Posts in Category: Article


A graduate of Corrales Elementary and Cibola High is leading discussions in Europe and elsewhere about avenues for legal action to assign responsibility for human rights abuses and environmental violations.

Jeff Handmaker, Cibola class of 1988 and University of London graduate in law (1994) who also holds a doctorate in the sociology of law from Utrecht University, Netherlands (2009), now works in The Hague, at the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University. He also teaches at Leiden University. He is now leading a team researching legal strategies to hold governments, individuals and corporations accountable for human rights, environmental and other legal violations.

Handmaker and four others were awarded a five-month fellowship through the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the  Humanities and Social Sciences in Amsterdam. Their focus is “the strategic potential and challenges of legal mobilization” to ensure consequences for illegal or inappropriate corporate behavior.

In an interview Handmaker give last year, he explained that the concept of legal mobilization “as a practice is aimed at advancing social justice.” As an example, he referred to advocacy for Greenpeace to mitigate climate change and other environmental harm.

“Legal mobilization is intended to function as a legitimate means to resolve conflicts, redress rule of law and justice deficits and address other governance problems. Legal mobilization is not the same as lawfare, whereby companies and governments instrumentalize law n a manner of questionable legitimacy.

“While lawfare serves to victimize, attempt to bankrupt or in other ways harm social justice advocates, organizations and even government agencies, of social justice cases, legal mobilization can serve as a form of resistance or counter-power. Handmaker added: “An important function of legal mobilization is to protect human rights defenders, environmental justice advocates, indigenous leaders and others against lawfare.

“An example of lawfare is “strategic litigation against public participation,” or SLAPP suits, including lawsuits directed against the environmental group Greenpeace regarding their advocacy on the Dakota Pipeline in the United States of America.”

Another example, he said, is “legal mobilization to protect academics, student and social justice activists who speak out for the rights and freedom of the Palestinian people.” Handmaker, a son of retired Corrales geneticist Stan Handmaker, began working in this field in the early 1990s as a human rights lawyer in the Republic of South Africa.

In the interview, he said “Human rights is just one of the topics I’m researching. It’s about more than just the language of human rights conventions. It’s also about how, and if, these conventions can function in complex societies. In particular, I examine the influence that politics has when it comes to complying with these conventions both in local and global contexts.

“For example, I look at how international crimes are tackled. You can approach different institutions to tackle crime” one of them is the International Criminal Court. But who approaches the court? It may also bee possible for the offender to be brought t justice within his country of origin, the country where the victims come from, or the country the offender goes to as well.

“What we’re actually doing is looking at how social justice can enhance the idea of justice. In this regard, non-governmental organizations often play a key role in this process — international organizations such as Amnesty Internation and local organizations such as the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq.”

In 2019, Handmaker co-authored the book Mobilizing International Law for Global Justice. “One of the objectives was to provide information to international lawyers and international organizations who are also active in this area, to give them a better understanding of how politics relates to, and influences, law and human rights. The book addresses different topics, such as how efforts to challenge corruption through bribes paid in other countries is being waged where the companies are based, and the battle against child abduction.

“It also gives a few examples f how some citizens enforce human rights in cases where enforcement isn’t successful at the national level. “The big question is: what are the law-based options out there for addressing issues like this: It is difficult to hold a state or a multinational company liable for human rights violations, but it has happened in the past through, for example, boycotts, divestment and sanctions or other campaign and petitions.

“Another good example is the work of the Dutch organization Urgenda., The 2015 Urgenda climate case against the Dutch government wa the first in the world in which citizens established their government has a legal duty to prevent the harms caused by climate change. The options are there, and law often plays a pivotal role. That’s what we focus on.

“Lawyers have a tendency to cite the law repeatedly in the hopes that it will be respected in the end. But sometimes, putting pressure on a state, multinational company or institution is what’s needed to get justice.”


As if we needed more pandemic-related issues to consider in 2021, it appears that even the minimal recycling efforts we may be making are likely doomed to failure. Lee Dante, president of Roadrunner Waste Service Inc., which has served Corrales since 2004, says what he calls “commingling” of multiple so-called recyclables in one bin is a major issue. Plastic grocery bags, pizza boxes, unwashed fast food/takeout containers, no. Unrinsed tin cans, no. And the Earth Institute at Columbia University reports that “Single-stream recycling, where all recyclables are placed into the same bin, has made recycling easier for consumers, but results in about one-quarter of the material being contaminated.”

At least, though, as Dante puts it, “the public finally has learned to recycle, with New Mexico at least 20 years behind many parts of the country…” And now ironically, “it costs more to recycle than to bury items in landfill.” And Sandoval County is charging more for the use of landfill.

Even communities and companies committed to recycling are grappling with a range of complications. Before 2018, the U.S. sent mega amounts of ”trash” to China for recycling. According to a March 2020 report by the Earth Institute, “in 2016, the U.S. exported 16 million tons of plastic, paper and metals to China.” Of that, 30 percent was never actually recycled. Once China halted being the world’s trash can, the US tried sending largely plastic waste to Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand but that did not work out. Finally, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Ghana, Laos, Ethiopia, Kenya and Senegal were in the mix.

“The way the system is configured right now, recycling is a service that competes — and unsurprisingly often loses — for local funding that is also needed for schools, policing, et cetera,” said Stephanie Kersten-Johnston, an adjunct professor in Columbia University’s Sustainability Management Master’s Program and director of circular ventures at The Recycling Partnership. “Without dedicated investment, recycling infrastructure won’t be sufficient. In addition, we need to resolve the simple math equation that currently exists — when it’s cheap to landfill, recycling will not be ‘worthwhile’ so we need to start to recognize what landfill really is: a waste of waste!”

And here comes another topic for the Biden administration to tackle, maybe. This country does not have a federal recycling program. “Recycling decision-making is currently in the hands of 20,000 communities in the U.S., all of which make their own choices about whether and what to recycle,” said Kersten-Johnston. “Many stakeholders with many different interests converge around this topic and we need to find common ground and goals to avoid working against one another. That means companies coming together with communities, recyclers, haulers, manufacturers and consumers to try to make progress together.”

Roadrunner Waste’s Dante claims the City of Albuquerque dictates recycling practices for Corrales. In 2013 the City began a $2 million contract with Friedman Recycling, based in Phoenix, which had opened a 90,000 square-foot “materials recovery facility” in the North Valley. Friedman was outfitted by BHS, founded in 1976 and headquartered in Eugene, Oregon. The company “designs, manufactures and installs processing systems tailored to extract recyclables from the waste stream.”

Since then, whatever Roadrunner considers “recyclable” goes to Friedman, which is the only game in town. On September 30, 2020 an Albuquerque tv station KOAT reporter broadcast with a fire raging behind her at the recycling facility. Owner Morris Friedman said “We’re dealing with combustible products.” And seemingly fire comes with the territory. The journalist said on air that a year prior, another major fire had broken out there. She added that over the past seven years Friedman Recycling had racked up more than $50,000 in fines.

The City of Albuquerque is considering raising fees for trash collection more than 10 percent in 2021, given assorted difficulties encountered in handling recycling issues. Lee Dante says he sees local restaurant waste volume is down between 10 and 15 percent, while Roadrunner’s household waste business is up between 10 and 12 percent. Which all makes sense given the pandemic.

Who pays whom for what, in recycling? According to Earth Institute,“Germany recycles 56 percent of its trash by providing different colored bins for different colored glass and other items. The country uses the Green Dot recycling system: When a green dot is placed on packaging material, it indicates that the manufacturer contributes to the cost of collection and recycling. These manufacturers pay a license fee to a waste collection company that is calculated on weight in order to get their packaging picked up, sorted and recycled.”

Some American cities encourage glass recycling by putting a deposit on beverage bottles. Glass, mind you, can be totally recycled and reused. Albuquerque has set up glass bottle recycling bins around town, as companies such as Waste Management will not recycle bottles tossed in their trash cans.

An almost perfect recyclable is the cardboard box, mountains of which are now turning up as the pandemic-driven shift from in-person shopping to online, has resulted in more. A December 2020 article in the Washington Post stated that “More paper by weight is recovered for recycling from municipal solid waste streams than glass, plastic, steel and aluminum combined,” Heidi Brock, president and chief executive of the American Forest and Paper Association, said in an emailed statement. “As more people stay at home, it’s a good reminder that the box at your doorstep is designed to be recycled.”

Clean boxes, mind you. As for plastic….. “New plastic,” as in pristine products made from oil, is far less expensive to obtain than items made from recycled plastics. Plus it is surging as plastic shields, masks, containers, and medical gear are so crucial in the fight to contain COVID-19. A lengthy October report by Joe Brock for Reuters stated that “Since COVID-19, even drinks bottles made of recycled plastic – the most commonly recycled plastic item – have become less viable. The recycled plastic to make them is 83 percent to 93 percent more expensive than new bottle-grade plastic, according to market analysts at the Independent Commodity Intelligence Services (ICIS).”

With demand for oil down worldwide, due to stay-at-home restrictions, as well as increased interest in electric vehicles and cars with greatly improved gas mileage, the oil and gas industry is casting about for new ways to increase revenue. Brock’s report goes on to say that the industry is committing”…$400 billion over the next five years on plants to make raw materials for virgin plastic.”

Meanwhile, Roadrunner continues to recycle horse manure for residents, and loses money on it, even though the City of Albuquerque has need of it. Dante jokes that “it’s cheaper to feed a car than a horse…”


Just how transparent —and legal— are Village Council deliberations during pandemic limitations and online meetings? More precisely, have members of the council engaged in the illegal practice of a “rolling quorum” in discussing matters that may come up for a vote at a future meeting? Ostensibly as orientation for the newest member of the council, Tyson Parker, explanations of what constitutes a “rolling quorum” were given by Village Attorney Randy Autio and Village Clerk Aaron Gjullin at the council’s February 9 Zoom session.

Gjullin warned that infractions of the State’s Open Meetings Act probably have been occurring over the past year as councillors try to deal with difficulties arising from COVID-19 restrictions. But really, Corrales officials have run afoul of “rolling quorum” regulations for decades. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXIX No.13 August 21, 2010 “Do Officials’ E-mails Violate ‘Open Meetings’ Act?”)

The problem typically arises when councillors make phone calls or send emails to one another about things that will be on a future meeting agenda, he said. “It’s really easy to slip up,” he cautioned. “We all have made mistakes.” Sometimes it happens when, as Village Clerk, he sends out an email to all councillors about something that will be discussed at a coming council meeting. “It’s only when you respond [to such a shared email] that a ‘rolling quorum’ becomes suspect. “At the end of the day, it’s a really simple, easy mistake to make. And we have all made it at one point or another.

“It would be very sad if, for example, we were looking at an ordinance, and I sent a draft in a packet to everyone, and then you start discussing how you’re going to vote or any concerns you have with it, that should be done in a public setting, in an open setting.

“That has never happened at least in my tenure here, but that’s an extreme example of how a ‘rolling quorum’ can happen.” He summed up the ongoing problem this way. “For sure, if there are four or more councillors on an e-mail chain and you start talking among yourselves, that could easily results in a complaint if somebody did a request for inspection of public records.”

Mayor Jo Anne Roake explained how the problem arose when she served on Planning and Zoning. “It was very inadvertent. One Planning and Zoning commissioner would say something in a email, and somebody else would chime in and then maybe it would scroll down to somebody else. We just kept adding people. That also was a problem, although back then people hadn’t really thought about it.

“It wasn’t just that we were all there at the same time. It was like ‘Hey, so and so had a great idea’” and a discussion by email evolved.
Autio further explained, “That’s right. It doesn’t have to happen all at once. People might keep responding at different times to the email, and unless it’s only about scheduling, is not a good idea.”

Gjullin said “Even if it’s just you and one other councillor, you shouldn’t be doing business about what’s on the agenda outside of a meeting.” The Village Attorney added, “Kind of the key is, when you find yourself doing more than when council meetings are going to occur, and you get into the substance of what is on the agenda, and you’re doing it between councillors, that’s when it’s a problem. “If you’re doing it between you and staff, that’s not a problem.”

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government has explained the ‘rolling quorum’ problem as follows. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s called a work session, retreat, training seminar or phone tree, under the Open Meetings Act, a meeting occurs whenever a quorum of a public body: a) formulates public policy, b) discusses public business, or c) takes action.

“A quorum is generally half the members plus one, unless otherwise specified in the board’s law or regulation. The quorum doesn’t need to be in the same room to hold a meeting; they might discuss public business in a series of e-mails or phone calls, over several days. This is called a rolling quorum, and it’s illegal unless the participants follow all the requirements of the Open Meetings Act.

At a work-study session with the mayor and councillors back on July 20, 2010 N.M. Municipal League Attorney Van Vleck listened to councillors’ complaints about what they felt were unreasonable constraints on what they could discuss among themselves online between regular council meetings.

Councillors engaging in phone calls, e-mails or sequential one-on-one discussions in person about pending public issues constitutes an illegal “rolling quorum” in which decisions are arrived at away from public scrutiny. Such practices have been a continuing source of controversy in Corrales for decades.

Then-Councillor Gerard Gagliano especially had argued current interpretations of the Open Meetings Act were unnecessarily impeding council members’ ability to learn about issues that were, or might be coming, before the council for decisions. At the 2010 work-study session Gagliano suggested that “We all get that creating a ‘rolling quorum’ is a bad thing,” and that councillors’ discussions about public issues should not be held in private. But he argued, as he had in the past, that contemporary internet techniques allow anyone from the public who wishes to do so to monitor, or perhaps even participate in, such online conversations.


Funds for Corrales from the N.M. Legislature last year that had been withheld have now been released. Money is now available for Casa San Ysidro Museum, Animal Control, Police Department offices, Fire Department water tanker and to extend water lines for fighting fire.

At the February 9 Village Council meeting, Village Clerk Aaron Gjullin reported “We have finally gotten, official, in-writing, bona fide grant agreements for capital outlay money that we weren’t sure we were going to get.” Gjullin said he had received word earlier that day that appropriations are approved for the following:
• Casa San Ysidro waste water and fire suppression lines - $25,000;
• Animal Control vehicles and equipment - $40,000;
• Fire Department water tender, a small, quick-response water hauler for wildlands fires- $225,000;
• Fire Department water line installation - $325,000; and
• Police station remodeling - $95,000.

“We’re really excited that we got this money and that we will be able to use these funds during the next couple of fiscal years,” Gjullin said. In a later interview, Village Administrator Ron Curry said the project for the police station is basically to make it “cleaner, neater and better. It’s not in very good shape, especially the bathroom.” He brushed off a facetious question whether funds would be used to enhance the police station’s holding cell.

In the Village’s Infrastructure Capital Improvements Plan (ICIP) submitted to the legislature, the request for “police station remodel” is to plan, design, renovate, repair, furnish and equip the police station.

The request for Casa San Ysidro Museum was for $50,000 to “plan, design and construct water and wastewater system improvement for Casa San Ysidro and the historic Old Church to Corrales Road for a visitor center.”


Corrales has turned back $167,417 to the N.M. Department of Transportation that now won’t be used to build trails for cyclists and horse riders along upper Meadowlark Lane. “This kind of sets us free,” Village Administrator Ron Curry said February 11, explaining that declining to use the grant means the Village will not have to comply with state-federal regulations.

Village officials had been stymied since 2018 in trying to move ahead with the long-planned paths after funders in Santa Fe denied Corrales’ request for a waiver from Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements due to steep slopes along the upper stretch of West Meadowlark. The multi-use trail along the north side of the road has been delayed after the Department of Transportation rejected a design for it that was deemed inconsistent with the federal regulations. The trail design for the west end of upper Meadowlark had unacceptable slopes both east-west and north-south. Apparently a slope in either direction would have been permissible unless it was too steep, but a slope in both directions was not.

Back then, the proposed solution was to obtain permission from property owners there to level out their driveway before it intersected with the future paved trail. But that never happened, so the over all project was stalled after the roadway was rebuilt with medians that incorporated stormwater drainage features.

Phase 2, the trails portion, will be accomplished with Village funds which, presumably, would not need to meet state-federal regulations, Village Administrator Curry said. Returning the money is “the first step in restarting the whole process,” he added. That will involve starting over with consultations among residents along upper Meadowlark, and the community in general, as to what is desired along the road connecting Loma Larga to bike lanes in Rio Rancho.

Curry said he expects to launch a new public involvement effort in April, starting with consultations with the current Village Council member representing the upper Meadowlark neighborhood Tyson Parker, joined by its previous representative, Dave Dornburg, who has indicated a desire to participate.

First proposed well more than a decade ago, the project secured funding through the Mid-Region Council of Governments for a bicycle connection between the two municipalities. But the Village declined the money after the Village Council was caught up in property owners’ disputes mainly about drainage. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXX, No.10, July 9, 2011 “Corrales Gives Back $160,000 for Upper Meadowlark Trail.” ) But proponents kept the project alive, building support community wide.  Village officials conceded that more preliminary, conceptual work should have been done, especially regarding drainage. In July 2013, villagers convened for a planning charrette to develop realistic proposals for better using the exceptionally wide right-of-way.

The sessions led by Architectural Research Consultants under contract to the Village attempted to resolve ongoing conflicts over the future of upper Meadowlark.  Neighbor-against-neighbor conflict had erupted over anticipated disruptions from the earlier funded project to construct bike trails along one or both sides of upper Meadowlark. Residents claimed the proposed changes might dump stormwater run-off onto their adjacent property, would increase traffic unbearably, make it difficult to safely exit their driveways onto Meadowlark and obliterate their frontage landscaping.

Proponents noted that upper Meadowlark is one of the few Village roads where plenty of right-of-way exists to accommodate multi-modal transportation, that bike lanes there would significantly improve opportunities for bicycle commuting, and that, as an inter-municipal project, funding had been allocated for it. From the beginning, opponents argued that funding provided through the Mid-region Council of Governments was nowhere near adequate to do the project right. No funds, for example, were provided for anticipated costs of managing drainage from the modified roadway.

After heated debate at council meetings over what should, or could, be done along upper Meadowlark, the mayor and council appointed a citizens’ task force to develop recommendations. It was headed by Pam Cox, an upper Meadowlark resident. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXX No.13 August 20, 2011 “Task Force Created For Upper Meadowlark Issues.”)

Then-Councillor Mick Harper, a strong advocate of the original plan, called for a new project along upper Meadowlark and subsequently won fellow councillors’ approval to seek other grants through the Council of Governments to solve long-running problems along Meadowlark. The preamble “whereas” statements in the resolution passed August 16 summed up the political impasse.

“Whereas, West Meadowlark Lane between Loma Larga and the Village boundary with the City of Rio Rancho is a residential road with a right-of-way 60 feet wide; and… West Meadowlark, because of its volume of traffic, is considered an urban collector by the [Council of Governments’] Metropolitan Planning Organization; and…

“… on its southern side, seven calles and driveways provide access to the lane for approximately 26 residences, with, in some instances, obstructed line-of-sight problems for residents and passing motorists; and

“…on its northern side, approximately 16 residences access the public road with driveways;

“…because of its grade and existing obstructions, West Meadowlark Lane could present drainage problems for the public right-of-way and adjoining properties; and;

“…by vote of the Village Council October 26, 2004, sixteen speed tables or humps were installed to calm traffic flow on West Meadowlark Lane; …in the event of a civic emergency evacuation situation, West Meadowlark Lane is one of three improved roads for exiting the Village;…”

According to the resolution adopted August 16, 2011, the new four-member task force was to be composed of at least two residents from the Meadowlark neighborhood, at least one person trained as an engineer and at least one person trained in the legal profession.

During its 50-year history as a municipality, Corrales has worked its way through difficult and contentious conflicts by calling upon citizen advisory groups. A previous task force, the Westside Road Committee, came up with compromises that allowed the controversial “north-south road” to go ahead as Loma Larga.  Another worked through competing interests to produce a plan for allocating activity space in the brand-new Corrales Recreation Center after the pasture land was purchased from the late Annette Jones.

Both of those previous efforts were led by Roy Soto, who went on to serve on the Corrales Planning and Zoning Commission. The unusually wide right-of-way along upper Meadowlark has attracted trails advocates’ interest for some time. That route was recommended for trail development in the 2009 Corrales Trails Master Plan.

Although the council endorsed the Meadowlark trail proposal in fall 2010, councillors rejected it the following April because residents along the road opposed the plan. Seeking a compromise, a representative of the Corrales Bicycle, Pedestrian Advisory Commission asked the mayor and council May 24, 2011 to use the funds ($160,500 from federal transportation enhancement funds and $53,000 from the State Legislature) to design a traffic plan to improve conditions along West Meadowlark. The plan, according to Commissioner Susan Zimmerman, would incorporate “traffic calming” methods that residents there have called for over the years faced with increased traffic to and from Rio Rancho.

“We recommend that the Mid-Region Council of Governments funds allocated for the West Meadowlark bike trails project be retained and applied as follows,” Zimmerman said. “We recommend using the combined funds for a comprehensive planning and design of an improved West Meadowlark Lane that addresses safety concerns as well as traffic-calming solutions. We note that MRCOG planner Julie Luna has indicated the appropriation for this original project could be used for preliminary, first-stage costs such as planning and design.

