Local business owner and real estate agent Sean Williams is entering the race for Los Alamos County Council. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/ladailypost.com
By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post
In November, three seats on Los Alamos County Council will be open and local business owner and real estate agent Sean Williams hopes the community will vote for him to serve on one of them.
Williams said he serves on the County’s Planning and Zoning Commission and a fellow commissioner approached him with the idea of running. Williams said he decided to pursue the public office because it is an opportunity to spark a real change in the downtown areas in Los Alamos and White Rock.
“I do think one of the biggest issues that gets talked about … is downtown vitality,” he said. “Ultimately making a push for downtown vitality is what pushed me (to run).”
Williams said there are two big issues concerning the County’s downtown areas. One is that there are not inviting places to go, he said, and the second is that the laboratory competes with local businesses for commercial space.
Council is addressing the downtown; Williams said the council approved developing a master plan for the downtown and authorized County staff to release a request for proposals to create the plan as well as revise zoning and nuisance codes.
“I do see options for rewrites in the code to hold the downtown areas to higher standards than they have been,” he said.
For instance, “I think we need to look at aesthetics,” Williams said. “I think we need the downtown to look good.”
At the very least, he said the facades on buildings need to look good. He pointed out that the County did a great job installing streetscapes along Central Avenue, but they are placed in front of 60s-era government buildings.
Williams said traditionally the County grandfathered existing buildings but it doesn’t need to.
He said new standards can be phased in on existing commercial properties.
Another big issue is housing.
“I think the County has done a really good job on housing,” Williams said.
Regarding the housing study on North Mesa, he said the big question is how the housing will stay affordable. Another question is how the land will be zoned.
Williams added that he can understand residents’ reluctance to higher density in neighborhoods and he would like to better understand what residents on North Mesa want. As far as future housing developments, Williams said, “I think there are three main places to make an easy case for housing density: DP Road, the downtown and the laboratory.”
The County is already pursuing options on DP Road. In addition to the two affordable apartment complexes that are being built, Williams said, the County is looking at what to do with parcel A-8-A.
“As far as the downtown, Los Alamos’ downtown is mixed use,” he said, meaning there is an opportunity for buildings to feature businesses on the bottom floors and residences on the top floors.
Furthermore, the County has no power in the laboratory’s operations, but Williams said the County could advocate that LANL consider building a dormitory for students and visitors to the laboratory.
Williams has lived in Los Alamos since 2008. He co-owns Automotive Professionals on DP Road along with his spouse, Jordan Durose.
Williams also is an Associate Broker with New Mexico Real Estate Project. He has served on Planning and Zoning since last fall. He said being a member of Planning and Zoning has helped him learn a lot about the County.
“I have learned an awful lot on how the County functions,” he said. “I learned a lot about existing ordinances. I’ve gotten to know a lot of people in County government.”
Plus, as a business owner, Williams said he could be a representative to the local business community.
“I feel the business community deserves more representation,” he said.
Williams is hosting several upcoming events to meet with the public. The first is 10 a.m. to noon Friday at Fleur de Lys and the second is 1-3 p.m. Feb. 29 at Pig + Fig.
He said the informal gatherings are a chance for him to share his ideas as well as learn about what other people think are big issues in the County.
“Talking to people about how they experience the County – that really expands your knowledge on what the County can and should be doing,” Williams said.
To learn more about Williams, visit http://williamsforlosalamos.org.