I am so tired of reading the self-aggrandizing, pedantic letters about development in Santa Fe. They could only be written by boomers who don’t understand the veiled classism and racism embedded in their messages. Who are you? The arbiters of the myth of Santa Fe? Owners of the land that never belonged to you in the first place? As a trained city planner, this pattern of “woe is the city that is changing” is tiresome — not for the folks whose neighborhoods are being gentrified (a valid experience of being pushed out of the place you know to be home), but for the people who have lived here for decades and tout preservationist ideologies.

Pick up a book and understand where your views and perspectives come from — e.g. The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein, exploring the racist origins of zoning and planning practices in the United States. Or try Zoned in the USA: The Origins and Implications of American Land-Use Regulation, where author Sonia Hirt discusses how private racism turned public through municipal zoning ordinances. If you are frustrated by growth without thought, then tap into that creativity — how would you recommend Santa Fe be an inclusive place for people of all ages, income statuses and race/ethnicities? How would you connect the south parts of the city to the city center without reliance on a car? This city lacks a comprehensive growth planning strategy — undergirded by coded racism and classism. Development without thought is the product of people with power. That means you.

Lisa Herron

Santa Fe

Local possibilities

A time of drought (actually desertification caused by climate disruption) is not the time for expansive new construction. Adding electric cars to the cars already on the road will not mitigate climate change, nor will wars for control of cobalt and lithium needed for batteries. We need to be greener than a New Deal and do better than build back.

As more work is done remotely, cities are looking at converting commercial buildings to housing. Retrofitting is more expensive than new construction, but the expense is a consequence of the need to hire skilled labor, which Biden and his progressive critics (who want to build more) are advocating. The Santa Fe Suites renovation shows what is possible locally. The next step: Renovate midtown campus dorms as affordable and desirable housing with open space, providing habitat for prairie dogs (the original inhabitants of the area) as well as for humans.

Marc Bedner

Santa Fe

Go it alone

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear his Republican senators will not vote for any Democrat-sponsored legislation. Apparently they have no minds of their own. This is in spite of large majorities of the voters, including Republicans, being in favor. Important bills include voting rights and gun control. Soon to come is a major bill on infrastructure.

It is up to the Democrats to go it alone. The time is now. Waiting for midterm elections might make for a better majority but just as likely no majority at all. Working around the filibuster will be required. So, do it! Republican obstructionism must be defeated.

Bill Maxon

Santa Fe

Missed opportunity

Recently, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico Legislature had the opportunity to help New Mexicans facing rising out-of-pocket medical costs. Unfortunately, they did not take it. The Legislature came close to addressing the growing problem of copay accumulators but did not quite complete the task. Copay assistance helps New Mexicans with chronic conditions access medication that can improve their quality of life. But insurers have implemented so-called copay accumulator programs that do not count copays from nonprofits and third parties, forcing patients to pay out of pocket to meet their deductible.

House Bill 129 would have curbed this practice, and many New Mexicans who rely on innovative, life-saving treatments to manage and treat their conditions did not receive the help they desperately need. We thank Sens. Daniel Ivey-Soto and Jerry Ortiz y Pino and Rep. Kelly Fajardo for their leadership on this issue. All legislators should prioritize this important reform.

Hillary Norton

medical director of Santa Fe Rheumatology

Santa Fe

(11) comments

Grace Trujillo

Lisa Herron - You have your opinions and everyone else has theirs! Why is yours better than anybody elses. The locals of Santa Fe have always agreed to keep Santa Fe different. That's why it's called the City Different!!!!!!! Growth and Development are good, but they should think about everything else like over-crowding, street improvements, infrastructure, etc........... Your opinion doesn't make it so!!!!!!!

Stefanie Beninato

I am interested in reading the books cited by Lisa but here is one fallacy--it was the post WWII between 1945 and 1970 where the middle class grew and prospered--so as kids boomers had this myth of American greatness that actually did not pan out for many of them.

IMHO it is redlining, an insurance practice, and covenants, that are still in deeds in properties in So Capitol (forbidding sales to "Negros" for example that produced racist results in housing/zoning. If we did not have zoning, we would have asphalt plants right next to your residence (note students fighting consolidated asphalt plant on southside under rubric of environmental justice), 75 ft tall apt buildings with no setbacks--real Jacob Riis How the Other Half Lives--to see how that worked out) and as in the 1930s in Santa Fe, we would have people using their front rooms for gambling and bars and their residences for prostitution. You would have a car repair place right next to your residence where the car repair place would rev engines and create noxious exhaust all day and dump waste. What we need is thoughtful infill--and caring about the community--As Khal has stated it is about income inequality. People used to be able to afford businesses in downtown because rents were reasonable and so were residential rents. I do not find some developer whining about razor thin profit margins of 60plus % ($1250 for a 450 sf studio) sympathetic nor displaying real concern about middle and working class affordability.

