County: Taking Stock Of Los Alamos County’s Nuisance Code Process


 Los Alamos is on the verge of an important milestone—completion of the Chapter 18 update—the nuisance code. This represents the final chapter of a multi-phased project designed to bring the Los Alamos County Development Code up to date and to determine clear standards for the Community Development Department (CDD) to assess and enforce nuisance conditions that are clearly identified threats to public health, safety, and welfare on private property.

County Councils have been grappling with the Los Alamos Code of Ordinance Chapter 18 Environment Article II Nuisances since before 2004. Definitions of what constitutes as a “nuisance” or a “threat to health, safety, and public welfare,” as well as the appropriate enforcement thereof, has always created much debate within the community.

In May 2018, Council approved appointment of a Community Development Advisory Board (CDAB) to make recommendations to Council regarding the development, implementation, and enforcement of County property maintenance codes within the corporate boundaries of the County.

In fall 2021, Council approved a contract with Dekker/Perich/Sabatini to begin work on the first comprehensive update to the Los Alamos Code of Ordinance Chapter 18 since 2014. The intent of the effort is to improve the overall organization and structure of the existing code, prioritize and classify nuisances, and clarify code enforcement goals of Los Alamos County, while aligning code enforcement procedures to County priorities. Following an initial technical code review, public input was collected via a community survey and a series of public meetings, then incorporated into the final draft.

On July 25, CDD’s contractor DPS released the final draft of the Chapter 18 nuisance code to the public for review and comment and may be viewed online at CDD and DPS also presented the draft nuisance code to the CDAB on August 15 and DPS will be presenting the draft chapter update to County Council at their August 30th meeting.

Comments on the final draft of Chapter 18 will be accepted through September 2 via email to DPS project manager Jessica Lawlis at or Acting County Planning Manager Sobia Sayeda at All comments received on identified nuisances—weeds, outdoor storage, dilapidation, refuse and rubbish—are being added to a matrix designed to show the County Council where people stand on each issue and why, as well as majority preferences.

“On a project like this, one of our key roles as County staff is to ensure the community’s comments are collected and conveyed to the County Council to consider in their decision for a path forward,” says CDD Acting Planning Division Manager Sobia Sayeda.

After the public comment period ends, the final draft of Chapter 18 will go to Council for review and potential adoption, along with all public comments received, in October.

“Our role as County staff has been to facilitate a process that provides all of the expertise, public input, and resources members of Council need to make an informed decision that is aligned with their goals for growth and development in Los Alamos,” said CDD Director Paul Andrus. “Once Council adopts the nuisance ordinance, the updated code will guide CDD’s communications and enforcement actions around defined nuisance issues,” he added.

For more information, interested individuals can visit the Chapter 18 Nuisance Code Update webpage or call CDD at (505) 662-8120.