Aaron Walker: Downtown Master Plan Needs More

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Independent Candidate For County Council

Los Alamos County has commissioned a consultant to come up with a “master plan” for downtown redevelopment. This is sorely needed, and will be a big benefit to the community. However, it will only benefit the community if the County Council takes some actions that have been needed for quite some time. If the downtown area gets redeveloped and no businesses are willing to come in and pay the massively inflated commercial real estate rents, we will have gorgeous looking buildings downtown with no businesses. That is like having a brand new car with no engine, useless.

The first thing we need to do is pass an ordinance restricting the lab from renting first floor commercial real estate in downtown at a minimum. The prospect of government rates has artificially inflated the cost of commercial space to be roughly the equivalent of Santa Fe. Los Alamos County doesn’t have the population to support those types of rent costs, and the County must do everything they can to keep rates reasonable for small business owners.

The next thing we need to do is give the County some teeth in dealing with landlords that keep properties vacant. I believe Sean Williams was the first Council candidate to recommend this, and I am fully on board with this idea. If we impose a fee structure or tax on commercial properties kept vacant for extensive lengths of time, the land owner will have an incentive for filling that property even if it means lowering the asking rent.

Small business owners right now are hurting due to COVID-19, and our business environment is punishing them even more. Our county needs to elect councilors that are not afraid of making changes. We need to elect councilors that are responsive to the needs of the community, and are willing to adapt quickly to address those needs. Our County can not afford to be indecisive any longer. It’s time for a different perspective on Council. It’s time to elect someone that won’t shy away from advocating for change, and wants to move this County forward without any party biases. That’s what I bring to the table, and that’s why I am running for County Council.