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Santa Fe is becoming the City Indifferent

January 22, 2019

Out-of-state landlords are buying up old Santa Fe buildings and raising rents that are so steep small shops like the Marcy Street Card Shop, Laura Sheppherd and others can’t afford the increase (“Squeezed on Marcy Street,” Nov. 27). These small shop owners have no alternative but to close their stores.

Soon Santa Fe will be like every other town with chain stores and no or few idiosyncratic shops, which, in part, are what attract tourists to Santa Fe, as well as locals who appreciate the variety and interesting wares these stores provide. Out-of-town corporations don’t care about what makes Santa Fe special; they care about making money on the backs of small shopkeepers. The empty stores in downtown Santa Fe speak to this.

Some cities have passed laws regulating out-of-state corporations and foreign buyers as a way of protecting the local population from exorbitant rental and housing costs. Is this something the City Council could do?

The problem is not only with out-of-state corporations. Local developers willingly pay relatively small fines to avoid having to provide affordable housing, something that Santa Fe desperately needs. Not only that, the newest development in the Railyard area doesn’t even have to provide the standard number of parking spaces. The developers say people renting these apartments will be walking and won’t need cars. Are they making this stipulation part of the leases? The Railyard area already has parking problems. This absurd arrangement will only make it worse. How did this get through the Planning Commission?

How are these two issues connected? Greed. Neither the out-of-state corporations nor the in-state developers seem to care about the people living in Santa Fe who need affordable housing, who want small shops to thrive, who want a vibrant downtown area.

Is Santa Fe going to be a place where only rich people can afford to live? There’s a saying that if one eats the seed corn, there are no more crops. Santa Fe is becoming the City Indifferent — not caring about affordable housing for Santa Feans, and not caring about supporting local shops and shop owners.

We need a Planning Commission, City Council and mayor who will stand up for people living in Santa Fe who need affordable housing, for small shopkeepers who provide Santa Fe with interesting and unusual wares, and for people who care about quality of life in Santa Fe.

Nancy King lives in Santa Fe.

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