ABQ encampments rule becomes official; City Council repeal expected soon

Mayor Keller neither signed nor vetoed the ordinance before the deadline

By: - June 28, 2022 5:26 pm

Shopping carts with personal belongings from an encampment sweep in Albuquerque on February 22, 2022. The city's ordinance that will sanction encampments is now law is facing a repeal by the City Council. (Photo by Shaun Griswold / Source NM)

An ordinance is on the books today allowing Albuquerque city government to sanction camps for unhoused people. It will take effect July 28, though it’s looking like the Albuquerque Council will repeal it soon after that. 

Tuesday, the city clerk filed the “Integrated Development Ordinance,” which includes an amendment that lets the city approve permits for camps and establishes legal protections for people living in tents in public spaces.

The ordinance was sent to the clerk on Friday without a decision from Mayor Tim Keller, who could have signed or vetoed the measure. He took no action, which means the law is established anyway. 

The City Council is expected to vote on a repeal of the encampment law when it meets again in August. Northeast Heights councilor Brook Bassan is leading the charge to repeal, reversing her support for the “Safe Outdoor Spaces” plan just weeks after she voted in favor of the amendment.

Bassan began her attack at last week’s City Council meeting — her swing vote struck down a proposal meant to generate rules and guidelines for how to sanction camps.

Councilors weigh repeal of measure to create city-sanctioned camps for unsheltered people

She is expected to introduce a bill that would put a one-year moratorium on sanctioned encampments that could have a final action by mid-August. Her push for a full repeal is expected to take months as it will likely have to go through several committees, according to City Council spokesperson Julian Moya.

Bassan said outrage from her constituents in the Heights caused her to reconsider.

As Bassan and her supporters on the Council wait more than a month to continue their repeal battle, the city is still responsible for rolling out the new law on sanctioned camps later this month without a Council direction on a framework.

What’s next is unclear, especially with so much uncertainty around the proposal. But the ordinance does require the city to assign someone to create a development plan within 100 days after the law goes into effect. 

That could help determine locations for encampments, guidelines for applying, as well as safety plans for operations.

Anyone who applies would have to go through the Planning Department to figure out how to meet the standards, Moya said, and file a management and security plan with the Family and Community Services Department.

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Shaun Griswold
Shaun Griswold

Shaun Griswold is a journalist in Albuquerque. He is a citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna, and his ancestry also includes Jemez and Zuni on the maternal side of his family. He grew up in Albuquerque and Gallup. He brings a decade of print and broadcast news experience. Most recently he covered Indigenous affairs with New Mexico In Depth. Shaun reports on issues important to Native Americans in urban and tribal communities throughout the state, including education and child welfare.

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