Why the Doña Ana County Commission’s vote tomorrow is a REALLY BIG deal.

Print More

Earlier this year, President Obama asked cities and counties to think about how they could use local zoning and development ordinances to address inequality in everything from housing to income.

UPDATE [Dec. 14]: DAC Commission passed progressive new vision for development

The idea: local governments across the country affect national growth through “Not in My Backyard” type initiatives, known as NIMBY legislation. City and county governments are often at the whim of small, special interest groups who can and do lobby to keep certain types of growth from occurring for their own benefit. This disproportionately affects affordable housing, access to good paying jobs, and medical access.

Read more: Obama’s Housing Development Toolkit lays out a roadmap of how local government can play a crucial role in reversing trends that helped cause some of the issues of the Great Recession.

Tomorrow morning, the five members of the Doña Ana County Commission will vote on a sweeping new plan called the Unified Development Code (UDC) that could give the county the ability to address some of those issues in a big way.  And that has a lot of progressive minded people pretty excited.

The UDC replaces a number of other outmoded and outdated plans and creates a roadmap for developers, property owners, and civic planners for decades to come. The plan has been in the works for years, vetted through the independent Planning and Zoning commission, discussed in numerous public meetings, and now faces a final vote.

Read more:  READ the plan here

ProgressNow’s Lucas Herndon, who leads local organizing work for ProgressNow in Las Cruces, says that, if passed, the Doña Ana County UDC could serve as a model for other cities and counties around the state. The ideas within the UDC represent a balance of maintaining rural parts of the county from being over developed, protects agricultural land, and helps create workable urban centers from which access to services is improved around the county. These values are what local governments should be striving for to better serve their communities as well as protect environmental and natural resources.

And it’s a model some of the top minds in the country agree on too.

That’s why it’s actually pretty amazing that for the last few years the County Commission of Doña Ana County has been working to create a new and robust Unified Development Code that will help guide the growth of the county for years to come.

A similar effort is also underway between the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County.

The Doña Ana County vote isn’t a slam dunk though. As the president’s initiative highlighted, some of the local development community’s usual suspects have spoken out against the plan and already delayed the commissioners’ vote on it. Now they are renewing their call for more delay until new commissioners, widely considered to be less progressive, take office next year. But the current commission has worked closely with the P&Z commission and the public and are in the best place to move forward with this plan.

What do you think?  That’s what commissioners want to know when they meet tomorrow morning to take public comment and vote on the new UDC.

The meeting is tomorrow at the Doña Ana County Government Center, 845 N. Motel Blvd. in Las Cruces at 9 am. Public input will be taken before the commissioners take their vote so get there early to sign up!