BY AARON WALKER
If I owned a local business, I would be tearing up my Chamber of Commerce membership after the Tuesday night County Council meeting. Patrick Sullivan, the Executive Director of the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation provided public comment that was very telling of the way the LACDC and the Chamber see small businesses.
At that meeting, the Council was discussing a “pedestrian retail overlay zone” proposal to be sent to the Planning and Zoning Commission which would alter zoning to prohibit first floor office space in downtown. During public comment, Mr. Sullivan stated that high rents weren’t a limiting factor in business development, but the county population was the driving issue. “The best way we can help our local business is to increase the customer base and that is to increase the amount of people in our community and that is to focus on housing specifically in the downtown”.
If population is the driving factor, I wonder how long it will take for Los Alamos to get to the population of the City of Santa Fe? Our commercial rent costs are similar to theirs, so expecting a population boom of ~64,000 to get our population in line with rent must be reasonable to Mr. Sullivan. The only problem is that ~84,000 people won’t fit in Los Alamos County, so his “more downtown living” argument is wildly off base when trying to address the issue.
One of the “Benefits” of being a member of the Chamber of Commerce is “Advocacy”. Their own website even states: “We advocate for Los Alamos business and tourism interests”. That’s interesting, because on Tuesday night, Mr. Sullivan was specifically advocating AGAINST small businesses and FOR the landlords (that are also part of the Chamber). Instead of advocating for the businesses struggling to stay afloat because of astronomical rents and outdated buildings, the LACDC chooses to advocate for the landlords and their tight grasp of our downtown.
It seems to be that the LACDC/Chamber of Commerce is nothing more than a lobbyist group for landlords and developers, rather than an advocate for small businesses. I guess the landlords aren’t the only “bad guys” in downtown right now.
“U.S. Census Bureau Quickfacts: Santa Fe City, New Mexico”. Census Bureau Quickfacts, 2019, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/santafecitynewmexico/PST045219. Accessed 7 May 2021.
“U.S. Census Bureau Quickfacts: Los Alamos County, New Mexico”. Census Bureau Quickfacts, 2019, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/losalamoscountynewmexico. Accessed 7 May 2021.