By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post
After a lengthy discussion and several motions, Los Alamos County Council ultimately voted to withdraw an ordinance that proposed creating a downtown pedestrian retail overlay zone during its regular meeting Tuesday night.
The motion passed 5-1 with Councilor David Reagor opposed. Councilor Sara Scott was not in attendance.
Other motions were considered before council withdrew the ordinance.
Councilor Sean Williams proposed tabling the motion for 120 days. During that time, staff would be directed to develop a RFP to hire researchers to study the proposed ordinance and determine whether or not it would be viable. The issue would return to council Dec. 7. However, the motion failed to pass 3-3. Councilors Reagor, David Izraelevitz and Denise Derkacs were opposed and Councilors Williams, James Robinson and Council Chair Randall Ryti were in favor.
Speaking from his own experiences as a local business owner, Williams said he felt a key issue in the County is a lack of entrepreneurial opportunities, adding that while the proposed ordinance might not be the answer to this issue it was an answer to the issue.
“I feel like it is prudent to look at this and give this the best evaluation we can,” he said.
Izraelevitz said he didn’t think hiring researchers to study the ordinance made sense. Why hire professional analysts when the County’s own professionals – its economic development administrator and planners – had studied the issue and advised against it, he asked.
Izraelevitz pointed out that he saw several flaws with the ordinance. First, during the town hall meeting held Aug. 10, the ordinance was heavily discussed but no one spoke in favor of it. Additionally, Izraelevitz said while this ordinance may work in other communities, that does not mean it would work in Los Alamos where interest in opening retail businesses is low. Furthermore, he wondered what would happen if this solution was force fed to the downtown.
“We need to have a collaborative strategy where we bring all the people together (and) it doesn’t make a zero-sum game where some people win at the expense of other people,” Izraelevitz said.
Therefore, he motioned to table the item for an undetermined amount of time to see if it could be incorporated into the current downtown master plan project and Chapter 16 development code revision. However, that motion failed to pass 2-4. Derkacs and Izraelevitz were in favor while Reagor, Robinson, Ryti and Williams were opposed.
Derkacs wondered with the ordinance withdrawn, could it be reintroduced. Deputy County Attorney Katie Thwaites said the ordinance could be redrafted but the entire process to implement it would need to start over.
In other business:
Council proclaimed August as Bear Month. Williams read the proclamation and presented it to Rachel Landman of the Pajarito Environmental Education Center.
Council passed a resolution to authorize and approve the applications to the New Mexico Finance Authority for financial assistance and project approval for painting Barranca Mesa #2 Water Tank and replacing the four-water system motor control centers.
Council also passed 5-1, with Reagor opposed, signing a letter addressed to businesses and commercial associations that urges them to follow the state’s lead in requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination or COVID-19 testing once per week for employees, and to extend similar requirements to patrons. The Governor has signed this letter alongside federal and state legislators and other local officials.