BY AARON WALKER
The nuisance code (Chapter 18) is written in a manner that forces the public to trust (this is in bold because it will come back) that CDD will enforce the code “appropriately” and not unfairly or overstep its bounds. With CDAB being removed from the picture, this forces the residents to completely rely on IPRA or trust that CDD is acting properly.
What has CDD done to lose the public trust? A LOT. Not just through code enforcement, the department has eroded public trust in the department through numerous missteps:
– Michael Arellano was kept on staff and acting in his capacity after receiving a DWI, when policy stated he should have been suspended/terminated. If he kept this DWI from his superiors, this erodes trust in CDD just as much as not taking the proper disciplinary action.
– CDD is currently tangled in a lawsuit with Sirphey. Regardless of the outcome of that lawsuit, the public optics of that lawsuit are currently quite poor for CDD, and this serves to erode public trust in anything that CDD does.
– While on CDAB, we identified a process where CDD was issuing multiple notices of violation NOVs on the same day for the same property. While not necessarily an illegal practice, it doesn’t build good will with the community and can undermine that trust.
– Again, while on CDAB, it was identified that CDD was issuing letters/NOVS for vehicles parked in the street. It was determined that this was the jurisdiction of the Los Alamos Police Department, not CDD. This practice erodes that trust that us residents must have for the process to be effective.
So, why should any resident of the community be happy with the decision to pass this new code AND dissolve CDAB? Residents no longer have anyone checking for process improvements or making sure that CDD isn’t making poor decisions that undermine public trust.
Transparency just took a massive blow, because now residents must rely solely on Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA) requests to hold CDD accountable. This is unacceptable, especially for a department that has struggled mightily with optics and public trust. Councilors showing up completely unprepared for a meeting asking what the “point” of CDAB is? Completely unacceptable.
I sincerely hope the incoming councilors are paying attention to this discussion and doing some homework on this issue. It isn’t going away. This new code needs some changes. Council needs to take a hard look at creating a civil court due to the clearance concerns of residents. CDAB STILL has work to be done. I’m looking at a path forward for residents that have concerns. I know that it seems like council doesn’t care to a fair amount of you that I have talked to, but don’t stop e-mailing them. Keep the pressure on.