Council Action Taken At Meeting Feb. 1

Los Alamos Daily Post

Ordinance 02-323, which would establish a registration and fees of vacant commercial buildings in Los Alamos County, is off the table; for now.

During Tuesday night’s Los Alamos County Council meeting, it was voted 5-2, with Councilors Sara Scott and David Izraelevitz opposed, to refer the ordinance to staff for evaluation and consideration.

More specifically, County staff are directed to address issues that were identified during the Jan. 24 town hall about the ordinance. These issues include rewriting definitions included in the ordinance, having a threshold of 75 percent of a building’s square footage or discrete units being unoccupied to label it as vacant, investigating enforceability and efficacy.

There is no deadline for County staff to return to council.

In other business, council approved 6-1, with Councilor Sean Williams opposed, guidance for Local Economic Development Act (LEDA).

According to the staff report, this guidance includes the following:

  • Improve communications by using a marketing strategy that better promotes the LEDA program;
  • Establish review criteria that may extend beyond the broad criteria defined in the LEDA code;
  • Provide, at a minimum, at least two additional opportunities to inform and involve the public when considering a LEDA project;
  • Have initial evaluation of applications be more based upon criteria tied clearly with current County goals, objectives and initiatives;
  • Seek partners that can provide support and services for pending LEDA projects when appropriate; and
  • Expand and improve coordination with existing and other potential economic development entities and tools when appropriate.

Council also provided feedback on the County’s plan for distributing American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

Williams opposed the plan for ARPA funds and the guidance for LEDA, arguing that neither is doing what is necessary to help local businesses, which is making it affordable for business owners to purchase and own property.

Councilor David Reagor agreed that businesses owning property needs to be part of the discussion. He added, regarding the plan for ARPA funds, that it should include a way for people to buy their own building. This plan is for businesses to be more viable and not make landlords richer, Reagor said.

Scott said she felt the ARPA plan offered a good set of tools.
“Our community really wants us to look at ways to support businesses … we can’t do everything but this funding provides us some new tools and new abilities in terms of how we can support business,” she said. “I appreciate the integrated view … in the end it’s (about) what the community needs and wants.”

Derkacs agreed, saying, “it’s not a magic wand but it is a comprehensive approach. I appreciate the effort that went into this. I think this an opportunity to help small businesses in ways that are available to us.”

In other business, council:

  • Approved 4-3, with Derkacs, Hand and Izraelevitz opposed, to purchase Artist Amanda Jaffee’s five mosaic tile pieces for the Leisure Lagoon. The cost will not exceed $115,000.
  • Unanimously approved the purchase of 260 bear resistant dumpsters. The cost is $881,555.
  • Approved 6-1, with Reagor opposed, changing Juneteenth (June 19) and Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Oct. 2, to observed County holidays rather than personal holidays.
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