Morning Word

City of Santa Fe Delays Affordable Housing Bids for Midtown Campus

Mayor Alan Webber to propose banning people from some street medians

City delays Midtown housing bids

The City of Santa Fe’s timeline for issuing requests for proposals to develop the Midtown campus’ first parcel of affordable housing has been pushed back. Community Development Department Director Rich Brown previously told SFR bid packets for the request for proposal phase of the first affordable housing parcel were expected in January, but Midtown MRA Director Karen Iverson’s most recent March 27 governing body presentation sets that timeline back approximately a year. “I think we really need to get a little bit further along on the subdivision process and the timeline to put in infrastructure and utilities before we go on with those RFPs,” Iverson tells SFR of the delay. “Then we can go out to an RFP and the chosen partner can work to get the rest of their financing and then come in with a project about the same time that we would be bringing the utilities online.” The city has progressed with other components of its community plan, including development of film and arts on the former Santa Fe University of Art and Design/College of Santa Fe campus. Last year, the city struck several deals: one for the expansion and redevelopment of film studios on the southern third of the campus, and another for a future Visual Arts Center that would use existing buildings and create new spaces for educational and creative purposes. The city also pledged $500,000 of Lodger’s Tax revenue to renovate the Greer Garson Theater. Most recently, the City Council and the mayor authorized city staff to apply for Midtown to become a qualified production facility with the New Mexico Film Office which, if approved, will allow productions using any portion of the site to be eligible for an additional 5% tax credit.

AZ abortion ruling could impact NM

The Arizona Supreme Court yesterday upheld a law from 1864 that bans nearly all abortions, prompting consternation from the White House, where President Joe Biden issued a statement noting that the decision means “millions of Arizonans will soon live under an even more extreme and dangerous abortion ban, which fails to protect women even when their health is at risk or in tragic cases of rape or incest.” New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez also issued a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, lambasting the Arizona court’s decision, and noting that while his office awaits a decision from New Mexico’s Supreme Court on his challenge to local ordinances restricting abortion, the state Department of Justice “will continue to explore and use all tools at our disposal to ensure that New Mexico continues to be a safe haven for all those seeking access to safe reproductive healthcare.” New Mexico has experienced an influx of patients seeking reproductive health care here in the aftermath of the US Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade in June 2022, a trend Faith Roots Reproductive Action (reportedly the new name for the New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice) Executive Director Joan Lamunyon Sanford tells the Albuquerque Journal she anticipates continuing and increasing with more women from Arizona seeking care here as a result of yesterday’s decision. Since the upending of abortion access in the US, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration has taken numerous actions to safeguard reproductive health care here, including a $10 million commitment in August 2022 to build a clinic in Doña Ana County—an undertaking Source New Mexico reports has yet to manifest, despite a legislative appropriation last year.

NM, AZ govs seek uranium cleanup

Also on the New Mexico/Arizona beat, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs yesterday called upon the federal government to make changes to policies governing cleanup of abandoned uranium mines. In a letter to Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality Brenda Mallory, Lujan Grisham and Hobbs request the agency take a leadership role to ensure cleanup of the mines, many of which were abandoned and never properly remediated, they say. As such, “hundreds of abandoned uranium mines have posed significant and ongoing environmental risk to our residents for far too long,” the letter reads. “To address longstanding legacy uranium mining impacts and pollution, we must bring appropriate national attention to the issue and undertake a full and complete cleanup and restoration of our land and water.” According to a news release, New Mexico and Arizona have more than 650 abandoned uranium mines combined, including more than 110 on state and private lands that lack appropriate funding for cleanup (view a state dashboard of former NM uranium and mill sites here). New Mexico produced the largest amount of uranium ore and was the site of the disastrous 1979 Church Rock uranium mill spill.  “A new federal, state, and tribal governance structure is needed to bring rapid and transformative changes to communities that have suffered for decades from abandoned uranium mining sites,” Lujan Grisham says in a statement. “New Mexico is committed to nimble decision-making while ensuring safe cleanup and disposal of these legacy wastes.”