“There have been several meetings around town,” she continued, “including some by West Meadowlark residents who support pedestrian-bicycle and/or equestrian access on the road, particularly if it is designed and constructed in a safe and attractive way.

“Many of the residents have brought out legitimate concerns about West Meadowlark and the way it is used, including, but not limited to, drainage, visibility, safety and slope stability,” Zimmerman said.

“Our commission recommends using the funds available to contract with traffic planners and other professionals including engineers to produce a plan which incorporates a thorough public involvement process to address the concerns raised, as well as the potential for various alternative methods of transportation.”

Zimmerman pointed out back in 2011 that substantial public input had already been received, and would be useful in designing improvements to conditions along West Meadowlark. She urged the funds be used “to design a plan that is beautiful, functional and greatly enhances safety while honoring the rural character of our village.

The Bicycle, Pedestrian Advisory Commission’s recommendations came during the “Communications” part of the council’s May 24 meeting, so there was no opportunity for councillors to react to Zimmerman’s statement. But later in the meeting, Councillor Mick Harper urged that the council’s June 14 agenda include a discussion of those recommendations.

At the contentious April 12, 2011 meeting, the original inter-municipal project was rejected on a 4-2 vote. Councillors Harper and Sayre Gerhart wanted the project continued, citing unsafe conditions along upper Meadowlark, unusually ample public right-of-way and availability of grant money. Community discussion about a trail project along West Meadowlark from Loma Larga to the Rio Rancho boundary continued at Village Administrator John Avila’s trails master plan coordinating meeting a week later. Several Meadowlark residents attended, about half of whom expressed willingness to discuss a trail project there.

At the trails master plan coordinating meeting, MRCOG trails planner Julie Luna answered questions regarding the agency’s promised funding of the Meadowlark bike paths. Luna recommended the federal funding for the multi-modal project here not be turned back. She said her agency would likely be open to revisions to what had been proposed at that point for the Meadowlark trail project, including possible phasing.

For example, she explained, that might mean using the available funding for planning and design, and then seeking implementation and construction funds later. More than a half-dozen West Meadowlark residents attended the trails coordinating meeting April 19, 2011 and while some remained adamantly opposed to any trail project along their road, others expressed willingness to discuss alternatives that might be suitable and acceptable.

The council chambers were packed for the April 12 council meeting at which the Meadowlark trail project was voted down. Several of those residents spoke at the council meeting, citing safety issues, especially given the sight distances when they try to pull out from their driveways onto Meadowlark, and drainage concerns. They were apparently struck by Village Engineer Steve Grollman’s admission that the funding available to design the bike trail and compacted earth path did not specifically include money for drainage issues.

Opponents referred to the Village’s own trails master plan to contend that the Meadowlark trail would be unsuitable. The steep grade there was said to be counter to recommendations. They noted that the master plan’s priority list for implementation did not rank Meadowlark high for that and other reasons. But lots of villagers, especially trails advocates and bike riders, urged the council to approve the project.

Holly Roberts, then a member of the Village’s Bicycle, Pedestrian Advisory Commission, said the Meadowlark trail would start the community’s trails network. “The West Meadowlark trail will be the first real manifestation of our trails master plan,” Roberts said. “ It’s important for many reasons. It will provide us with a safe way to access Rio Rancho. It is the only way to get to Rio Rancho from the center of the village.”

Roberts said it would also allow villagers to get to the Thompson fence trail along the escarpment. She continued: “It will make it safer for school kids to wait for the bus, and it will be an important artery for the far northwest quadrant of the Albuquerque Metropolitan Area linking it with the rest of the city, allowing people to commute by bicycle if they so desire.

“Currently West Meadowlark is kind of safe… as long as you’re in a car. If you’re walking, riding a bike or on a horse, forget it. Landscaping has been installed to the edge of the road in many places, forcing anyone not in a car out into the busy road. Bikes must ride in the lane of traffic, slowing down all the cars behind them if there is no paved shoulder. The unpaved shoulder is sandy and full of obstacles, many placed there by homeowners.”


Villagers will have to decide soon whether they want to keep municipal elections on the first Tuesday of March every other year or switch to the date of general elections in November. The question, which involves complications related to timing as well as funding, was debated at the February 9 Village Council meeting, with no clear answer. The over all purpose was to eliminate conflicts and standardize schedules and procedures.

In 2018 , the N.M. Legislature passed the Local Election Act which allowed municipalities to retain their schedules for elections on the first Tuesdays in March in even-numbered years or to opt-in for consolidated elections on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of odd-numbered years— that is, the traditional date for November general election.

As explained by Village Attorney Randy Autio at the council meeting, if the Village Council takes no action, municipal elections here would continue to come in early March of even numbered years, with the Village budget paying for all costs. But if the council opts in for consolidated elections, Village elections would be in November of odd-numbered years, with the Sandoval County Clerk conducting the polling and covering all costs.

Village Clerk Aaron Gjullin said conducting a municipal election here typically costs the Village $65-75,000. A further wrinkle is that if Corrales opts in, some terms for council members, the mayor and municipal judge would be lengthened or shortened to jibe with the new November schedule.

“It’s time for us to be making a decision,” Mayor Jo Anne Roake advised. In order to opt in and be included in November 2022 elections, Corrales would have to pass an ordinance to that effect by June 30. But the Village Attorney cautioned that the rules and implications of switching to consolidation under the Local Election Act constitute a “complicated, messy problem.”

Among other changes, the timetable for processes such as declaration of candidacy, would also change. The attorney said it is expected that voter turnout would increase if elections were consolidated in November. According to a list distributed to the council in its meeting packet, municipalities that will now participate in consolidated elections include: Edgewood, Los Ranchos, Cloudcroft, Tucumcari, Santa Fe, Española, Socorro, Las Cruces, Belen and Albuquerque, among many others.


Music in Corrales’s next virtual concert, “Boyd Meets Girl,” features Rupert Boyd and Laura Metcalf, a classical and contemporary guitar and cello husband and wife duo. They performs an eclectic and engaging repertoire, from Debussy and Schubert to the Beatles and Beyoncé. Their on-demand concert, created exclusively for Music in Corrales, will be available for ticket buyers to view anytime from Saturday, February 20 through Sunday, February 28.

In addition to the concert, ticket purchasers will receive a Virtual Backstage Pass for a live conversation and a question and answer session with the musicians via Zoom at 6 p.m. Saturday, February 20.  Ticket buyers will receive their concert ticket link along with a link for their Virtual Backstage Pass 12 to 24 hours prior to Saturday, February 20.  Tickets are $15/person for links to the concert video and the Virtual Backstage Pass.  Tickets can be obtained at

Acclaimed soloists in their own right, Boyd and Metcalf have played to sold-out houses around the world, but the first professional concert together was in Albuquerque in 2013. Since then, they have returned to New Mexico several times, performing as soloists and as a duo in Taos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque, including repeat engagements at Albuquerque’s Chatter chamber music series. In 2018 Metcalf performed as the cellist with the group Sybarites in the Old San Ysidro Church in Corrales.


Perhaps this is yet another scene in Corrales’ medical marijuana card holders’ Waiting for Godot moment…calls to Southwest Organic Producers, SWOP, in Albuquerque asking when the Corrales retail outlet would open revealed “I have no idea…they keep saying ‘in two weeks,’ every time we ask. ‘In two weeks.’” The end of last year there was a brief burst of increased activity at the eastern end of the former Kim Jew property at 4604 Corrales Road, as it appeared that the retail cannabis dispensary was almost ready to open. A SWOP source said in December that “furniture, including display cases” were being bought for the Corrales site.

Spencer Komadina, one of the project’s partners, said then that the New Mexico Department of Health was expected to do its inspection the week of December 13, and that the shop would then hold its soft open, with a grand opening following not far behind. And yet. In an email February 11, Komadina said “Corrales is making us connect to the sewer before we can open...That will be done soon.”

According to Planning and Zoning administrator Laurie Stout, on November 20, 2019, the site development plan for SWOP was approved by the P&Z commission. A week later on November 27, Stout sent a letter to SWOP outlining the required next moves. It said, in part, “your next step is to have your chosen contractor pull a building permit” and “an item discussed during the meeting was the tie-in needed to the Village wastewater system. Michael Chavez oversees this.” Stout provided his email. “Both are common next steps after a site plan approval.”

But, as Stout put it, “No building permit application was received until recently —all work was done without a permit and so the permit had to be issued retroactively, which comes with a double fee— and the wastewater tie-in is now underway.” She added, “This could have been accomplished in November of 2019.”

The Corrales outlet, whenever it opens at the corner of Corrales Road and Rincon Road, just north of Perea’s restaurant, at least now does have new SWOP signage. And the dispensary should benefit from what another SWOP partner, Aaron Brogdon, has described as “better quality product,” grown right in Corrales. The Komadina property at 379 Camino de Corrales del Norte has three greenhouses, as well as a “head house,” or nursery, for new plants.


Long lines of cars and trucks headed to the Corrales Recreation Center Thursday, February 11 as vaccinations for COVID-19 began here. Under the direction of Fire Department Battalion Commander Tanya Lattin, several Village and N.M. Department of Health (NMDOH) personnel guided and registered people who had previously established eligibility with the NMDOH.

On that first day, 167 people were vaccinated at the rec center “point of distribution (POD). Two injection stations were set up under the solar electric arrays in the parking lot for “drive-by shootings” into arms through vehicle windows. Lattin said those vaccinated February 11 experienced no adverse reactions during a short period of observation.

She said initial vaccinations here will continue once a week, Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m. in the parking lot in front of the recreation center’s multi-use building. Vaccinations are by appointment only; those to be vaccinated must have registered with the N.M. Department of Health. Persons desiring vaccine protection from COVID-19 here or elsewhere in New Mexico should sign up at the N.M. Department of Health website, htpps:// Lattin urged villagers to call her for assistance with the registration process. She can be reached at 702-4182.

“For the first three weeks, the rec center location will be a site for initial vaccinations, and on the fourth week, it will operate morning and afternoon for second doses and first doses as long as vaccine is allocated.

“This is currently the only Corrales NMDOH location, and as it takes a large number of staff to operate, I do not see any other locations being set up in Corrales,” Lattin explained. She said she is aware that Corrales Pharmacy has been trying to gain authorization from NMDOH to vaccinate there as well. As of February 13, 262 cases of the deadly coronavirus were recorded in Corrales. There were 179.724 cases statewide, and 3,502 had died.

By age group, most Sandoval County COVID-19 cases were among people between the ages of 20 and 30, followed by those in the 30-40 age group. But the rates of infection were in steep decline in New Mexico, in line with trends nationwide.

“It’s so nice to report some good news on the COVID front,” Mayor Jo Anne Roake said. “Sandoval County, along with 14 others in New Mexico, has moved to ‘Yellow.’ In keeping with the public health order, Village outdoor recreational facilities are open at 25 percent capacity.

“Indoor dining is allowed at 25 percent, outdoor dining at 75 percent. Businesses can operate at 25 percent. Mass gatherings are now at 10.” The mayor urged Corraleños to continue wearing masks, try to remain at home and get vaccinated. “Along with COVID safe practices, to overcome the virus, we must get vaccinated. New Mexico already has 16 percent fewer cases because of vaccinations. Please register for your vaccine.

“Finally, please get tested. If the test is positive, you’ll get the help you need fast; if it’s negative, you’ll help reduce the positivity rate.” That positivity rate is the basis for loosening (or tightening) restrictions, such as those for restaurants, bars, sporting events and other sites where patrons might be exposed to the virus. The recent decreases meant the Health Department could show Sandoval County as having moved from the “Red” designation to “Yellow.” No counties had progressed to “Green” as of February 13.

New Mexico was among the highest ranked states for actually distributing vaccine available. As of February 12, the state had vaccinated people with 394,720 doses out of the 429,950 received, a delivery rate of almost 92 percent. But only around 13 percent of all New Mexicans had gotten their first shot. New Mexico ranked third in the nation, behind only Utah and West Virginia, for using the vaccine made available. The state was third, behind Alaska and West Virginia, for percentage of total population to have received at least the first dose.


The latest Corraleño to be named a local hero is John Perea. Mayor Jo Anne Roake made that announcement at the January 26 Village Council meeting. She noted he has served on several municipal committees and commissions, including Parks and Recreation and Farmland Preservation, and has served the broader community for years in various ways.

The family business, Perea’s Restaurant and Tijuana Bar, has hosted countless community gatherings over decades. The mayor pointed out that Perea, a former Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua, has been a consultant for several Pueblo governments, representing them in Washington DC.

Roake began an effort to recognize villagers as local heroes last year, starting with Red Cross volunteer Linda Crowden, and then Corrales Historical Society historian Mary Davis and Corrales Comment publisher Jeff Radford. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIX No.16 November 7, 2020 “Local Heroes Honored.”)


State Representative Jim Townsend, an Artesia Republican, Representative Rod Montoya,  a Farmington Republican, and Hobbs Republican Larry Scott  filed a lawsuit  January 30 with the New Mexico Supreme Court challenging House rules changes they considered unconstitutional one-week into the 60-day legislative session.

 Those rule changes are significantly different than those of the Senate chamber, in which the Senate will operate in a manner where their chamber will ensure it legislates from “the seat of government” as is set forth in the New Mexico Constitution. During floor debate on these rule changes, House Republican lawmakers highlighted significant constitutional concerns as to the validity of any action the House may take, as well the significant reduction of public access to the legislative process. 

While there were two instances of bipartisan agreement on rule changes, the House Democrat majority defeated numerous other attempts to reverse rule changes that were contrary to years of bipartisan support to encourage public access and create greater transparency in the legislature’s actions, they said.

Before the current session, there were bipartisan concerns expressed about holding the legislative session during the pandemic and legislators from both sides of aisle and from both chambers voiced a desire to hold the session later in the spring when the number of COVID-19 cases might be diminished and vaccines would be widely available. Delaying the session could have also avoided making these rule changes, they contended, and could have allowed greater public participation in the legislative process.


A bill in the N.M. Legislature would allow any registered voter to vote in the primary election for either major party. House Bill 79, or previous versions, has been considered in the legislature over the past five years as advocated by Corrales’ former State Representative Bob Perls, who heads what is now known as New Mexico Open Elections.

This year, the proposal is co-sponsored by Corrales Representative Daymon Ely who testified that the state’s current party-member-only voting for the primaries excludes nearly 300,000 citizens. In the early days of the 2021 legislative session, HB79 was favorably voted out of the State Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee with a 6-3 margin.

Under terms of the bill, New Mexicans who are registered as independents, or as members of minor parties, can vote in party primary elections of the Democratic, Republican or Libertarian Parties simply by requesting a ballot; there would be no need to register as a member of one of those parties to participate in the primary. This year, the current N.M. Secretary of State, Maggie Toulouse Oliver, testified in favor of the bill, which advanced to the House Judiciary Committee.

“If we can get it to the House floor, we are fairly certain it will move through to the Senate,” Perls said February 1. In recent years, New Mexicans have increasingly joined the ranks of independent voters. Around 22 percent of voters decline to register as Democrat, Republican or Libertarian. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIV No.9 June 20, 2015 “Corrales-Based Campaign Aims for Open Primary Elections.”) A Corrales businessman and former U.S. Foreign Service officer, Perls last year ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for Sandoval County Clerk. Elected to the N.M. House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1992, Perls served in until 1996.

In 2016, he explained why has advocated for open primaries. “New Mexico has more uncontested political races than any state, fewer independent or minor party candidates that any state, the highest and most discriminatory ballot access requirements of any state… and we wonder why democracy does not work well here. The answer is that we need competitive elections with engaged voters for it to work for everyone,” Perls said. “New Mexico Open Primaries believes that we must reduce the discriminatory ballot access requirements of independent and third party candidates to offer more choices for New Mexican voters.”

The non-profit organization is now known as New Mexico Open Elections. “The fundamental belief is that you shouldn’t have to join a political party to vote. In New Mexico, we have a closed primary system; that means you have to register Democrat or register Republican to vote in a primary,” Perls explained. “New Mexico has been a heavily Democratic state, and therefore probably 90 percent of the important decisions are made in the Democratic primary. Most elections are decided in the Democratic Party primary. That’s because there’s either no competition from the other party in the general election or there’s token competition in the general election. Ninety percent of the time, the candidate who comes out the winner in the Democratic party gets elected.

“Here is why it’s important for a primary to be open. These ‘electoral process issues’ are complex, not very sexy and yet are the root-cause of the political dysfunction we see in America and in New Mexico.

“The idea of New Mexico Open Primaries is to open up the primaries so that independents can vote and so that people don’t have to register as a Democrat or Republican to vote in the first-round election. “Most people think of the party primary as a first-round election; what our organization wants to do is educate people about the fact that elections are a fundamental responsibility of state government, and that it is going about it backward to have a private club, or private association [parties], running our elections.

“I believe strongly that parties serve a function, and I believe strongly that this movement is not anti-party,” Perls insisted. “But we need to look at why we have the gridlock and hyper-partisanship and dysfunction that we have in this country. The root cause of that is, in fact, partisanship.”

He thinks it’s wrong —even illegal— to allow private organizations, such as parties, to decide who they will allow to vote in an election for a public office. “Our tax dollars pay for primary elections, and it is illegal (or should be, once the courts catch up based on the N.M. anti-donation clause) for public dollars to go to private associations. We don’t tolerate it in any situation except the most important activity we do in our country —when we vote.”

As a Democrat, Perls won election to the N.M. House of Representatives in 1992 and was re-elected in 1994 before running unsuccessfully for Congress and then for a seat on the N.M. Public Regulations Commission. He applied for admission to the Foreign Service Corps after selling his medical equipment sales business, Monitech, in 2008. He joined the U.S. Foreign Service in January 2010.

During his four years in the N.M. House, he was regarded as something of a maverick for not strictly toeing the Democratic party line. That independent thinking cost him support from party leaders. The movement toward open primaries in state level elections began in the 1990s.


At the February 9 Village Council meeting to be zoomed starting at 6:30 p.m., an update will be given on the farmland preservation program. The briefing was requested at the January 26 session by Councillor Zach Burkett, who responded to a request forsuggestions for the next meeting’s agenda. “Can we get an update on conservation easements —just if there are any other properties that have been identified as interested? I have heard rumors there are some that are potentially in the works, so if we could get at least a broad update, that would be fantastic. Mayor Jo Anne Roake replied. “Absolutely. I hope it will be more than a broad update. Everybody, keep your fingers crossed!”

That seemed to contrast with the report submitted earlier in the same meeting that noted, “No private property owners are currently interested in participating in the easement program, but if opportunities arise the Village will pursue them.” However, when Corrales Comment asked Farmland Preservation Commission’s co-chair Lisa Brown, she said there is no current application to add a property to the Village’s program. “There is nothing pending.”

The Village Council approved purchase of a conservation easement on 12 acres of farmland at its December 8, 2020 session. The vote was three-to-two to pay $960,000 for an easement on the Haslam farm between the Corrales Main Canal and the Corrales Lateral irrigation ditch at the end of Kings Lane. Councillors Stuart Murray and Kevin Lucero voted no, citing prospects that a more desirable tract might become available during the next six months.

That was almost certainly a reference to the long-discussed, and negotiated possibility that the Trosello tract farther north along the east side of Corrales Road might be saved from development as home sites. Murray, Lucero and several villagers had argued that the Village had negotiated an option to purchase the Haslam tract this past summer and still had six months remaining to exercise it. They argued there was no hurry to close on the Haslam land.

With the Haslam easement purchase, that leaves approximately $1.5 million remaining of the $2.5 million raised from municipal general obligation bonds approved by voters in March 2018 for farmland preservation. Former Village Councillor Fred Hashimoto had urged a delay on the Haslam property. “Some very attractive proposals might pop up between now and June 1, and the council should not cave now to prematurely spend potential funds which might be used for a possibly more valuable proposal in the next coming months.”

Those questions drew sharp responses from then-Councillor Dave Dornburg and Mayor Roake. “I think it’s kind of folly to assume that another deal is going to come out of the woodwork at this day and age when property values in the village are only going up,” Dornburg said. “I think there has been enough man-hours and due diligence put into this process that the time has come to put it to a vote.

“There may always be another option down the road, but in my humble opinion, while I’m sure there are other pieces of property that people would rather have, this is the option we have and it meets the intent of conservation easement that we’re trying to protect.” Murray responded. “I’m not going to dispute the process. They have been working on it quite a bit. I have no objection to Mr. Haslam’s property. It’s a beautiful piece of property.” But he doubted that the offered parcel could be successful as a farm. “I’ve seen farmers back in my hometown who had 150 acres and couldn’t make a go of it and had to work two jobs to make a living…”

Mayor Roake cut in to say that was not relevant, and that waiting another six months on the Haslam option is not really an alternative, given the amount of time it has taken to get the Haslam option ready to execute. “Between getting our financing and getting the bonds issued and getting it approved through the N.M. Finance Authority and all the other gates that we have to go through actually does put the time limitations on this process. I want to address the idea that we can actually wait for months, because all of the pieces that you have voted for have gotten us to the point now where we are issuing the bonds, and that has to be done in a certain time frame… all of this was done based on two different appraisals and two different reviews by N.M. Taxation and Revenue, so I think that’s a false analogy.

