The Las Cruces City Council received a progress report on “Realize Las Cruces” at its Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, work session, in Council Chambers at City Hall.
In March 2021, the City contracted with Freese and Nichols, Inc. (F&N) for two-year project to amend the City’s development codes. The project is called “Realize Las Cruces,” which consists of three phases and will continue through March 2023.
The first phase, which has been completed, consisted of code user interviews, a virtual open house, and the gathering, review, and analysis of applicable codes and policies. However, the virtual open house continues, and additional information can be found online at www.RealizeLasCruces.com.
A resulting deliverable for Phase One was the Code Diagnostic which outlined structural modifications to the existing code and recommended various content changes. The findings of that report were shared in August 2021 with City Council.
Phase Two of “Realize Las Cruces,” which is currently underway, consists of the drafting and initial review of individual chapters of the code. City staff and F&N consultants updated City Council at Monday’s work session on the progress thus far and the next steps.
The Council was told repeating sections of the development code are now being consolidated. The first drafts of the general provisions of the development code will soon be reviewed.
It is noteworthy that the development community knows that the City is making diligent effort to keep pace with emerging trends and technology of the times. Using a 19-year-old Land Use Code is not best planning practice. The update process will focus on amending the existing zoning regulations, zoning map, subdivision regulations, sign regulations, and design standards such as parking, street design, and landscaping. The update also will focus on streamlining and simplifying development procedures to ensure clear and efficient processes.
The update will be driven by the policies and actions identified through the Elevate Las Cruces comprehensive plan process. The overarching purpose of this code update is to implement the vision that was established with the Elevate plan, in addition to making the code more user friendly and ensuring compliance with state regulations.
The Council also discussed homelessness in Las Cruces. The topics of discussion, which was led by City staff and representatives of partner agencies, included trends, challenges, and existing resources.
Several recommendations to ease or end homelessness were presented to City Council. Those included:
- Expanding the availability and affordability of housing
- Expansion of the Community of Hope campus and services
- Expansion of the City’s Mano y Mano program.
- Support of the House America Proclamation and a sign-on letter.
- Establishment of landlord voucher incentives and a risk mitigation fund.
- Establishing Metropolitan Redevelopment Area assessments and an incentive program.
- Revision of the City’s infill policy.
- Increased state and federal lobbying for mental health and substance use treatments.
- Seek additional state and federal resources.
- Expanded support and staff for responding City departments that regularly deal with homelessness, such as Police, Fire, Codes Enforcement, Housing, Parks and Recreation, and Quality of Life.
An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 New Mexicans experience homelessness in New Mexico each year. The New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness estimates approximately 6,548 people experience homelessness each year but do not get adequate assistance to help their circumstances.
Prior to the City Council work session, the Council met as the Tax Increment Development District (TIDD) Board of Commissioners. The TIDD Board was updated on the financial status of the TIDD and was briefed on the status of current projects.
The Council was told revenues in the TIDD have substantially increased in the past six months. Currently, there is $7.28 million in the TIDD. The special tax district includes much of downtown Las Cruces and revenues can be used for infrastructure improvements, such as roads and lighting projects.