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Albuquerque City Council passes moratorium on safe outdoor spaces

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Visit Albuquerque
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City of Albuquerque

After months of debates and public outcry, the Albuquerque City Council approved a 12 month moratorium on safe outdoor spaces Monday night.

This bars the city from accepting or approving any pending applications for safe outdoor spaces until August 1, 2023, unless the Council acts earlier on a separate related bill.

The idea of safe outdoor spaces in Albuquerque became a contentious talking point among the Council and public ever since the zoning for them was enacted back in June.

Councilor Brook Bassan was a supporter for this original bill when it passed, but shortly thereafter, did a u-turn on the idea. Announcing that she intended to repeal the law, citing that Albuquerque was not ready for safe outdoor spaces.

At Monday night’s meeting, Bassan said she believed the original bill was a good idea.

“I was very fond of the idea of living lots, I really believe that was a good first step for Albuquerque, I thought it was going to be something that allow for instead of tents and cars to be sprinkled throughout all of Albuquerque, it would allow for us to say, you have to go to one of these designated lots where we have some kind of support for you and some kind of place or location.”

The moratorium bill passed with the support of fellow councilors Renée Grout, Trudy Jones, Dan Lewis, Klarissa Peña and Louie Sanchez.

It will not take immediate effect; the Council must first forward it to Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, who has 10 days to either sign it, veto it or let it proceed without his input.

The Keller administration in the past has shown support for safe outdoor spaces, saying that they are a part of an “all-of-the-above” approach to addressing homelessness in the city.

The Council also amended the bill to include the stoppage of approving pending applications for safe outdoor spaces.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque has already received five applications, with the Planning Department approving one just last week.

Planning Director Alan Varela told the Journal that someone appealed that decision on Monday.

Gino Gutierrez was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A lifelong resident of New Mexico, Gino found interest in broadcasting after falling in love with sports and sports broadcasting. He attended the University of New Mexico, where he majored in mass media journalism. While at UNM, he worked the New Mexico Daily Lobo, serving as both sports and managing editor. He can also be heard providing play-by-play commentary for the Lobo Hockey Network.