“All of this work has taken place since July. It has taken a long time. It’s a lengthy and complex process,” the mayor stressed, making the point that the administration does not actually have another six months to exercise the Haslam option. Before the vote was called, Councillor Dornburg made another plea for approval. “I think it’s a good idea today, it was a good idea six months ago and it will be a good idea six months from now. If we don’t think it’s a good idea, that’s a different conversation. But we have the will of the people for a bond to buy conservation easements. We have a great conservation property in front of us. If you like the property and think it meets the will of the people, either today or in June, the answer should probably be the same.”

The motion to purchase the Haslam conservation easement was approved. More than 50 acres of Corrales farmland has been brought under conservation easement since the effort began here in 2000. Villagers overwhelmingly approved a bond proposal for $2.5 million for that purpose in 2004, but the last of those bond proceeds was spent in 2015. Since the bonds now have been paid off, more bonds were issued without increasing property tax. The first conservation easement here was donated by former Corrales resident Jonathan Porter on land west of Corrales Road at the south end of the valley. Similar to the Haslam farm, the Porter tract is not visible from Corrales Road, nor are most others.

Corrales’ interest in preserving farmland dates back at least to its incorporation as a municipality in 1971. The first master plan produced for the new Village government in 1973 recommended techniques be explored to accomplish that. Successive planning documents and ordinances over the years have endorsed that goal. (See Corrales Comment Vol. II, No. 8, August 20, 1983 “Can Corrales Stay Farmland Forever? Yes, Say Planners, & Here’s How.”) Corrales’ first conservation easement of six acres along Mira Sol Road in 2001 was donated by the landowner, not sold. Jonathan Porter believed in keeping fertile land under cultivation and his donation of the easement to the Taos Land Trust provided helpful tax benefits.


More trees will be removed at the north end of the Corrales Bosque Preserve in the weeks ahead as the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District continues remedies for the threatened siphon pipe that delivers irrigation water to Corrales. Starting during the second week of February, the work with heavy equipment will continue through early March, according to MRGCD Executive Director Mike Hamman.

Much of the work inside the preserve involves creating a boat ramp downriver from the rock weir over the Corrales Siphon constructed last year. Safety concerns have been raised about the risk to boaters, rafters and other watercraft users as they encounter the new rapids caused by the small boulders placed all across the Rio Grande. (See Corrales Comment letters to the editor in the January 23, 2021 issue.)

To mitigate that threat, Hamman said some of the boulders nearest the west side of the river will be removed and replaced with a more gentle, smoother passage from the upriver side of the weir to the downriver side. “We’ve gone through two separate projects here designed to save the siphon from the threat posed by the flow of the river,” he explained January 28 in a riverside interview for Corrales Comment.

“That down-cutting of the riverbed [which until recent years covered the 80-year old wooden culvert] has been going on since construction of Cochiti Dam. The original project in 2016 protected about 100 feet of the exposed siphon, but then we had heavy river flows of 2019 when flows here were consistent for weeks on end. That meant the down-cut went even further so that the siphon was completely exposed at the end of that run-off season.

“So that’s when we installed the rock weir that extends clear across the active channel. We feel like we’ve protected the siphon very well now for many years to come.” He said his agency is considering another technique called “slip lining” that would insert an inner lining material that could be expanded inside the wooden pipe to support it even further.

Since the weir has been in place, MRGCD and cooperating federal agencies have observed the results to see whether the river and its sediment load are behaving as expected. One of those has been the river dropping some of its sediment on the upriver side of the boulders which is having the effort of building up a more gentle ramp. “But we did recognize that this creates a hazard for boating, wading and possibly swimming in this area because we did raise the river up about two and a half feet or so from what it was before,” Hamman pointed out. “But we know from experience that the river will continue to moderate that leading edge so that it will start to meld into a more gradual slope.

“But we realize we will have to take additional action to make it more safe. One of the things we wanted to do, after we learned what the river was going to do, was to change this part here on the river-right side [west], to make it a smoother ramp from the upriver side of the weir to the downstream side.” He said the intended slope in the riverbed would be about 70 feet wide east-west starting at the Corrales side. The detour around the boulder weir will be on the Corrales side of the river channel rather than the east side which is under Sandia Pueblo jurisdiction. “They are very concerned about trespass there.”

Hamman said a sign will be posted along the east side warning people on watercraft not to try to go over the boulders, but instead to “stay river right” and pass through the smoother slope along the Corrales side. “People of the low to moderate skill set will probably have no problems coming through here. A skilled kayaker could probably take that rapid, but there are some sizable boulders in there.

“Now, for people who wish to put in here to go downstream and may be a little nervous about coming through this passage, we’re going to take out some of these older trees that are kind of aged out —and some of them are even being undercut by the river, so about four or five trees are going to come out. That way we can have another ramp going down to the river in a gradual slope. So people who want to avoid the weir as it is now will have two options.”

Another advantage, he said, is the new ramp will make it easier for river rescue teams to launch their watercraft at the north end of the preserve. Once the new ramp is completed, probably before summer, boaters and rafters headed down river could take out at the ramp recently built north of the weir, portage across the parking lot bypassing the weir, and put in again at the new ramp.

Another component of the improvements already completed is expansion of the visitor parking area. “We know this is a very popular area. And we wanted to make sure people can use it safely. We’ve had people who backed into the canal as they were trying to leave this area, so we wanted to make it safer.” The 83 year old 1,000-foot wooden pipe has been buried under the river bed since the early 1930s but was being uncovered by chronic erosion of the channel since upriver dams were constructed, reducing sediment deposited here. When the problem was revealed more than eight years ago, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District implemented temporary fixes while trying to figure out what the real solution might be.

With assistance from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, MRGCD constructed a rock weir immediately downstream of the pipe near the west bank of the Rio Grande. “The MRGCD had previously had an inspection performed on the siphon and found that the wood pipe was in remarkably good condition with the exception of one missing wood stave in a section near the east bank,” the district’s executive director said.

The wooden culvert brings irrigation water from the east side of the Rio Grande to the west and into the Corrales Main Canal. About eight years ago, rapids began to appear where water flowed over the pipe. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXII, No.16, October 5, 2013 “River Bed’s Drop Disturbs Buried Irrigation Culvert.”)

The former executive director, Subhas Shah, explained to the mayor and Village Council that the uncovering of the siphon had been caused by a reduction in silt pouring into the Rio Grande after Cochiti and other dams were constructed upstream. “In 1975 when Cochiti Dam was built, we started getting less silt coming into the river, and the river bed was getting eroded. So this is what we are seeing after 38 years.” (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXX, No. 2 March 5, 2011 “So Far, River Bed Still Degrading Here.”)

The siphon is made of a series of 20-foot long by five-inch wide wood staves that are held together with steel bands to form a pipe that is approximately 900 feet long. It brings irrigation water conveyed through Sandia Pueblo under the riverbed and into Corrales.


If you don’t have your own photovoltaic panels to generate electricity for your home or business, might you be interested in subscribing to use the output from a community solar facility? A bill under consideration in the 2021 session of the N.M. Legislature calls for rules to govern how a community solar facility should operate. Senate Bill 84 was introduced by Liz Stefanics and Linda Lopez.

The bill directs the N.M. Public Regulation Commission to adopt rules to implement such a program around the state, with special consideration for Native American communities. The bill defines a community solar program as one which is “created through the adoption of rules by the commission that allows for the development of community solar facilities and provides customers of a qualifying utility with the option of accessing solar energy produced by a community solar facility in accordance with the Community Solar Act.”

It would operate based on a community solar bill credit that is the credit value of the electricity generated by a community solar facility and allocated to a subscriber to offset the subscriber's electricity bill on the qualifying utility’s monthly billing cycle. SB84 defines a “low-income customer” for such a program as “a residential customer of a qualifying utility with an annual household income at or below eighty percent of county area median income, as published by the United States department of housing and urban development, or that is enrolled in a low-income program facilitated by the state or a low-income energy program led by the qualifying utility or as determined by the commission; And a “low-income service organization” would be an organization that provides services, assistance or housing to low-income customers and may include a local or central tribal government, a chapter house or a tribally designated housing entity; A “subscriber” means a retail customer of a qualifying utility that owns a subscription to a community solar facility from a subscriber organization; A “subscriber organization would be an entity that owns or operates a community solar facility and may include a municipality, a county, a for-profit or nonprofit entity or organization, an Indian nation, tribe, or pueblo, a local tribal governance structure or other tribal entity authorized to transact business in New Mexico; Selected text of the bill reads as follows.

Section 3. Community Solar Facility Requirements.
A. A community solar facility shall:
(1) have a nameplate rating of five megawatts alternating current or less;
(2) be located in the service territory of the qualifying utility and be interconnected to the electric distribution system of that qualifying utility;
(3) have at least ten subscribers;
(4) have the option to be co-located with other energy resources;
(5) not allow a single subscriber to be allocated more than forty percent of the generating capacity of the facility; and
(6) make at least forty percent of the total generating capacity of a community solar facility available in subscriptions of twenty-five kilowatts or less.

B. The provisions of this section shall not apply to a native community solar project; provided that a native community solar project shall be located in the service territory of a qualifying utility and be interconnected to the electric distribution system of that qualifying utility.

Section 4. Ownership of Community Solar Facilities.
A. A community solar facility shall be owned or operated by a subscriber organization.
B. Third-party entities or subscriber organizations developing projects on the land of an Indian nation, tribe, or pueblo are subject to tribal jurisdiction.
Section 5. Subscription Requirements. A. A subscription shall be:
(1) sized to supply no more than one hundred twenty percent of the subscriber's average annual electricity consumption; and
(2) transferable and portable within the qualifying utility service territory.

B. The provisions of this section shall not apply to a native community solar project; provided that subscriptions to a native community solar project shall be transferable and portable within the qualifying utility Community Solar Program Administration.
A. A qualifying utility shall:
(1) acquire the entire output of a community solar facility connected to its distribution system;
(2) apply community solar bill credits to subscriber bills within one billing cycle following the cycle during which the energy was generated by the community solar facility;
(3) provide community solar bill credits to a community solar facility's subscribers for not less than twenty-five years from the date the community solar facility is first interconnected;
(4) carry over any amount of a community solar bill credit that exceeds the subscriber's monthly bill and apply it to the subscriber's next monthly bill; and
(5) on a monthly basis and in a standardized electronic format, provide to the subscriber organization a report indicating the total value of community solar bill credits generated by the community solar facility in the prior month as well as the amount of the community solar bill credits applied to each subscriber.

B. A subscriber organization shall, on a monthly basis and in a standardized electronic format, provide to the qualifying utility a list indicating the kilowatt-hours of generation attributable to each subscriber. Subscriber lists may be updated monthly to reflect canceling subscribers and to add new subscribers.

C. If a community solar facility is not fully subscribed in a given month, the unsubscribed energy may be rolled forward on the community solar facility account for up to one year from its month of generation and allocated by the subscriber organization to subscribers at any time during that period. At the end of that period, any undistributed bill credit shall be removed, and the unsubscribed energy shall be purchased by the qualifying utility at its applicable avoided cost of energy rate as approved by the commission.

D. The environmental attributes, including renewable energy certificates, associated with a community solar facility may be sold or transferred by the owner of the community solar facility to the qualifying utility.

E. Nothing in the Community Solar Act shall preclude an Indian nation, tribe or pueblo from using financial mechanisms other than subscription models, including virtual and aggregate net-metering, for native community solar projects.

Section 7. Public Regulation Commission Rule making.

A. The commission shall adopt rules to establish a community solar program by no later than November 1, 2021. The rules shall:
(1) provide an initial annual statewide capacity program cap of one hundred megawatts proportionally allocated to investor-owned utilities until November 1, 2024. The annual statewide capacity program cap shall exclude native community solar projects and rural electric distribution cooperatives;
(2) establish an annual statewide capacity program cap to be in effect after November 1, 2024;
(3) require a target thirty percent annual statewide carve-out of the annual statewide capacity program cap to be reserved for low-income customers and low-income service organizations. In facilitation of this target, the commission shall issue guidelines to ensure the carve-out is achieved each year and develop a list of low-income service organizations and programs that may pre-qualify low-income customers;
(4) establish a process for the selection of community solar facility projects and allocation of the statewide capacity program cap;
(5) require a qualifying utility to file the tariffs, agreement or forms necessary for implementation of the community solar program;
(6) establish reasonable, uniform, efficient and non-discriminatory standards, fees and processes for the interconnection of community solar facilities that are consistent with the commission's existing interconnection rules and interconnection manual that allows a qualifying utility to recover reasonable costs for administering the community solar program and interconnection costs for each community solar facility;
(7) provide consumer protections for subscribers, including a uniform disclosure form that identifies the information that shall be provided by a subscriber organization to a potential subscriber, in both English and Spanish, and when appropriate, native or indigenous languages, to ensure fair disclosure of future costs and benefits of subscriptions, key contract terms and other relevant but reasonable information pertaining to the subscription;
(8) provide a community solar bill credit rate mechanism for subscribers derived from the qualifying utility's total aggregate retail rate on a per-customer-class basis, less the commission-approved distribution cost components, and identify all proposed rules, fees and charges;
(9) reasonably allow for the creation, financing and accessibility of community solar facilities; and
(10) provide requirements for the siting and co-location of community solar facilities.

B. The commission shall solicit input from relevant state agencies, public utilities, low-income stakeholders, disproportionately impacted communities, potential owners or operators of community solar facilities, Indian nations, tribes and pueblos and other interested parties in its rule making process.

C. By no later than November 1, 2024, the commission shall provide to the appropriate interim legislative committee a report on the status of the community solar program, including the development of community solar facilities, the participation of investor-owned utilities and rural electric distribution cooperatives, low-income participation, the adequacy of facility size, proposals for alternative rate structures and bill credit mechanisms, cross-subsidization issues, community solar facilities' effect on utility compliance with the renewable portfolio standard and an evaluation of the effectiveness of the commission's rules to implement the Community Solar Act and any recommended changes.

Section 9. Exclusion from Commission Regulation.. Subscriber organizations, or the subscribers to a community solar facility, shall not be considered public utilities subject to regulation by the commission under the Public Utility Act solely as a result of their ownership, interest in, operation of or subscription to a community solar facility. Rates paid for subscriptions shall not be subject to regulation by the commission.


After its usual winter hiatus, Casa San Ysidro Museum: The Gutiérrez-Minge House, across from Old Church, is once again up and running, with COVID-19-safe tours, five-person per tour, New Mexico residents only, via timed tickets available for purchase only online through Hold My Ticket. And, according to Site Manager Aaron Gardner, the museum also is offering a full roster of online programming. You can get each relevant Zoom connection by going to
February 13: The Unique Legacy of Abraham Lincoln in New Mexico
Abraham Lincoln spoke very little about the far western territory of New Mexico. Yet, during his presidency, two different wars were fought here and the territory’s landmass was divided in half. Lincoln signed into law legislation that would eventually aid in the settlement and development of New Mexico. New Mexico has a county, town, range of mountains and national forest named in his honor. New Mexico State University Professors Christopher Schurtz and Dwight Pitcaithley describe Lincoln’s connection to the New Mexico Territory.
March 13: Traditions of the Santero: Bulto Restoration Techniques
Bultos, sculptures of saints and other religious figures, are a living tradition within the religious iconography of Spanish folk art. They played an integral part in the Spanish colonization of the Americas. The tradition of wooden santo carving has been preserved as a folk art in parts of Mexico and Northern New Mexico.
Conservators Allison Herrera and Keith Bakker discuss bultos and bulto restoration techniques while referencing objects from the Museum's collection and other pertinent examples in New Mexico.
April 10: Native American Language Revitalization in New Mexico Christine Sims will discuss the leading efforts in indigenous language revitalization, language maintenance issues, and how the American Indian Language Policy Research Center is providing technical assistance to indigenous nations and training for American Indian language teachers.
In his 1991 revision of Acoma: Pueblo in the Sky, Ward Alan Minge references some of the early work that initiated a bilingual program at Acoma Pueblo’s local school.
Acoma’s bilingual program today is directed by Sims, who is also the state director for the National Indian Bilingual Center and an associate professor at University of New Mexico.
June 12: Native Dye Plants of New Mexico
Native American and Spanish weavers traditionally have used native plants to dye wool with an array of colors to create one-of-a-kind textiles and clothing.
A weaver’s expertise not only required the skill and dexterity to create intricate patterns but the knowledge of where to find the plants that yielded the desired colors.
Las Arañas weaver Myra Chang Thompson and Rio Grande Return Conservation Director Cameron Weber describe native dye plants, their uses, and the local practices that people have employed in New Mexico for generations.

July 10: Bioregional Perspectives with Jack Loeffler. With the ever expanding civic and suburban sprawl of the Southwest, understanding how ecosystems can sustain development in the face of unexpected change is needed now more than ever. Jack Loeffler describes bioregionalism occurring in New Mexico and the Southwest. A bioregionalist, aural historian, environmentalist and author, over the past 50 years Loeffler’s work has focused on the vital importance of indigenous-minded environmentalism —citing Native American, Hispano, Anglo, and countercultural excerpts from interviews and folksongs he’s recorded for local history projects.
August 14: Herreros: The Spanish History of Blacksmiths
Herreros, or Spanish blacksmiths, were highly valued members of Spanish expeditions to New Mexico. They shoed horses and repaired armor, made horse gear, firearms, and small tools. As more colonists arrived, blacksmiths turned their attention to providing domestic goods like griddles, roasting spits, ladles, and knives. Dave Sabo, a local blacksmith skilled in the traditional methods of herreros, describes some of the early iron manufacturing and blacksmithing practices that were used in New Mexico.
October 9: From Spain to New Mexico, The Journey to Keep a Secret. Who were the Crypto-Jews and Conversos?
An award-winning journalist and educator, Norma Libman describes a history of the Jews in Inquisitional Spain, how crypto-Jews kept their secrets, and the forces that brought them to the American Southwest.
Libman has researched crypto-Jewish history for more than 25 years and has interviewed more than 50 individuals about their family histories and religious practices. This program is co-sponsored by the Historical Society of New Mexico.
November 13: Civil War History in the Lower Rio Grande Valley
Long known as a place of cross border intrigue, the Rio Grande’s unique role in the Civil War has been largely forgotten or overlooked. Few know the complex history of ethnic tensions, international intrigue, and the clash of colorful characters that marked the aftermath of the Civil War in Texas.
Professor of anthropology at Rio Grande Valley Texas University, Russell Skowronek discusses Civil War history in the Southwest through the university’s traveling exhibit. In addition to its Second Saturday Programs via Zoom, Casa San Ysidro also will virtually experience the El Camino Real Trade Fair, throughout April. The fair celebrates 1800s life along the Camino Real, and will be filled with living history, music, demonstrations, local artisans, educational sessions, and other family-friendly free activities.

Come May, it’s entirely possible that Heritage Day, May 15, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., could be experienced actually, rather than in that other manner. The museum joins the Corrales Historical Society in a free event that explores local heritage through exhibits on the living traditions of New Mexico, and a variety of activities that highlight local art and history.

Finally, Corrales Harvest Festival rolls around again on September 25 and 26, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is the village’s largest festival, with events at various venues. Family events at Casa San Ysidro will be free. Last year’s program was entirely virtual, alas, and assorted fingers are crossed for a return to an in-person, live festival this 2021. Contact Gardner with any questions via email to For tour tickets, go to


Frank Steiner, who wants to create a complex of five duplexes on the 1.89-acre parcel where his Sunbelt Nursery now sits, said recently he wants to be clear that these two-bedroom dwellings all will be rentals. At this time the actual rental price per unit is not known, because it all “depends on when I get the approval to build, as the cost of construction is increasing almost daily,” as he put it. He added that the project’s cost estimates have risen 47 percent since he first proposed it in the fall of 2019.

Steiner wants to keep rents “as affordable as possible.” And would be delighted were “the Village to reduce or forgive the construction impact fees.” Renting out houses since 2001 on his compound off Espinosa Road, Steiner believes his tenants “love it there and stay forever.” And if a vacancy does come up, it is rented in hours because of referrals from satisfied customers.

He typically requires a year lease, with tenants paying for gas and electricity. Steiner pays for water and trash removal, and his son Brandon, a contractor, does all the maintenance and repair work. “We usually can respond to the needs of tenants on the day they notify us of a problem.”

The planned duplex would sit on land at the corner of Corrales Road and Dixon Road, in the commercial district, which would make walking or bike riding to village stores, restaurants and the Bosque uncomplicated for residents.

The longstanding one-home-per-acre rule that dominates Corrales real estate may no longer apply to plots in the commercial zone, if Steiner can convince the right people. As Steiner suggested in early January, “We need a majority of the Councillors to vote for approval of this project and direct P&Z to offer the appropriate zoning solution.”


