Albuquerque mayor signs off on zoning changes

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller says the conversation began almost a year ago.

“I remember asking, I was like, ‘Well, what would actually make a difference?’ because when you have a shortage of, you know, 19 to 30,000 units, it’s not about one more building or 100 more units,” Keller said. “I had no idea what the answer was to that question.”

Keller says they don’t have an all-encompassing solution, but they do have a step in the right direction – changing the zoning code.

“The Housing Forward bill began with a proposal to allow casitas permissively citywide, and that stayed in the bill,” said Mikaela Renz-Whitmore with the city’s Planning Department.

Starting on July 27, people who own R-1 zoning properties can build casitas, if they have the space, either for renters or for family. 68% of homeowners in the metro will qualify.

“The size of the casita themselves are limited to 750 square feet for each unit,” Renz-Whitmore said.

The casitas cannot take up more than 25% of the backyard.

However, the impact this bill has is much larger when it comes to the homeless community. It also makes it easier to convert buildings like former hotels into housing complexes, without having to add full kitchens.

A proposal to allow duplexes did not stay in the bill.

City officials set the goal of having 5,000 housing units online by 2025.

“This notion that your adult child or your grandparents can live with you on your property is fundamentally New Mexican,” Keller said. “That is the promise of Albuquerque and this bill delivers and reflects on that promise. So with that, let’s make this law.”