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Candidate, Santa Fe City Council District 1

Katherine Rivera

1) The current development process for residential, commercial or public projects is heavily weighted towards the developer, with official public input requirements limited to the Early Neighborhood Notification (ENN) stage and without explicit accountability measures for how ENN input ultimately gets integrated into planning decisions. Further, despite the name, Early Neighborhood Notification meetings aren’t held until after the developer has invested lots of time and resources, and city staff have also invested time and resources to guide the development toward the approval process. There is no comparable support from the city for impacted communities that may have concerns about a project. Rather than engaging communities as creative problem-solvers and collaborative partners in development opportunities and challenges, this limits community participation to supporting or opposing. When concerns exist, community members have no option but to oppose the development at the ENN, at the Planning Commission and at City Council.​


What changes will you propose so that community driven development has equitable support from city staff, and is valued as much if not more than private profit driven development?​

Broaden the use and adoption of the City’s development map & pipeline awareness. The earlier the residents can become aware of planned future development, the sooner they can be engaged. Allow more changes to the quasi-judicial process for development proposals so that the community has an equitable voice..

2) What changes will you propose so that impacted communities are immediately alerted to development opportunities and consulted and engaged meaningfully when a developer steps forward with a proposed plan?

Make preliminary development plan notifications mandatory to the affected areas. As a preliminary step prior to the Planning Commission approvals. Establish ‘earlier’ ENN notification meetings. Suggest local neighborhood groups to become sources of city news and host relevant discussions.

3) What do you believe the role of the community is in community development?​

Align on values for their area/neighborhoods. Foster awareness. Gather and submit feedback on all development projects. Be vocal of concerns & needs.

​4) What do you believe the role of the City is in community development?

The role of the City is to: a) Establish land use codes and policies, b) Establish the process for community involvement, c) Establish process for procedural reviews, d) Establish the permitting process, e) Establish time for sufficient community discussion on development matters and projects.

5) What values, besides monetary, should be considered in approving or denying a development?

The following values should be considered in approving or denying development: > Effect on neighborhood character > Valued open space > Historic ordinance code enforcement > Potential displacement of existing residents > Proof of water availability > Infrastructure and amenity requirements > Environmental pollution factors > Elimination of prominent historical view corridors

6) A disparity exists between services, infrastructure improvements, and quality of life amenities in the different parts of the City. Despite commitments to address inequities in investment and improve services, infrastructure, and amenities  in the area annexed by the City in the area north of Airport Rd, development has been limited to new housing developments. This area of town is already the most densely populated area of the city with the greatest number of households with children and yet there remains no library, no parks, no teen center, no senior center, no community center, no grocery stores, no commercial areas, no public spaces, no centers for arts and culture, no recreation centers. It also has the highest number of immigrants, Hispanics, Indigenous, African Americans and people living in poverty. It was also the most impacted community during the pandemic, having more infections and deaths than any other in Santa Fe. The lack of services and amenities contributed directly to those outcomes.

​What are your plans for bringing these needed services and amenities to the area?​​​

(undetermined at this time)

​7) How can we ensure greater equity in development moving forward?

The answer lies in better and more complete planning to ensure necessary features are created in all development areas.

8) What level of services and amenities should be present before more housing is built, and how do you determine that?

An amenity strategy should become part of any development plan going forward. Green and open spaces should be planned and determined in advance. Typically, there is lag factor as to when commercial entities will enter into a development. It is rare that commercial entities will establish themselves before any neighborhood is even present.

9) The majority of mobile home parks in Santa Fe are on the Airport Road Corridor. Mobile homes and parks are an important affordable housing stock/source. Mobile homes parks house essential workers who are the foundation and driver of Santa Fe’s economy. There are fears that these mobile home communities will be sold to developers to build market rate housing and other commercial developments, displacing entire communities and their residents.

What do you propose to avoid this potential crisis​?

Restricting of land sales must be defined by law. Land use controls rely on deed and land restrictions. Restrictive covenant agreements can be placed to restrict/limit further subdivision. Conservation easements can protect open spaces. Both use restrictions and building restrictions may help guard against ‘undesired’ future use. These would have to be embedded in the deed prior to any sale.

​10) Do you support the idea of a Land Trust that could protect these communities?

Possibly, but I would first support approaches that foster actual home and land ownership.

​11) What other ideas do you have to protect working-class Santa Feans and generational residents from displacement?

I support ideas like a 'senior' trust fund to help seniors maintain and upgrade their existing homes in established neighborhoods.

12) District 3 borders the industrial zone adjacent to Airport Road and 599, and as such is the most impacted by potential emissions and other toxic pollutants. The area north of Airport Rd, the most densely populated, most diverse and poorest, is the most directly impacted. As it is home to the majority of Santa Fe’s children and youth, as well as an area that is extremely underserved and consequently has higher pre-existing health conditions, the additional risks posed by the industrial zone and proposed expansion is of great concern. This is an Environmental Justice crisis.​

How do you propose to mitigate or eliminate these extra risks to our community?

The Industrial Zone and the airport were in place and active prior to the expansion of residential development into that area. The city might consider restricting further growth into that area. Should the city continue to develop on that area, knowledge and awareness of all environmental impacts should be made aware to potential buyers and renters. Factors related to environmental and public health should be factored into further residential development or industrial expansion in that specific area.

13) Will you support a Cumulative Impacts rule so that proposed new or expanded operations must be reviewed taking into consideration the existing environmental, health and socioeconomic conditions of the impacted communities?

Lately, brown water and questionable water quality have appeared as a concern throughout the entire city -not just the area you describe- so we are all affected. For the area you describe, I would like to see the relevant data of emissions and toxic pollutants so we ALL have a clear understanding of the level of possible harm that may exist. At some point, environmental laws may need to be built into permit decision making process for certain expansions in certain areas.

​14) Will you support public investments in the area that help mitigate impacts, such as increasing the tree canopy, eliminating pavement and concrete, increasing open space and green areas?

Yes. The city should also commit to honoring existing open space agreements and not sell away areas once designated as 'open space'. This is an environmental injustice to the city. Open space should exist in perpetuity wherever possible.​

15) The state has invested in a Community Schools (CS) strategy which provides funding for a Community Schools Coordinator at high need schools. This person helps to coordinate services and support for low income students and their families, in partnership with a council that is family and community driven. This is a proven strategy for supporting student learning and wellbeing. SFPS has several schools with a Community Schools Coordinator, mostly on the Southside. Another organization, Communities In Schools (CIS), is already coordinating services and support at these schools. This presents an opportunity for the CS strategy to have an impact beyond the schools, and change the community conditions in which the children and their families live. This is also a proven strategy that supports student learning and wellbeing, but also creates opportunities for the families and neighborhoods that the schools serve. 


Would you support a city-school-community partnership that would focus on transforming adverse community experiences and conditions? What might that look like?

Yes, I would support.

16) Would you support targeted public investments in the neighborhoods, like job training, adult education, increasing home ownership, bringing city services and amenities, increasing out of school recreational opportunities, etc?

Yes, and I would add financial literacy education and partnering with volunteer groups as an extension of city services to your list.

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