Also in today’s blog info on Monday’s Poor People’s Campaign Direct Action and a San Francisco innovation: transforming a public library into a library+public health+very-low-income rental housing, a clever model worth exploring in NM.
Libraries as Community Centers and Very Low-Income Rental Sites: Wow
Once again, Next Cities has identified a remarkable concept that has application anywhere in NM with a library(ies) co-locating health services, engagement services and very-low-income housing. San Francisco’s Mission Bay development was a big topic when Roxanne and I lived in the Bay Area. Someone involved in the process came up with a novel idea.
Individuals who are homeless already use our libraries to use the internet, to seek community, and as a welcome environment to escape hostile weather. What if we placed some services that are critical to these individuals on site at the library? And given the lack of affordable property in San Francisco, what if we placed affordable rental housing on top of that library? Well, this worked out so well in Mission Bay, San Francisco Supervisors are now examining if they couldn’t retrofit other libraries and place affordable rental units above those libraries. “We are in an affordability crisis and we need to maximize our existing public land for 100 percent affordable housing,” Supervisor Fewer tells Next City in an email. “It would be a missed opportunity to not pursue adding affordable housing above newly renovated public resources, like our libraries.”
As reported in Next Cities, now Chicago has just completed such a project (above left) and New York is in the planning stages for placing affordable housing atop its newly planned library. Given how Santa Fe is discussing moving LeFarge library to the Santa Fe University of Art & Design, might there be something to learn from San Francisco, Chicago and New York?
Let’s be fair about developing very low-income rental housing: it is a very difficult thing to do without significant public investment. But it isn’t okay for developers, cities and counties to just throw up their hands and do what is easier, build market rate housing with developers paying a relatively small fee to build market rate housing without including the ‘required’ 15% setaside for affordable housing units. Recently, Broadstone Rodeo announced a $34 million project by Titan Development on about 9 acres east of the Santa Fe Rail Trail. It is expected to start leasing by fall 2019 and be complete early the following year. Rents will reflect the market; the one- and two-bedroom units may rent for as much as $1,300 monthly, Instead of having to develop 15% of the 188 units for below market housing, Titan Development paid a $240,000 fee deposited in the City’s Affordable Housing Trust. Titan commented that without that option this market rate development could not have occurred and Councilor Harris indicated that while it is important to develop housing for very low-income renters, housing needs to be developed “across the spectrum.”
But if Santa Fe and other jurisdictions in NM are going to develop housing for very low-income residents, they will need to stop throwing up their hands and pointing to how difficult that challenge is and begin to examine options that require substantive commitments to solving the problem. We have vacant, city-owned lots throughout the City. We have SFUAD, and we have creative ideas for how to address the need for very-low income rental housing. We need to convene an action team with an explicit task: Develop 500 units of low-income and very low-income housing during the Mayor’s first term of office. Or something like that. And then do it.
What has been done in San Francisco and Chicago and what is being done in NY is the kind of outside the box thinking that we need to consider here in NM. In researching housing innovation across the nation, as part of Roxanne and my national Listening Tour, we have found other examples of cities transforming vacant land into mixed use developments with significant commitments to very low income housing linked to wealth accumulation strategies to help low-income residents build their wealth. There is also expertise in housing innovation in ABQ and Santa Fe, especially via Chainbreaker’s partnerships with a nationwide affordable housing coalition. We need to bring those folks to the table and get this done. As long as addressing “the complete spectrum” is the goal, the low-hanging fruit, market rate housing with small fees going to the Housing Trust Fund or large developments with a handful of affordable units, is what we will get done. That is simply not enough. To read more about the library-affordable housing concept, click here.
Thoughts on Primary Disappointment.
I had an interesting Friday morning. First Roxanne told me that she had read on Facebook that some progressives were lamenting the NM primary results and considering exiting the Democratic Party. A few hours earlier I was scanning comments on a Santa Fe New Mexican article on the election. I found comments from a couple of active Democrats in Carl Trujillo’s Dist. 46 who were considering exiting the Democratic Party because the progressives were taking over.
