BY BRANDI ENGEMAN
On Tuesday, May 2, Los Alamos County Council will hear recommendations from Planning and Zoning members to reduce the parking requirements for local developments as well as raising the heights on some of those same developments. I have stated in the past how important I think addressing our housing needs in Los Alamos are, so I won’t belabor those points here.
This housing won’t go up overnight and Council and County Staff will have time to address a vital missing link in the housing crisis chain; a failing public transit system.
If a resident is reliant on personal transporation, they will add to a parking crunch. Currently, our public transporation does not run on the weekends. This will mean that every new resident in any one of those new units will be dependent on some type of personal transportation. Our busses also do not run into the evenings, which means anyone on a swing, graveyard, or split shift will need a form of personal transportation.
I have heard it often said that teenagers don’t want to work weekends; I know many who would if they could reach those jobs without relying on a adult (who may be at work themselves) to get them to or from White Rock or one of the more distances parts of our mesa communities. Adults who do not drive in our county are extremely limited in the jobs they can take if they live outside downtown as well.
We MUST add to our routes, extend schedules, and add weekend service if we want to the kind of town folks who do not rely on personal transportation want to relocate to. We must extend these services if we want to be an equitable, accessible, and sustainable county, as is often stated in our strategic plans. We must work with our regional transportation partners to extend service to allow those who want to work in Los Alamos, but cannot yet afford housing near those vacant jobs, to continue living in their current communities without the burden of reliable personal transportation as well.
With the increase in GRT revenue, surely the County Council and Staff can find inventive ways in the coming year to improve our public transport systems in advance of these new housing developments.
If we want to “solve” the housing crisis, we must address infrastructure at the same time. Encourage council and staff to improve our public transportation and to approve the Planning and Zoning recommendations on May 2. The two are not mutually exclusive and both will go a long way to improving quality of life for all in Los Alamos.