Finding realistic and workable solutions on the issue of homelessness.
The City of Albuquerque has two successful Safe Outdoor Space (SOS) programs
The two successful SOS programs, both followed an inclusive process and provided needed services to support the city’s unhoused residents. Both of the successful programs are managed by Heading Home. Heading Home is an experienced provider with a proven track record. The SOS programs serve the unhoused in Albuquerque’s North Valley and Westside. programs serve the unhoused in Albuquerque’s North Valley and Westside.
A rushed decision to approve a third SOS program
Recently, the City of Albuquerque hurriedly approved a third SOS program, Dawn Legacy Pointe (DLP), a tent encampment that is wedged between two interstate highways on an unimproved site, that has served as an asphalt and concrete plant. This informational website provides insight and documentation about the City’s rushed process, its broken promises and the problems with its proposed “solution.”
Sunset Memorial Park, Crowne Plaza Albuquerque, Menual School and the Santa Barbara Martineztown neighborhood all have unique stories to tell about their rich history, how they’ve been impacted by homelessness and why the DLP encampment will only further exacerbate the degrading infrastructure along Menaul.
The city of Albuquerque operates on processes.
The city has a process to elect officials, a process to hire employees and process to build economic development. In the case of DLP, there was no documented notice, no public process and an expediated, noninclusive “solution.”
- No Notice – Only Crowne Plaza Albuquerque received notice from DLP. Other neighboring businesses and even the neighborhood association where the proposed SOS is planned didn’t receive notice form the city or DLP.
- No Hearing – The City Plan and DLP intent to turn an industrial site into a tent encampment is void of any public input. There was no hearing or opportunity to be heard.
- No Services – The two current SOS programs are located near existing city/private services. This tent encampment is wedged between two interstates
The Menaul Redevelopment Study
The Menaul Redevelopment Study (MRS), an inclusive approach led by the City of Albuquerque’s Planning Department, is a multi-faceted approach to improve the areas by homelessness and poverty along Menaul Boulevard. The promise of improving Menaul Boulevard included years of public hearings, reports, and plans. The City provided an update on this project in December, 2022.
Then, without notice, consultation or acknowledgement of the group’s work to restore Menaul to its previous glory, the City approves a homeless encampment at the Menaul Redevelopment corridor’s gateway.
The homeless encampment’s location contradicts the City-approved Menaul Redevelopment Study which shows that homelessness and crime already impact areas along Menaul Boulevard. The Dawn Legacy Pointe SOS will provide passive permission for the area to become a homeless hub, similar to Coronado Park, negatively impacting the ability to attract new capital investment—a key solution to redeveloping Menaul, in-line with the MRS.
What happened to the City’s promise of providing a solution to remove the homeless and blight?
An Old Asphalt and Concrete Plant
The land set aside by the City for Dawn Legacy Pointe’s Safe Outdoor Space is located at 1250 Menaul Blvd NE, adjacent to the intersection of I-25 and I-40. The land is owned by the Albuquerque Solid Waste Management Department and is a former asphalt and concrete plant. The plat of land, complete with asphalt tailings and other construction oils and solvents is the place the City wants to place a homeless encampment.
Dawn Legacy Pointe is an organization that submitted a permit to create a tent encampment for unhoused victims of sex trafficking or exploitation in the sex trade. Their Safe Outdoor Space received approval by the City of Albuquerque to establish an 11-acre tent facility, with outdoor bathrooms, showers and storage spaces as 1250 Menaul NE, Albuquerque. Their website can be viewed here.
The location is within the historic Santa Barbara Martineztown neighborhood and nearby to the Menaul School, a longstanding memorial cemetery, a leading Albuquerque hotel property, Crowne Plaza Albuquerque, and other businesses and residential areas.
The site, 1250 Menaul Blvd, was used for industrial purposes and was an asphalt plant for over 40 years. In 2021, the City commissioned a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment 6 (“ESA”) for the proposed site. The ESA showed evidence off soil samples containing petroleum hydrocarbons, and heavy metals including barium, chromium, led, and arsenic. The Dawn Legacy Pointe Permit has no indication of consideration of the environmental safety of the site when formulating operational plans. No attempt has been made in the application process to detail any possible steps toward mitigation of potential environmental health hazards.
Seven Groups Filed Separate Appeals
Seven Albuquerque organizations filed their objections to the approval of the Dawn Legacy Pointe (DLP) Safe Outdoor Space permit to allow a homeless tent encampment at 1250 Menaul NE. The approval was granted by the Code Compliance Manager of the City of Albuquerque (City) Planning Department. The seven groups, filing separate appeals, include: Santa Barbara Martinez Town Neighborhood Association, Crowne Plaza Albuquerque, Sunset Memorial Park, Menaul School, Greater Albuquerque Hotel Lodgers Association, LifeROOTS and the Albuquerque Hotel Project (Ramada Plaza Hotel).
Menaul School Appeal | December 23, 2022
Sunset Memorial Park Appeal | December 23, 2022
LifeRoots Appeal | December 22, 2022
Crowne Plaza ABQ DLP Appeal | December 22, 2022
Ramada Plaza Appeal | December 23, 2022
Greater Albuquerque Hotel Lodgers Association Appeal | December 22, 2022
Santa Barbara Martineztown Neighborhood Association Appeal | December 20, 2022
Here are links to news media stories on this topic
City Hearing Officer says there is “Substantial Evidence” that Dawn Legacy Pointe Application Runs counter to City Zoning Process; Recommends “To Expeditiously Dispose of the Matter” | March 16, 2023 | News Release
Seven Organizations file appeals with the City | December 29, 2022 | News Release
PeteDinelli.com | December 12, 2022 | Hotel & Lodging Association says “Safe Outdoor Spaces” not a solution for homeless crisis
New Mexico Sun | December 14, 2022 | GAHLA director: ‘SOSs are not the proper solution for the homeless occupants’
PeteDinelli.com | December 12, 2022 | City Council Votes to remove “Safe Outdoor Spaces” from zoning
The SOS Petition: Menaul School is spearheading this important petition that asks the City to rethink the Dawn Legacy Pointe Application.
The Menaul School has created a petition to the City of Albuquerque to save Menaul Blvd homes and businesses from Safe Outdoor Spaces. With this SOS program being approved in an area that needs support and redevelopment, the citizens and businesses along Menaul Blvd do not accept this as a solution to the City’s homelessness crisis. One resident said, “We are bursting at the seams with the homeless and the City continues to send more into our area while the services are located in other parts of town.”
This website is supported by a group of concerned citizens who are in favor of finding solutions for Albuquerque’s homeless. The group would like to see the city finish what it started with the Gateway Center approach before developing knee jerk reactions to address lack of planning, like the Safe Open Space program.