By Meredith Hughes
It was big news a week ago, when the University of New Mexico opened its Health COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at The Pit, the university’s basketball arena. Those in charge had hoped to inoculate 3,000 people a day at The Pit, but started out doing about 1,700 a day, then, on the day this reporter got there, 700. The entire operation was efficient, friendly, and professional —there were traffic control people guiding cars into the enormous parking lot. There were greeters, doing the obvious in the huge Pit walkway area, lined with tables or numbered stations. Most all shuffling through appeared to be in the “elder” category.

There were “runners,” aiding supply drop-offs; “scribes,” who checked in patients and handed out small paper cards; vaccine preparers, and of course, vaccinators, these latter two categories filled only by medical pros. The Pfizer shot administered, by a pediatric specialist, a longtime nurse from New Jersey, retired, and now a volunteer, guided the recipient to an open space near some exit doors, the space filled with socially distanced folding chairs. On which one sat, either for 15 minutes, or 30, depending on what one had admitted to, allergy-wise.

Here the “post injection observers” roamed, looking for signs of imminent collapse among the fully masked occupants, who checked phones, and noted the appointment for shot number two on that little card, roughly three weeks in the future. And then rose, to exit The Pit when appropriate. Or maybe some people scooted out early.

After an essentially positive experience, one soon noted the news was filled with reports that The Pit would close for a week. Not enough vaccine, even with assistance from N.M. Senator Martin Heinrich. Supply chains are iffy everywhere, and N.M. Health was concerned, rightly, that people awaiting shot number two, had to be considered. Hence, the pause on administering the first shot.

Meanwhile, on January 28, “Oregon health workers who got stuck in a snowstorm on their way back from a COVID-19 vaccination event went car to car injecting stranded drivers before several of the doses expired….” January 29, according to the Washington Post, “…staff and volunteers with Seattle’s Swedish Health Services had been rushing to administer hundreds of doses of the coronavirus vaccine set to expire early in the morning after a freezer malfunction. Finally, they had only a few dozen shots left and about 15 minutes to get them into people’s arms.”

“In the end, none of the more than 1,600 soon-to-expire doses in Seattle were wasted, health officials said, after a colossal scramble that showcased both the enormous pressure on those immunizing millions of Americans and the hope these vaccine doses have brought. The rollout of shots nationwide has been plagued with bottlenecks, frustrations and disagreements over who should get protection first.”

Good people are stepping up everywhere, and working hard to get these pesky vaccines into waiting arms. In fact, New Mexico is among the top ten states/US territories in getting that first shot to people. Do register for the vaccine at, create a profile, and wait. A text and email will arrive regarding your appointment. Really.


Responding to villagers’ concerns that Corrales’ long-standing one-home-per-acre policy is consistently being circumvented, the Village Council has imposed a six-month moratorium on permits to build secondary dwellings on lots and on applications to operate short-term rentals. After substantial public comment at its January 26 session, the council voted five-to-one to impose the 180-day moratorium noting that “the size of accessory structures is virtually unregulated, sometimes resulting in what appears to be two homes on one lot,” and that such residences “are being utilized for the commercial purpose of providing short-term rental accommodations.”

The approved resolution noted that “the proliferation of loosely-regulated accessory structures being used as short- and long-term rentals has the potential for far-reaching deleterious effects on the village, including negatively impacting neighborhoods with greater numbers of vehicles and persons not previously present and increasing the effective density above that permitted or intended in the A-1 an A-2 zoning districts.”

Much of the discussion during the Zoom meeting, to which at least six listened in as audience, focused on the perceived need for a moratorium when the same issues are being addressed by planners with the Mid-Region Council of Governments (MRCOG) through a contract with the Village approved last month.

The lone hold-out member of the council who objected to the moratorium, Councillor Zach Burkett, said he thought the resolution was “duplicitous” because its stated purpose is to allow time for the Planning and Zoning Commission to analyze the problem and come up with recommended fixes, “but this is exactly what MRCOG is supposed to be doing” by the end of the year.

The problem has been recognized for years, even decades, but it has become more acute with the advent of Airbnb and other short-term rental opportunities. Going back to the 1980s, pressures to bust the prohibition against higher residential density were expected to intensify when the Village installed a sewer line, thereby obviating groundwater pollution from septic leach fields. But nowadays, the pressures actually come from neighborhoods not served by the wastewater system, especially where new homes are built on vacant lots. The current controversy apparently erupted over a new home being built on West Ella Drive last year. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIX No.13 September 19, 2020 “West Ella ‘Casita’ Draws Neighbors’ Ire.”)

Construction of a large “casita” next to a new home underway at 489 West Ella Drive last summer riled neighbors, including the mother of former Mayor Scott Kominiak. The new home construction site on West Ella Drive is at least the third project in recent years where a house and “casita” have been built simultaneously in seeming contravention of the one-dwelling-per-acre regulations.

Corrales’ laws allow “casitas,” or guesthouses, on a one-acre lot, as long as the secondary residence does not have a full kitchen. And the builder at 489 West Ella, Wade Wingfield, assured Corrales Comment that the “casita” there complies with that rule. “You can have a separate living quarters as long as it doesn’t have a fully-functioning kitchen,” Wingfield said August 11, 2020. “You can have a refrigerator, a microwave, a sink and anything else, but you just can’t have a stove and oven.”  Wingfield said he had obtained all the permits and approvals needed through the Corrales Planning and Zoning Department.

However, one of the main protesters against Wingfield’s casita, Mary LoGuercio, has provided photos to Corrales Comment and Village officials of the interior which show a kitchen area under construction plumbed for a full kitchen, including stove vent and gas line stub-out. LoGuercio also forwarded a 2018 email from former Village Attorney John Appel referring to a similar dispute with the same builder, Wingfield, erecting a guesthouse in the Tierra de Corrales neighborhood.

Appel’s memo to the mayor and to the Planning and Zoning Commission reads as follows, in part. “I just wanted to alert you to an issue that could become ‘significant’ in the near future. Yesterday [P&Z Administrator] Ms. Stout, on [Village Administrator] John Avila’s instructions, called me during a meeting with developer Wade Wingfield to address a proposed 1,100-square foot ‘casita’ (open-plan living area, kitchen, bedroom suite with bath, storage room, carport) that was proposed as an additional structure on a lot in Tierra de Corrales that already has a house on it.  “Mr. Wingfield’s asserted reasons why this second home on a one-acre lot in the A-1 zone should be allowed (my paraphrase, of course) were:

• He himself had just such a ‘casita’ on his own lot, approved by C. Tidwell.
• Manuel Pacheco had been consulted about this proposed ‘casita’ and said it was fine.
• The homeowners’ association had approved it.
• Such structures had always been allowed up until some change in the Village Code during the past two or three years.
• It was all still one family, because the present (elderly) residents were going to move into the new casita and let their kids and families live in the big house.
• ‘Life style’ changes make it necessary for the Village to change its policies to allow these sorts of structures.
“My responses to Mr. Wingfield were, basically:
• If he has such a casita on his property, his property is in violation of the Village Code.  (Unless it was grandfathered before about 1987, which I doubt.)
• If Mr. Pacheco said this was OK [and I expect he probably did], Mr. Pacheco was incorrect.
• Homeowners’ association decisions under the covenants are irrelevant.
• There has been no such change in the Code.”

Former Village Attorney Appel continued his explanation regarding Wingfield’s assertion that is permissible to build such a guesthouse. “Two houses on the same lot are two houses on the same lot. Period.  Doesn’t matter who lives in them.  And, of course, what are they going to do with the ‘casita’ after Mom and Dad die?  Tear it down? Of course not. It becomes a rental property. That’s the huge fallacy with this ‘family accommodation’ argument that we keep hearing.

“I refused to waste my (Village-compensated) time listening to Wingfield’s “life style” argument.  I told him if he wanted to change the Village Code, he needed to talk to his councillors.   “Just wanted you to know about this, since I expect we have probably not heard the last of it.” Before the council imposed the moratorium, they heard or read statements from villagers giving both sides of the controversy.

One of those was from builder Norm Schreifels of Sun Mountain Construction who wrote, “It has come to my attention that there are those in the village as well as council members that are trying to impose a moratorium on the construction of casitas. I have several upcoming construction projects that are casitas for family members of my clients and was told that I will not be allowed to obtain a permit for the casitas.”

Schreifels forwarded to Village Clerk Aaron Gjullin and Councillor Zach Burkett what he said is in State statute that specifically allows such casitas “which cannot be overridden by local municipalities. The law not only allows for casitas for family members but it also allows for a second kitchen.

“I am aware of why this has become a concern, and hope that one occurrence by a certain builder does not reflect on all builders. I have built many casitas and outbuildings here in Corrales and the neighbors didn’t have any concerns or objections. The casitas were considerably smaller than the main house, and the total area never exceeded the allowable percentage of construction that is allowed by the Village of Corrales.

“A way that we have done this in other areas is to have the homeowner sign a letter stating that the casita is to be used by family members and not as a rental.” Presenting the other side was a letter from Bob Pinkerton, who resides along Dancing Horse Lane. “My concern is with the apparent speed that accessory dwelling permits and short-term rental permits are under consideration without a real, focused study of impacts to our village and maintaining our rural heritage per the Corrales Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

“[I] strongly urge adoption of Resolution 21-03 moratorium on all accessory building permits and short-term rental permits until conditions and procedures are thoroughly studied with due care and diligence, precluding adverse effects upon our village. Foisting partially thought-out permit procedures in a rush to approve is absolutely out of character, and detrimental to the citizens, homeowners and residents of the Village of Corrales.”

At the council meeting that adopted the moratorium, no mention was made of the casita project on 489 West Ella. The former mayor’s mother, Patricia Kominiak, was one of six villagers who wrote to Mayor Jo Anne Roake on August 13 last year protesting the project on West Ella. Others were Charlotte Anderson, Dan and Estelle Metz, and Joe and Meryl Hancock.

“Secondary dwellings, guest houses or ‘casitas’ are simply not allowed in our land use codes, and it is therefore a mystery to us how the Village would issue a permit for such development, yet you appear to be doing so,” they wrote. “Multiple inquiries to the building inspector about this question have been effectively ignored. No information has been made available about the project in question, and it was not until construction was well underway that the problem became apparent to us and our fears were confirmed.”

At the time, Corrales Planning and Zoning Administrator Laurie Stout explained how the casita on West Ella gained approval, and suggested the Village Council may re-visit the rules in the months ahead. “In Section 18-29, the definition of dwelling unit in Village Code states: dwelling unit means any building or part of a building intended for human occupancy and containing one or more connected rooms and a single kitchen, designed for one family for living and sleeping purposes.”

The definition of kitchen, she added, “means any room principally used, intended or designed to be used for cooking or the preparation of food. The presence of a range or oven, or utility connections suitable for servicing a range or oven, shall be considered as establishing a kitchen. “This means a second structure on a lot, as long as there is no range or oven (or utility connections for such) meets the letter of the law in Village of Corrales Code. Contractors can and will exploit this loophole if their clients request.”

Stout said the mayor and council may try to tighten up relevant regulations. “Potential options in Corrales could be looking into limiting the size of the accessory unit, requiring that it merely be an addition to the home, etc. The intent of the N.M. Statute is to allow family members, such as elderly parents, to live on-property with their relatives.

“The reality is that often at some point the separate structure ends up having a kitchen added retroactively, and that structure eventually becomes a long-term rental with a tenant —thus becoming a zoning violation.” The council’s moratorium adopted January 26 reads as follows, in part. “Be it resolved by the Governing Body of the Village of Corrales, that:

1. Beginning on the effective date of this Resolution there shall be in force a 180 day moratorium on the acceptance, review, or consideration of any new applications, including but not limited to land use applications, building permit applications, and business registration applications related in any way to the development, erection, or establishment of an accessory structure built or modified to accommodate human habitation.

2. Beginning on the effective date of this Resolution there shall be in force a 180 day moratorium on the acceptance, review, or consideration of any new applications, including but not limited to land use applications, building permit applications, and business registration applications related in any way to the development, erection or establishment of Short-Term Rentals in an existing or planned accessory structure.

3. The moratorium imposed by this Resolution shall not be deemed to affect the status of any facilities existing and operational in the Village, nor permits having been properly issued on the date of adoption of this Resolution.

4. During the time that the moratorium described in the foregoing sections of this Resolution is in place, the Village of Corrales will exercise due diligence and work in good faith with the citizens and interested parties to develop and implement balanced and workable public policies relating to these issues.

5. During the time that the moratorium described in the foregoing sections of this Resolution is in place, the provisions of this Resolution shall prevail and have precedence over any contrary or inconsistent provisions of any prior ordinance or resolution of the Village; provided, however, that the provisions of prior ordinances and resolutions are not deemed to have been repealed by this Resolution, and shall remain in full force and effect to the extent not inconsistent with the provisions hereof.

6. The moratorium enacted by this Resolution shall terminate and be deemed repealed in its entirety on the date that is 180 days after the effective date of this Resolution, unless otherwise specifically provided by resolution or ordinance duly adopted by the Governing Body subsequent to the effective date of this Resolution.”


The Village’s contract with its current law firm has been renewed. Only one firm, New Mexico Local Government Law, headed by Randy Autio, sought the contract. It was approved by the Village Council at its January 12 session.

Under terms of the contract, the Village is to pay no more than $140,000 (plus gross receipts taxes) over the coming year. The hourly rate will be $180 for the firm’s senior attorney, and $140 for a junior attorney’s time. Work by a paralegal will be billed at $75 an hour.

According to the contract, the firm will represent Village government in legal matters, will offer legal advice and help prepare ordinances, resolutions and other documents as requested. As usual, under some circumstances, the mayor may contract for other legal representation for specialized attention, such as municipal bonds.

Autio earned a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from the University of New Mexico in 1982 and then a law degree from UNM Law School in 1986. He was an attorney for the City of Albuquerque before he opened his own practice. When Mayor Jo Anne Roake, an attorney herself, took over the administration after her election in March 2018, she ended the Village Attorney contract with Coppler Law Firm of Santa Fe awarding the contract instead to the Cuddy and McCarthy firm, based in Albuquerque.

The contract with Cuddy and McCarthy was approved at the August 8, 2018 council meeting. Under the contract, the firm was to be paid at a rate of $205 per hour when the work was done by one of the partners. For tasks handled by legal assistants, the rate was $65 an hour; a senior law associate’s rate was $170 an hour, and a paralegal’s work was charged at $75. For years, the Coppler firm’s John Appel customarily attended all Village Council meetings. When Cuddy and McCarthy took over, it sent partner Charles Garcia to meetings here.


Corrales’ Janet Ruth, retired research ornithologist, author of the 2018 book Feathered Dreams, instrumental in having the Corrales Bosque Preserve named an “Important Bird Area,” recently wrapped up a major avian opus on which she and her photographer husband, Dave Krueper, had worked for well over five years.

It’s the remarkable Annotated Checklist of the Birds of the Village of Corrales and the Corrales Bosque Preserve, published by the New Mexico Ornithological Society (NMOS) as a “special publication.”  Such a checklist typically involves researching all the records for birds observed in a particular location. Ruth said her sources primarily were “eBird, the NMOS Field Notes, Hawks Aloft, Jim Findley's 2013 publication, Birds in Corrales, and Dave and my personal records.”

Fellow Corrales birder Jim Findley, professor emeritus at the University of New Mexico, the prime mover for building the Museum of Southwestern Biology into one of the pre-eminent university-based natural history museums in the United States, died in 2018. He was founder of the Corrales Bosque Preserve and the Corrales Bosque Advisory Commission.

Available as a downloadable PDF at, scroll down to #8, this checklist also is easily viewed on Ruth’s website, In addition to finishing off the Annotated Checklist, “in my copious free time,” Ruth held her own personal bird count, the Corrales Big Year, which just ended. One hundred sixty-five species were noted, many of them photographed by Ruth, including one of the pair of Western Screech-Owls, and a Curved Bill Thrasher couple which hang out in Ruth’s Corrales yard.

Asked if she had seen evidence of the recently reported bird die-off in the Southwest, Ruth responded that while she did not personally see evidence of this, other local birders told her that they did see some dead birds. She added that “the cause is not completely understood and “the early cold is likely only a secondary cause.” Rather, long-term starvation was the culprit, possibly exacerbated by early cold weather which “may have forced these stressed birds to migrate early before they had enough fuel.”

Corrales Big Year is viewable here: And, there’s “a one page/two-sided field checklist posted as well for anyone who still prefers downloading and writing on such a form rather than using eBird.” eBird itself is a rich online platform,, a project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, where you are invited to “join the world's largest birding community.” Lists, apps, maps —sign up and plunge in.

Ruth’s website bio states that “she grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania, lived for almost 20 years in Washington, D.C. and Virginia, five years in Colorado, and has called Corrales her home since 2001.”

“Much of her life has revolved around birds. This included her doctoral dissertation at George Mason University —“Effects of vegetation structure and surrounding land-uses on avian communities in the floodplain forests of Maryland”—and continued through field research with U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), resulting in scientific papers about winter grassland bird habitat preferences, songbird migration patterns in the US-Mexico borderlands using NEXRAD weather radar, and breeding ecology of Grasshopper Sparrows in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico.”

Bird visitors to Ruth’s home in fall, winter and spring can partake of Nyjer or thistle seed, along with a shelled no millet mix. “I used to feed black oil sunflower seed, but tired of all the shells beneath feeders.” She also fills a tube with shelled peanuts, and hangs several cylinder feeders, a mix of seeds, nuts and fruit. Foraging species such as a range of sparrows, juncos and quail get some mix on the ground. She maintains watering opportunities year round.

In the summer Ruth puts up two or three hummingbird feeders, and supports plants that provide food for birds, such as salvia, honeysuckle, pyracantha, sand cherry and similar. No bird cams, but nest boxes —including one for bluebirds that Ruth reports “has gone unused.” Nesters have included thrashers, greater roadrunners, bushtits, mourning doves and Gambel’s quail.

In coming months, it’s possible that Ruth’s Corrales Big Year will be posted on the Village of Corrales website. Her Annotated Checklist was posted there earlier this month. And now, with two major accomplishments behind her? “I’ve thought of establishing a ‘sit spot’ in my yard, and spending an hour or so on as many days of the year as possible, at different times of day, to get a real feel for all the wildlife here… not just birds.”


An online exhibition of art by Corrales Elementary School students can be seen at the Corrales Arts Center website from January 23 through the end of February. The show includes results of arts education exercises guided by the center’s Elaine Manicke, Heidi Ames and artist-teacher recruits for its Art Up! after school program.

The techniques illustrated are Blind Contour Drawing, Concentric Circles, Patterns and Designs, Big to Small and Directed Drawing. The goal of the first, Blind Contour Drawing, is to teach students hand eye coordination, described as “a drawing exercise where an artist draws the contours of a subject without looking at the paper.”

The students, in kindergarten through fifth grade, were told to concentrate on looking at the person across from them, and pretend that the drawing pen or marker is touching the outline of that face. They were to draw the contour of the face with one continuous line, without lifting the marker from the paper and without looking at the paper until the drawing was finished.

Then the artist became the subject and the subject of the first drawing became the artist for the next. Results were later colored in. The center’s Art Up! program is meant to “promote creative thinking, risk-taking, problem solving and collaboration. This process builds confidence and strengthens decision-making and observation skills.”

Since the exercise involved in-person instruction and participation, the program was halted due to the pandemic. But the results achieved can be viewed online at


Reporting in on Planning and Zoning actions in 2020, administrator Laurie Stout said housing starts in the village were steady, with 28 permits for single-family homes issued, one more than in 2019. She added that there had been “no action on that large tract of land” in the Far Northwest Sector, where the photovoltaic solar farm went in. Stout said a “floodplain still runs through” that area.

Since early 2018 and before, discussions have ensued about correcting stormwater drainage from the industrial park by collecting it on the Rio Rancho boundary and piping it through the subdivision planned by Abrazo Homes to the Montoyas Arroyo. Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority, SSCAFCA, expressed a willingness to help solve the drainage problem and allow stormwater from the industrial park to enter the arroyo which it manages.

Again in 2018, a drainage channel was proposed which would carry stormwater run-off from the industrial park through an existing 50-foot easement to a two-acre holding pond just inside the Corrales boundary. From the pond, detained water would be released via a drainage pipe to the Montoyas Arroyo after contaminants were removed.

According to Stout, this has not yet happened. A couple of proposed 5-lot subdivisions are in the pipeline for 2021. Preliminary plats were heard at the last P&Z meeting in 2020, and final plats on both are probably going to be heard in 2021. Stout added that “There is one other 2-lot subdivision, from one larger tract, that I am aware of.”

Regarding home occupation permits, a total of 23 were issued last year, down from 35-40 in the previous few years. In all other categories, applications were consistent or even up in spite of the challenges faced by the COVID-19 pandemic. A residential short-term rental permit ordinance was passed at the end of 2019, and became effective in 2020. As Stout put it, “Some amendments were made later in 2020 regarding parking guidelines and occupancy.” A total of eight short-term rental applications were submitted.

P&Z oversaw four variances and two commercial site development plans. There was an appeal of one of the Site Plans, but the P&Z decision was upheld unanimously. Seven summary plats, two final plats, each heard twice, three sketch plans and two preliminary plats were submitted and heard. All ultimately were approved, and are now filed in Sandoval County, with the exception of one that still has to meet certain conditions.

