Friday, January 3, 2020
Here’s to a happy, healthy Santa Fe New Year!
As we begin 2020, I’d like to give you an abbreviated report—a short look back at where we’ve come from, a look forward at where we’re going.
First a word of thanks from me to you. You have given me the opportunity to serve as your Mayor. It’s the best job in the best city in America. I’m grateful to you every day and deeply honored to serve as your Mayor.
Two principles have guided me for the last two years in the Mayor’s Office:
- To make your City government work—and to make it work for everyone.
- To develop and implement solutions that work for problems that matter for all of us—and our future.
Here’s how we have translated those guiding principles into action.
- When I took office City government wasn’t broken—but it didn’t work very well. The McHard Report detailed all the ways that City departments had been under-managed for a long time. We’re delivering real change. In the last two years, we’ve responded to the McHard Report findings, point by point.
- Parts of our city felt left out, ignored, overlooked, under-invested in. We were at risk of becoming a City divided. We’ve invested in every district, taken City Council meetings to every district, and had “Meet the Mayor” sessions across the city.
- *The “central nervous system” of City government—our Finance Department and Human Resources Department—was badly out of date in technology and policies. Both of these key departments have benefited from major managerial and technological upgrades.
- We hadn’t successfully implemented the critically important Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software system that would modernize City government and add oversight and efficiency to our day-to-day operations. The ERP installation is on track and working.
- We hadn’t given our police officers a meaningful raise in years. As a consequence, we were losing officers to Albuquerque, which was willing to pay much more to address their serious crime problem. We awarded officers payments for staying with our Department and raised salaries an average of 15% in the last budget.
- Several of the departments that had the most contact with Santa Feans—Parks and Recreation and Land Use, for example—were not measuring up to peoples’ expectations. We were too hard to work with and too unresponsive to customer demands. With new management, better tools, and new investments, both departments are giving better service with better results.
- The Great Recession had left us with a housing shortage of 4,000-5,000 units. Too many workers and families who wanted to live in Santa Fe simply couldn’t find housing they could afford. We passed an ordinance to add Accessory Dwelling Units; we’re cracking down on short-term rentals; and we’ve adopted a flexible ordinance to offer incentives for affordable rental units.
- Our physical infrastructure hadn’t been maintained. City buildings, roads, sidewalks, medians, parks, rec centers, and other key parts of Santa Fe suffered from deferred maintenance. We issued a $20 million bond to upgrade our infrastructure with projects in every part of Santa Fe.
- Too often, constituents felt like their complaints, suggestions, and concerns were falling on deaf ears. We created a Constituent Services Department to act as a central clearing house—an in-take office for constituent issues and a tracking center to get them resolved.
We have made real progress.
We have the finest group of City managers in the history of Santa Fe—and with their hard-working employees, they’re working as a real team. We’re far from done, but we’ve made a great start.
We are building a City government that works—and works for everyone.
We are small guided by our shared values: We are inclusive, respectful, equitable, and transparent. We do what we say we are going to do. When we make a mistake—and we still do make mistakes—we acknowledge them and fix them. We strive to do better every day.
(And we get a lot done—every day. For a short list of some of this summer’s accomplishments, please go to: https://www.santafenm.gov/media/files/SummerReport2019.pdf)
Our second guiding principle: Solutions that work for problems that matter—for all of us and our future.
This short list defines much (but not all) of the work we will do in the year ahead:
Housing, housing, housing. We still need more housing of all kinds in every part of the city. More than 1,000 housing units are currently under construction and another 1,000 are in the process of getting their entitlements. Next up: four pieces of City-owned land that are good locations for housing; Phase 3 of Tierra Contenta; the Northwest Quadrant; the St. Mike’s corridor; the mid-town site; and other infill opportunities that will strengthen our neighborhoods.
IT makes the City work. We’re making progress at installing our system-wide software system. But we’re still making up for years of underinvestment in hardware, software, and information technology systems. We need to upgrade the City’s IT infrastructure. And we need to make high-speed internet and dependable cell service a reality for every business and every home in Santa Fe.
A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Situated in the heart of our city, mid-town Santa Fe is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to address many of our community’s needs, hopes, and aspirations: a “new town, in-town development” with housing and mixed uses; a place where higher education is offered; and a site where we can continue to see our digital entertainment businesses grow and flourish. Right now, a talented team of City planning and development experts assisted by impartial consultants has the responsibility of reviewing a diverse set of proposals and making their recommendations. We have a vision, a set of planning guidelines generated with community input, and an unbiased procurement process that will guide us in making an informed choice about this remarkable opportunity.
Sustainable Santa Fe. When it comes to sustainability, Santa Fe has long been a leader. Because of where we live, we know that the climate crisis is real. In 2020 we’ll continue our commitment to sustainability with renewed efforts in water conservation and water planning; more solarization of City-owned facilities; electrification of our City fleet of vehicles; and support at the State Legislature and with New Mexico cities and counties in favor of community solar and other measures to put us at the forefront of the emerging green economy.
Solutions across boundaries. The issues that will impact our future do not confine themselves to one governmental jurisdiction. These problems are complex; so are the solutions. We need to work closely and collaboratively across boundaries. Our kids’ futures demand a strategic working relationship between the City and the School District. Our plan for solving homelessness depends on a “built for zero” coalition of non-profits, faith-based organizations, philanthropies, and governmental entities. Our water future requires a regional approach. So does a meaningful strategy to address the pain of the opioid crisis. These problems don’t respect artificial boundaries. Our solutions, to work, must also work across those boundaries.
The City Better. Santa Fe will always be The City Different. Our job is to make Santa Fe the City Better. That means we continue to produce a budget that reflects our priorities. We continue to make City government more user-friendly. We work to professionalize the management of all our departments and give our hard-working City employees the tools and training they need to serve you better. We put money into our too-long ignored infrastructure, into our senior centers, libraries, parks, trails, and recreational facilities. We will focus on issues that impact the livability of our neighborhoods. We pledge to give our best every day to help you live your best every day.
Every day, we work to earn your trust. Every day, we work to close the gaps across Santa Fe. We’ll continue to do both in 2020: To make government work for you. To find solutions that work for problems that matter for all of us.
With your help and your support, 2020 will be another great year of real progress and steady improvement.
A year where we preserve and protect what is unique about Santa Fe’s past—and build and grow what is needed to create our bright and shining future.
A year where each of us enjoys good health and great success—and where all of us contribute to our community coming together to celebrate all that we share.
Happy 2020, and thanks for all you do for Santa Fe!
Mayor of Santa Fe