State directive leading to poor planning

From previous letters in this space, readers may be aware of ill-conceived plans for a widely unpopular housing project here in Los Alamos. It involves as many as 13 dwellings on a relatively small plot with poor road access and traffic hazards.

Sacramento is requiring our county to add 25,000 new housing units this decade. The size and speed of the directive contributes to flawed planning and siting decisions.

Planning & Development and Public Works aim to issue permits here that would cause harm to the well-being of nearby residents and to the wider community. They would also result in increased risk of injury from traffic-related accidents. 

Taking refuge in technicalities, planners expect to avoid a traffic study and environmental review. Instead of applying actual knowledge of the traffic realities here, they intend to side-step a study by resorting to general handbook formulas.

To move this project forward also requires the suspension of intellectual honesty. In estimating traffic volumes, a loophole allows planners to ignore the existence of half of the dwellings to be built and of all the vehicles associated with them. 

Further, with regard to the dangers posed by a one-lane bottleneck that would see substantially increased traffic, the Transportation Planning Supervisor unapologetically claims that the county would not be legally liable for any resulting accidents or injuries.

Lastly, Planning & Development is trying to minimize awareness of the depth and range of discontent with the plan. It has decided not to include, in the public report and record, some comment letters that were sent to a range of officials by community residents.

As a homeowner and board member of our street association, I have expressed views critical of some of these actions. Planners were not pleased. This led to asking for my resignation from the Los Alamos Planning Advisory Committee. 

The county has the power to make decisions that affect our lives. Planners ought to be candid, aware of consequences of their actions, and seek and respect input from local residents who must live with the results. If they did, we would have better outcomes.

Seth Steiner

Los Alamos