Daniel Werwath

Thank you Lisa, I spend a lot fo time trying to speak to these issues with little impact. Boomer triggering aside, I think we do need to have some serious conversations about boomer's values around housing and how so much has changed on the ground for younger folks. There are a lot of ingrained assumptions that no longer hold water and we need to talk about those head on. The boomer generation enjoyed the greatest growth of wealth in the history of America, largely because of real estate appreciation, and that's not something that younger folks will have access to, partly because the houses folks bought for five figure sums, now have another zero on them and are no longer accessible. Rather than getting defensive about using a generalized term, maybe boomers could start asking questions about why younger generations feel so betrayed by the complacency of our parent's generation?

Khal Spencer

As I said before and apparently you and Lisa missed the message, don't stereotype Boomers. Most boomers are in the same boat as everyone else since most Boomers are not in the top one percent. Many of us saw the whole industrial infrastructure that provided distributed wealth destroyed by sourcing product overseas. Or as Forbes puts it,

"According to the latest Fed data, the top 1% of Americans have a combined net worth of $34.2 trillion (or 30.4% of all household wealth in the U.S.), while the bottom 50% of the population holds just $2.1 trillion combined (or 1.9% of all wealth)."

https://www.forbes.com/sites/tommybeer/2020/10/08/top-1-of-us-households-hold-15-times-more-wealth-than-bottom-50-combined/?sh=43a3f4f35179

But its easy to blame "Boomers" just as some find it easy to blame "Asians". Easy simplifications, and wrong. Elon Musk is not a Boomer. Jeff Bezos just slipped in. Forbes has another article about young billionaires. You want change, it has to apply to everybody.

Walter Howerton

Eeeek! It's the 'I am a victim of boomer betrayal' defense. You feel betrayed? I hear you but honestly I don't care. Why? It is a question that will get you absolutely nowhere. Ask a different question. You know the Philip Larkin poem:

“They f**k you up, your mum and dad.

They may not mean to, but they do.

They fill you with the faults they had

And add some extra, just for you.

But they were f**ked up in their turn

By fools in old-style hats and coats,

Who half the time were soppy-stern

And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.

It deepens like a coastal shelf.

Get out as early as you can,

And don't have any kids yourself.”

Khal Spencer

Not to mention, the microaggression...

Walter Howerton

The pompous self aggrandizement of the first two sentences and the presumption of sole possession of the racism, classism and living on usurped land is a crock of swirling poop. It is both arrogant and stupid. As for the myth of Santa Fe it was de-mythologized long ago. As for development on the southside, we could calve it off like and iceberg from and ice shelf but it still wouldn't float away. But we are stuck with it, So what do we do? A big step would be to shut off the water because water will become the issue. My grandchildren and your grandchildren (or theirs) are likely to fight each other to the death over water no matter what their class or race. People are greedy and not very nice and that is what drives development in Santa Fe and most other places. The notion that people are good and want good things to happen belongs to the new mythology. And it is no more than a notion, like the Holy Grail of affordable housing. Santa Fe? Long lost.

Khal Spencer

Lisa Herron may think she is pretty smart, but she starts out with two fallacies. First, the ad hominem attack on "boomers". Then the appeal to authority.

Santa Fe cannot be all things to all people. No place can and trying to assert Santa Fe can be all things to all people is kinda presumptuous.

One of the underlying problems is we have a nation of extreme wealth redistribution to the top. Fix that first and a lot of these other urban problems, here and elsewhere, will be less daunting.

Kim Griego-Kiel

Lisa Herron and Marc Bedner have written some very important letters that we as a community should be thinking about. I appreciate these thoughts and wish more folks would be of the same mind. I had not been aware of the books that Ms. Herron mentioned but will be looking for them.

Cheryl Odom

Can we please stop with the boomer slamming ageism? We don't all fit the current popular stereotype. Plus, it doesn't allow for any meaningful communication at all.

Khal Spencer

In today's world, its all about identity politics.

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