The Albuquerque City Council voted 5-4 to repeal the Neighborhood Association Recognition Ordinance and replace it with a revised ordinance that clarifies what a neighborhood coalition is and how associations and coalitions can be and stay recognized by the city, among other changes.
District 4 Councilor Brook Bassan requested to defer making a decision, but her request was denied in a 5-4 vote by the council. “This was such a big deal last year when we reviewed it and we discussed it, and it didn’t go through committee this time,” Bassan said during the April 18 council meeting. “It seems, from public comment and from what I’ve noticed and when it was introduced, it’s very rapid. Being that we have Zoom difficulties tonight and there’s a lot of comment that comes in via email and this is literally regarding the neighborhood associations that make up Albuquerque, I would like to move a deferral until the next council meeting so that other people have the opportunity to weigh in and that we can also have some more time to evaluate what this is, being that it was quite rapid.”
Peggy Neff, who says she used to live in Bassan’s district, is concerned the ordinance was passed too quickly without enough public input. “Albuquerque was one of the very first cities to have a Neighborhood Association Recognition Ordinance, which allowed neighborhoods to have a voice at the table of planning,” Neff said on Tuesday. “Last night they got rid of it. Last night they voted it out.
“Everybody who signed up on the Zoom calls for public comment couldn’t get on,” Neff said, adding that she’s tired of the council calling it “a technical issue.” Two people did provide in-person public comments in opposition to passing the revised ordinance, with one speaker saying there “was no notice given to neighborhood associations, homeowner associations or coalitions that would be directly affected by this.” She said the previous council was presented erroneous information prepared by city staff in support of the legislation.
Council President and District 2 Councilor Isaac Benton said there was and still is a lot of misinformation about the replacement ordinance but a lot of time went into making and clarifying the changes, beginning in 2017. He said one of the changes requires neighborhood organizations to allow residents to vote in association and coalition elections without having to pay dues. “If you don’t like the fact that we’re saying that you should not have to pay dues to be a member of an association, I respectively object. We don’t do that in voting in this country. We don’t make people pay to vote or to have their voice heard in a democratically run organization,” Benton said. “So, it doesn’t mean you can’t charge dues. It just means that a person can’t be required to pay dues in order to vote.”
District 1 Councilor Louie Sanchez supported Bassan’s request to defer the vote, saying that 100% of the neighborhood organizations in his district are against the revised ordinance. He said he will work with the Office of Neighborhood Coordination to ensure there is proper training and resources, so neighborhood organizations are well informed. District 6 Councilor Pat Davis said it is also important for neighborhood organizations and individuals to be made aware of land use changes that affect the areas where they live.
Council Director Chris Melendrez said, “the AGIS system has a mapping tool in place that is about to go live, in about a month, that will allow people to identify all the land use issues that are going on around them so that they can kind of see what that is for themselves.”
According to Melendrez, it is at the council’s discretion as to when they can revisit the ordinance to vote on new amendments or address concerns from neighborhood organizations and coalitions. To send ideas, suggestions or thoughts on how organizations can better coordinate with the ONC or help to improve the revised ordinance, email firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit cabq.gov/office-of-neighborhood-coordination.