Morning Word

Commission to Consider Homewise annexation proposal

Former City Attorney Zamora announces District 1 Council run

Commission postpones, considers new annexation deal

Following another round of public comment last night on a proposed ordinance to incorporate Area 1B—approximately 1,100 acres in the area between Alameda and NM 599—into Agua Fría Village, County Commissioners once again forestalled a decision. Instead, the board voted to reconvene on June 13 and consider a new map proposal by land owner and developer Homewise CEO Mike Loftin that would exclude its parcels from the incorporation. Sid Monroe, a 20-year resident of the Coyote Ridge neighborhood who ran point on the petition signature drive for the Agua Fría incorporation, tells SFR the decision to draw a map that zig zags around certain properties would be “bittersweet,” particularly to homeowners whose properties will butt up against potential housing developments, but he chalks the decision up to “politics.” City of Santa Fe officials—who went to court to try to stop the residents’ petition—once again weighed in during the proceedings. City Attorney Erin McSherry noted that the proposed new map should be published well in advance of the next time the commission discusses the proposal, while City Manager John Blair urged commissioners to avoid creating a rural “doughnut” in the middle of an ever expanding metropolitan area, describing the proposed as “bad public policy” that would “do nothing but cause more chaos and confusion for the region.” Mayor Alan Webber, meanwhile, called out Commissioner Anna Hansen for her involvement in connecting residents with Monroe and publicly pushing for a halt to annexation, accusing her of “bargaining in bad faith” and creating an “adversarial proceeding.”

Former city attorney Zamora running for council

Former City Attorney Geno Zamora, 54, is running for for City Council in the Nov. 7 election, joining a crowded race for the Northside District 1. The city reports three candidates—Alma Castro, Brian Gutierrez and Kathy Rivera—are also running for the position held by Councilor Renee Villarreal, who is not seeking reelection. “I want to continue building a Santa Fe where everybody belongs,” Zamora tells SFR. His top priorities, if elected, would be to address the rising cost of housing and improve the delivery of basic services, among other issues. Zamora currently sits on the Community Health and Safety Task Force and served as city attorney from 2010 to 2013 under Mayor David Coss and again on an interim basis for Mayor Alan Webber in 2018. Now in private practice at the firm Ortiz & Zamora, he has also worked as general counsel for Santa Fe Public Schools, chief counsel to former Gov. Bill Richardson and assistant state attorney general under Tom Udall. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and the University of Arizona College of Law. While it’s his first run at city office, Zamora campaigned for attorney general in 2006, losing in the Democratic primary to Gary King. He plans to privately fund his campaign and says he decided to run partially because Villarreal won’t be seeking another term. “Because Santa Fe is a small town and you know everybody, I did not want to run against any of my friends on the council,” he says.

City: W. Alameda culvert repair could last until fall

During its meeting tonight, the Santa Fe City Council is expected to approve $720,000 in funding to repair the section of West Alameda Street that caved in last March. The road has been closed since and officials said during a public meeting last night at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center they don’t expect it to reopen until August or September. During the meeting, Public Works Director Regina Wheeler placed much of the blame on poor construction and said the road caved in when a culvert failed. The culvert, she said, was not constructed or engineered properly when Santa Fe County last widened the road. “I don’t think it was engineered, period,” she told SFR. If approved tonight, the proposed funding would employ the city’s on-call contractor GM Emulsion. Designs should be complete the week of June 5, with eight to 12 weeks of construction following. Some residents attending last night’s meeting questioned whether large trucks may also be partly to blame for the culvert’s failure, a suggestion Wheeler dismissed. District 1 City Council candidate Alma Castro raised the prospect of limiting large trucks on the road just as the city does on some other roads in Santa Fe. As for the long wait to reopen the road: “All of us feel like the timeline is frustrating,” District 1 Councilor Renee Villarreal told SFR after the meeting.

