I and others who recognize the city’s failure to give the community due process in proceedings for the proposed Zia Station development have filed an appeal against the city of Santa Fe. In the grand scheme of things, this action is not only for the Candlelight neighborhood or the area around the intersection of South St. Francis Drive and West Zia Road, but Santa Fe County as a whole.

The people of Santa Fe had their voices silenced long before the city began considering this project in 2020-21. The people have been systematically conditioned not to speak up and effectively silenced over many years, if not decades. With our voices repeatedly falling on deaf ears, many are left asking why they should bother to participate.

We, the people, vote in our city officials — individuals who have claimed and pitched that they will protect, listen to and help the people of the City Different. But the system is set up to prevent us from communicating with these officials in any meaningful way. When the time comes for the residents of Santa Fe to express their points of view and concerns about over development, health, safety, public welfare and water issues in respect to our city, we are given just two minutes to speak.

Though each individual item on the meeting agenda may come with eight to 12 possible issues the community wants to address, we still have just two minutes, period, to touch on all our concerns. We, the people, do not even have the luxury of being seen as human beings as the city turns off our Zoom cameras while we express our concerns as to why a developer’s delusions of grandeur are dangerous. Developers, meanwhile, are allowed the use of graphics and charts and given hours to present self-promoting testimony. As meetings continue until late in the night, the city’s governing bodies are encouraged to approve changes to the general plan and rezonings — long-standing city documents manipulated and rewritten with a stroke of the pen in one seating.

We vote in our city councilors believing we can come to them with our concerns, that they will hear our voices and speak for us. But the city is using a process that blocks access to our elected officials. As city Planner Manager Noah Berke explained: “The City Council will be reviewing this project in its ‘quasi-judicial’ capacity, which means the councilors are serving in a judicial role (applying facts to laws) rather than a legislative role (setting policy). For these reasons, the councilors cannot communicate with constituents about this type of matter in the way they would when they are serving in their legislative roles.” This seems like a sneaky, backhanded move on the part of the city, and bonus points for the developer and landowner, while rendering due process for the people null and void.

We, the people, have been slowly discouraged and conditioned to believe our voices do not matter. So, when a project comes before the city, we throw our hands up in defeat, knowing already the governing bodies are going to do whatever they deem fit. Fewer and fewer citizens then show up to City Council meetings. We are losing our voices and land to the insatiable predators.

Now is the time to remember that we, the people, do have a voice. We, the people, do have the power. That is why we are filing this appeal, in hopes that our judicial system will act to deliver justice and once again empower the people of Santa Fe.

Antoinette Shook is a concerned resident of Santa Fe.

(1) comment

Stefanie Beninato

I hope you are successful in your appeal. And Berke's insistence on no exparte contact is a gross exaggeration of a case the state supreme court decided but is the convenient interpretation given by the current city attorney, Erin MsSherry. Remember even though it was a quasi-judicial hearing that was to be based on facts all we heard was Jennifer Jenkins's beliefs about the developer's financials--no facts--oh, because the city cannot ask for financial facts even when the developer uses it as the rationale for five changes to the master plan and other zoning ordinances! Self-serving hypocrisy at its best! And let's remember that Vigil-Coppler led the charge (the milleniums I know don't want to live in free standing homes); that Lindell and Rivera were absent for the vote even though done remotely; and that only Romero Wirth voted against it.

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