Decision looms on ill-conceived project

A contested development plan for a smallish lot in Los Alamos is soon to come before a county decision maker. After public comment at a hearing, its fate may be settled by the zoning administrator next month.

The builder seeks to add 11 more homes to an acre-and-a-half lot that already has one dwelling and he seeks access from a narrow road with a one-lane bottleneck. For obvious reasons of safety and health, this plan is unsound and should be denied.

In a letter to the zoning administrator, I have set out three findings specified in State Government Code §66474 that are cause for disapproval of the plan.

There are several problems with the plan. First, with dozens of additional vehicles added to this space, peak-hour traffic, especially on school days, would dramatically increase and pose a significant hazard to vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists along the 100-foot-long one-lane section of road.

Next, the lot does not offer sufficient on-site parking space for its vehicles. Half of the new dwellings would not even have garages and some of the remaining garages would be used, at least partly, for storing personal items. Where would as many as 48 cars and trucks find parking? This section of Shaw Street has no shoulder and is a designated fire lane with 18 existing homes. Any vehicles illegally parked here could impede swift passage of emergency vehicles.

For the past year, Planning and Development has moved this project forward without attending sufficiently to its serious flaws. It has not called for a traffic study, it has ignored and then minimized the hazards posed by the bottleneck and the question of adequate parking, and it has substantially underestimated the increase in traffic volume. All this while trying to reduce the ability of residents of Los Alamos to influence the outcome.

In the rush to build many more affordable homes in the county, it has allowed an ill-conceived plan to unnecessarily risk the safety and health of residents … as well as of the prospective tenants on the developed lot.

We hope the county respects the residents of Los Alamos, takes account of our concerns and decides wisely.

Seth Steiner

President, Shaw Street Maintenance Association

Los Alamos