New neighborhood associations still on hold as city council turns down proposal

Politics - Government

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It took years of work to come up with a plan to revamp the city’s neighborhood associations. However, city council shot down those plans this week. Neighborhood associations hold a lot of power behind city decisions — from stadiums being built in your community to safety improvements. Now, a plan to add more structure to how they’re run is up in the air.

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“Interim guidelines that temporarily restricted the formation of new neighborhood associations whose proposed boundaries would conflict with existing associations were put into place and are still in place,” said an advisor during the council meeting. “To become recognized, a new neighborhood association or neighborhood coalition must allow any resident or business to become a member.”

The ordinance would have also limited boundaries of neighborhood associations and not force people to pay dues. After studies and years of community input, the council took up the Neighborhood Association Recognition Ordinance on Monday but existing associations overwhelmingly asked for the vote to be deferred. They cited everything from money to needed changes to the wording of the ordinance.

Some even said their input from community meetings wasn’t taken into consideration. “Where are the funds going to come from for us to be able to be able to communicate to 3,000 homes efficiently,” asked one community member. “How are we going to maintain contact lists.”

“It sounds like you’re repealing this numbered section and then resurrecting it,” said another. “We’ve got so many concerns that have been raised about provisions in it and then so many amendments that have been proposed.”

Even with the pushback from associations, city council agreed to proceed and consider any amendment to improve the ordinance. However, despite councilors approving all 13 amendments, when it came to either postponing the final vote or passing it as amended, a majority of councilors voted it down.

“If the votes aren’t there, they’re not there, but a tremendous amount of work was put into this,” said Councilor Ike Benton. “If it doesn’t go tonight, my apologies to everyone who worked so hard on it.”

In the end, only councilors Benton, Davis, Gibson and Jones voted to approve the new ordinance. For now, it’s back to the drawing board.

Councilor Benton says while he’s not yet prepared to discuss the next steps, “there has been too much work into this effort to give up now.” There has not been a future date listed for the neighborhood association ordinance to be visited by the city council.

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