Participate in the downtown planning process | My opinion

The Downtown Site is the geographic center of Santa Fe. At the crossroads of three major streets and the Rail Runner, and surrounded by neighborhoods with deep roots where many residents have lived for generations, it is truly the heart of Santa Fe. As such, its redevelopment can unite our city and address some of the deep disparities we face as a community. For the city center, the surrounding neighborhoods and the city as a whole, the stakes are high.

The University of New Mexico Design and Planning Support Center was engaged as the city’s public engagement consultant to develop a robust engagement process that centers equity and the voice of the community, and which generates recommendations to the city that help define future use, governance and redevelopment. of the property.

Community engagement here in Santa Fe – and in many places across the country – often struggles to include the voices of key populations. In a 2018 city engagement report on downtown, nearly two-thirds of respondents had above-median incomes, the majority were over 55, and almost none were under 25. Only 17% of respondents were Hispanic and only 0.3% completed the survey. in Spanish.

Equity gaps during planning processes can lead to worsening inequalities across the city. In 2015, City Council unanimously passed the Residents’ Bill of Rights (Resolution 2015-65) which created a guide and framework for equitable development in Santa Fe. In 2018, City Council passed Resolution 2018-54, calling for a community engagement process to fill gaps in the initial process. The public engagement process led by the UNM Design Center will bring together these ambitious resolutions and set a precedent for equitable community development in Santa Fe.

To do this, the UNM Design Center partners with a team of organizations committed to equity and participatory processes. These Midtown engagement partners include Chainbreaker Collective, Earth Care, Littleglobe, Santa Fe Art Institute, and YouthWorks.

While each of our missions and constituencies is different, we are united in our collective goal of developing pathways to equitable representation so that everyone in our community can fully participate in imagining and manifesting an equitable future for this important website.

Building on the city’s efforts, this campaign is focused on engaging the voices and leaders of communities of color, low-income, and often-excluded people in the planning process through door-to-door, of youth-led conversations and voices from Midtown. series on a variety of important downtown related topics. Engaging, creative and interactive site activations in the fall will welcome the entire community onto the property to embody and imagine the site as a vibrant, connected and walkable neighborhood.

Partner organizations have longstanding ties to the community and are committed to focusing leadership on directly affected community members. The recommendations that emerge will be written in partnership with the underrepresented communities who know the challenges and opportunities best, as they experience them on a daily basis.

Committing to this kind of equitable and authentic community engagement requires both time and resources. This process is an unprecedented investment in Santa Fe and our future. We are grateful for the support of our elected officials and city staff who understand that community engagement requires a deliberate relationship and building trust. The communities we represent are relieved to know that the city is truly committed to a downtown future with all of us. Decades from now, downtown will continue to be the heart of Santa Fe. We owe it to future generations to ensure it is not broken.

To find out more, sign up for our monthly newsletters or follow our work on our website at

Michaele Pride is director of the Design and Planning Assistance Center at the University of New Mexico. She lives in Santa Fe and is a professor of architecture at UNM.

Louisa R. Loomis