The last of winter’s chill is still hanging over us; our house is closed up tight. And yet, all hours of the night I can still hear the roar of hot rods screaming up Old Taos Highway, doing doughnuts in the Fort Marcy parking lot and drag racing. What is it going to be like when we start opening windows and doors, I shudder to think. Our neighborhoods need traffic-calming humps, speed vans and police who are willing to give out citations.

Susan Tarman

Santa Fe

Vaccination protection

The subhead on your recent article about COVID-19 cases in Chile is incorrect and dangerously misleading (“Cases soar in Chile despite its speedy drive for vaccines,” March 31. The subhead was, “Experts say false sense of security led to vaccinated residents driving infections.” The subhead suggests vaccinations do not protect against COVID-19 and in fact can cause it to spread; this is dangerously incorrect. Vaccinated residents are not driving infections in Chile.

The article below the headlines identified three factors that are leading to the rise of COVID-19 cases in Chile. First, about one-third of Chileans have had at least one vaccine dose. That rate of vaccination is nowhere near enough to give the population herd immunity. We do not know for sure how many people need to be fully vaccinated before we reach herd immunity. I’ve read estimates from experts of 70 percent to 80 percent, but no one knows for sure. The true indicators will be sustained low levels of cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Second, the new COVID-19 variants are more contagious than the original virus. Thus, the variants of the virus will spread faster. Third, successful vaccination programs may encourage governments and the public to let down their guard too early — before herd immunity has been achieved. For instance, governments may reduce restrictions on public gatherings, people may stop wearing masks and social distancing. These actions can result in more infections.

Pamela Harper, M.P.H.

Santa Fe

Little brown boxes

The other day as I drove along Interstate 25 between the St. Francis Drive and Cerrillos Road exits, I looked at all of those new houses and scoured ground, and the term “ticky-tacky” came to mind. Remember that song Malvina Reynolds wrote? “Little boxes on the hillside/Little boxes made of ticky-tacky.” And all the same. The Santa Fe boxes are bigger and shoulder to shoulder on small lots near the interstate — “Bigger boxes in developments/They’re all made of fake adobe now/Bigger boxes in developments/They look pretty much the same.” When Reynolds looked at the boxes on the hillside, she saw “a pink one … a green one … a blue one … and a yellow one.” When I looked at the boxes beside I-25, I saw “a brown one, a brown one and a brown one, etc.” And more coming. Why? It all reminds me of what Edward Abbey said: “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of a cancer cell.” Or the growth of ticky-tacky where Santa Fe used to be. The City Different is determined to become the same old, same old, one brown box at a time. With a view — if you’re lucky.

Walter Howerton

Santa Fe

Thanks, Chaparral!

My fifth grader will return to full-time, in-person school after an incredibly difficult year of online learning. While virtual schooling may have worked for some children, my son had a hard time staying motivated and interested in school, and resisting the captivation of the screen when asked to be on a screen all day. He went from being an almost straight-A student who genuinely loved school to barely scraping by and feeling hopeless about the future. That’s a very sad thing to see in a once-carefree 11-year-old.

I want to thank his teacher, Brenda Juvrud, for coming back to the classroom despite having a broken ankle and needing to use crutches to get around on a daily basis. Thanks also to the school secretary, Peggy Cheeley, who stepped up to help us with our son’s care during the school day as his parents worked during virtual school. Thanks to our principal, Erica Maestas, who has taken Chaparral back to its roots as a small, neighborhood school where students and families feel they are part of a community of kindness. Thanks to Sharon Abrantes, also back in the classroom. She helped my son make the difficult transition to online learning in fourth grade. My four kids all have benefited from the many wonderful teachers at Chaparral over the past 10 years, and we look forward to seeing everyone back once vaccinated. We appreciate all of you.

Megan McLean

Santa Fe

(14) comments

Cynthia Graves

The issues with the car noise and speeding has been going on for months now. I live four blocks from the Plaza and hear the racing, revving, and screeching of multiple vehicles well into the early morning hours on a nightly basis. Certainly the police can do something about this incessant disturbance of the peace and should have ongoing presence in the Plaza area. Why is this a continuing problem?