P&Z heard two zone change requests, one to extend existing commercial zoning and a request to change from Commercial to A-1 Agricultural and Rural Residential. Seventeen grading and drainage plans were submitted prior to building permits being requested. The Village of Corrales was able to retain the ability to issue construction permits, and collect associated fees, a good source of revenue, by hiring a certified building official, Joe Benney, and signing a Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, with the City of Rio Rancho for trade inspections, within the statutory deadline.

The capital improvements, impact fees, and land use assumptions ordinances for the Far Northwest Sector were updated in 2020, as required by Village ordinance and New Mexico statute. This allowed for continued collection of impact fees there, to offset a continuing loan payment for infrastructure the Village financed.

Should you wish to eavesdrop on the discussions regarding strategies for gathering input regarding accessory dwellings, join a P&Z Zoom teleconference work study January 13, from 1-3 p.m. No public comment is possible during the work study, but, you may add your two cents at P&Z’s January 20 meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m.


The Corrales-based campaign to establish near-universal, affordable health care for New Mexicans is gearing up for a final push in Santa Fe later this month. The 2021 session of the N.M. Legislature begins January 19. “Now the time has come to roll up our sleeves and create the critical design elements that must be in place prior to the start-up of the plan,” Mary Feldblum urged. “The legislation that is being introduced in 2021 specifies how this will be accomplished.”

For decades, Feldblum has directed the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign based here which has garnered statewide support from doctors, hospitals and more than 170 local governments and organizations. “Everything we have worked for all these years, to give all New Mexicans the best possible secure health care coverage, is now within reach.”

The 2021 legislation would establish advisory committees and enlist public input for a Health Security Planning and Design Board “whose members will have various areas of expertise (health policy, management, finance, systems design, etc.),” Feldblum explained.

A second step to be launched by the 2021 legislation would be “creation of a geographically and demographically representative Health Security Plan Commission, consisting of consumers, business owners, health care providers and health facility representatives,” she added. “This commission, which will be responsible for administering the plan, will complete the final design elements, conduct a cost analysis of the plan as designed, develop a funding system based on real numbers and, finally, seek legislative and executive approval so plan enrollment can begin.”

Even if the next session of the legislature approves the next steps, as expected, it will still take several years before it can go into effect. “It will take an estimated three years to work out all the details to make certain that the Health Security Plan will perform according to expectations,” she said. “We know that is a long time, but a lot of careful planning and decisions need to be made to ensure that this innovative solution performs smoothly from the start.”

The elections last month improved prospects that the plan can be implemented. “It has brought some very positive developments for Health Security. The N.M. Senate, long a roadblock for Health Security, has moved in a much more favorable direction.  We will have different senate leadership in 2021, and there are several new senators who support the Health Security Plan. The path for moving forward is now open.

“In addition, a Biden victory means that it will be much easier for our state to receive the federal waivers needed for the Health Security Plan. So now is the time for the big push.” County governments that have called for passage of the Health Security Act include Bernalillo, Sandoval, Cibola, Valencia, Doña Ana, Grant, Guadalupe, Hidalgo, Los Alamos, Luna, Mora, Otero, Rio Arriba and Taos, among others.
Municipal governments endorsing the plan include: Corrales, Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Santa Fe, Las Cruces, Bayard, Belen, Carlsbad, Deming, Ft. Sumner, Grants, Hatch, Las Vegas, Los Alamos, Los Lunas, Mesilla, Roswell, Taos and Silver City, among others.

As expected, legislators have been cautious about setting up a state-run near-universal health care system without knowing the costs. So in the 2019 session, they appropriated nearly $400,000 for a comprehensive analysis of the plan’s economic feasibility. The results basically confirmed two earlier studies. (See Corrales Comment Vol. XXXVII No.20 January 5, 2019 ‘Health Security Act’ Could Pass N.M. Legislature.”)

The most recent and thorough analysis by KNG Health Consulting of Rockville, Maryland and Reynis Analytics in Albuquerque “confirms what two previous studies determined: the Health Security approach guarantees universal health care coverage and control rising health care costs,” Feldblum said “These conclusions show why we need to proceed now with the next phase, setting up the Health Security Plan.”

She cited the KNG report on page 48 as “Over our five-year projection window, the Health Security Plan is projected to reduce health care spending in the state” with savings over the five-year period estimated at $1.6 billion to $2.7 billion depending on the scenario analyzed.

That’s even with what KNG refers to as “near-universal coverage” that would reduce the percentage of uninsured New Mexicans to almost zero.
Feldblum had been critical of KNG’s draft report, but was relatively pleased with revisions made for the final report. “We were pleased to see adjustments and clarifications in response to our feedback,” she said.

She noted that in the report’s introduction the analysts wrote “In some scenarios, the Health Security Plan may be funded through existing revenue, while in other cases there may be a funding shortfall.”

She added, “In fact, the fourth scenario produces a funding surplus. It provides a clear pathway to a viable funding approach. In the other three scenarios, the shortfalls decrease with year. New programs generally cost more at the beginning, so this is not surprising. The key finding is that it is possible to fund the plan in a way that results in a surplus, not a shortfall.”

Factors in the report yielding that result include:
• reduced administrative costs after merging Medicaid, state employees and the State’s existing health insurance exchange programs;
• lower drug costs through bulk purchasing;
• reduced billing and insurance costs for hospitals and health care providers;
• stabilized hospital revenues through global budgets for a guaranteed funding stream that allows hospitals to invest in better systems of care; and
• lower worker compensation and automobile insurance premiums.
“While the 2019 Health Security Act described guidelines to be followed when developing the Health Security Plan, there are many specific decisions that need to be made,” Feldblum explained in a December 4 newsletter. “For example, how providers and health facilities will be paid, how the bulk purchasing of drugs program will function, how the appeals system will work for consumers, providers and health facilities, and many, many more.”

She urged citizens to press their legislators to adopt the Health Security Plan bill during the upcoming session of the legislature. “New Mexicans cannot afford, quite literally, to wait any longer to set up our own Health Security Plan. We must make sure that legislation is passed now, in 2021, so that the detailed set-up decisions, which will take time and include lots of public input, can finally be worked out,” she added.


Had the country recently not been on high alert for further acts of domestic terror after the assault on the U.S. Capitol January 6, a revised inauguration, the departure from Washington of a twice impeached president, more of us might have been focused on redistricting.

Every ten years voting districts are redrawn. In 2021 these will be based on the results of the 2020 census. And as the Brennan Center Law Institute points out, “…all states must ensure that districts have approximately the same number of people and comply with the Voting Rights Act. But in other areas, each state has discretion over how to draw its own lines, and, more importantly, over who will draw them, usually as stipulated in the state’s constitution.

“Unfortunately, this discretion sometimes results in redistricting abuses. For example, while some states use processes that check partisan excess, others allow for legislators from a single party free rein to implement biased maps that keep their party in power through good election cycles and bad. This manipulation of maps is known as “‘gerrymandering.’”

Gerrymandering was named for Elbridge Gerry, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. As governor of Massachusetts (1810–1812), Gerry approved a redistricting plan for the state senate that gave the political advantage to Republicans.

The Brennan Center adds that “…politicians [may] manipulate district lines for their own gain. And over the last two decades, these manipulations have grown increasingly common and sophisticated.” Manipulating the map especially can adversely affect minority communities.

Fortunately, one New Mexico group has been riveted on redistricting for years, the League of Women Voters of New Mexico. And now the league is gearing up with more than 20 other organizations to support passage of a New Mexico Senate bill entitled the “Redistricting Act,” that will create a seven-person State Redistricting  Commission (SRC), according to league Action Chair Dick Mason.

The appointments to the commission will be made as follows: one by the Speaker of the House; one by the House Minority Leader; one by the Senate President Pro Tempore; one by the Senate Minority Leader; and three by the New Mexico Ethics Commission, one of whom shall be a retired N.M. Supreme Court Justice or N.M. Appellate Judge who will act as chair.

Mason added that “Our preference is for a constitutional amendment to create an independent redistricting commission, but it is too late to do that for the 2021 redistricting cycle.” As for the 2020 Census itself, on January 13, “President Donald Trump’s effort to exclude people in the U.S. illegally from being counted in the process for divvying up congressional seats was dealt another blow Wednesday when the Census Bureau’s director indefinitely halted an effort to gather data on the citizenship status of every U.S. resident,” according to the Associated Press. An annual distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal spending, among the states, is also affected by Census results.

The AP story also said “An influential GOP adviser had advocated excluding them from the apportionment process in order to favor Republicans and non-Hispanic whites. Trump’s unprecedented order on apportionment was challenged in more than a half-dozen lawsuits across the United States, but the Supreme Court ruled last month that any challenge was premature.”

The New Mexico Senate bill will be co-sponsored by Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino (D-Albuquerque) and Senator Mark Moores (R-Albuquerque). Once the bill is filed, there will be a number of additional co-sponsors from both the Senate and the House, Mason said.

According to the League of Women Voters, “the Senate Rules Committee will work with the professional services vendor hired by the Legislative Council to develop three to five sets of district maps for the Congressional districts;  Public Education Commission; New Mexico Senate; and New Mexico House. The Legislature will vote for one of the set of maps without amendment. The commission will also be responsible for overseeing the public hearings and public input for the redistricting process.

 “The bill provides that certain factors shall not be considered when preparing redistricting plans. Specifically, it provides that districts shall not be drawn to favor any political party, incumbent legislator, member of Congress, any other person or group, or for the purpose of augmenting or diluting the voting strength of a language or racial minority group. The above criteria reflect the best of the traditional and emerging standards for fair redistricting.”

“Fourteen states have created some form of independent redistricting commission and at least ten other states have put in place reforms that have made their redistricting process fairer and more transparent. New Mexico was one of the last states to create an Ethics Commission. We should not be one of the last to reform our redistricting process,” Mason said.

In an op-ed article published by the Albuquerque Journal January 17, former Corrales resident, retired Appeals Court Judge Rod Kennedy and retired N.M. Supreme Court Chief Justice Edward Chavez, described their efforts to improve redistricting. “Last fall, the non-profit New Mexico First, with funding from the Thornburg Foundation, established a 25-member Redistricting Task Force to bring justice, fairness and transparency to the redistricting process beginning in 2021.”  Chavez and Kennedy agreed to co-chair the task force.

"Task Force members were selected from over 140 nominees by a cross-partisan selection committee and included people from different political parties or affiliations. The task force is racially, ethnically and geographically diverse, including members from sovereign pueblos and tribes.

“The Redistricting Task Force worked for 12 weeks to study state and federal redistricting requirements, best practices from other states and concerns from specific communities and groups in New Mexico to develop a set of recommendations to be considered by the state legislature in the 2021 session for the 2021 redistricting process. The task force developed 18 recommendations published in a public report available at”

To learn more about redistricting, the league offers an webinar on the subject at https// It even includes a portion of John Oliver’s explanation of gerrymandering. Oliver hosts the HBO show, “Last Week Tonight.” You can watch the entire segment, which aired April 19, 2017, on YouTube.


Reflecting on the much-televised and social media-shared turmoil on Capitol Hill January 6, Corrales’ Marg Elliston pointed out that the 2018 Women’s March protesting Donald Trump’s inauguration was much larger.

She was one of those marchers, and returned home to become chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico, a position she has held for the past three years. Elliston has announced she will step down from that position at the end of April. Previously, she chaired the Sandoval County Democratic Party for five years. Corrales Comment asked her to reflect on that experience and preview challenges ahead, as well as to give her views on the attempt earlier this month to storm the U.S. Capitol to overturn the presidential elections.

“What happened last week in the Capitol is heart-breaking,” she said. “They did try to undermine our democracy, but the transition in power is still rolling on despite this domestic terrorism.” She does not feel that America’s democratic system is really threatened. “Our democracy is working so far. I would point out that we just had the largest voter turnout in our history.”

And while the citizenry needs to be vigilant against an authoritarian tendency, our democratic values remain strong, she suggested. The New Mexico context for the pro-Trump movement is provided by actions taken by Republican Party leadership in this state, Elliston said. “Steve Pearce and the Republican Party continue with their misinformation and conspiracy theories. They challenged results of the 2020 elections; they impounded ballots that had been certified’ they sent in squads of people to analyze those ballots for fraud, but none was found. They still haven’t given us an honest account for what they saw. They tried to sue the Secretary of State for a huge amount of information, although that lawsuit somehow just withered away..”

At any rate, she said, “The Republican Party in New Mexico has still not acknowledged Joe Biden as our next president. I’d like to see them step up and say we had a free and fair election in 2020 and commit to work together to address the tremendous challenges we all face.”

She was asked to explain how the nation, and New Mexicans, became so divided. “I don’t know how to answer that… it’s been going on for years. We have more technology now that fomented those conspiracy theories that have been floating around. We need to focus on what is equitable and fair in our economy and our society. The problems we face in those areas are at the heart of some of that divisiveness… not all, but a lot of it.”

The retiring state party chairwoman blamed some of the divisiveness on the significant “urban-rural divide in New Mexico. I’m very concerned about that. I think a lot of Trump’s support is coming through that divide. So I think there are some important things we need to consider when we’re looking at what is happening in rural areas compared that what’s happening in the urban.

“There’s a huge disinvestment. We have a lot of towns in New Mexico that are struggling because people are leaving. I was struck with that when I went up to Clayton and Roy. Mechanization has ruined small towns just like it has ruined steel mill towns and places like that. You don’t need cowboys on horses to go out and take care of cattle because everybody has got these little four-wheel devices. There are just not as many people needed to run a big ranch. So towns that used to serve the ranching community are drying up. Just like we don’t need coal mines any longer, because increasingly we’re not using coal.

“It would be great if we could find some way to parachute in a thriving economy for those areas because those towns are great and they have a wonderful spirit of community pride. But the economy has kind of left them behind.”

That abandonment, she said, has left people in those communities susceptible to conspiracy theories. “They’re not getting help from the folks in charge, and they start railing against elites, whoever they may be, and they cling to their guns.” Elliston recapped her accomplishments as party chair, pointing to Democrats’ wins in all statewide races and increasing margins in the State legislature. And she is particularly proud that women are even better represented in public offices in New Mexico. “We’ve been pretty darn successful in doing that. There is now a majority of women in the N.M . House of Representatives. Our party leadership now has a lot of women at the county level…. and for good reasons: we work hard and we’re really dedicated to making a difference in our state. The guys who are used to running things are feeling a little left behind, too. But we don’t talk about that out loud too much.”

Since she was appointed to the state party chairmanship, she has fulfilled her promised to work in all 33 counties statewide. A big part of that year-round effort was to attract younger voters and organizers.

“It’s really great to get the perspective of young people who need a job. A lot of them don’t necessarily have time to volunteer for political work as some of older and retired people do, but they are eager to be involved and they have lots to say about the world that we are leaving them— which isn’t in very good shape right now.” Elliston said the younger Democrats are especially interested in the mounting climate crisis, economic fairness and ending structural racism.


In what was thought to be a first for Corrales, a property in the community’s designated business district was re-zoned from commercial to residential by the Village Council January 12. The owner, Barbara Kline, had requested down-zoning for the property at 3842 Corrales Road, across from the Corrales Comment office. She had explained that during the 16 years she has owned the parcel, its use has never been feasible for commercial purposes.

Instead, she has received approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission to use it for residential short-term rentals. That came at the commission’s December 16 meeting. When the plan came before the Village Council January 12, the only councillor to vote against the zone change was Stuart Murray. He noted that a short-term rental operation is already permissible in a C-zone, so he saw no reason for the zone change.

He pointed out that the home at 2842 Corrales Road had originally been a residence. “I don’t want to see this property flip back and forth from A-1 to C and back to A-1.” The parcel was commercial when Kline bought it. In explaining her unusual zone change request to the council, she said “It has been very difficult to use that property as commercial,” particularly due to the parking requirements.
She did so for some time, renting out office space to small businesses. The site has been known for many years as “CEO,” for Corrales Executive Offices.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Laurie Stout concurred with Kline’s claims that the layout of the building on the property makes it difficult to comply with the Village’s regulations for business use. Stout pointed out that the P&Z commission had recommended approval of the zone change and had approved the short-term rental proposal.

Minutes of the commission’s December meeting report its online deliberations as follows. Applicants Jim Hammond and Barbara Kline of 6 Santa Ana Trail in Corrales are requesting a Zone Map Amendment for property they own at 3824 Corrales Road. The .98-acre property is currently zoned C – Commercial, and the applicants are requesting it be rezoned A-1 Agricultural and Rural Residential.

Barbara Kline (applicant, 6 Santa Ana Trail N., Corrales, sworn): We are asking to change zoning from commercial to residential. I am a commercial realtor, and really don’t feel that particular location is viable for commercial. Want to keep expenses down, and not pay commercial property tax rates. Also we’ve got a fantastic residence there.

Commissioner Stermer: Was it at one time used as commercial?

Kline: It was. I tried to use it as commercial and discovered that it’s extremely difficult. It was zoned commercial when we bought it. I know that at least once it was operated as a bed and breakfast. We’ve got commercial on one side and A-1 on the other. It’s in the mixed-use area along Corrales Road.

Chair McCandless: You’ve had the property for how long?

Kline: Sixteen years. I’ve experimented several times with ways to use it commercially, and it just hasn’t worked.

Commissioner Stermer: More recently has it been used as a long term rental?

Kline: No, we were living in it.

Bob Pinkerton: (5 Dancing Horse Lane, Corrales, public commenter, sworn): Your reason for request “not physically or financially feasible to bring it up to code”. What is the code problem there?

Kline: One of the biggest issues is that the driveway that leads to the back and the major parking is only 11 feet wide. Not wide enough to really allow people to get into the back. And I can’t see any way to put in the buffer that would be required.

Commissioner Stermer: Right now we’re discussing changing simply from Commercial to Rural Residential (zoning)?

Chair McCandless: That’s correct.

Commissioner Killebrew: I move we approve the zone change request ZMA 20-02 from Commercial to Residential. Second: Sam Thompson. Vote, Yes: John McCandless, Sam Thompson, Michele Anderson, Ken Killebrew, Jerry Stermer, Melissa Morris. (Unanimous.)

Chair McCandless: Ms. Kline, as I’m sure you’re aware, this now needs to go before Village Council.

[The commission then took up her application to use the same property for a short-term residential rental business.]

Assuming approval of the above zone map amendment request changing the property from Commercial to A-1 Agricultural and Rural Residential, applicants Jim Hammond and Barbara Kline of 6 Santa Ana Trail, Corrales, request residential short-term rental permit approval for a four-bedroom short term rental at 3824 Corrales Road, housing up to eight adults (with children under the age of 12 also allowed by Village ordinance).

Barbara Kline (applicant): My husband and I moved into the property (at one time.) We have now moved back to 6 Santa Ana Trail. We feel that the short-term rental market provides us the opportunity to get the capital Airbnbs, and had some rooms rented out there, and feel it is an excellent use for that property. It will suit our needs and provide lodgers’ tax to Corrales.

Commissioner Stermer: How does the math work? Do we need those parking spaces?

PZA Stout: They have the required number of spots in front.
Chair McCandless: The parking spots at the back of the house are not necessary to meet the requirements of the short-term rental?

PZA Stout: That’s correct.

Chair McCandless: The rooms you intend to rent out are at the corners at the house. Then there are common areas —a courtyard and living area. Are those going to be accessible to the short-term renters?

Kline: Yes, that entire area will be dedicated as short term rental except for a couple of areas we marked off as personal storage. Essentially the entire house would be used for the short-term rental. There are no barriers that would keep someone from moving throughout the house.

Chair McCandless: Do all rooms have access from the outside?

Kline: There’s one master bedroom and most of the common rooms have doors that go outside. One bedroom has a door within five feet. On the northwest side where there are two bedrooms, there is a door at the end of the corridor that goes out into the courtyard.

Commissioner Thompson: In the event that you and your husband travel, will there be another designated individual who could be called if there are any problems?

Kline: We have a property manager we’ve hired.

Commissioner Thompson: So she will be available 24/7?

Kline: Right.

Chair McCandless: Is she nearby?

Kline: Reasonably nearby. About 15-20 minutes.

Commissioner Anderson: Are you planning on renting this to one person at a time or four different people who don’t know each other?

Kline: No, it would be a four-bedroom rental; not divided amongst four people who didn’t know each other.

Commissioner Anderson: It would be just one contract?

Kline: Yes.

Chair McCandless: And you are aware of the ordinance and the concerns about events, parties, that sort of thing?

Kline: Absolutely. Don’t want anyone there unsupervised holding parties where alcohol might be available.

Chair McCandless: How do you anticipate making sure that doesn’t happen?

Kline: Two ways. One, it’s in the contract, and we have very vigilant neighbors, and if there were any problems I’m sure we’d hear about it.

Bob Pinkerton (public commenter, sworn): Going back to the previous issue on zoning. The issue was the 11-foot driveway. The short-term rental application states a fire inspection will be required. Has there been a fire inspection relating to the proposed use?

