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.
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.
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.
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.
medical director of Santa Fe Rheumatology