South Valley Improvements

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By Marisa Demarco
—The agenda for the Tuesday, April 9 meeting promises improvements in the South Valley. Plus, the Bernalillo County Commission will consider one resolution to create a Human Organ Transplant Institute and another to house 300 inmates somewhere other than the overcrowded Metropolitan Detention Center.

The meeting will happen at 5 p.m. in the Vincent E. Griego Council Chambers in the basement of City Hall.

Housing
Seybold Village in the South Valley offers 21 homes for disabled people and their families. The commission has to approve a five-year plan for improvements and maintenance that will be submitted to the federal department of Housing and Urban Development.

Drains
Parts of the South Valley have long been lacking good drainage, and after even minor storms, flooding can be a problem. The commission will consider awarding $458,000 to HDR Engineering to design drainage along Arenal from Coors to the Isleta Drain.

Safe Routes to School
The County has tracked down $500,000 to design and construct sidewalks, curbs, gutters and crosswalks to help children safely get to Kit Carson Elementary and Ernie Pyle Middle School. Construction would happen during the summers of this year and next to avoid problems during the school year.

Organ Transplants
Commissioner Art De La Cruz is looking to pass a resolution that calls for the creation of a Human Organ Transplant Institute. The measure says there are 700 New Mexicans waiting to get an organ, and 30 percent of them will die before they receive it. An institute would allow organs to be harvested in state and distributed around New Mexico, increasing local patients’ chances of survival.

Overcrowded Jail
The Metropolitan Detention Center is looking to spend $1.4 million to send 300 inmates out of the county. The jail population is about 2,530 every year, which is 13 percent above capacity, according to the resolution. This creates safety issues for inmates and jail security. MDC will put 500 people into community custody and is looking to house 300 more in other jails in Estancia, Cibola County, Sandoval County, Los Lunas and Littlefield, Texas. It costs about $60 per inmate per day to do so.

The Last Meeting

Sexually Oriented Business Ordinance
On Tuesday, March 26, the Commission adopted a version of Albuquerque’s more strident strip club rules on a 4-1 vote, with Wayne Johnson voting against it. Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins said the rules were not intended to restrict free speech or hinder legal sexually oriented performances. She added that the new ordinance was not intended as a judgment of people working in the industry. Instead, she said, it was meant to provided protections for women who work at clubs and peep shows.

The ordinance prevents people convicted of certain crimes from running sexually oriented businesses. Those crimes include: promoting prostitution and sexually exploiting children. It also outlaws VIP rooms and other private areas, and requires information to be posted on the premises about human trafficking.

Micaela Cadena of Young Women United attended the meeting to speak against the measure. “We’ve organized with women and their families across the state who have chosen to gain meaningful employment in this legal industry.”  There’s concern, she said, about how this could play out with law enforcement.

County Attorney Randy Autio said the Planning and Zoning Department would be in charge of enforcing the new ordinance.

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