NIMBY Nonsense ‘Wins’ in Santa Fe

Last night’s asinine decision by the Santa Fe County Planning Commission to recommended denial of Pilot Flying J‘s conceptual plan for a development at the intersection of NM 14 and Interstate 25 provided yet another example of a message enterprises, entrepreneurs, and investors often hear in New Mexico: Sorry, not interested.

Elitism, junk science, rudeness, hysteria, rent-seeking, politics over property rights, conspiracy theories, whining about irrelevancies. Since the company’s proposal was announced last year, the regulatory process for Pilot Flying J has been marked by a relentless cacophony of almost wholly baseless resistance, driven by neighbors who live right next to an interstate, but think a truck stop is not appropriate for the area.

Pilot Flying J’s conceptual plan outlines a three-phase development that would commence with one of its ubiquitous fueling facilities, then be followed by restaurants, a convenience store, and two hotels. (A picture of the site is posted below.) From the start, it faced long odds of finding approval in what the Santa Fe New Mexican admitted is a “development-averse community.”

Errors of Enchantment was on hand for last night’s sad spectacle, and the public-comment portion of the hearing did not disappoint. We can now measure “nanoparticles” of air pollution! The truck stop will be infested with “prostitution and drug activity”! It’s an “unneeded development”! Pilot Flying J is “a huge, national company with a history of illegal practices”! Santa Fe needs “clean and green and sustainable industries”! The project is about “greed and power”! It would only provide minimum-wage jobs!

Back on Planet Earth, Pilot Flying J went to herculean efforts to show that its proposal meets the myriad of standards imposed by government at the local, state, and federal levels. Everything from public safety to lighting, water to archaeology, utilities to air quality was examined. And earlier this year, both the county’s land-use staff and hearing officer Nancy Long signed off on the conceptual plan.

The hero of the evening was the sole speaker in favor: Stephen Linam, a resident of Rancho Viejo. He assualted NIMBYists’ “overheated rhetoric and fear-mongering,” pointing out the inconvenient fact that the proposed truck stop would be “in an area of commercial and industrial buildings.”

“It is unfair and unreasonable to deny a property owner the ability to use their property for a legal purpose because of arguments that mostly boil down to, ‘We don’t like it,'” Linam thundered. “Our decision-making processes about private property must protect the individual from the tyranny of the majority.”

No matter. The seven commissioners voted — unanimously — to recommend that the Santa Fe County Commission nix the conceptual plan. (One denounced the very idea of a “trafficky, ugly, smelly, noisy truck stop that is not an allowed use.”) A prominent opponent is hoping that the company will simply give up, and conclude that “it’s just too much trouble … because it’s just an uphill battle for them.”

From oil-and-gas production to magnesium mining to a truck stop right off an interstate, NIMBY runs amok in the Land of Enchantment. But no worries — with such a strong economy, New Mexico has the luxury of denying investments that aren’t “right.” Right?

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9 Replies to “NIMBY Nonsense ‘Wins’ in Santa Fe”

  1. Great article. I like the discussion of principles. What is “rent-seeking?” Our neighborhood has the reverse issue. City Council has planned the development of a new community center in our neighborhood. A few neighbors have decided they don’t like the idea of losing green space, believe it would attract crime, and think it would duplicate services. These neighbors are about to take control of the neighborhood association and make stopping the community center the number one priority. I have been in contact with that tracks potential construction jobs.

  2. This is so needed for that part of I-25. I was headed to Las Vegas NM and assumed I could get gas in Santa Fe. I completely passed the city on the Interstate as I realized that I needed more gas to continue my road trip. I doubled back to Santa Fe and had to drive almost to the city center to find a gas station. There really should be a more convenient gas facility along that stretch of Interstate.

  3. Here is another NIMBY for New Mexicans. It is ELEA/Holtec Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF) to store spent nuclear fuel down by Carlsbad. There is already a battle of the sound bites occurring in the local papers between the pro (me) and the con (anti-nukes). It is becoming an interesting development that RGF should become attuned to also.

    Here is a link to all the articles that have been printed in the local press. The blog is updated weekly because the paper is running weekly articles on the topic.

    The most recent status is that Holtec International now has their license request on docket with the NRC. Progress is being made BUT it is the community that needs to be sold on the benefits of the ELEA/Holtec project.

  4. For a few years, I worked at Santa Fe Community College and made frequent pre-work stops at the Allsup’s in this very area. Everyday, various workers (white collar as well as blue collar) dropped by for to-go cup of coffee and we regulars got to know one another. At that time, the gas station was clean, the food was decent, the coffee was hot, and the people–both customers and staff–were friendly.

    I am now retired and haven’t been to that gas station in awhile but I have been to Flying J’s around the county. They seem to be clean, the coffee is good (but not burned tasting Starbuck’s), the workers seem friendly and the restaurant usually has decent food with fast service at prices normal people can actually afford. The last time I was in Santa Fe, I found it to be less clean with people who were less than welcoming–unless I was going to drop a load of cash in their stores.

    Give me Flying J any day!

  5. How about another empty shopping center, a racetrack/casino, more Santa Fe ticky tacky overpriced housing, roadside hotel, flea market? Lots of options for a town that lost its allure over 40 years ago.
    We have the same spam-crowds here at Las Cruces

  6. Thanks. I find the pseudo-liberalism in Santa Fe snooty, NIMBY-ish, and uncaring about the actual economic plight of those who are not in the self-serving elite of the City Indifferent but simply trying to find a job. Oh, and perhaps truckers should stop making deliveries to Santa Fe, since we really don’t want them here anyway.

  7. Fascinating discussion. Santa Fe survives without getting its hands dirty with private business because it sucks the rest of the state dry with taxes and overcharges naive tourists from other parts of the country. It has been my experience over the years that public officials who adamantly oppose commercial development have usually never successfully run a private business and have usually been employed by the public sector. The site for the Santa Fe County Commissioners has a bio link for just one of the commissioners: Henry Roybal. He advises the public that he worked for Santa Fe County and Los Alamos for 19 years. Here’s the link:

  8. Statists of Santa Fe are of the ilk of accusing conservatives of slamming the door shut but actually this is a situation that shows the Statist abandoning any Science. They have totally abandoned any of the laws of nature, reason, experience, economics and for that matter modernity. They have exposed their power over TRUTH. On the other hand Santafeans are using junk science, misrepresentations, fear-mongering to promote any public health and environmental scare. Bottom line is that they are part of the No-growthers movement and are European Socialists to the Core!

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