Kline: Not on the proposed use, but there have been numerous fire inspections over the years.

Pinkerton: At what point in this process is there going to be a fire inspection?

PZA Stout: It’s part of the business license process. If the short-term rental is approved, there will then be a fire inspection required, for that use.

Pinkerton: In the application it states Ms. Kline and her husband are the (emergency contacts). Where will it be posted for neighbors to call this other person, who will take over when you are out of town?

Chair McCandless: I’m envisioning the neighbors would contact the police, or someone in the Village, and that person would contact whoever is responsible for the property.

PZA Stout: In this case, if there is another potential contact person, I can add her to the list of contacts.

Kline: It’s very rare that we can’t be reached. The phone number is our cell number.

Pinkerton: I found one administrative glitch. When this issue came up, we were notified. There was (a delay) getting the application online. We’re looking at long-term potential problems. We are asking that an in-depth study be made of the ordinance. Santa Fe just came up with a limit of the number of short-term rentals one owner can have, and a cap of 1,000 rentals in the City. Los Ranchos is working on seven-day maximums, we have 29. This whole thing seems to be moving quite quickly. Prior to COVID, there were 100 short term rentals, now we’re down to 53. I understand there are applications for construction of accessory structures. We’ve got to be careful that we’re not rushing into accessory buildings and short-term rentals and perhaps even open the door to zone changes, for example to the two acre minimum. We’re urging caution. On December 8 Councillor Stuart Murray suggested a moratorium on short-term rentals until thorough due diligence has been conducted. Is this rush worth it?

Apparently, this is still being used as a short-term rental. There’s been a green and white pickup parked (at applicant property) with California plates on it. What’s going on? It appears it’s being used now as a short-term rental without a permit.

Chair McCandless: I appreciate your comments and concerns. I’m sure you are fully aware this is an issue for council. Our responsibility is to apply the ordinance that is in force. If it is currently being operated, that is an issue for code enforcement. We have to look at the application before us, and apply it to our ordinance that is in hand, and in adherence with that ordinance and in the best interests of the Village.

Matthew Bradley (public commenter, speaking on behalf of family at 3858 and 3856 Corrales Road, although his residence is in Denver): I realize you can’t change the law. The commercial designation wasn’t a good fit here.

They are asking to change the complexion of the neighborhood. While only one contract, that can be up to eight individuals. In most places, you can’t have eight unrelated folks in a regular house, why make an exception? Are they on the sewer line, or on one leach field? They say they will prevent parties by contract. That’s not great. And saying we have “neighbors who pay attention” —there shouldn’t be a burden on the neighbors.

Kline: The septic system is approved for four bedrooms. I provided a copy of the approval. Let’s talk about burden on the neighbors. It wouldn’t matter whether it was a residence or a short-term rental with regards to someone having a party. I just make it very clear to people coming in that it will be very uncomfortable for them if they have a party. Their tenancy would be immediately terminated. I think we are taking on most of the burden. In our experience people have been very well behaved. Short-term renters go from renting with us to purchasing property in the Village. We have people who are relocating or temporarily working at Intel.

Commissioner Thompson: Did you say that this property is connected to Village wastewater?

Kline: That was a proposed layout; it is not. We basically ran out of money. We are in the process to get that place rehabilitated. My understanding is that is something that must be done when property changes hands; it hasn’t.

Commissioner Killebrew: I’d like to address Mr. Pinkerton’s concerns. Municipalities are behind the curve when it comes to Airbnb use around the country. Airbnb’s just took off. A lot of them didn’t have permits or business licenses. Corrales is actually a little bit ahead of other small towns and cities, as far as our ordinance. This is only a four bedroom; we require off-street parking. Albuquerque does not require that. Santa Fe allows two residences per lot with owners not in residence. We could tweak the ordinance. Santa Fe is requiring liability insurance. Corrales is in pretty good stead as far as the ordinance goes.

He moved approval, subject to zone map amendment ZMA 20-02 passing Village Council. It was seconded by Sam Thompson. Voting yes were: John McCandless, Sam Thompson, Michele Anderson, Jerry Stermer, Melissa Morris and Ken Killebrew.

The approval was unanimous.


Architect Tyson Parker is the new Village councillor, appointed to fill the vacancy left when Dave Dornburg resigned from his Council District 4 position. He was selected by Mayor Jo Anne Roake from among eight villagers who stepped forward to serve out the term until March 2022. Her selection was confirmed by the council at its January 12 session. Others who volunteered were: Drew Burr, Jonathan Martinez, Rob Black, John Alsobrook, Mike Hanna, Chris Allen and Mary Chappelle. Allen and Alsobrook have previously served on the council. Parker joins Bill Woldman, Stu Murray, Zach Burkett, Kevin Lucero and Mel Knight on the council.

“Raising a young family with three generations living together on our ‘compound’ has allowed me to see Corrales through the eyes of each group,” Parker explained in his December 29 letter to the mayor offering to serve out Dornburg’s term. He referred to coaching youngsters in basketball and swimming at the recreation center, participating in focus groups for Albuquerque Public Schools and other involvement “as well as frequent sit-downs with the Village matriarch, Evelyn Curtis Losack, before her passing, learning what it means to be a Corraleño.”

Parker is owner of two architecture and design firms, Studio 151 LLC and Tyson Parker Design which he started in 2012. Prior to striking out on his own, he was a senior associate with the Edward Fitzgerald Architects firm where he started in 2002. He holds a master’s degree from the University of New Mexico School of Architecture and Planning (2003). He served on the Corrales Parks and Recreation Commission from 2013 to 2016; served on the board of directors for Corrales Arts Center 2012- 2015. He was District 4 commissioner on the N.M. Public Education Commission from 2013 to 2015.

Parker studied wild monkeys in Costa Rica in 1996 while working on his degree in psychology at the University of Redlands, California. It was not clear whether that entry on his submitted resume was a deciding factor in the mayor’s decision. After citing his range of experience in the December letter to Mayor Roake, Parker suggested “this background creates a unique perspective that touches on many of the realities that Corrales and its residents face, and would be of benefit in the search for solutions and compromises to current and future issues needing to be addressed” by the council.


The Nature Conservancy has proposed a project at the mouth of the Harvey Jones Flood Control Channel to improve bosque habitat by using stormwater flowing down the Montoyas Arroyo and treated wastewater from Rio Rancho’s sewage plants. Online Zoom sessions for public input about the project are scheduled for February 2, noon to 1 p.m., February 3, 5-6 p.m. and February 4, 3-4 p.m. For the Zoom link, see

The project is a collaboration among The Nature Conservancy - New Mexico, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority, the City of Rio Rancho and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation as well as the Village of Corrales. The 10-acre project, if it gains final approval, would implement an idea that was floated more than six years ago: to divert at least some of the water flowing through the Jones Channel and/or effluent from the Rio Rancho sewage treatment plan on the edge of the arroyo east of Highway 528.

The Nature Conservancy’s description of the project notes that the Jones Channel carries more than 4.4 million gallons of stormwater annually to the river. And treated sewage from Rio Rancho also enters the river just south of the channel at quantities ranging from four to five million gallons daily. “By utilizing the permanent flow of water, we can re-contour the bank elevation and create secondary channels to create an expanded wet area to increase wildlife, fish and bird habitat,” according to the proposal.

The Nature Conservancy web page about the Harvey Jones Channel Improvement Project states these goals:
• to reconnect bosque vegetation to groundwater, lowering the bench elevation;
• to improve water quality as a finishing station to reduce stormwater pollution to the Rio Grande;
• to enhance bird, fish and other wildlife habitat;
• to reduce stagnant water and mosquito issues from stormwater impoundment;
• to illustrate the benefits of large-scale green stormwater infrastructure; and
• to demonstrate inter-agency coordination on a public-private partnership project.

“We want your input,” the website urges. “The project team has created a conceptual design and want to gain feedback from the local residents and recreationists who frequent that area. If you are a runner, walker, equestrian, bird watcher, community member or interested stakeholder, please join us for one of the listed community engagement opportunities.

“At each of the one-hour long events listed, members of the project team will present the conceptual plans for the area, and provide a forum for community feedback on the design.” The website includes links to participate in the three Zoom sessions on February 2, 3 and 4. The Corrales Bosque Advisory Commission has considered such a project, at least conceptually, for many years. Elsewhere in the preserve, projects have already been implemented to excavate away the river bank so that water flows, or at least seeps, into the riparian forest. The habitat plan was completed in 2010 after years of work. (See Corrales Comment’s nine-part series of articles starting Vol.XXVIII, No.7, May 23, 2009, “Bosque Preserve Habitat Plan Now Available”)

In 2010, projects similar to what is being proposed now were proposed and implemented by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as elements of a “bosque restoration” effort. Faced with the coming die-off of aging cottonwoods, the Corps proposed a restoration project that would employ several methods to get river water into the woods during periods of high river flows.

Bulldozers and other heavy equipment would be called in to cut away the river bank in some locations and to excavate channels that would divert water into certain areas, as well as to dig out ponds and wetland swales.

Among the Corps’ “key project purposes” were:
• “improve habitat quality and increase the amount of native bosque plant communities… while creating greater stand diversity in terms of stand age, size and composition within the bosque (a mosaic);
• “promote bosque habitat heterogeneity by recreating pockets of new cottonwood, willow and other native species throughout the proposed action area, where root zones reach the shallow water table;
• “implement measures to re-establish fluvial processes in the bosque, including removal of non-functional jetty jacks, bank destabilization, and high-flow/side channel creations to promote over-bank flooding;
• “create new wetland habitat, while extending and enhancing high quality aquatic habitat in existing wetlands;
• “reduce the fire hazard in the bosque through the reduction of fuel loads, to include exotic species identified as hazardous;
• “recreate hydraulic connections between the bosque and the river consistent with operational constraints; and
• “protect, extend and enhance areas of potential habitat for listed species within the existing bosque.”


Not surprisingly, the 2021 session of the New Mexico Legislature which kicked off January 19, has been impacted by security issues as well as pandemic protocols, which will not make the legislators’ daunting, get-it-done-fast jobs any easier. House sessions will be virtual, with the Senate planning to combine in-person with virtual.

As Representative Damon Ely, District 23, explained in an email, “Los Alamos National Lab conducted a modeling of different scenarios during the legislative process.  It is very clear that if we are not careful, there will be a COVID-19 outbreak which is both dangerous and disruptive.” As House rules chair, Ely drafted those rules “to assure that everything we do will be seen by the public and the public will have full access to comment during the committee process.”

Regarding Corrales-specific concerns, Mayor JoAnne Roake recently published a pdf on the Village website produced by Parks and Recreation chief Lynn Siverts and Technical Services librarian Brynn Cole which details three priority projects, including purchase of a vehicle and equipment for Corrales Animal Services, of which $40,000 has been raised, with $40,000 more required.

Next, $75,000 to plan, design, and construct a bicycle, equestrian and pedestrian trail that connects the Thompson Fence Line Trail to the Village of Corrales in Bernalillo County. Then, to plan, design, construct, and equip new water lines and water distribution system in Corrales for fire suppression, a request for $1,855,000. The project costs $2,536,000, of which $681,000 has been secured.

The mayor added that the state budget is “unchanged from last year, which means monies will be available for state legislation and for local infrastructure projects.” Ely expects “a full plate of proposals - early childhood funding, legalizing marijuana, eliminating the criminal statute on abortion, funding for businesses with an emphasis on micro-businesses and the self-employed, rent assistance and other COVID relief, further election reform, infrastructure spending (including a real push for state-wide, high quality internet), a review of the emergency declaration to give the legislature a role during a long term pandemic like the one we are now in, predatory lending, liquor license reform, sick leave and more.”

Not mentioned by Ely was an ongoing push to eliminate or even reduce the state's tax on Social Security income. In February 2020 the House Taxation and Revenue Committee tabled two bills proposed to address that. Both Republican and Democratic legislators were said to be worried about “altering the tax without having a plan to replace lost revenue.” Only 13 states tax Social Security benefits.

Ely concluded with this: “The hope is that we will come out of this crisis with a chance to leap forward both economically and with a better outcome for New Mexico citizens.  We learned from the 2008-2014 recession that sitting passively is not the answer.” Damon’s legislative e-mail address is daymon.ely and his cell is 610-6529. Brenda McKenna, of Senate District 9, can be reached at Representative Jane Powdrell-Culbert can be contacted at jpandp@comcast. net or by calling 721-9021.

For those citizens more motivated than ever to learn more of what their state senators and representatives will be tackling, and to possibly participate in relevant discussions, the League of Women Voters of New Mexico is helping to make the legislature website,, easier to navigate. See below. (It notes that not all newly-elected legislators have been slotted into the website.)

Find Your Legislator. lcs/legislator_search.aspx---Gives you many search options. Bill Finder finder/ bill_finder.aspx. Gives you various ways of finding legislation My Roundhouse. roundhouse.This site allows you to register and receive updates on specific legislation. Bill Locator.  Click on the relevant session and it will give you a numerical listing of the legislation. House bills first and then the Senate bills.

Committees, lists the Committees that meet during the Legislative Session.These are live links and will show the members and usual meeting times. Accessing Meetings. The “What’s Happening” tab will let you know what meetings are going on and how to access them electronically. Click on the “html” versions to get “live” links.  The “Webcast” button will let you access any meeting that is underway.

Interim Committees. These committees meet in-between sessions. Much of the preliminary work is done in these Committees Abbreviations. You might want to print this out for reference since they are used throughout.


Corrales Fire Department Commander Tanya Lattin reports that this holiday season “With everyone’s help, we assisted 41 families.” At least 148 people, of whom 86 were children, were helped. In fact, several citizens have steadied families with internet service for online school, as well as food, since March. Lattin says the Fire Department will continue to have food available for families in need.

She wants to thank those who donated funds, and “adopted” children or whole families. As well as Kiwanis Club of Corrales for being the fiduciary entity, and local businesses that collected and donated. Village Mercantile made the drive their “giving Tuesday” event and doubled all donations on Giving Tuesday. Casa Vieja, Mercado de Maya/ Ambiente  and Roadrunner Waste were supportive, too, and Corrales Growers’ Market donated fresh food.

Along the same lines, the Village of Corrales granted funds to 29 local businesses under the CARES grant for a total of $255,600. The Village currently is closing out the grant and paying out all grantees.

Thankfully, 11 members and staff at the Corrales Fire Department received the Pfizer vaccine on December 22, with the second shot coming on January 12, 2021. The department also is assisting the New Mexico Department of Health with vaccinations for healthcare providers.


With Joe Biden in the White House and John Kerry taking charge of the nation’s side-tracked response to climate change, prospects have improved that the planet’s livability can be retained. The president-elect’s proposal to direct some $2 trillion for that goal over the next four years may be blocked by a reluctant Congress already gagging over proposed trillions for pandemic relief. But since he first proclaimed climate change to be one of his top priorities, Biden has cloaked his plan as a job-creation bonanza.

On the president-elect’s long list of things he’ll do on day one is re-joining the Paris Climate Accord, a loosely binding pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to suppress and then reduce ever-rising global temperatures.

In tandem, Biden has endorsed Senator Tom Udall’s legacy-sealing legislation, the 30 By 30 Resolution which calls for concerted and sustained action to halt destruction of natural ecosystems, establishing a national goal of conserving at least 30 percent of the land and ocean of the United States by the year 2030. In it, Udall asserts that “conserving and restoring nature is one of the most efficient and cost-effective strategies for fighting climate change.” (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIX No.13 September 19, 2020 “Senator Tom Udall Urges Push to ‘Save Nature’ By 2030.”)

Biden’s own climate plan as enunciated during the campaign has the following goals:
• Ensure that the United States achieves a 100 percent clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions no later than 2050.

The Democratic candidate said he would immediately sign a series of new executive orders to correct reckless orders issued by Trump. He said he would demand that Congress enact legislation in the first year of his presidency that: 1) establishes an enforcement mechanism that includes milestone targets no later than the end of his first term in 2025; 2) makes a historic investment in clean energy and climate research and innovation; and 3) incentivizes the rapid deployment of clean energy innovations across the economy, especially in communities most impacted by climate change.
• Build a stronger, more resilient nation by making infrastructure investments to rebuild the nation and to ensure that our buildings, water, transportation and energy infrastructure can withstand the impacts of climate change.
• Aid in development of regional climate resilience plans, in partnership with local universities and national labs, for local access to the most relevant science, data, information, tools and training, and
• Rally the rest of the world to meet the threat of climate change. Biden said he will not only re-commit the United States to the Paris Agreement on climate change, he will go much further.

Even if Biden fails to move bold initiatives through Congress, it has been clear for more than five years that much of the needed action to confront climate change would come from the private sector, and that continues to be the expectation. Partly due to the pandemic’s drag on the economy, greenhouse gas emissions are expected to drop dramatically in 2020, probably to their lowest level in the last 30 years. That means the United States at least temporarily is on track to meet the pledged reductions made by John Kerry and the Obama administration at the 2015 Paris conference. Even without the Trump administration’s participation in the global agreement, by the end of 2020, the United States was nearly half-way to meeting the reduction goals set by Obama-Kerry in 2015.

U.S. corporations and others around the world have pledged deep cuts in emissions and conversions to renewable, green energy sources. This fall, Japan’s leadership pledged to transform that nation’s economy to be carbon-neutral by 2050. The European Union and South Korea have pledged to reach net zero by then as well. Earlier this year, China promised to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2060.

Current projections indicate that production of electricity from renewable sources will surpass that from burning coal within the next five years, according to the International Energy Agency. Closer to home, Public Service Company of New Mexico continues its plan to convert electrical generation from coal to renewables in the near term. PNM is moving ahead with announced plans to close the San Juan Generating Station as well as the Four Corners station in compliance with the N.M. Legislature’s Energy Transitions Act.

The act sets a statewide renewable energy standard of 50 percent by 2030 for New Mexico’s investor-owned utilities and rural electic co-ops leading to a goal of 80 percent renewables by 2040. Investor-owned utilities are to reach zero carbon emissions by 2045. Three solar electric generating projects in San Juan County are planned to partially make up for those closures. The first expected to begin delivering electricity would be the San Juan Solar project to generate 598 megawatts of power, accompanied by 300 megawatts of storage capacity nearby. Another indication of the way things are going: the N.M. General Services Department last month cleared the way to order 28 electric vehicles for the State’s motor pool. Installation of 30 charging stations is nearing completion at state government locations around Santa Fe.

Biden’s choice of John Kerry as the administration’s point-man on climate change offers maximum leverage for effectiveness at home and abroad. Not only was Kerry U.S. Secretary of State under President Barack Obama, he also headed the U.S. delegation to the United Nations conference on climate change in Paris. As such, his role was key to the international agreement’s success. (See Corrales Comment’s coverage of the Paris conference starting with Vol.XXXIV No.21 December 19, 2015 “U.N. Climate Change Accord: Citizen Action Made It Happen.”)

Kerry’s commitment to confronting climate change runs deep. Along with Al Gore, Kerry was a delegate from Congress to the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 when he was 49 years old. That global conference established the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change which set in motion years of international collaboration culminating with the 2015 Paris accord. As a senator from Massachusetts, Kerry was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and delivered a benchmark address to the United Nations on the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit.

“When it comes to the challenge of climate change, the falsehood of today’s naysayers is only matched by the complacency of our political system,” Kerry said in that 2012 speech, promising unrelenting support for the campaign to confront climate change. “We knew the road ahead would be long. But we also knew that this was a watershed moment —that it created the kind of grassroots momentum that made people sit up and start to listen to the damage we were doing to the environment.”

He was the Democratic Party’s candidate for the presidency in 2004. Kerry also led U.S. delegations for negotiations at the U.N. climate conferences in  Kyoto in 1997, Buenos Aires in 1998, The Hague in 2000, Bali in 2007, Poznan in 2008 and Copenhagen in 2009.

Al Gore, 44 when he chaired the U.S. Senate delegation to the Earth Summit in Rio, later founded and still leads The Climate Reality Project. Like Kerry, Gore ran for president of the United States, winning the popular vote in 2000 but losing to George W. Bush in a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In an op-ed essay for the New York Times Sunday, December 13, Gore expressed hope with Kerry leading the Biden effort on climate. “Even as the climate crisis rapidly worsens, scientists, engineers and business leaders are making use of stunning advances in technology to end the world’s dependence on fossil fuels far sooner than was hoped possible.…

“Slowing the rapid warming of the planet will require a unified global effort. Mr. Biden can lead by strengthening the country’s commitment to reduce emissions under the Paris agreement —something the country is poised to do thanks to the work of cities, states, businesses and investors, which have continued to make progress despite resistance from the Trump administration.”


By Meredith Hughes
When you are 22, athletic, and have a free summer ahead, even during a pandemic, you go for it, especially if you have supportive Corrales parents. Nicolette Jones has it all, and in November completed the 3,100-mile trek that is the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, stretching from just above the edge of northern Montana to the Crazy Cook Monument on the Mexican border.

According to the Trail Coalition website, “The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT) is one of the most significant trail systems in the world. Established by Congress in 1978, it spans 3,100 miles between Mexico and Canada, traverses five states and connects countless communities along the spine of the Rocky Mountains.” What may be more important, it separates the watersheds that drain into the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.

