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Joaquín Baca

Candidate Survey


Moises Gonzalez

1. Albuquerque has the second deadliest streets of any city in the US, with approximately 110 people killed by vehicles each year while walking, biking, or driving, and another 6,500 people injured. How important is it to you that Albuquerque maintain and act on its commitment to the Vision Zero goal of zero fatalities from traffic violence? 

Looking over the reports from Albuquerque’s Vision Zero program, we see a lot of great ideas since its inception. I had the pleasure of working with Terra Reed on the Complete Street Ordinance Committee, who unfortunately has since moved on, and I was always impressed by her knowledge and advocacy for safer streets. Unfortunately, we don’t appear to be moving the needle. Why? I can’t tell you how many times I have been told that “Albuquerque is a car city and will always be a car city.” On top of that, people are choosing taller and taller trucks and SUVs that also happen to be faster than the trucks of days gone by. The EV Hummer weighs nearly ten thousand pounds and goes 0-60 in around 3 seconds. Nonetheless, a new generation in traffic engineering seems more interested in listening and changing. We need the City and the State to invest in public transit and bicycle infrastructure and pedestrian safety at a much higher level. Too often those priorities are seen as “add-ons” or “niceties” rather than necessities.

2. In 2019 Albuquerque updated its Complete Streets Ordinance to support safe and efficient street design for all users. What are the biggest remaining barriers to getting people to choose walking, biking, or public transit instead of personal vehicles, and what would you do to address these impediments? 

I was asked by Isaac Benton to serve on the Complete Streets Ordinance Committee, and I was glad to do so. I have been interested in pedestrian and bicycle safety for many years. As a matter of fact, my wife and I moved to the house we have lived in for 20 years in part because its location allowed us to rarely need a car (schools and work all within a 3-mile radius). We need to improve substandard bike facilities or remove them from the bike map, throttle automotive speeds on high-crash streets, and continue to invest in barriers and signals that protect pedestrians and bicyclists. Finally, while I do believe Complete Streets is a good ordinance, it does have an important shortcoming. Maintenance schedules are such that only a segment of a major street is resurfaced at at time. That can lead to the inability to make any substantive changes because it wouldn’t match the configuration coming into or leaving the segment. (No bicyclist I know likes to run into an orphan bike lane.) A good example is Louisiana up by Target, a treacherous area for bicyclists or pedestrians. While Shanna Shultz from the City made an effort to delay resurfacing to see if the Councilor in that area would be willing to do a study on a more extensive reconfiguration of the street, she was told this would not be possible because maintenance already had it booked. We need to find a way to coordinate long-range planning with maintenance so that streets are not “trapped” in automotive mode.

3. ABQRide remains severely understaffed, with motorcoach operator vacancies more than double their pre-pandemic numbers despite severe reductions in service. Other facets of our transit system, including mechanics and stop maintenance, are also understaffed. What is your plan for filling the staffing shortage at ABQRide?  

Ultimately, we must continue to push up wages for drivers, mechanics, and support staff until the positions are filled. We also need to continue to make major investments in infrastructure. There should be an ART-sized investment every four years. Increasing ridership and showing respect for the system through investment and meaningful maintenance will help the morale of drivers and riders alike.

4. What is your plan for increasing housing supply in Albuquerque, particularly along useful transit corridors and near popular amenities? How do you plan to increase housing availability without requiring the occupants of those houses to own a car to participate in most aspects of city life? 

The only programs around the country that that have had any success in getting people off the streets and into affordable permanent housing is Housing First. This lowers the bar to access to housing. No sobriety test or proof of mental stability. These matters are better served once a person is in housing. Several cities are implementing the program, but Houston gained national notoriety when they showed they had gotten more than 60% of their homeless into affordable permanent housing and that two years later 90% were still in that housing. We can do that here. But we need everybody to pull together (citizens, service providers, builders, etc.) And, of course, this housing needs to be near reliable public transportation. It is estimated that it takes around ten thousand dollars a year to maintain a car. We need to give builders and landowners a carrot-or-stick approach. Carrot: City-owned land through MRA, tax incentives, streamlined permitting for those who are willing to build. Stick: significantly increased percentage of affordable units for market-rate projects or significantly increased “in-lieu of” payments to an affordable-housing fund for those who don’t build affordable units in multi-family projects. Finally, properties that have been left unimproved for years next to public transit should be purchased by the City and developed as affordable housing, using eminent domain laws if necessary.

5. Albuquerque’s urban areas have limited space on streets. In order to increase safety and improve mobility, some modes of transportation must be prioritized over others to make the most of this limited space. Please rank how you would prioritize different modes of transportation on city streets, using numbers 1 through 7:

While I don’t mean to skirt the issue, I don’t believe I could rank these priorities out of context. On some streets it makes sense to prioritize one mode, on others not. But what I can say is this, we need to reconsider the ranking of automobiles and the parking they require (currently #1 and #2).

Auto-centric design is not only at the root of the constant slaughter we see on the streets (not just because of crashes but also the violence that comes with road rage), it has also served to kill downtown, small businesses, and community interaction. We are not going to turn this ship around on a dime, but we need to try. Climate change is no longer a future predicament. It is now. Creating walkable and bikeable communities (that means not just bike lanes and crosswalks and hawks, but neighborhood groceries and retail) with robust public transit will do a great deal to address climate change and to making our community happier and healthier.

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