Bryan Bird

Completely agree. They City already has the ordinance on the books, our City leaders and the police just need the courage to enforce.

D. Stark

“Our neighbourhoods need traffic-calming humps, speed vans and police who are willing to give out citations.” Absolutely! We need police who are willing to address all these issues as well as the littering and driving at excessively high speeds. Empty police cars are worthless, particularly when the police do nothing to address the problems that pass right in front of them.

Where is the Mayor? Doesn’t this fall under his domain?

Khal Spencer

Richard Reinders


Donna Gomien

Go Pam Harper! Keep calling out misleading, emotion-driven reporting on Covid-19! Serious scientific input from professionals is what is required to balance out the !!!! nature of many of the headlines and much of the reporting on Covid-related issues.

Khal Spencer

There seem to be a lot of "let them eat cake" letters and comments lately.

As I said the other day in another grumpy comment, the median individual and household incomes in Santa Fe in 2019 were 32k/58k dollars per year. The median home price in Santa Fe just passed 500k. Little homes in Casa Solana are fetching over 600k and then being gutted and turned into MiniMcMansions.

I did a little math on one of those mortgage calculator sites.

Assuming a couple wants to buy a median home, has no car loan or college loan, 250 bucks in credit card payments a month, and is willing to go to the mat with a debt-to-income ratio of 40% (43% is reportedly about the highest ratio one can have and qualify for a qualified mortgage), and today's interest rate of about 3% for a 30 year mortgage, the calculator said the applicants would need an annual household income in the range of $75,000, vs. Santa Fe's 58k. It ain't working.

Santa Fe is getting to be a land of well off retirees and those like in Honolulu, are in the upper stratosphere of the income brackets. The service workers, public servants (police, fire, teachers, etc) are today's serfs who can live somewhere else and of course drive here, leading to what some have called "failed intersections".

Walter Howerton reminds us of Edward Abbey's quote: “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of a cancer cell.”. Still, unless we ban procreation by the lower classes of society, everybody needs a place to live and preferrably not light years from their jobs, schools, and amenities.

Let the highfalutin folks who wander around Canyon Avenue and grumble about affordable housing staff the restaurants, fire trucks, and police cars themselves.

Walter Howerton

Santa Fe used to be a land of land with interesting older people rather than well-off retirees and real art rather than a hipster amusement park. I am not nostalgic for the old Santa Fe. I never intended to live here. Northern New Mexico yes, Santa Fe not so much. Stuff happens. But I miss the days when Santa Fe was actually a place not a destination. And growth needs to be reined in as Santa Fe wobbles into the future. There needs to be a sense of direction and sprawl is not a direction. Especially the kind of growth happening now. I am afraid the time both for what I want and what you say is needed is long gone. And what Abbey said is true.

Khal Spencer

All good points, Mr. Howerton.

Paul Groh

Well Walter Howerton, everyone in Santa Fe cannot afford a spacious and unique home on acreage. Where would you suggest that the folks live who take your restaurant order, bag your groceries, teach the children and protect your streets??. Oh I guess anywhere, as long as it is NIMBY.

Richard Reinders

I think Walter was making the point that growth is creating the unaffordable housing problem, and I agree. For locals I think it is a legit issue being priced out of the market but for transplants that moved here and complain about the price, it is their problem. It's why I don't live in Monaco , I can't afford it so I don't move there.

Khal Spencer


Walter Howerton

I have to agree even though it sounds harsh. As I have suggested elsewhere I sometimes think Santa Fe should be a place only for adults who can afford it. When people move to a place like Santa Fe, before they load the U-Haul, they need to ask themselves, "What am I willing to give up to pay the price of living there?" Because for those of us who are neither high falutin nor wealthy retirees that is the kind of question that must be asked.

Khal Spencer

And just wait till we run really short of water.

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