BY JAMES WERNICKE
On Wednesday night, a crucial public meeting was held to discuss the use of the vacant land at 20th Street and Trinity Drive, right across from Ashley Pond. This space holds immense potential for central housing, retail, and social areas—a vision many have been eagerly advocating for. However, the meeting shed light on an ongoing issue that has plagued Los Alamos for decades, causing local businesses to leave. It seems that our county government is once again planning to micromanage the property sale, which historically leads to handing over land to non-local entities focused on extracting profit from our community.
During the meeting, I posed a simple question: why not auction each parcel to local residents, with the stipulation that it cannot rely on government contracts? The response I received centered around concerns regarding the “anti-donation clause” and the possibility of a single buyer monopolizing the land for high-rise housing. While these are valid points to consider, perhaps high-rise housing could bring positive change and invigorate our community. As for the anti-donation clause, let’s not allow it to stifle our spirit of progress. The market value of these parcels far exceeds their previous assessed worth of $1.8 million when the county gave the land away to an out-of-area developer, who ultimately decided against building a Marriott convention center we didn’t truly need.
The absence of certain amenities, such as low-income housing, small businesses, day care, and public transit, is not due to a lack of necessity but rather a lack of collective determination. If we truly desire these things, we must elect representatives who hold county bureaucrats accountable, facilitating an environment that supports local entrepreneurs and builders. We should actively support local businesses, willingly investing in our community instead of flocking to impersonal chain stores. Engaging with county planners and offering constructive input can help us avoid repeating past mistakes. Trusting our fellow community members, who have a vested interest in our welfare, can yield remarkable results. It’s time for us to take personal responsibility and actively contribute to the betterment of our community.
Interestingly, one of the arguments against high-rise housing came from a local entrepreneur known for their commitment to sustainability and fair wages. If this responsible business owner can thrive while upholding ethical standards, why shouldn’t we believe in the potential of other local entrepreneurs? Unlike the government, they have a personal stake in our community’s well-being and will work diligently to ensure the land is utilized in a way that meets our demands.
Let’s dispel the notion that big business and big government are not one and the same problem. To bring about positive change, we must halt the drain of millions of dollars from our community by the local government, wasted on consulting job after consulting job which are ultimately ineffective. Instead, let’s place our trust in ambitious individuals within our community who challenge the status quo, and embrace our civic duty to rally behind these local entrepreneurs as they strive to shape a better future for all of us. This is the only way to empower our community and create a brighter tomorrow.