The establishment of the Appalachian Trail in 1925 kicked everything off. Years later, the passage of the National Trails System Act in 1968 officially designated the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails, and directed that 14 other possible routes be studied, including the Continental Divide Trail.

As Jones hiked on her own, over a period of four months, she posted entries on her new blog, “A Walk In the Park, on WordPress, whenever in range of a wifi signal. One of her early entries was this: “It wasn’t until my first day alone that the reality of my solitude hit me. I realized how much I would be missing my friends and family for the next few months, but all the same I was excited to be hiking. Being out on my own also made me appreciate how much getting here has not been an individual endeavor. I’ve had so much support and help from the people around me to make this hike possible! That day was filled with a mix of emotions while I saw lots of bear footprints and enjoyed some beautiful views.”

Yes, bears. Grizzlies. Montana is rich in them. And even though Jones recently graduated from Adams State in Alamosa, Colorado, whose mascot is a grizzly, she admits to being “bearanoid.” Jones was not carrying an actual tent —just material on which to lay her mat and sleeping bag, and a modest tarp to erect over her, as needed. Her first night was… relatively sleepless. But, she got with the program. As she put it, “I had always wanted to explore Montana and Wyoming, having never been there, the COVID-19 regulations were not strict, and the area was very hiker friendly.” Her backpack’s “base weight” was about 11 pounds, including a small stove, her sleeping gear, and minimal clothes. Food and water added about two pounds per day, and at one stretch she traveled nine deeply backpack-heavy days without reprovisioning.

Somewhere in Wyoming, she posted this: “The past four days have been hot, dry, dusty and filled with cow poop. This was one of the most difficult stretches for me. The days felt really long and the terrain was not always inspiring. The first night out, I realized there was something wrong with my stove, and, too tired to fix it, I just cold soaked my food for the past three days. Most of the time, I really just felt like I was walking from water source to water source, not really hiking. As a fun bonus, most of the water sources were littered with cow poop and cows pooping. Luckily, I was able to download some podcasts before I left so I had something to listen to other than the wind.”

Her parents back in Corrales periodically mailed her supplies, and kept a bead on her via a GPS tracker. Her mom, Heidi, is a long time mechanical engineer, and her dad was the parent-in-charge of the household of two sons and daughter. A couple of times her parents swooped in to relieve her, once from an unexpected snow storm, once when her boyfriend’s father fell ill and unexpectedly died. Jones and her boyfriend had intended to hike together for about a month, but that plan crumbled.

Along the way, Jones did some walking and camping with fellow hikers, but also stayed in what might be called hostels, and occasionally showered and bedded down in hotels, when she reached towns with grocery stores and laundromats. But she also became adept at washing undies in a plastic bag while on the trail. Water, environmentally correct soap, much shaking, rinsing, then hanging to dry from her pack.

One of the most strenuous portions of the journey involved an 8,000-foot climb among 14,000-foot peaks, then walking a ridge line trail at about 12,000 feet. No surprise — the CDT has been described as “the highest, most challenging, and most remote of the country’s National Scenic Trails.”

As you might imagine, shoes were key. She went through seven pair of Altras in four months. As of early 2021, the trail from the Crazy Cook Monument at the Mexican border to Waterton Lakes National Park at the Canadian border is 95 percent complete, with only 164 miles remaining to be protected on public land.
Now back with her boyfriend in Leadville, Colorado, where she will again be a ski instructor, Jones, an English major who also studied something called Adventure Leadership, a pursuit her mom dubbed “majoring in recess,” might indeed like to work with youth in outdoor education. But also, recreationally speaking, go bike packing with her boyfriend somewhere outside the United States post pandemic. She sees no need to commit to a career as yet.

As she notes in her blog, which she intends to continue, “This summer has been immensely rewarding, and in the face of the joy and strife I’ve experienced on trail, this stone marker [to the Crazy Cook] at the Mexico border seems like an awfully arbitrary ending to the endeavor. Of course, the perspective I have gained and the joy I’ve felt do not end at that terminus. The goal, after all, is to bring back those important things which can be gained from this sort of undertaking.”

Such as learning that the “crazy cook” was a kitchen worker who killed someone.
Her blog can be found at
Explore the trail remotely at


If you love digging in dirt and fussing with seeds, and now are inclined to become better informed, soon you can dive into the 15-week Master Gardener Training offered each winter-spring by Sandoval Extension Master Gardeners, in partnership with New Mexico State University. The training program is expected to start by February and end by early May 2021.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the training will be virtual, in the classroom, along with small group activities guided online by Master Gardener mentors. The training program covers practical horticulture topics including sustainability, botany, plant identification, soil biology, entomology, integrated pest management, arboriculture, perennials, vegetable and fruit production, plant pathology, weeds, pollinators, companion planting, and irrigation.

To be certified as a Sandoval Extension Master Gardener, you must successfully complete the training program, but also complete a 30-hour internship that includes 10 hours of public outreach activity and 20 hours of other community service activities. Given COVID-19 restrictions, the details of the internship are being reassessed. To maintain your status as a Certified Master Gardener, you must volunteer at least 40 hours each year, of which at least 10 hours must be earned in continuing education classes.

Class size for this program is limited to 24 people. To apply for the 2021 Training program, fill out the online application here: You will be contacted when further information becomes available.


A team of Corrales woodworkers has built small, student desks for children trying to learn at home during the pandemic. Ben Blackwell said he was inspired to start such an effort here after seeing a CBS Evening News story in early October. He took a prototype to Corrales Elementary School this fall for feedback, and then modified his design to make desk legs shorter for a better fit for a typical kid in kindergarten through third grade.

As of January 1, he and other woodworkers have produced 24 small desks for Corrales Elementary, Alameda Elementary and Bernalillo Elementary., and for distribution through the Corrales Fire Department.Rick Thaler, his son, Jacob Thaler, and Tracy Murray have joined the team, along with Rio Rancho’s Mike Murray, members of the Albuquerque Woodworker’s Association.

They enlisted help from the Kiwanis Club of Corrales which donated $300 to defray cost of materials, about $30-40 each. Donations have come in from other sources. National Wood Products provided materials, while Shannon Perry of Bluedog Fine Woodworking donated computer numerical control programming and machine time to cut desk parts, and Billy Warriner and Mike Otero of DS Assemblies provided assembly time.


Music in Corrales volunteer Jannie Dusseau recently described the organization’s pandemically truncated season as “a significant learning experience and undertaking for our small volunteer organization, as we navigated what for us have been the unknown waters of obtaining and presenting online concerts.”

And still they persisted. The schedule already was set for September 2020 through April 2021, when COVID-19 blew everything up. The president of Corrales Cultural Arts Council’s Music in Corrales, Lance Ozier, along with Mike Foris and Deb Dapson took a deep dive into how to switch from in-person to online concerts.

They sought a new platform vendor who could support video on demand, and their usual ticket sales platform using brownpapertickets was no longer viable. They decided to offer the first online presentation for free. It featured Russian pianist Arsentiy Kharitonov, and ran through January 3, 2021.

Kharitonov, working from the University of North Texas, had quickly sent Music in Corrales an elegant concert video in 4G, which sadly had to be converted to 1080 in order to flow online. According to Ozier, about 67 people registered for 89 tickets, with the cost covered by funds from New Mexico Arts, as well as donors to Music in Corrales.

They contacted every artist already committed to its Corrales season, and slowly made renegotiated deals. Next up, running from January 23 through January 31 is a concert featuring Celtic fiddle and cellist duo, Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas, making their fifth appearance with Music in Corrales. For this one, music lovers will pay $15 per ticket.

Following the first viewing opportunity on January 23, Fraser and Haas will participate in a live question-and-answer session right after the concert, beginning at approximately 8:15 p.m. Tickets are available at

The vast repertoire the Scottish fiddler and the American cellist have developed over a 20-year partnership spans several centuries of Scottish music as well as Fraser’s own compositions, and blends the Scottish tradition with cutting-edge musical explorations. And their work has helped revive and reinvigorate the Scottish tradition of playing dance music on violin and cello.

One critic suggested that what makes their music soar is its “tonal variation and attack to spare,” along with “the responsiveness each shows to the other.”
They tell stories as well, sharing the lore surrounding Scotland’s musical heritage. And, in addition to performing, when not constrained pandemically, they both teach at fiddle camps across the globe.

Fraser, described as "the Michael Jordan of Scottish fiddling,” was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame in 2011. Haas, a Juilliard graduate, has performed with most of the fiddle world’s greats. Begun in January 2020, the pair’s latest CD, “SYZYGY,” is finally rolling out. The title apparently references “the nearly straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies, such as the sun, moon, and earth during a solar or lunar eclipse, in a gravitational system.” The duo says to “Make sure you check the livestream page for album release shows coming to a computer screen near you.” See

Ozier thinks the live streaming online video platform Music in Corrales selected, Dacast, based in San Francisco and London, is meeting its needs. A few glitches here and there may well pop up, as concert venues and performers reinvent ways to reach their audiences. Look for Boyd Meets Girl online come February. Australian classical guitarist Rupert Boyd and American cellist Laura Metcalf, based in New York, will serve up an “eclectic and engaging range of repertoire, from Bach to Beyoncé.”


Maybe 2021 will be the year some Corrales seniors wishing to downsize, but still live in the village, will begin to realize their dreams. Frank Steiner, with the backing of a Village in the Village committee, appears more hopeful than ever.

In the fall of 2019, Steiner informally presented to Corrales Planning and Zoning Administrator Laurie Stout his plan to create a complex of five duplexes on the 1.89-acre parcel where his Sunbelt Nursery now sits. The land is at the corner of Corrales Road and Dixon Road, in the commercial district, which would make walking or bike riding to village stores, restaurants and the Bosque Preserve uncomplicated for residents.

The long-standing one-home-per-acre rule that has prevailed in Corrales for decades does not precisely apply to properties in the commercial zone, according to Steiner, who suggested in January 2020 that an addendum simply could be added to the commercial zone ordinance to make this happen. And possibly, the expected revision of Corrales’ Comprehensive Plan to which Mayor Jo Anne Roake has referred, could include a reconsideration of that long-standing one-home-per-acre rule.

After a meeting with Steiner in October 2019, Stout emailed him that “Allowing five duplexes with ten families would be a radical departure from current land use practices in the Village of Corrales. You did, however, state that you had the support of several councillors. My suggestion would be to float your idea and see if anyone would be willing to sponsor the higher density housing in the commercial zone as an additional permissive use, with site development plan approval.”

Leap through multiple pandemic months to early January 2021, and Steiner suggested this: “When the current councillors were running for office they all supported alternative senior housing in their public debates. Bill Woldman has met with our group and is very supportive. We have met with two other councillors who have expressed an interest in the project.

“Woldman encouraged us to meet with Planning and Zoning to investigate a special use permit for our project. P&Z director Stout said that would not be difficult if she were directed to do so by the Village Council. We hope the new councillor to be appointed by our mayor to the vacated District Four seat will be as supportive.”
He emphasized that “The one acre per house rule in the residential neighborhoods is not in jeopardy. This is limited to the commercial zone only.”

The push to alter the one acre rule for the Corrales Road commercial district is not brand new. In the fall of 2018, Village in the Village sought residents’ support for a land use ordinance that would allow townhouses or condo-like facilities on property within 250 feet of Corrales Road between Meadowlark and Wagner Lanes.

“Our population is aging. More than 50 percent of us are over 50 years old,” ViV proponents pointed out. “For many, our only option for living in Corrales is to occupy our present homes. In the future, our large houses, with significant maintenance issues, will pose obstacles to remaining in Corrales.

“Many senior friends and neighbors have already moved out of Corrales because of lack of desirable alternative housing. Today there are few smaller homes or rentals on the market, and none in the area where it is convenient to walk to the bank, post office, pharmacy, library, stores, restaurants and the bosque trails.”

“We at Village in the Village (ViV) propose that the Corrales Village administration and councillors investigate changing the housing density in the commercial zone to be similar to the number of individual units in the development Pueblo los Cerros off of Loma Larga. “Units like these provide neighbors close by, affordable and manageable housing. We would like to see townhomes, condominiums or multiple single homes in a quantity and quality, that supports ViV’s mission of helping seniors remain in their community.”

Thus far, the ordinance remains unchanged. Steiner points out that “We promote ourselves as a village that is all inclusive and supports a diversified population. Our valuable seniors have been active in our community over the many years since our incorporation in 1971 and have helped make it such a wonderful place to live. They love Corrales and their neighbors and do not want to leave.”

“We need a majority of the councillors to vote for approval of this project and direct P&Z to offer the appropriate zoning solution,” he added. “The project is fully funded and shovel ready. We could have ten senior families living in our project by this time next year.”


Although no deaths from COVID-19 infection in Corrales have been reported officially, at least one person here was known to have died as of January 1. The N.M. Department of Health reported that 194 Corrales residents had been diagnosed with the fast-spreading disease at the first of the year. Statewide, that number was up to 144,142, of whom 2,502 had died. On January 1, 791 New Mexicans were hospitalized with the deadly coronavirus.

On December 27, Corrales had 178 COVID cases, demonstrating the spike in new cases here. At the end of May, Corrales had nine cases of COVID-19. That had risen to 20 at the end of June, and on to 32 cases by the end of July. At the end of August, the village had 36 cases. On October 31, Corrales had 52; on November 15, it was 74, and then 119 on November 30.


On December 5, there were 129; 156 on December 15, and then 176 on Christmas Day. By the end of December the number had risen to 189. At-home tests for COVID-19 are now available at no charge through the State health department. The kit will be mailed to you after requesting it by email to: Each test request requires a unique email address.

On January 4, the N.M. Department of Health announced a new website for vaccinations: After comprehensive personal profiles are registered at the site, health officials will notify those registered when and where vaccinations are available. On the day of their appointment, they fill out a medical questionnaire about their current health.

The Corrales Fire Department’s Tanya Lattin said if anyone needs assistance with registering for the vaccine, he or she should contact her at 702-4182. “We could have some of the population that does not have a computer or smart phone,” she explained. “The Village of Corrales wants to make sure everyone who would like a vaccine has the ability to sign up.”


“Life goes on in the village. Life goes on like a song.” And so it is as Corrales begins 2021 after a coronavirus pandemic crushed most of community life here during 2020. The two lines above are the underlying phrase from the Corrales pageant produced and staged by the late Evelyn Losack in the early 1980s. The song “Los Corrales” was formally adopted by the Village Council on April 24, 2012. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXI No.6 May 5, 2012 “Corrales Adopts Official Song,” which includes stanzas and refrain.)

Resilience and further adaptations are expected to be watch-words for Corrales in the year ahead. Vaccines for COVID-19 are only now being administered; Corrales firefighters and police are being scheduled. Across the board, much of what was anticipated to occur last year has effectively rolled over to this year. Among expected highlights are significant changes to the Village’s land use policies, including regulations on secondary dwellings (“casitas”) on residential lots and higher density for senior living facilities in the commercial district.

The Planning and Zoning Commission has scheduled a January 13 online work-study session on changes that may be needed to the Village’s regulations for casitas, or guesthouses. It will start at 1 p.m. and may run to 3 p.m. Contact Village Clerk Aaron Gjullin for remote access to the meeting. Village officials are contracting with the Mid-Region Council of Governments to analyze and recommend changes to Corrales’ land use policies as a review of the Corrales Comprehensive Plan. Village Administrator Ron Curry said December 29 he anticipates the Village Council will consider those recommendations by the end of this year.

On Tuesday, January 12, the Village Council will hold its first meeting of 2021 via Zoom, starting at 6:30 p.m. An appointment will be made to fill the council seat being vacated by Dave Dornburg, who resigned effective December 31. He has sold his home and is moving away. The council will vote on confirmation of someone appointed by Mayor Jo Anne Roake.

As the N.M. Legislature convenes in Santa Fe January 19 and continues through March 20, probably in a “hybrid” model with some sessions conducted virtually, three legislators from Corrales will deliberate: Representatives Jane Powdrell-Culbert and Daymon Ely and new Senator Brenda McKenna. Crafting a new budget will be a top priority, as always, but considerable attention is on whether legislators will legalize sale and possession of marijuana for recreational use, as neighboring states have done.

Corrales’ first cannabis shop, a dispensary for medical marijuana, opened at the corner of Corrales Road and Rincon Road. Another proposal that Corrales residents are following is possible adoption of the long-debated Health Security for New Mexicans Act which would provide all citizens with the same level of health care as state employees receive.

Village Administrator Ron Curry said the mayor has not made specific requests for funding beyond the Village’s infrastructure capital improvements program (ICIP) list adopted last September. That prioritized list includes $40,000 for animal control equipment and facilities, $75,000 to construct a trail connection at the top of Sagebrush Drive, $100,000 for municipal parking facilities, $2,155,000 for the Fire Department’s plan to extend water lines for fire suppression and $1,225,000 to improve residental roads and drainage.

There is no expectation that all of those projects will be funded. As the new year gets under way, a major sewer project is being installed along the south end of Loma Larga. A sewer line is being installed by horizontal drilling to connect the Pueblo los Cerros condos’ failed wastewater treatment plant to the Albuquerque sewer system at Alameda Boulevard. Completion is expected before April.

An extention of the Village’s sewer service to homes in the Priestley-Coroval neighborhood —anticipated for more than two decades— could begin by September. However, engineering for the project by Village Engineer Steve Grolmann was not complete as of January 1. Another perennial project, a pathway along Corrales Road in the business district is unlikely to be implemented this year. When asked about it, Curry explained that a high priority for the mayor is finally getting new crosswalks along the road designated and old ones re-striped.

Back in December 2018, the Corrales MainStreet Design Committee under Allan Tinkham said that it had received $40,000 from New Mexico MainStreet with which to pay for the complete engineered design of the first section of the pathway. At that time it was thought that the first stretch of the path heading north from West Ella would be completed by October 2020. That didn’t happen, and Curry offered no prediction when it would.

Also left hanging since last year is a decision on whether the Village should accept the long-standing offer from the N.M. Department of Transportation to transfer ownership of Corrales Road (State Highway 448) to the Village. A scheduled meeting on that topic was cancelled this fall and never re-set. Public input discussions with citizens are expected to resume before summer.

Similarly, Curry intends thorough public participation early this spring about options to complete the upper Meadowlark trails project. Plans for a bike and walking path along the north side of Meadowlark between Loma Larga and the Rio Rancho boundary were scuttled when state funders denied the Village a waiver to requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act because the grade is too steep at the west end.

The Village Administrator reported that the way forward is still hung up with a lingering lawsuit with the company that reconstructed upper Meadowlark in phase one. Initially, plans called for a horse path along the south side of Meadowlark, connecting trails along Loma Larga to the existing Thompson Fence Line Trail along the escarpment in Rio Rancho.

In an interview December 29, Curry said paths along upper Meadowlark could be in place by mid-year. No announcement has been made regarding this year’s Corrales Garden Tour which normally comes in early June. The 2021 event is expected to be cancelled due to the pandemic. And if the Fourth of July Parade is held this year, it is likely to be a drastically curtailed event.

On the other hand, the Corrales Growers’ Market probably will resume much as it was last fall. Design and engineering has been completed for installation of a water tank for the Fire Department at the top of Angel Hill, another project that has been anticipated for decades. When funding is available, that could begin this year. A second phase would involve laying a water line with fire hydrants from the tank down to Loma Larga.

A new project begun last summer, recommendations for how the “Scummy Ditch” (real name: Corrales Interior Drain) east of Corrales Road might be transformed for public use should be submitted by mid-August.  When the Village Council established “an ad hoc committee to explore the possibilities of the Corrales Interior Drain” on August 18, 2020, it set a one-year timeframe for reporting back.

The year 2021 marks 50 years since the people of Corrales incorporated their community as a municipality. The official date was September 17, 1971. If anyone remembers, civic-minded Corraleños are supposed to gather outside the Village Office to open a time capsule sealed on July 4, 1997. At the time, the concrete-coated “crypt” was to be opened on September 22, 2021.

The time capsule project by the Corrales Historical Society was part of the celebration of Corrales’ 25th anniversary as an incorporated municipality.
Inside the crumbling concrete box near the entrance to the Village Office is a plywood box containing the real receptacle: a metal box containing items of historic interest and other memorabilia. The capsule was purchased with funds donated by Intel Corporation. (See Corrales Comment June 21, 1997.)

By December, protection from COVID-19 should be well underway and, with it, some return to normalcy with such mundane affairs as in-person Village Council meetings, group meals at the Senior Center and events at the Old Church. St. Nick may even be able to return on the first weekend in December. And perhaps true to form, villagers will ponder standing for election to the Village Council. Declarations of candidacy will be due in early January 2022.


By Meredith Hughes
Especially in these pandemic-restricted times, many are grateful that Albuquerque has more park space per person than any city in the United States. A guy who grew up in Los Angeles was a major open space advocate for Albuquerque from the 1970s through the mid-90s. Since 2016 he has lived in Corrales.