Gov appoints new police head

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced yesterday she has appointed W. Troy Weisler as the new State Police chief starting June 24, following the retirement of current Chief Tim Q. Johnson, who was appointed in 2019 and has been with the state police for 23 years. Weisler has been with State Police for 21 years, starting as a patrol officer, and has served as a deputy chief since 2021. His appointment, subject to state Senate confirmation, comes with a $158,000 salary, the Albuquerque Journal reports; Johnson leaves the post salaried at close to $145,000. “Deputy Chief Weisler has the real-life experience and eye toward the future that a modern police force needs, and the people of New Mexico deserve,” the governor said in a statement. “As chief, he will focus on building up relationships with local and federal partners to drive down crime and make New Mexico safer.” In a statement, Weisler described himself as grateful for the position, noting: “Society is changing, technology is rapidly evolving, and the need for public safety and honorable men and women to serve has never been greater. State Police now has access to unprecedented resources, and I am looking forward to quickly deploying them to address the most pressing needs of law enforcement and the people of New Mexico.”

Listen up

On the most recent episode of Report from Santa Fe, host Lorene Mills talks with author David Quammen, whose 18 books include Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus (the 2002 finalist for the National Book Award); Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Epidemic and The Heartbeat of the WildQuammen discusses his own reporting on epidemics in advance of the COVID-19 pandemic, noting: “Science warned this would happen. Politics didn’t care,” along with a variety of other issues he’s covered in his work.

Get outside

Hotel Luna Mystica in Taos lands on Hotels Above Par’s list of the country’s “best glamping hotels,” defined as “resorts across America that are sure to quench your outdoor recreation thirst while giving you a cozy bed to sleep in, as opposed to a hard sleeping bag in a makeshift tent.” In the case of Hotel Luna Mystica, guests stay in colorful individually named vintage trailers (like Frida and Diego, for example), and can experience “superior stargazing” via “New Mexico’s famous twinkling, constellation-filled sky.” Sunset magazine, meanwhile, also delivers a roundup of hotels that offer easy access to the great outdoors” and blur the line between hotels and glamping. For instance, the Pacific Northwest–based LOGE provides motels and campsites “inspired by the surf, climbing and camping culture of the ‘70s and the relaxed energy of a road trip with friends.” The company has a forthcoming location in Taos—slated to open in the winter—that will feature rooms, RV spots, a restaurant, gear rentals, climbing wall, co-working spaces and more. And as long as we’re talking outside adventures, Outside online offers up the best scenic view in every national park in the US. In New Mexico, Outside recommends Carlsbad Cavern’s Temple of the Sun and the Roadrunner Picnic area at White Sands National Park.

Countdown to Oppenheimer

Matt Damon talks with Vanity Fair magazine about Christopher Nolan’s forthcoming film Oppenheimer, (July 21) in which Damon portrays General Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project. The film, based on the 2006 Pulitzer Prize-winning book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, stars Cillian Murphy as Oppenheimer, and is essentially a thriller “disguised” as a biopic, Emily Blunt, who plays Oppenheimer’s wife Kitty, tells Syfy magazine. Damon characterizes the level of detail in the film as “exquisite,” telling VF Nolan hired actual scientists as extras on site, filmed inside historical Manhattan Project buildings and recreated Los Alamos where Oppenheimer’s lab was located (the movie filmed in Los Alamos and Abiquiu last year). Damon had filmed in New Mexico before, he says, most recently for 2000′s All the Pretty Horses (based on Santa Fe resident Cormac McCarthy’s National Book Award-winning novel). “It’s beautiful yet desolate,” Damon says of New Mexico. “It’s where Georgia O’Keeffe went to paint, basically, so it has very much that feeling. It’s got that expansive desert beauty. It’s a remarkable place.”

Bid May farewell

The National Weather Service forecasts a 60% chance for precipitation today, with showers and thunderstorms likely after 9 am. Otherwise, it should be mostly cloudy with a high temperature near 73 degrees and southeast wind 10 to 15 mph. Tonight: Chances for precipitation drop to 40%, with possible scattered showers and thunderstorms before midnight.

Thanks for reading! The Word succumbed to watching a “heartwarming” graduation video.

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