This began not as a Los Alamos NIMBY thing, but as an unfortunate example of much-less-than-best practices by government. Hundreds have signed petitions and sent letters requesting better plans for development of a lot. Why place 12 dwellings on an acre-and-a-half without safe and adequate access?

The access road, a shoulderless Fire Lane, would remain narrow and, for 100 feet, only single-lane despite being two-way. Current plans would result in scores of additional vehicles, including large trucks.

Under pressure for new housing, even where demonstrably inappropriate, County Planning & Development has failed to give ample consideration to issues of safety.

P&D employees are overwhelmingly approachable and able. The Zoning Administrator, however, was unprepared for her hearing. This was followed by a public meeting of Planning Commissioners, two of whom should have recused due to, at least, the perception of conflicts of interest. Also, staff obligingly displayed my photographic evidence, except for those depicting trucks trying to negotiate the narrow section of road.

A pivotal P&D employee has been transportation planner William Robertson. He has downplayed increased risks of accident at and near the bottleneck, asserting that the county would not be legally liable. He averted a formal traffic study, while choosing not to do a thorough informal one, relying instead on formulas from an international traffic engineering manual. Then, he advanced low estimates of road traffic by disregarding half of the planned dwellings on a technicality.

If an appeal had been brought to our county supervisors, I choose to believe that a majority would have seen the wisdom of a better course. In other matters, to the benefit of our economy, health and safety, they have overturned poorly considered plans endorsed by P&D. 

Attention is paid when we take the time to become informed and express ourselves, as residents and voters. In this Los Alamos case, efforts led to the offer of some concessions by the developer, although minor in the context of the unmitigable harms. Throughout, our print and e-news media continue to play a crucial and constructive role.


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