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Thread: Las Cruces

  1. #1

    Las Cruces

    Low planner salaries reflect planning's secondary role in the minds of many local government officials.

    Here in Wisconsin, the smart growth initiative recently passed, and the response from many communities has not exactly been positive. Because of the level of detail required in the law, many see the whole issue as planners and lawyers creating work for themselves. Makes it hard to build respect (and get the salary that goes with it).

    It's hard enough to convince some boards that planning is necessary; it's even harder to get them to invest money in it. Why should they listen to some guy not from the area? After all, anybody can plan, they say. It doesn't look that hard.

    And two of the qualities of a good publicly-employed planner--the ability to mediate competing interests and build consensus--are not easily recognized or quantified. To me, planning is not unlike local public office--you can't do it for the money, you've got to love the work.

    Good luck on your search, Dan. I lived in Las Cruces ten years ago, and from what I hear from friends still there, they could probably use your services again.

  2. #2
    Dan:

    All I can say is, I've been here a year and a half now, and it is heaven compared to working for the City of El Paso.

    By the way, Dan, was that you? You know what I mean . .

  3. #3
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Tee hee hee ...


  4. #4
    Pretty darn good, Dan. You had me going there for about five minutes.

  5. #5
    It is amazing how many times I run across a reference or article about Las Cruces on the Web, even in Newsgroups! Most of the time it is an article about how a professional is tired of beating his head against a wall frustration. And you know what... they are right! Dan, I agree with more than words can say! I moved to Las Cruces five years ago and I can't believe how backward the politics can get here. I just though you know your words are not falling on deaf ears!

  6. #6
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Five years ... you're stuck now.

    In case you never heard about the "Las Cruces curse," it goes something like this ... if you live there for more than five years, you'll be there for the rest of your life. I've known people whose cars have broken down just before the city limits when they tried to move out. Many people that moved away have returned, for some reason or another.

    There's a reason why that part of New Mexico is called the "Land of Entrapment." Despite its faults, I find myself missing the place, and I still visit on a regular basis. I've got too many friends there that were hit by The Curse.

  7. #7
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    L: I just hope you didn't run down to BD's office!

    You are right, though -- Cruces is a vast improvement over the state of the built environment in El Peso. Whenever I felt depressed over the state of the city, I'd take a half hour drive south on I-10, and suddenly feel that things weren't that bad after all.

  8. #8
    Hey Dan:
    I just moved to Cruces and find it a vast improvement. I spent 15 years in the insanity-inducing, conspicuous-consuming, mind-numbing, unbelieveable-unless-you've-experienced-it gridlock of the northern Atlanta suburbs (Gwinnett County, to be exact) and as far as I'm concerned, this place is heaven. I can actually get to where I need to go without worrying about traffic, there is local character and flavor, the Organs are gorgeous, there is great hiking practically on one's doorstep, and recreational opportunities abound if you are willing to drive a couple of hours. It just ain't that bad here! But hey, what do I know--I grew up in EL PASO.

  9. #9
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    I could go on for hours about Las Cruces, but I've got to take my puppy to the dog park. Cruces is a classic case of a city that has "so much potential," yet the city leaders have a manana attitude towards taking any real action. The planning director tries to avoid controversial situations, something that's nearly impossible to do if you are trying to make an effort to positively change the built environment.

    It seems that the quality of urban design and consideration of the natural environment is inversely proportional to the affluence of the community. Las Cruces thinks of itself as a poor community, therefore, the thinking is that a retail business will have a hard time in an environment where there is less disposable income. Let's make it easy on 'em - we won't impose any sort of architectural design standards, so businesses don't have to spend money on architectural frou-frou like four-sided design, hiding rooftop mechanicals, regional vernacular design and so on. We'll conveniently ignore landscaping and pacing requirements so they don't have to spend so much on maintaining their site. Wireless facility regulations? Ha! Just get a building permit for your tower, and co-location be damned! Rezoning from residential to commercial for lawyer's offices still continues on downtown's outer fringes, resulting in the "thinning out" of an already dead CBD, and the de-stabilization of historic middle-income neighborhoods. This attitude makes for a crappy urban environment, which does nothing to eliminate the city's reputation a second-runner to Santa Fe. This has the effect, in my opinion, of driving away potential residents and high-end businesses that care about more than the bottom line.

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