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News & Announcements

January 27, 2021
Three Hard Things: Public Health, Social Healing, Midtown Development | City of Santa Fe, New Mexico (

Dear Fellow Santa Feans,

When he was in office, President Obama kept a plaque on his desk that said, “Hard things are hard.”

It was there to serve as a reminder: Why he ran—to do things that mattered—and what it would take to get important things done. If you want to help people; if you want to create positive, lasting change; if you want to create a better future, you have to be willing to tackle hard things.

Right now, in Santa Fe we are doing three very hard things.

First, we are working every day to defeat COVID-19. Here’s what that means, specifically.
We all still need to wear our masks every day. President Biden has now enacted a federal mask requirement where there is U.S. jurisdiction. He recently told a group of Mayors from across the country that if we all wear masks, we can save 40,000 lives in the next few months. We need to do that—now.
We all still need to continue to practice physical distancing, handwashing, and keeping within our small family bubbles. We need to download the NOVID app onto our devices to have an early-warning system for exposure to the virus.
We will soon see the Santa Fe Police Department address businesses and public locations where there have been repeated reports of people not following the mask order. There will be increased enforcement of the mask requirement.

If we do all of these things—and really do them seriously—we will see Santa Fe go from being in the red, where we’re under tight restrictions; to being in the yellow, where things start to re-open; to green, where there’s the beginning of a return to pre-COVID life.

The other priority is vaccinations. Right now, unfortunately, there is too much confusion and uncertainty about vaccinations in Santa Fe. Much of this is a result of a lack of planning at the Federal level. Our hospitals simply aren’t sure from week to week how many doses of the vaccine they’re going to get. But the fact is, folks in Santa Fe need better information, more education and clearer communication.

Every week—or more often if things change more often—you’ll hear from us about how the vaccinations are going. We’ll answer frequently asked questions and give up-to-date briefings as the roll-out of vaccinations gets simpler, more efficient, and more predictable. You’ll also get regular updates on vaccinations on my Friday Facebook WebberCasts from Dr. Wendy Johnson, La Familia’s Chief Medical Officer.

Second, we are working every day to respond to the call for social healing here in Santa Fe. Here’s what that means, specifically.
Last summer America experienced widespread demonstrations. Some had to do with historical racism and the call to remove monuments and statues that commemorated Confederate generals and pro-slavery politicians. Others were sparked by the murders of African-Americans at the hands of police in cities across the country. Together they grew into a national call to reckon with all of the forms of discrimination, historical and in the present, that hold us back from keeping the promise of America.
In Santa Fe we had dozens of demonstrations—all of them peaceful except for one. That one protest led to the toppling of the obelisk in the center of the Plaza. But the deep-seated, long-standing issues of culture, history, art, reconciliation, and truth go farther and deeper than the obelisk.
To respond to this moment of community reckoning, the City has established a CHART Process: The purpose of the process is to create a community-wide conversation about us—all of us. A conversation that includes all of us. A conversation that engages and respects all of us.
Very soon the City will create a website with information about how you can get involved with and participate in the CHART Process. Your voice is important. Your story is significant. Your input matters. This process will last a year and lead to recommendations from all parts of our community, not only about statues and monuments, but also about healing and reconciliation.
The time is now for healing. If we face our history and each other with respect and empathy, we will come to a better appreciation of our shared histories and arrive at a new understanding to create a shared future.

Third, we are working every day to move forward on the Midtown development at the site of the former College of Santa Fe. Here’s what that means, specifically:

More than a decade ago, the City bought the campus when it became clear that the College of Santa Fe could not continue operations. At that time, it leased the site and buildings to Laureate, a for-profit university. When Laureate announced that it was closing up shop, the City took over the land and buildings and began to explore what to do with the site.
A community engagement process identified three uses that people in Santa Fe wanted to see there: higher education, housing and digital entertainment and film.
To move forward with the development of the Midtown campus, the City went through an extensive application process and ultimately selected KDC/Cienda as a partner. An agreement was reached that gave KDC/Cienda a one-year exclusive opportunity to dig deep into the nuts and bolts of developing the campus. At the end of one year, they would need to decide whether they wanted to go ahead and buy the site or not.
Then COVID hit and it changed everything. The developer looked at the economics of the site, the cost of making it shovel-ready and the uncertainty of a COVID-based economy, and decided not to go ahead.
But the campus is still a very exciting and desirable opportunity. It is the geographic heart of the city. If we want a mix of education, housing and jobs, along with parks and public spaces, performing arts and recreational spaces, that’s the place it needs to happen.
The work goes on. There are seven teams of City staff and outside consultants looking at the best way to move ahead. By the end of February there will be a recommendation for the Governing Body to consider.
In the meantime, there will be much more public outreach, community engagement and community conversation. Because of the work with the developer, we know a lot more about the campus than we knew before. There will still be hard choices to make—but we’ll be a lot better equipped to make them.

Each one of these three is a hard thing. Each one would be hard to do on its own.

We need to do them all—all at the same time.

They are critical to our City’s future.

We have got to go from red to yellow to green and begin to re-open our economy and our community. We have got to have vaccinations going into peoples’ arms efficiently, safely, predictably and confidently. We need to defeat COVID and have Santa Fe back in business this spring and fall.

We have got to move forward to healing and understanding. Our diversity is our strength. It is our inheritance and our legacy. The CHART Process is our commitment to our children and grandchildren that we will leave them a stronger, better, more compassionate and empathetic Santa Fe than the one we inherited. We need everyone to participate. We need a spirit of unity, respect and empathy to guide us. 

We have got to continue the work of creating a new center to Santa Fe. The mid-town campus can be a new heart of our City, with education, jobs, housing, recreation and beautiful public spaces. It can be a model of sustainability, walkability and new city living. We have to decide if we’re willing to make that commitment as a community.

These are all hard things. They are all worthwhile, important things.

Hard things are hard. We can do hard things if we work together to get them done.

Thank you. Stay safe, stay well,






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