Ruling: Neighbors not properly informed about safe outdoor space

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A city hearing officer has determined that the Albuquerque Planning Department erred in approving a planned safe outdoor space for northeast Albuquerque by failing to require sufficient notification to nearby property owners.

He returned the case to the planning department, who will have to make a new decision on the request for safe outdoor space once he confirms that the operator has alerted all necessary neighbors.

“After receiving proof of notification, Planning will approve or deny the request within 10 calendar days,” department spokesman Tim Walsh said in an email to the Journal.

A consultant for the Secure Outdoor Space said on Wednesday that the new notifications have now been sent by certified mail.

Safe outdoor spaces are organized and managed sites where homeless people can sleep in tents or cars and access basic amenities like toilets and showers. They became legal in Albuquerque in July thanks to a city council vote, though elected officials remain deeply divided over them and some are still trying to quash the concept.

The city’s planning department in August approved Dawn Legacy Pointe’s application to operate a safe outdoor space on municipal land on Menaul NE near Interstate 25, making it the first such project in get the green light.

A flurry of calls ensued, sending the matter to the city’s Land Use Hearings Manager.

Hearing Officer Steven Chavez conducted a Sept. 28 hearing on the seven appeals and issued a written direction last week to refer the case to the Planning Department, citing a “violation of due process regarding the lack of notice”.

Chavez wrote that the Planning Department initially only asked Dawn Legacy Pointe to notify two landowners, violating the standards of the Integrated Development Ordinance. He wrote that the applicant should notify all landowners within 100 feet of the site, but measure that distance without including public right-of-way, such as roads.

Brad Day, a volunteer consultant for Dawn Legacy Pointe, said it added 18 more owners to the notification list. The organization sent the letters on Tuesday, he said, and remains ready to launch the safe outdoor space “very quickly” once it gets the go-ahead.

“We’re all set – we’ve got our insurance, we’ve got the fencing contractor lined up, we’ve got the tents and all the other materials we need,” Day said. “We are ready to go.”

But once city planners make a new decision on Dawn Legacy Pointe’s nomination, it’s once again open to appeals.

A neighborhood leader said she would not stop challenging the project.

Santa Barbara Martineztown Neighborhood Association President Loretta Naranjo Lopez said the association – one of the original seven appellants – argues any city approval would be ‘prejudicial and discriminatory’ to the area. .

“We don’t want them there, period,” she said. “We will fight until the end. We will do everything so that they do not stay there.