Mayor proposes median safety bill

At its regular meeting this evening, the City of Santa Fe governing body will take its first look at a bill proposed by Mayor Alan Webber to make it illegal for anyone to sit or stand in or on any road median of less than 36 inches “for any period of time.” According to a memo from the city attorney’s office accompanying the bill, “the purpose of the bill is to improve safety for the public and for drivers who interact with or may be distracted by people sitting or standing on narrow medians for any length of time.” The memo also notes data that indicates New Mexico “has had the highest pedestrian fatality rate by state per 100,000 population, from 2021 through 2023,” and that New Mexico’s pedestrian fatality rate was nearly double the national average in 2022 and 2023. The memo does not indicate the relationship between people on medians and pedestrian fatalities, but does say the10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a similar ordinance (which would appear to be a simplification of the court’s ruling). Similar bans in other cities have all faced legal challenges. This is not the City of Santa Fe’s first attempt to regulate activity on street medians. In 2020, the city put up signs at busy intersections discouraging motorists from giving money to people panhandling.

Listen up

On the most recent episode of Inside Higher Ed’s Weekly Wisdom podcast, co-hosts University Innovation Alliance CEO Bridget Burns and Inside Higher Ed Co-founder and Editor Doug Lederman interview University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes about her views on higher education leadership; the challenges of doing the job; and ongoing climate shift for higher ed in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, among other topics.

Hungry yet?

Food & Wine magazine’s look at the top 10 best hotels in the US for food and wine includes Albuquerque’s Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm, saying the inn and farm “encourages guests to connect with the land in more than one way” (including tennis, wellness classes in the yurt and bird watching, for instance). Then there’s the food at the inn’s restaurant Campo, where executive chef Christopher Bethoney “prepares refreshingly unfussy plates composed of abundant and indigenous ingredients like heirloom corn.” In a story for Santa Barbara-centric website, Rebecca Horrigan writes about spending “72 hours in New Mexico,” which she divided between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. While here, Horrigan and her sister wined and dined with the best of them, including cocktails and nosh at Sazón, where James Beard Award-winning chef Fernando Olea came to the table to guide us throughout the meal, “sharing his inspirations and illuminating the different tasting notes.” La Mama, described as a “hipster haven set in a little craftsman bungalow,” also receives raves, along with two visits. But an Albuquerque restaurant provides the visitors’ their favorite meal of the trip, Horrigan writes: Nob Hill’s Gather. “It’s often the people who make a place for me, and this spot truly defined warmth and hospitality, from the locals who started easy conversation at the bar, to the magic-makers behind this intimate and modern neighborhood lighthouse,” she writes (the the “pandan cocktail with lemongrass syrup, ginger, fresh squeezed lime juice and coconut milk” also sounds enticing). “Perhaps the most stunning dish,” she notes, “was the Chef’s Catch of the Day, a mouth-wateringly tender sturgeon served atop succulent sweet potatoes and drizzled in an addictive sweet, spicy and citrus-y olive oil.”

Cat call

Forget allergy season. Spring also heralds kitten season, according to local shelters, which say they are seeing the usual seasonal influx of baby cats. “We are in our uptick in animals as happens in spring around here,” Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society Senior Director of Shelter Operations Dylan Moore tells SFR. “We’ve had our kitten shower already, but I suspect that the tidal wave of kittens is right around the corner.” Moore also provided SFR with an update on the shelter’s search to hire a new CEO, following the resignation of Jack Hagerman last August. Moore says the organization has conducted interviews with several candidates, but the work will go on “as long as it takes to find a candidate who’s a good fit for the organization and the community.” Back to cats: Española Humane Director of Community Engagement Murad Kirdar tells SFR its “tidal wave already happened. We started receiving kittens over a month ago, so we have a lot right now in fosters.” Kirdar says the shelter will start putting kittens up for adoption at an upcoming April 13 puppy yoga class in collaboration with Dirty Laundry Hot Yoga. In the meantime, if people come across kittens outside while walking, he recommends waiting to bring them to the shelter unless they are hurt. “Usually Momma is out trying to find some food, so don’t just grab them,” Kirdar says. “Check out the situation. Wait a couple hours.”

Warm up

The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day, with a high temperature near 62 degrees and north wind 10 to 15 mph becoming west in the afternoon.

Thanks for reading! The Word is having fun perusing the books on the newly announced Booker Prize shortlist.

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