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'No one is at the steering wheel'

 

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

Lora Lucero is vice president of the New Mexico chapter of the American Planning Association:

"Who's guiding growth right now is no one. No one is at the steering wheel. It's occurring very haphazardly, it's occurring incrementally, project by project, application by application, and it's very focused on the present, not on the future.

"We all know that wherever you build the highways, wherever you build the roads, that's where the growth is going to occur. So in a very big way, the highway department is going to decide the future. But the highway department and local communities are not sitting at the same table.

"There's no requirement in our state law that says that the state highway department has to listen to local communities. We're working on legislation that would require state agency plans to be consistent with local plans. Ideally, you'll have a balancing between state guidance, but keep planning from the ground up. Local communities should have control.

"The topic is on the table. We're going to make progress one way or the other. If the state doesn't get on the bandwagon and do something, local people will do it with (ballot) initiatives. People will say, we want our community to be more intelligent about how we manage growth."