BY GEORGE CHANDLER
Los Alamos County Councilors,
Ordinance Code 02-317 proposes the creation of the pedestrian zone for superimposing downtown businesses (DT-PRO). In my opinion, the ordinance has technical and legal flaws and is unlikely to achieve its intended purpose. The main details of my analysis of this weapon were published in a letter to the Los Alamos Daily Post and the Los Alamos Reporter and are available online.
The stated intention of the ordinance is to improve the business environment in Los Alamos by making the pedestrian experience more enjoyable, a noble goal that would generally benefit the retail business. The environment has indeed deteriorated somewhat since a peak reached after the creation of Smith’s Marketplace. Notably, the closure of CB Fox and the Reel Deal and the continued abandonment of much of the Mari-Mac mall are disappointing.
The Council is legitimately concerned about these developments and the retail environment in general, but it is not at all clear that the perceived problems have a systemic origin which can be resolved through piecemeal legislative changes. Rushing into the breach with ammo that wouldn’t even have an effect because it doesn’t include a description of the geographic area to be affected simply drops the box onto the road. If the idea is to threaten homeowners to include in a future DT-PRO neighborhood map, that will just alienate the business community and likely won’t solve the real issues, which we may not even know about at this time. Stadium.
In addition, you have commissioned a review of the Development Code, which is ongoing and progressing, albeit slowly. The new ordinance would amend the code as it is under review and it might be better to incorporate the ideas behind the ordinance into that review.
I propose a study, conducted by the Council, beginning with a dialogue between business owners, owners, the Chamber of Commerce and the Commerce and Development Company, the various branches of the county, open to the public, and including the DPS Design group which makes the planning code and the city center plan. The study would identify the problems, seek possible solutions and develop a plan that would preserve the best features of the current environment while proposing legislative changes that would be acceptable to all parts of the business community.
This approach, led by Council, would avoid upsetting the business community by respecting their property rights and recognizing that after all, they are the ones who have the most skin in the game. All citizens would be heard and respected, and each party would have the opportunity to hear and respect the views of others while finding mutually acceptable solutions. And rewriting the development code would produce a much more integrated and studied result.