BY MAIRE O’NEILL
The Los Alamos County Community Development Department will be going back to the North Mesa Housing Committee as soon as Nov. 12 to further discuss a request for proposals issued in September for which only one response was received. County staff is expected to propose a more narrow and specific RFP that fits the procurement guidelines and would hopefully receive more responses.
The last two meetings of the committee have been canceled pending the outcome of the RFP issue. Members of the committee are Chair Philip Gursky, Vice Chair Celina Morgan, Los Alamos Public Schools Board Chair Melanie Colgan and Board Member Steve Boerigter, County Councilors Denise Derkacs and David Reagor, Susan Fellows and David Nash.
Margaret Ambrosino, the County’s Housing Program Manager and the Project Manager for the Housing Study, provided school board members with context and history for the project in August. She said when she started with the County in August 2019, the County had just contracted with Dekker Perich Sabatini to do a conceptual study of the 29-acre North Mesa site owned by LAPS just to see if housing was feasible at all.
“It wasn’t really an end up study other than some urban design concepts through County leadership and LAPS leadership and key staff in the Public Works and Planning Departments. Everybody got together and proposed three design concepts and that study was finalized I believe in October 2020. The filing that DPS outlined was that the property is suited for a housing development for what they referred to as the Missing Middle,” she said. “We refer to it in this conceptual study as two concepts – both as an urban design concept of a type of infill housing that can transition from less dense single-family residential to the highest density of housing like a multi-family apartment complex. So they kind of looked at town homes or attached town homes – things of that nature.”
Ambrosino said the Missing Middle also addresses the affordability housing needs – the middle or workforce housing people that fall within the spectrum of affordability needing assistance to be able to purchase or lease housing particularly for both LAPS employees but also for residents at large in Los Alamos County that need housing.
The DPS study recommended the establishment of a memorandum of agreement that stipulated that the County and LAPS develop some expectations. The County Council directed CDD staff to form an advisory committee to take the directives outlined in the MOA and form a request for proposals to submit to perspective bidders to do the study.
Ambrosino said the RFP to master plan the North Mesa Housing Site represents some 4 ½ months of work by the committee. She said the final out outcome of the study will be a master plan complete with the core requirement of the MOA, which is a master plan for affordable housing with a recurring revenue model. The housing will be for the LAPS workforce as well as County residents at large that income-qualify.
“The study will also frame at that point in time once complete, infrastructure costs that will be certified by a professional engineer. “It will also include a traffic impact analysis which is a significant concern of the community for San Ildefonso Road and streets surrounding the proposed development , as well as recreational needs such as the cross country track or other community recreation needs that may be displaced by this future development,” Ambrosino said.
She said the last piece is that the County will likely need to find a developer once the master plan is complete.
“If the community likes it, the School board likes it, when we arrive at that point, this will culminate in the adoption of that master plan in a joint session – at least that is how that is planned to occur. And once complete the County will solicit for a developer to actually begin that process and they will work jointly with the County, likely with the County as representative to the owner,” Ambrosino said. “The Los Alamos Public Schools will initiate a rezoning action because this is zoned public land and whatever zoning recommendation is made to support the housing mix – we will take that through the Planning & Zoning and County Council process to support the developer in realizing the development. “