracts for specific new development.

Vice president plans visit

Vice President Kamala Harris plans to visit New Mexico next week to hold a discussion on protecting reproductive rights with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in Albuquerque. The governor’s re-election campaign spokeswoman confirms to SFR that the vice president will also attend a campaign fundraising event for Lujan Grisham during the visit. Advocacy for access to reproductive services including abortion remains a major issue in the state’s gubernatorial election. (Voters have already cast 45,748 ballots in the election as of yesterday and expanded early voting begins tomorrow at these locations in Santa Fe). The incumbent Democratic governor has pledged to build a new clinic in Las Cruces and has issued executive orders to protect women and health care providers from prosecution, among other efforts. Republican challenger Mark Ronchetti has said he wants to put the issue on the ballot in a future election and has repeatedly labeled himself “pro-life,” including in a televised debate on Oct. 12 where the two candidates talked about the issue. Harris, who officiated Lujan Grisham’s DC wedding in May, appeared in Los Angeles on Monday to talk about abortion in the context of the midterm congressional elections, just a day before President Joe Biden announced he will seek a path to codify abortion access nationwide.

Rust won’t return to New Mexico

Earlier this month, Rust Movie Productions settled a wrongful death lawsuit over the death one year ago today of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. In a statement provided to SFR via his attorney, her widower, Matthew Hutchins, said as part of the agreement, Rust would resume filming with all the original principal players in January 2023. One change, however, will be the location. Rust will not return to New Mexico, according to Variety. While no decision about the filming location has been made yet, Deadline reports film personnel will be scouting locations in California next week, with one film insider telling Deadline it would be “emotionally difficult for the crew and the cast to return” to the location where Hutchins was fatally shotDeadline also reports “one high-level government source” in New Mexico says Rust did not contact the state film commission about returning, but certainly there would have been any number of logistics to settle, including a citation and $136,793 fine, which Rust Productions has appealed. Moreover, the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office has yet to announce whether any criminal charges will be filed in the case against Alec Baldwin, who was holding the weapon, or anyone else.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported Oct. 20New cases: 452; 623,982 total cases; Deaths: four; Santa Fe County has had 356 total deaths; there have been 8,611 fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 110. Patients on ventilators: six.   According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent Oct. 20 “community levels” map, which uses a combination of hospital and case rate metrics to calculate COVID-19 risk for the prior seven-day period, seven New Mexico counties have moved into “yellow,” or medium risk levels, mostly in the northeast region of the state (Union, Harding, Mora, San Miguel, Guadalupe and De Baca), as well as McKinley in the northwest. The rest are green, aka low. Corresponding recommendations for each level can be found here.

Resources: CDC interactive booster eligibility tool; NM DOH vaccine & booster registration; CDC isolation and exposure interactive tool; Self-report a positive COVID-19 test result; Curative testing sites; COVID-19 treatment info; NMDOH immunocompromised tool kit. People seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider can call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453.

You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.

Listen up

Santa Fe Institute’s InterPlanetary Festival returns this weekend with deep discussions of time, space, the search for life on Mars and many other topics of intergalactic interest. The festival also includes book signings, film screenings, concerts and more. SITE Santa Fe (1606 Paseo de Peralta) hosts this year’s festival, but you can also tune in from home (in whichever galaxy you reside) via and SFI’s YouTube Page.

No place like home

Mansion Global spotlights a recent Santa Fe property listing it says it is the most expensive real estate for sale in New Mexico. Price tag: $28 million. The Vida Encantada compound, listed with Sotheby’s, has 14 bedrooms, 25 bathrooms and sits on 3.7 acres. What else does $28 million buy in Santa Fe? Among the four residences on the property one will find: a salon; a two-person massage room; a sauna; a gym; and a ski locker room, plus: three kitchens, five kitchenettes and a 600-bottle wine cellar. Outside features “an artificial lawn perfect for lounging al fresco”; an entertainment pavilion with an open-air cinema; a heated swimming pool; and a 10-person spa, along with various gardens and a 25-chicken coop. “The property incorporates the highest level of design and construction with state-of-the-art technology and security,” Tim Van Camp, one of the brokers, tells Global Mansion. “It has spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and the city and is only five minutes from the Santa Fe Plaza and all that ‘The City Different’ has to offer.” The owner—a trust—apparently bought the property eight years ago with the original two 1946-built houses, renovated the main house and added two new residences in 2014 and 2017.


If that real estate listing wasn’t scary enough for you, bundle up Saturday night and head to El Rancho de los Golondrinas’ annual Spirits of New Mexico event. “Meet the ghosts of history who lived and died in the land of enchantment,” Los Golondrinas says. “Listen to their amazing stories and experience intriguing bygone events.” Those spirits include Doña Tules, Billy the Kid and a “roaming” Georgia O’Keeffe, to name a few. The 5-9 pm festival ($8 for adults; $6 for teens and seniors; kids under 12 free) features a family-friendly but spooky ambiance, along with New Mexico author and folktale storyteller Joe Hayes; hoop dancing from the Lightning Boy Foundation; and, of course, a visit from La Llorona. Pizza, BBQ, hard cider and other fixings will be available. Catch a video preview here. For yet another Santa Fe Halloween tradition, be sure to grab your tickets for Joe West’s annual Theater of Death event. This year’s production, “VIRUS,” is a series of short plays and music inspired by—you guessed it—the COVID-19 pandemic. Shows start tonight and continue through Oct. 30 and have relocated from the Engine House Theatre in Madrid to a tent located right off the patio of Beer Creek Brewing Company (created in the “tradition of a circus sideshow”). Find all the details, including tickets, here.

Autumn reigns

The National Weather Service says a storm system is on the way that will bring wind, rain and maybe a little something else this weekend. Today is forecast to be sunny with a high near 67 before a chance of showers Saturday night and Sunday. The state’s “first appreciable snowfall” is also due to appear Sunday into Monday over the western region and northern mountains.

Thanks for reading! The Word likes to fantasize about winning the lottery while NEVER buying lottery tickets. At any rate, she’s unlikely to read an entire book about the lottery, but this New Yorker article on said book was pretty interesting (and reinforced her commitment to never buy a lottery ticket).

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