On Friday, Mayor Tim Keller vetoed the moratorium placed by the city council to stop the safe outdoor spaces legislation for at least one year. The city-sanctioned homeless camps would help the working homeless that park and sleep in Albuquerque and give them a safe place to go.
Keller said he is exercising his veto authority because the city cannot limit its options for addressing the needs of the city’s most vulnerable residents.
“We need every tool at our disposal to confront the unhoused crisis, and we need to be willing to act courageously,” he said.
However, there has been a lot of pushback on the program since it was first proposed.
Former City Councilman Pete Dinelli said the city planning department unilaterally reviewed the application for Dawn Legacy at 1250 Menaul behind closed doors with no notice to surrounding businesses or neighborhood associations, no public hearing and no public input. The application was “fast tracked” by the department to approve the application just eight days before the city council was scheduled to repeal the Safe Outdoor Spaces zoning use on Aug. 16.
He said eight appeals have for been filed against the space, including the Sunset Memorial Cemetery, the T-Mobile call center, and the Martineztown Santa Barbara Neighborhood Association. There are six total applications currently still pending, with two waiting approval, and two already denied.
“With his veto, Keller ignores that the moratorium, as well as pending repeal legislation, is a direct result of severe public backlash and outcry by city residents and neighborhood associations that refuse to support Safe Outdoor Spaces,” Dinelli said.
The vote now goes back to the council, which will have to agree by at least a 6-3 vote to overturn the veto.
Councilor Brook Bassan said the city does need all tools possible at its disposal to combat homelessness, but that most of the people she heard from about the legislation were so adamantly opposed that it caused her to backpedal on her own legislation.
Because of the veto, safe outdoor spaces still technically remain legal in the city, and the planning department will continue its application processing.
It is anticipated that council will vote on the veto Sept. 7.