ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A controversial zoning change allowing homeowners to add and rent out casitas got the green light from city council. But not before a lot of public comment on both sides of the issue.

“We drastically need more of every kind, every kind, that’s low income and high income,” said one citizen about the housing crisis in public comment.

More casitas could soon be popping up in Albuquerque after city council narrowly approved zoning changes in the name of the housing crisis. The months-long process came to a head Wednesday night with dozens of public comments both for and against the zoning changes.

“I ask you again to pass them tonight,” said one citizen.

“Albuquerque badly needs more housing. This ordinance isn’t a magic bullet and no one believes it will solve the housing crisis. But I believe it’s an important step in providing opportunities for a greater diversity of housing stock,” said a private citizen.

“Throwing things against the wall to see what sticks is not an affordable housing plan,” said another private citizen.

“There’ll be parking issues, there’ll be crime issues and most of the people living on the street couldn’t afford a house at 400 a month,” said another private citizen. “We need to do something but let’s not turn our neighborhoods into horrible.”

The zoning changes are part of Mayor Tim Keller’s ‘Housing Forward’ initiative. The final version of the bill that councilors approved allows for ‘additional dwelling units or casitas to be built in neighborhoods with R-1 zoning, which have traditionally restricted each lot to one single-family home, as long as there is enough space on the property.

It also paves the way for converting motel properties into housing and includes provisions to ease parking challenges at developments. After many amendments, like taking out the provision that would’ve allowed duplexes in R-1 zones, the council passed the changes on a 5-4 vote.

“As mayor, I proposed bold ideas to address our housing challenges, council made reasonable changes to address neighborhood aesthetic concerns raised through the nearly 9-month input process, and we came to a solution that might not give everyone exactly what they wanted, but strikes a balance to benefit Albuquerque.”

Mayor Tim Keller, City of Albuquerque