County Misplanning in Los Alamos

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By Seth Steiner

Los Alamos is in the midst of a development blunder aided by our own county planning department. This can happen to any small town, or any neighborhood within a city. 

A builder seeks to develop an acre-and-a-half lot that is bordered by three roads. He may build as many as eleven dwellings. One of the potential access roads has long-provided a safe and quiet place for walking and jogging, pushing infants in strollers, young children riding tricycles and bikes, and folks walking with a cane or in a wheelchair. This road is also, however, the easiest and most profitable choice for the developer.

How has our P&D department handled the permitting process? County transportation experts first downplayed or sought to ignore the one-lane bottleneck on this road. It would experience greatly increased traffic and corresponding risk for accident and injury. The transportation planning supervisor then stated that he was not concerned, as “Liability is covered by design immunity as long as we follow adopted County/Federal standards and guidelines.” 

Rather than try to understand the community, or call for a traffic study, the planner simply opened the Traffic Engineering Handbook, turned to a general formula, and plugged in some numbers to generate an answer.

The planner further assumed only one new home on each of the parcels within the lot. Zoning here, however, allows for as many as three dwellings on each parcel. So again, his conclusions grossly underestimate the number of vehicles and resulting traffic problems.

County planners ought to pay more attention to realities on the ground and to the interests of existing residents. They need to respect the unique characteristics of a street or a neighborhood, and avoid damaging the fabric of communities. 

There may well be pressure from Sacramento for our county to expand the housing stock. There are, though, several other lots in our town that are more suitable for multiple home development.


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PitMix Feb 03, 2021 10:39 AM
County Misplanning in Los Alamos

We'll see if the County cares at all. When some volunteers tried to improve the County Shelter, it was a discouraging fight. What do Joan Hartmann and Bob Nelson say about this? If you could get one of them on your side, you could stop this project in its tracks.

CoastWatch Feb 03, 2021 12:34 PM
County Misplanning in Los Alamos

It's not about residents quality of life in the County- it's about meeting quota's on paper sent down from Sacramento.... Think about that next time you vote in you local and State Reps....

RHS Feb 04, 2021 09:02 AM
County Misplanning in Los Alamos

People, if we insist that CA needs more population to provide more workers and customers we will never get out of this destructive mode. Someone needs to get the state Legislature to back off the growth promotion that both business, labor and speculators support. Set a reasonable population limit for the state (maybe about 30M) and work to get to that level. With declining populace we can get more affordable housing, cleaner air, less congestion, cheaper utilities and more security. And we can protect the smaller communities and even restore some natural spaces we have over run.

a-1612833514 Feb 08, 2021 05:18 PM
County Misplanning in Los Alamos

Since this quiet road is a community asset and there are other roads available, the County must mandate that one of the other roads be used for this development.

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