Seven years ago, the New Mexico Mercury published The Scorecard on ABQ Sprawl, an article by Lora Lucero, a land use attorney, city planner, community gardener and community journalist. The article addresses the egregious disconnect between land use planning and water use planning in the Albuquerque area. How much has changed?

The Albuquerque region has been engaged in an epic growth battle for at least the past decade. Much of the struggle occurs in the city council chambers, in the county commission public hearings, and in water and air board meetings. The combatants are large landholders, property developers and businesses (think Chamber of Commerce and NAIOP) on one side, pitted against neighborhood activists, conservationists, smart businesses, planners and good government folks on the other.

One side wants business-as-usual (BAU) where the levers of public power can be manipulated for private gain. They eschew planning and growth management regulations in favor of backroom deals and handshakes. The future they envision includes sprawling subdivisions and ribbons of highways crisscrossing the Middle Rio Grande Valley.

The other side sees a very different future.  The public is fighting for a more vibrant community core (downtown, uptown and within the established urban centers); they want public investments to focus on repair and maintenance of existing roads, water, sewer and other infrastructure; they believe city-county leaders should cooperate and coordinate with each other on development issues; they value local farms serving local tables, and they’re hoping for alternatives to the ticky-tacky rooftops as far as the eye can see (think the metropolitan Phoenix area). …

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