Councilor Sean Williams: Focusing Downtown On Retail

Los Alamos County Councilor

Since taking office—and as I promised on the campaign trail—I’ve been working on policy to bring us the kind of downtowns we all want. This has culminated in a draft ordinance for a new Pedestrian Retail zone that limits downtown ground-floor spaces to customer-oriented businesses.

Specifically, it would limit the downtown areas to “pedestrian-oriented ground floor mixed use retail sales, entertainment, restaurants, including food and beverage, and personal and medical services with upper floor residential and professional offices.”

Zoning is a tool that local governments use to shape the character of the community. According to a recent community survey, only 15% of respondents believe the county has well-planned commercial growth, and only 7% are satisfied with the shopping opportunities in the county.

To me, this expresses an overwhelming desire for change in the downtown areas, for the downtowns to be devoted to businesses that sell goods and services to the public. This is a slam dunk case for rezoning, which is why this has been my legislative focus so far.

I don’t think the Pedestrian Retail zone is a silver bullet, but it’s an important first step to getting the vibrant commercial centers that we want. Therefore, I hope you’ll join me in fighting for small business, and for our community, by supporting pragmatic changes to our commercial land use policies—by emailing the County Council (, sending a letter to the editor, or discussing it on social media.