I well appreciate what disappointment feels like. As most all of you know, Roxanne and I ran the SantaFe4Bernie campaign. We all know how that ended. We also experience daily the repercussions of many Sanders’ supporters either sitting on their hands or offering lukewarm support for the Clinton campaign. The impulse makes perfect sense. Primaries are contentious affairs and it is rare that one ends with the losing candidate immediately chiming in with hearty congratulations and a commitment to working hard for the winning candidate. It did happen in House District 1 where Damian Lara instantly offered his heartfelt congratulations to Deb Haaland, encouraging his supporters to help her win a seat in the US House. Jeff Apodaca, in a bitterly contested race for the Dem. nomination for Governor, also posted a gracious congratulations to Michelle Lujan Grisham. Closer to home, I have seen no such evidence of congratulations flowing from Debbie Rodella or Carl Trujillo.
I ask that all of you who were disappointed with the primary results consider two things:
- Change is a long-haul process. You don’t win every battle, the world doesn’t end with one defeat and each defeat then offers opportunities to learn; and
- The lesser of two evils is infinitely better than the evil itself–to wit: Donald Trump.
I ask those of you who supported Jeff Apodaca or Joe Cervantes or Garrett VeneKlasen or Rick Miera or Bill McCamley or Sedello-Lopez to take a few days to dwell on the primary results and then to consider that while your progressive choice did not win, there were important victories for progressives across the state.
- Steve Fischmann ousted Sandy Jones from his PRC seat, a huge win for the environmental community, for ratepayers and for the Four Corners–in desperate need for a just transition from fossil fuels;
- A near win by newcomer Janene Yazzie, who had she won would have instantly transformed the PRC but who in losing valiantly has forged new alliances committed to green land, water, and energy policy—something to build upon to advance policies and practices that will protect and preserve our natural resources; and
- Two huge victories in Northern New Mexico with Susan Herrera ousting Debbie Rodella and Andrea Romero removing Carl Trujillo from their respective Roundhouse seats.
There is no way to overstate the importance of these wins. The PRC makes energy policy for our state and regulates our utility providers, PNM, El Paso Electric, etc. In a state with an energy portfolio of only 9% renewables,despite ranking 2nd for solar potential and 4th for wind potential, and in a context of declining costs for solar, wind and solar storage, it is clear that more effective regulation of these utilities is required to mandate significantly greater investment in renewables. Clearly, PNM has not gotten this message as its most recent proposal for replacing the fossil fuel generation anticipated with the closure of San Juan and Four Corners coal plants, is to double down on nuclear and natural gas. And so removing Jones from office is a major win and now we must fight to ensure that Fischmann is victorious over whoever the GOP opponent is. The GOP race was decided by only 30 votes and is having a recount with results in July.
As to the Roundhouse, over months of conversation with progressive lobbyists and legislators, Retake volunteers were told repeatedly that Rodella and Trujillo were the two most important impediments to passing good Democratic legislation. We were also told that they were close to unbeatable. And yet, strong grassroots campaigns led to wins by their opponents, Susan Herrera and Andrea Romero.
Did progressives win every race? No, not by a long shot. Do we still have reason to be engaged in the 2018 general election and enthusiastically push for the winning nominees we had campaigned against during the primary? I think so. Consider: we are likely to have an even more progressive House in the Roundhouse in 2019. We have growing grassroots networks developing throughout the state and we have some very clear choices. I don’t care how passionately you campaigned for Peter D and the Jeff Apodaca, you must realize the stark difference between a Governor Lujan Grisham and a Governor Pearce. After 8 years of playing only defense, with MLG as Governor and with Rodella and Trujillo out of the picture, we have an opportunity to pass one good bill after another and expect them to be signed.
So please, take some time and some deep breaths and then get in the game. Retake will be providing contact information for campaigns at the state and legislative district level. And if you simply can’t stomach a candidate you’ve fought against, take a less partisan approach and support voter registration efforts (only 33% of Dems voted in the primary) but please do not sit on the sidelines. Not even two years of Donald Trump must have taught all of us something about being too purist in general elections. Remember: elections are not a popularity contest, your vote is not signaling your support for a candidate, it is your way of determine the political environment in which you want to operate for the next two or four years. So, unless you want to live with another GOP governor and a GOP Lt. Governor, Auditor or Land Commissioner, use your vote strategically and before that use your time and money strategically, as well.
The Poor People’s Campaign in New Mexico
- Health and Dental Care,
- Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security
- Wages, Unions and Collective Bargaining,
- Women, the Disabled and LBGTQ,
- Housing and Transportation
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