Santa Fe’s high cost of living is forcing more and more people to move farther away from the city’s center to areas that lack necessary amenities such as jobs, green spaces, access to healthy food, public transportation, and sometimes basic infrastructure. This can lock people into automobile dependence, exacerbating a cycle of poverty and environmental damage. At the same time, many central neighborhoods that are still affordable are at risk of gentrification. Critical neighborhood investments and efforts to bring desperately needed resources to these areas can sometimes drive up housing costs and lead to the displacement of current residents. These dynamics disproportionately affect People of Color.
When viewed collectively, the result is a growth pattern of a city that is increasing segregated by race and class. These trends leave many residents of low-income neighborhoods feeling as though they must decide between disinvestment and gentrification. This is an equity crisis for Santa Fe.
But this is not inevitable. Development without displacement is not only possible, but necessary. Mindful local policies can help neighborhoods develop in ways that support current residents and help them thrive in their own homes.
Imagine January 1, 2019––the new Mayor and the City Council have been busy addressing priorities identified in the People’s Platform. The City has:
- Created a Community Land Trust comprised of 11 city-owned properties that are being developed to create mixed-use, high-density, affordable housing and local employee-owned small businesses;
- Passed an ordinance requiring all businesses with over 10 employees to provide 5 days a year of paid sick leave;
- Funded contracts to expand and accelerate investigations wage theft and fair housing violations;
- Created a plan to create affordable housing developments in all four City Council districts with a focus upon very-low income rental properties;
- Identified 12 city facilities that can easily accommodate rooftop solar and initiated a competitive bidding process to identify local solar companies to bid for the work; and
- Created a Task Force to create two commissions: a City Accountability Commission and a Resident Police Oversight Commission;
These and other public policy victories are only possible if we the people organize and raise our voices. The People’s Platform has been designed to focus our energy and to achieve a more equitable Santa Fe. The draft below represents the first cut of a series of priority policies. It was derived first from Chainbreaker Collective’s Workers Bill of Rights and was expanded with input from health, education, youth development, and community development activists like Somos Un Pueblo Unido, New Energy Economy, Prosperity Works, NM Voices for Children, Santa Fe Safe, Earth Care and others. Once complete, it will be used to vet local candidates for Mayor and City Council and to inform our lobbying efforts during the City budget session in 2018 and beyond.
Prologue: The City Different has lost some of its luster. Potholes remain unrepaired, our parks are neglected, internet service is spotty at best, and public trust in City Government is at a low. This is NOT someone else’s fault; it is our fault; it is OUR City and if we want it to achieve the kind of equity and justice to which most residents aspire, we must demand more. Over the coming weeks, Retake Our Democracy’s Local Action Team will be meeting together and with Mayor Webber to prioritize these policies. We hope and expect to work in consort with the City on these important issues.
Budget & Revenue
- Budget Prosperity, Not Austerity. Santa Fe’s dependence on Gross Receipts Tax
(GRT) is regressive, unreliable, and inequitable. This dependence has led to painful service and infrastructure cuts, and lack of investment in low-income neighborhoods. It is a significant contributor to Santa Fe’s equity crisis. To begin the process of shifting Santa Fe’s dependence on GRT, the governing body should initiate a community education campaign to address community skepticism about the value of public investment in infrastructure and community services and supports. It should also work with local organizations to mount a campaign seeking voter approval for a package of progressive tax strategies tied to specific infrastructure improvements, internet service, early childhood education, and other broadly supported policies.
Community Oversight and Engagement
- City Accountability Commission. Potholes remain unrepaired, “nimbyism” stalls efforts to address affordable housing, parks remain neglected, living wage laws are not enforced, and the City was entirely unprepared to implement Ranked Choice Voting, despite almost a decade to prepare. If voters are going to approve increased tax revenues, they need to trust that those funds will be used wisely. The City Accountability Commission will be an independent, resident-directed commission that will review major city contracts and monitor implementation of voter-approved policies and programs. It will ensure the efficient and effective implementation of the will of our residents, and it will ensure that City funds are spent as intended.
- Reinvigorate and reform the City’s Neighborhood Association Network to make it a more robust and vibrant framework for neighborhood level community engagement, education, or social/civic action, with monthly meetings, policy discussions, presentations by local organizations and elected officials, and planning for neighborhood community service. Historically, the Neighborhood Associations have been the locus and launching pads for NIMBY responses to progressive initiatives. With City support, we could reclaim this Network and focusing on creating social justice in all neighborhoods of our community.
- Create and pass an ordinance to pay City Council members a $45,000/ year salary with benefits. Currently, City Council members earn between $14.22 and $16.35 an hour for ‘hours worked.’ This level of pay deters many working class individuals from running for office, effectively limiting our pool of representatives to those with a most forgiving employer or for individuals whose personal incomes or wealth allows them to serve on the Council, estimated to be close to a 40-hour a week position.
- Resident Police Oversight Commission. Create a resident Police Oversight Committee that has authority to conduct investigations, subpoena information and people, impose penalties, and review appeals. Oakland and San Francisco have excellent models from which to learn.
Affordable Housing & Neighborhood Development
- Expand access to affordable housing for the lowest income residents by
prioritizing new housing development as listed below, highest priority to lowest, and consider utilization of Community Land Trust framework for ensuring that housing remains affordable in perpetuity.
- Very low-income rental development;
- Low-income rental development;
- Low-income multi-family development for homeownership;
- Moderate income home ownership development.
- Utilize a Community Land Trust approach to organize and sustainably develop publicly owned properties with the purpose of creating a range of sustainable, affordable housing and mixed-use employment/small business development enterprises with resident governance, ensuring that the goals of each enterprise align with resident priorities.
