BY JAMES WERNICKE
As you may have heard, our County Council has an opportunity to live up to those strategic priorities tonight by lifting building height and parking restrictions. As a reminder, here are some of those priorities:
- Increase the capacity for new housing development and the amount and variety of housing types to meet the needs of a growing population, particularly middle- and lower-income households.
- Encourage the retention of existing businesses, facilitate the startup of new businesses, and assist in their opportunities for growth.
- Revitalize the downtown areas of Los Alamos and White Rock by facilitating development opportunities in accordance with the downtown master plans.
- Improve access to behavioral, mental, and physical health and social services and amenities to address identified issues and to sustain Los Alamos County’s rating as the healthiest county in New Mexico.
- Improve and expand access to alternative modes of travel including public transit, cycling, and walking amenities and services.
- Protect existing open space and maintain and improve parks and recreation facilities and amenities as defined by adopted plans and approved projects.
- Take actions to protect open space, protect the wildlife and wildland interface, safeguard water, and mitigate tree loss in the community.
- Establish targets for and promote the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, integrate sustainability and resiliency practices into County operations, and encourage energy-reduction enhancements for new and remodel building projects in the community.
1. Allowing taller buildings lets developers maximize the use of limited land, creating more living spaces within the same area. This means that more people can live closer to where they work, reducing commute times and carbon emissions.
2. Increased housing density can also make living in cities more affordable, as the cost of land is spread across more units. With less spent on land, developers can invest in things like solar panels and high-efficiency appliances while keeping units affordable.
3. Taller buildings provide unobstructed views, improving mental health and well-being, as studies have shown that exposure to natural light and not looking at the blight of empty storefronts can improve mood and productivity.
4. Developers are more likely to incorporate green spaces and public amenities in their buildings if they are allowed to build up. This can include rooftop gardens, outdoor terraces, and communal spaces. These features not only improve the quality of life for residents, but they can also provide a sense of community and belonging.
5. Developers can create more space for businesses to operate, leading to more job opportunities and economic growth.
6. It leads to more cultural and entertainment options for residents, making cities more vibrant and diverse.
7. Removing building height restrictions can help us prepare for future growth. As we continue to expand, there will be a growing need for more housing, amenities, and commercial spaces. By removing height restrictions, we can ensure that we meet the needs of those future residents.
8. Removing parking space requirements can reduce traffic congestion. When developers are required to build a certain number of parking spaces, it encourages people to drive rather than use public transportation or alternative modes of transportation. This leads to more cars on the road, increasing traffic congestion and air pollution. By removing parking space requirements, we encourage people to use public transportation, walk, or bike instead, reducing traffic and improving air quality and health.
9. Removing parking space requirements frees up space for more housing units, public amenities, or green spaces. This makes the community more livable and enjoyable for residents.
10. When developers are required to build parking spaces, it adds to the cost of construction. This cost is then passed on to residents in the form of higher rent or purchase prices. By removing parking space requirements, developers can reduce the cost of construction, making housing more affordable for residents.