On the second night of the City Hall Public Forums, the three candidates took turns selling the public their ideas for solving one of Santa Fe’s most controversial issues: housing.
After an evening devoted to the economy, Mayor Alan Webber, Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler and Alexis Martinez Johnson, once again gathered at the Lensic Performing Arts Center to make a campaign. Both public forums focused on discussions from the hosts: the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce and the Santa Fe Housing Action Coalition.
The division between the candidates deepened as each laid out big visions on how to tackle homelessness, evictions, public communication and other housing-related topics. Webber stuck to a specific scenario of his administration’s past efforts to expand affordable housing and increase housing supply in the city, while Vigil Coppler and Martinez Johnson have alternated holes in the mayor’s and city’s track records. suggestions for moving forward.
“I have a progressive vision for Santa Fe based on our values as a community. I believe we are on the road to a better future, a more inclusive future, a sustainable future, ”said Webber. Very early on, Webber strove to distinguish himself from his two competitors: “My rivals talk about going backwards, in another era.
He went on to attribute a list of his administration’s accomplishments in addressing the affordable housing shortage, highlighting a $ 6 million investment in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and working with developers and builders to dramatically increase the number of d ‘units in the city.
Vigil Coppler highlighted his experience as a broker and public servant to gain the trust of voters. Asked about the lack of housing supply and overburdened tenants, Vigil Coppler said the Santa Fe housing market is going through an intense period but will calm down in the future. She offered to share details later with City Hall on how to deal with the intense heat in the housing market, but time did not allow more details.
Martinez Johnson has largely avoided proposing specific actions to increase the low supply of housing. She sought to separate from the two candidates by pointing to the lack of communication between the mayor and the councilors. She pushed the division further through a few rhetorical questions that made the crowd laugh.
When Julia Goldberg, senior correspondent for SFR, moderating the event, asked what long-term tenants protections the city needs to address structural problems in the housing market, Vigil Coppler suggested rent control.
“There are a lot of tenants who can’t pay their rent and so they’ve tripled and doubled in a single-family home and have lots and lots of people living in a house,” Vigil Coppler said, admitting that the measure isn’t maybe not popular, but necessary. “We need to allow them to move into rent-controlled areas at an affordable price. “
In addition to suggesting that the city should provide land for future developments for tenants, Webber predicted that his administration was funding a rental assistance office that would provide information on their rights and how to negotiate with landlords. Spanish-speaking residents.
Regarding promoting future and more equitable land use growth in Santa Fe, Webber cited a $ 200,000 line in the budget for a growth management plan that he says will ensure future development. sustainable. “Affordable housing and sustainability are two sides of the same coin,” Webber said throughout the evening’s discussion.
Webber also suggested that instead of requiring builders to allocate land for a park when securing new developments, the code should require construction projects to replace those spaces with community amenities in the neighborhood.
Vigil Coppler pushed back on Webber’s plan to replace the parks with a new development. “No parks? Maybe it’s because we don’t take care of the parks we have, ”she said.
“My growth plan will definitely include higher density. We’re never going to get affordable housing if we don’t tackle some of the old ways of planning for this city. Vigil Coppler said Santa Fe needed more “an open mind and a willingness to really get affordable housing in this city.”
Goldberg asked applicants how they plan to improve communication with the public about development projects.
Vigil Coppler explained that the first neighborhood notification meetings often took place when stakeholders were at work, instead suggesting a schedule that she said invited all stakeholders in a subdivision to a meeting where everyone involved could. reach consensus on the details of the development.
Webber admitted that the process is tedious for both developers and residents of the neighborhood. He suggested streamlining the process and promoting dialogue between the two stakeholders: “I believe that by simplifying, streamlining and modernizing our processes, we will facilitate the construction of affordable housing that everyone agrees meets the needs. needs of our community. “
The final candidate hosted the adversarial competition. “One is a real estate agent and the other, you know, sets up these tall buildings all around. We have to ask ourselves, you want high density, is that what you want? I didn’t know and I didn’t think they knew, ”said Martinez Johnson, pointing to his two opponents.
Vigil Coppler also ended on a low note, appearing to reveal a negative encounter with Webber during his closing statement.
“And when there is a disagreement, I would never yell at a city councilor,” she said. “I would never tell him, ‘Don’t change your panties’, that’s what that mayor did to me.”
Webber’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment after the event.
Early voting began Tuesday at the county clerk’s office and extended early voting continues until October 30. For all the details on the municipal elections, go to the SFR elections FAQ page.