In Everybody’s Back Yard

White Rock

Since pit production started ramping up at LANL, the demand for housing has become a hot topic. One suggestion for infill is promoting additional ‘casitas’ on existing single-family lots. Whether this would be effective or desirable is open to reasonable debate, but any discussion would be cut short if some of our state legislators have their way.

HB 425 proposes to require every municipality in New Mexico to fast-track casitas of 1000 square feet or less on any single family lot, regardless of any zoning or HOA restrictions. The structure need only be no closer to the property line than 5 feet and no closer to any other structure on the lot than 10 feet. There is absolutely no mention of height restrictions, and it does not differentiate among front, side or rear property lines. The authors assume the bill can override any and all local guidance on this matter.

Don’t believe me?

While I suspect this is entirely too looney to be passed into law this year, it’s just the opening shot. As the pressure mounts, something like this could turn out to be the future.

I can’t think of any single-family property anywhere in Los Alamos County where this could not be done, though some casitas would have an interesting shape. It’s actually kind of fun to inspect lots and come up with really awful designs — that nobody in the county could prevent.

Many legislators don’t get that the first consideration with any new law should be: what is the worst case scenario? It not only can happen, it almost certainly will.