- Citywide Plan for Affordable Housing. To counter NIMBY responses and support expansion of affordable housing in Santa Fe, identify 5-7 city owned lots appropriate to affordable housing development with at least one lot from each council district, and develop a single plan for phased development of affordable housing in districts across the City. Consider the use of a Community Land Trust to govern these developments with a governance structure that puts oversight and future development in the hands of a resident council.
- Santa Fe University Art & Design Development. A public process should be initiated to develop a multi-use plan for SFUAD, and the City should continue to fund payments on this property until such a process is completed. A priority for development will be to create mixed use, high density, affordable housing with a significant investment in low and very low-income rental apartments. Incorporate a Community Land Trust for all or part of this development with strong resident governance and incorporate bike trails and walkways as part of the development.s
Equitable Sustainable Economic Development
- Actively Enforce Santa Fe’s Fair Housing and Living Wage Laws. Housing affordability is directly tied to a living wage. Fair Housing laws are designed to help ensure that people who work in Santa Fe can live here without harassment and discrimination. The Living Wage law has established a higher minimum wage in Santa Fe ($11.09) than either the state ($8.75) or national ($7.25) minimum wage. But neither fair housing violations nor living wage violations are enforced. The governing body will create funding to retain wage and housing law experts to investigate and enforce Santa Fe’s Fair Housing and Living Wage laws.
- Equal Pay for Women. The city of Albuquerque was the first city in the nation to offer an incentive in contracting to employers that demonstrate low gender pay differentials between women and men in the same job categories. The Pay Equity ordinance became law on July 1, 2015, requiring city contractors to report their employees’ pay by gender and job category – only average pay gaps are reported; personal information is not collected. To receive preferential ratings for all City contracts, companies can have a pay gap of less than 7%.
- Paid sick leave. Employers with ten or more employees shall pay at least 5 days of paid sick leave annually and employers with less than 10 employees shall provide 40 hours of unpaid but protected sick leave annually (based upon state of Oregon law).
- The City should implement a True Connect, low-interest loan program such as has been implemented by the Town of Bernallilo, Dońa Ana County and the Santa Fe Public Schools. Through this program, the city or any large employer can create a low-interest loan program for all employees. Loans are capped at 24% and serve as an alternative to predatory pay day lenders who can still charge up to 175% in NM.
- Strengthen Public Transportation. Car-dependency contributes to climate change and can perpetuate a cycle of poverty. Santa Fe Trails bus system is a cornerstone for many Santa Fe residents, helping people break their dependence on cars. The governing body will ensure that 100% of the revenue from the 1991 Gross Receipts Tax for transit go to Santa Fe Trails and eliminate all fares for public transit. Private transportation is entirely subsidized, from our roads to our rails to our airports. It is time for Santa Fe to subsidize transit for our under-served populations and consider following Denver’s model and making public bus transportation free. In 2020 create a low-income bus pass that is steeply discounted and by 2022 make public bus transit free for all.
- Sustain the effort to create a Public Bank to democratize our local economy. The Task Force will not likely have answered all the questions or explored all the options involved in a Public Bank, so the City will continue researching and developing a Public Bank and will fund securing the technical input of national leadership and expertise.
- Improve south, west, and midtown resident access to healthy, affordable food using zoning changes and incentives to promote development of an array of community food gardens, greenhouses and a network of mercados that allow sale of local and regional farmers’ produce and food produced in the community gardens rather than seeking major corporate markets like Albertson’s.
- Pass a Buy Local Ordinance. Pass a resolution that provides local business with significant bonus points in competitive bids for all city services and acquisitions.
- Create an energy conservation division within the Public Utility Department to support development of energy conservation options for low-income Santa Feans.
- Solarize City facilities. Because PNM has lobbied successfully to prevent community solar from becoming legal in NM, the City has limited options in terms of solarizing city-owned facilities. The city should lobby in the Roundhouse to seek passage of Community Solar so it can issue an RFP to seek competitive bids to solarize its facilities. In the meantime, the City should assess which of its 22 facilities are certain not to be consolidated or moved, and where rooftop solar can easily be mounted. The City should seek competitive bids for installing rooftop solar on those sites, as recommended by the Sustainability Commission.
- Expand development of walkways and bike paths with a focus upon neighborhoods lacking this form of infrastructure.
- Fund and Implement SWAN Park Phase 2. Santa Fe’s Airport Road Corridor is one of the fastest growing areas where a large portion of Santa Fe’s young people live, but it disproportionately lacks investments in city amenities such as parks. Completion of SWAN park will be an important step toward addressing this problem and increasing equity in the city. Therefore, the governing body should actively pursue and fully fund construction for phase 2 of SWAN Park.
Children & Family Services
- Expand Funding for Children and Youth Services. Currently, the City’s Human
Services Committee disperses two percent (2%) of the gross receipts tax to local nonprofit programs addressing the essential health and human service needs of Santa Fe’s adult residents. The Child and Youth Commission disperses three percent (3%) of the gross receipts tax to community programs that promote the healthy development of children and youth. These two revenue streams are inadequate to meet the growing need for services. The City should raise the percentage of GRT contributed for children and youth services by 1% from each of these two funding streams.
- Support a proposal to fund Pre-K in Santa Fe through a sustainable, progressive revenue structure.
- Trained Responders to Domestic Violence Incidents. Domestic Violence remains a severe problem in Santa Fe. Police departments in other cities equip their officers with additional resources to effectively respond to 911 domestic violence calls. The City should include in its operating budget funding for trained DV counselors to accompany patrol officers on DV calls and should equip patrol officers with cell phones so that the Santa Fe Police Department can fully implement a Lethality Assessment Protocol.