Albuquerque’s City Council on Monday passed legislation requiring a special permit to operate a safe outdoor space.
Obtaining a permit would require the operator to provide a statement describing their experience working with people who are homeless or managing organizations that work with that population, a name and phone number for someone who will be available 24/7 to respond to complaints, an operations plan that addresses site security, tenant code of conduct, pets and more.
Safe outdoor spaces are managed sites where people who are homeless can sleep in tents or cars and have basic amenities like toilets and showers.
Louie Sanchez — one of five city councilors who has publicly opposed them — co-sponsored the permit legislation with Trudy Jones, a councilor who has supported safe outdoor spaces.
While there are ongoing attempts to outlaw them, Sanchez noted that they are currently legal and that he wanted a permit outlining the basic standards.
“The goal is the safety of the community; the goal is the safety of the individuals who are in it and the safety of the persons who are operating it,” he said.
The bill passed on a 6-3 vote, with Isaac Benton, Pat Davis and Dan Lewis in opposition.
Davis said he did not feel the permit process was necessary as the spaces already require approval by the Planning Department and that additional regulatory hoops did not make sense given the diversity of projects. He noted that operators may be churches or nonprofits and that the target populations will vary greatly.
“We do need some flexibility because all of these spaces are not going to be run the same,” he said.