Rex Funk arrived in Albuquerque in 1969 to teach science courses as well as photography at West Mesa High School, after studying at Cal State Long Beach. He had carefully observed how urban sprawl had overrun much of LA’s natural setting, and early in his teaching career decided he wanted to create a nature center.

A 10 chapter online book by Funk and archaeologist- anthropologist Matt Schmader recently posted on the new City of Albuquerque website relates in detail how environmentalists labored long to achieve open space for the state’s largest city. Early proponent of wilderness conservation, Aldo Leopold, who lived in northern New Mexico in the early 20th century, is quoted in the book several times. Here’s one example from 1917. “The average Albuquerquean man, woman or child, is in need of a place within walking distance of the city where each can enjoy a breath of fresh air and a sight of a few trees, a few birds, and a little water.”

Funk agreed. “He learned of a cattail marsh two miles north of the school in an old oxbow of the Rio Grande. It was fed by the outfall of the Corrales Drain, so it had a permanent water supply even when the tiver was dry. Funk visited it and found a high-quality 37-acre marsh teeming with wildlife. He heard of some people who were organizing to promote a nature preserve on the Rio Grande, and went to the first meeting at Saint Michaels and All Angels Church on Montano Road.”

A slew of local nature lovers gathered that day, named their group Bosque del Rio Grande Nature Preserve Society, soon shortened to the Bosque Society, and undertook years of public education projects.

Funk with others indeed did establish a nature center and preserve along the Rio Grande, and then served on several boards and task forces. He chaired the Open Space Task Force, and worked to save the Elena Gallegos lands and create the Open Space Trust Fund in 1982. That year he was hired as the City’s first Open Space planner and was instrumental in the establishment of Rio Grande Valley State Park in 1983. In 1984 he became the first superintendent of the Open Space Division of the City Parks and Recreation Department, and also was elected to the AMAFCA board on which he served for six years. He retired from the City in 1994.
Not that he retired in any real sense of the word. Moving to Oregon for awhile, he taught, worked with non profits, and then settled for a time in Arizona where he met his wife LuJet, a Methodist minister, and handled a range of projects until her retirement, when they moved to New Mexico.

And all along the way, Funk, the son of a machinist —“we appreciate precision”— tooled up, making both wood and metal salt and pepper shakers on a lathe as a 10-year-old, and learning how to repair old cars.

He bought a 1963 Sunbeam, a British car, while still in college, then ”returned to cars” about 1990. He has been involved with his current Brit car in the Rio Grande Valley Regional Rendezvous, an event sponsored by the British Automobile Owners Association.The latest one involved 20 cars, and four days of driving in New Mexico.

And most recently, after building a workshop on the property he and his wife bought in Corrales in 2016, Funk has immersed himself in fine woodworking. His small pieces recently were part of the online Fine Arts show mounted by Corrales Historical Society and Corrales Society of Artists. And he does custom commissioned work, too —shelves, fold down tables, made from his favorite “figured wood.” Burls, spalted wood, that decayed by fungus, and all varieties of maples and myrtle. Contact Funk at Explore the History of Albuquerque’s Major Public Open Space here:

The book begins like this:
“Albuquerque is blessed with an extraordinary physical setting. Viewed from above, the major landforms that make the city recognizable can be seen in their vastness and beauty: it is how you know you can only be in Albuquerque. It is these features that Open Space advocates realized early on-- from the 1950s at least—and which have been the subject of many conservation efforts. Success in the preservation movements laid the foundation for one of the country’s true open space gems; a proud legacy that is still growing and whose story we hope to unfold in the following chapters.”


By Meredith Hughes
Corrales’ Jane Butel, maven of American Southwest regional cooking, with the upcoming Christmas holiday in mind, has posted a “Tamale Rolling” video up front on her website, which can be accessed for a fee. Butel writes that she “grew up with a mother whose favorite food her entire life was tamales. The video we just completed shows all the hints, tips and tricks for perfect, fluffy tamales which I learned from her.”

Tamales, those corn meal and chile concoctions wrapped typically in cornhusks, date back thousands of years, where they were prepared and eaten by the indigenous peoples who first gathered and later farmed the many vegetables native to the Americas, corn, beans, tomatoes, and chiles among them.

Scholars think that Mesoamerica, a historical region and cultural area in North America, that extends from approximately central Mexico through Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica, is likely where tamales may have begun their long history. California ethnohistorian Karl Taube writes that “Maya epigraphy supplies the most convincing evidence that the tamale constituted the principal maize food of the Classic Maya. It will be seen that tamales represented in Classic period texts and iconographic scenes were known widely by the Mayan term wa or wah, a word also signifying food or sustenance in a number of Mayan languages.”

So tamales = food! When you register for the Tamale Rolling video, for $49, Butel will send out four recipes for making both the tamales and the red chile sauce. Then you can order the products for making them on her website,, including tamale masa, hot chile and mild red chile, if desired. As Butel puts it, “Tamale masa is a special coarser grind that yields fluffy tamales instead of greasy or hard tamales.  And pure red chiles are needed for the fresh spicy clear flavor of the tamales and sauce.”

Along with rocking and rolling tamales, you can do a deeper dive into “All About Chiles.” This is a course focused solely on learning about chiles and how to cook with them. Butel launched her latest extensive on-line chile cooking course this fall, and now is taking the first 20 registrations for its 2021 iteration which will begin January 18. The cost? $650. Sign up via her website.

In a series of over 40 lectures by Butel, along with 150 kitchen-tested recipes, participants will use chiles in Southwestern and Mexican dishes. Hints and tips for cooking with both green and red chiles will be completely spelled out. Also, Butel explores chiles’ healthful benefits, including “how to eat your way to losing weight and reverse aging.” Also ways to use chiles for “improving your heart’s health as well as your skin,” and the history and lore of chiles.

As Butel wrote in “Real Women Eat Chiles,” “Those of us who have been ‘exposed’ to chiles early in life are constantly on a quest for a daily chile fix. Those who have not had the opportunity to eat chiles have much less tolerance for capsaicin. However, it is never too late to start a daily habit of chile eating and develop one’s own ‘chile drive.’”

Each lesson is based on a written document. People who sign up view the text and then create the recipes. And, according to Butel, “there are choices — they don't have to prepare all of the recipes— only those they wish to. Plus they have an extra month beyond the end of the series to return to any classes they wish to and as often as they wish to. Each comes with a grocery and equipment list, as well as the recipes to select from.” The last two classes will be devoted to participants creating their own chile recipes.

Once you sign up, you will receive some chile and chile-related goodies: Jane Butel’s Southwestern Kitchen, a comprehensive book on Southwestern cookery developed to back up her PBS series; a DVD on Bowl o’ Red Chile Party; eight ounces pure hot red chile powder; eight ounces pure mild red chile powder; eight ounces crushed caribe chile; eight ounces blue corn flour; four ounces crushed pequin quebrado chile; two ounces ground cumin; and two ounces ground Mexican oregano.”

While the course is not interactive, nor Zoom-based, Butel is setting up a chat room so that learners can ask questions. They also can feel free to call her at 505-243-2622.

Not all in Butel-land derives from the Americas. Her recipe for stollen, the traditional German Christmas bread which may have originated in Saxony, is best served up with champagne on Christmas morning, she urges. First traditionally made with oil, because of Advent restrictions by the Catholic Church on the use of butter, bakers pushed back, begged Papal circumvention, ranted, and then finally, 15th century Pope Innocent VIII relented, kind of. Finally, when Saxony became Protestant, (see Lutherans,) butter ruled.

You can access the recipe, from Jane Butel’s Freezer Cookbook, for free at Scroll down to take a gander through the following ingredients for two loaves, with butter up top: ¾ cup unsalted butter; ½ cup sugar; 1 teaspoon salt; ½ teaspoon nutmeg; 1/2 teaspoon mace (if you do not have mace, substitute more nutmeg;) Grated rind of 1 lemon; Grated rind of ½ orange; 2 eggs; ¼ cup dark rum, brandy or sherry; 1 cup milk 1 package active dry yeast; ¼ cup warm water; 6 cups all-purpose flour, approximately; 1 cup raisins;1 cup currants (if unavailable, substitute more raisins;) ¼ pound each candied orange peel, lemon peel, and citron;1 slice candied pineapple; 1 cup toasted almonds; 1 ½ pounds candied whole red and green cherries; ¼ cup melted butter; Powdered sugar.

Or, skip stollen, but pop the champagne, and dream of taking a seven-day foodie trip hosted by Butel to Oaxaca, Mexico’s mole-rich gastro capital, whenever the pandemic eases up and makes three hands-on cooking classes, tours of historic sites, market tours and artisan visits possible.


A new effort is under way to establish some controls over continued erection of cinder block walls adjacent to Corrales Road which detract from scenic views. At the December 8 Village Council meeting, Councillor Zach Burkett said he would like to see incentives by Village government to encourage other styles of walls or fences that do not inhibit views.

He said he wanted the council to address the issue after seeing such tall, solid walls erected by builder Steve Nakamura on two properties at the south end of Corrales over the past year. Similar long walls have gone up adjacent to Corrales Road at the north end in recent years, creating what former Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Terry Brown has referred to as a “canyon” effect that destroy the scenic quality for which Corrales has been known for many years.

When Brown heard of Burkett’s interest, he said he looked forward to collaborating on a proposal to address the worsening situation. “When I was chair of the Corrales Planning and Zoning Commission, the last issue I tried to get a reluctant council to approve was a recommendation for a requirement for a partially open wall ordinance along Corrales Road. “The new CMU walls being built by Mr. Nakamura at the south end of Corrales are the antithesis of what Corrales needs,” Brown added.

“Look at the fencing along Rio Grande. This is what I envision for our village, and what is desperately needed to protect the views along the Corrales ‘scenic byway.’” Bucolic views along Corrales Road of pastures, horses, farms, orchards, vineyards and old tractors are central to this community’s character and perhaps even its economic vitality. A degree of national recognition for those attributes was gained in 1995 when Corrales Road was designated a “scenic and historic byway.” But a Village-appointed byways corridor management committee disbanded amid controversy more than a decade ago and was never fully reconstituted.

Brown, an architect, is concerned that the community’s treasured scenic quality is being incrementally lost due to an unfortunate landscaping feature: view-blocking solid walls or fences at the edge of the road. “I was on the Planning and Zoning Commission for eight years, and I was the chair for two years. As an architect, I felt strongly that we needed to protect this view, this viewshed from Corrales Road,” Brown explained.

“People come here to see Corrales… they don’t come here to look at walls and fences. They come here to see horses and donkeys and llamas and cows, and the views that stretch from the fields to the riparian habitat and all the way to the Sandias.

“They don’t want to see walls; they don’t want to see that ‘canyon effect.’” Back in 2010-11, Brown and others pushed hard for the Village Council to adopt an ordinance or regulation that would prohibit owners of property abutting Corrales Road from erecting a solid fence or wall taller than three feet at the road frontage property line.

Draft Ordinance 11-007, amending the Village’s land use regulations regarding fences, was tabled at a February 2011 council meeting and never revived for vote. No other proposals have been pursued, and tall cinder block walls and wooden fences continue to go up, blocking views.

Corrales is left vulnerable, Brown cautioned. “In some places we have a tall wall along one side of Corrales Road, but it’s left open on the other side. I guess that’s probably acceptable,” he volunteered. “But what if a developer or homeowner says ‘Hey, I need to have more opacity on my side of the road, too.’ And then, the next guy says the same thing, and pretty soon, a hundred years from now, Corrales Road will be just one long canyon.”

On the other side of the river, regulations for Rio Grande Boulevard have apparently closed off that undesired future. “I believe along Rio Grande Boulevard you can only have a limited expanse of opaque wall and the rest of it has to be open. The walls are low; for the most part, you can see over them or through them. “Since Corrales Road is a scenic byway, I think it is worthy of getting the same treatment.”

Without any regulation requiring scenic views be maintained, Brown warned, “you get whatever a developer is going to give you.” In laying out the 2011 rationale for recommended action by the Village Council, then-P&Z commission Chairman Brown put it this way: “One of Corrales’ greatest assets that maintain the rural character of this village is the vistas of vineyards, agricultural fields, large animals, towering cottonwoods and the Sandia Mountains beyond. With this in mind, the P&Z commission recommends the modification noted above for fences along Corrales Road. Our concern is that without this proposed modification to our ordinance, Corrales Road could become a walled-in road where nothing could be seen beyond the six-foot high walls along both sides of Corrales Road. We already have portions of Corrales Road with this unappealing aspect.” (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXVIII No.3 March 23, 2019 “Can Scenery Along ‘Scenic Byway’ Be Preserved?”)

During early discussion about regulating the size and opacity of walls along property lines, the proposed rules would have applied to roadsides throughout Corrales. But P&Z commissioners and council members backed away from that, anticipating villagers’ resistance for reasons of privacy.

That continues to be a primary concern, although the thwarted 2011 ordinance exempted existing walls and fences; the rules would have applied only to new walls or fences. Even so, the draft ordinance that went to the Village Council back then would have applied only to property along Corrales Road, not residential neighborhoods east or west of it.

While privacy issues seem to have been dominant during the P&Z and council discussions about protecting scenic quality nine years ago, it’s clear that visitors to Corrales have no interest in knowing who’s rolling in the hay with whom. A secondary concern was road noise from increased traffic along Corrales Road. Proximity to the road is the critical factor in how disturbing tire-on-asphalt noise would be to residents. But if the residence is that close to Corrales Road, or any neighborhood road, the structure itself would likely obstruct a view of fields, farm animals or the mountains.

Brown said he is not aware of any road noise mitigation measures that might be used that still allow scenic views. He said a tall wall, fence or dense vegetation may be the only way to effectively block road noise if the residence is very close.

In Brown’s February 25, 2011, letter of transmittal from the P&Z commission to the council, he pointed out “This revised proposed ordinance recommends modifications to the previous proposed ordinance by requiring all new fences along Corrales Road (Scenic Byway) to have no solid fence exceeding three feet in height erected on the front lot line or within the front setback area of any lot or within the vision clearance area abutting a driveway.

“If someone wants a fence taller than three feet, then that portion of the fence would have to be an open fence.” The wall or fence could actually be taller than three feet, but the upper portion would have to be open or see-through to some degree, he added. Serving as Planning and Zoning Commission vice-chair at that time was Corrales’ current mayor, Jo Anne Roake. “The Village Council did not like the idea at that time,” Brown recalled. “They didn’t like the idea of dictating to a homeowner what type of fence they could have. However, we already have ordinances that cover what type of fence you can have and what it looks like; what is acceptable and what is not.”

“It’s like anything else in the village; it should be the villagers who decide what’s in the best interest of the village. We want to encourage tourism, but if, when they come, we have a canyon of walls on both sides of Corrales Road, that’s not going to be very attractive.”


Construction is expected to begin in April for a long-proposed trail connection between the City of Rio Rancho’s paved Thompson Fence Line trail along the edge of the escarpment and the end of Sagebrush Drive in Corrales. Engineering work has begun after the Corrales Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Commission pushed for it at the June 16 Village Council meeting. The plan was explained in a Powerpoint presentation by the commission.

At the November 12 session Village Administrator Ron Curry said the work would likely begin in April since that is the availability of the firm contracted to build the trail link. In the meantime, he said adjacent property owners will be contacted to make sure they are aware of the project.

On August 31, Village Clerk Aaron Gjullin informed advisory commissioners that the project had launched. “Just a heads up. It has begun!” he emailed. “The Village is funding it, asking for additional money or reimbursements from the County and State. Engineering has begun.” The commission has held discussions with Rio Rancho officials, the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority and Corrales Public Works several times over the last five years. Public Works has estimated the trail link could cost around $74,000 including engineering and installation.

“The time is now,” the commission’s presentation urged. “A Parks and Recreation survey indicated residents want opportunities to exercise outside as individuals and as families. Trail connectivity is an important tenet of the Trails Master Plan. A loop trail is a great way to enjoy our village.”

The south end of Rio Rancho’s trail terminates at Corrales’ Meadowlark Lane, although just south of that is Intel’s recently improved Skyview Trail which extends on southward to the Skyview Acres Subdivision. “Together, they provide a three-mile path along the border between Corrales and Rio Rancho that offers sweeping views of the village and the Sandias,” the commission’s report stated. “Attempts to connect the north end to the village via Sagebrush have been ongoing for 30 years.”

It noted that “ad hoc” paths at the end of Sagebrush Drive to reach the Thompson Fence Line Trail have existed for years across private property. Now an opportunity to build the long-proposed trail connection can be achieved using Village-owned land adjacent to the cul de sac at the end of Sagebrush. “The Village owns the land on which the potential trail connection would be constructed,” the Powerpoint said. “Nearby lots are for sale. We have an agreement among current neighbors that the connection is a good idea. Benefits are significant: health, quality of life, potential economic boos for local businesses.”

The commission’s introduction noted that “the idea of a loop trail around Corrales was first imagined in the 1980s. Rio Rancho completed the Thompson Fence Line Trail, and Intel built their trail in the 1990s. “A few years ago, a lot in that area that would serve as a trail connection was deeded to the Village from the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority. Mike Chavez, Village Public Works director, viewed the possible connection, indicating it was doable and providing cost estimates. This link is on the Master Trails Plan.”


Councillor Dave Dornburg has resigned from the Village Council effective January 1 since he and his family are moving away. He made the announcement at the December 8 council meeting; Mayor Jo Anne Roake encouraged anyone interested in filling the vacancy to contact her as soon as possible. She will name a replacement to represent Council District 4 until the 2022 municipal election.

The district boundaries are generally from Loma Larga on the east to the Rio Rancho boundary on the west and from Applewood on the south to West Ella on the north. Anyone interested is urged to notify the Village Clerk by email at At the council meeting Dornburg did not say why he is moving away, but that he had not intended to move so quickly. He said his home had sold within three days of putting it on the market.

When running for the council seat in 2018, he said he worked for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration as deputy director for the Office of Nuclear Weapon Surety and Quality. He lives along upper Meadowlark Lane and had led in the ongoing discussion on how to complete the improvements between Loma Larga and the Rio Rancho boundary. His term ends in March 2022.


By Meredith Hughes
A burst of increased activity at the eastern end of the former Kim Jew property at 4604 Corrales Road is evidence that Southwest Organic Producers (SWOP), which first began business in 2009 selling medical marijuana, is opening a retail cannabis dispensary in Corrales as soon as this month.

The store is opening at the corner of Corrales Road and Rincon Road, just north of Perea’s restaurant. A company employee at its first Albuquerque retail location on Montgomery, just east of Interstate 25, said “furniture, including display cases” were being bought for the Corrales site.

Spencer Komadina, one of the project’s partners, said the New Mexico Department of Health was expected to do its inspection the week of December 13, and that the shop would then hold its soft open, with a grand opening following not far behind. The Corrales outlet will immediately benefit from what another partner, Aaron Brogdon, has described as “better quality product,” grown right in Corrales. The Komadina property at 379 Camino de Corrales del Norte has three greenhouses, as well as a “head house,” or nursery, for new plants.

The SWOP outlet has been a long time in coming. Although the site development plan application was approved by the Village Planning and Zoning Commission on November 20, 2019, assorted hoops required jumping through, or what P&Z Administrator Laurie Stout described soon thereafter as “applicable state and federal agencies on their specific requirements.” At that time, a long-time Corrales cannabis grower, Tom Murray, explained to P&Z prior to their positive ruling that he was “the first cannabis producer in Corrales, and one of the first four in New Mexico.”

Murray emphasized the gross receipts coming to the Village via a retail outlet would be based on an estimated “$4.2 million of revenue that will originate through that point of sale and will include a good portion of customers outside of the village.” Komadina pointed out that the retail outlet would likely involve three to four employees, with an office for human resources above the store front. He added that “all manufactured products would be made outside Corrales by six extraction companies” the group works with.

At the moment SWOP pays rent to Kim Jew, still the building’s owner, but the group has first refusal on any upcoming purchase of the place. Komadina said SWOP hopes to own the property within a year or so. The interest by New Mexicans in medical cannabis continues to grow. As of May 31, 2020, New Mexico had 94,042 registered Medical Cannabis Program card holders, with Sandoval County at 6,514, and Bernalillo, 30,562. By November 30, 2020, 101,770 patients were registered, 7,281 in Sandoval County, and 33,976 in Bernalillo County.

Across the state, by far the biggest number of patients were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), jumping from 48,010 to 54,391 by the end of November. People experiencing “severe chronic pain,”for which they sought cannabis, increased to 31,956 from 29,862. While a bill to legalize recreational cannabis in New Mexico was shot down in February of last year in the N.M. Legislature, signs indicate this time around the bill will have greater support.

According to a report by Ultra Health, the largest marijuana seller in New Mexico, the state “is now landlocked between three states with more flexible cannabis policies than its own. Legalization in Arizona is likely to create greater momentum surrounding legalization of cannabis for adult use in New Mexico during the 2021 Legislative Session.”

“New Mexico’s medical and adult-use cannabis market is estimated to generate $600 million in consumer sales and $90 to $100 million in recurring tax revenue. The path to a legalization market of such size will require legislators and regulators to work collectively to create a robust cannabis model.”

In addition, again according to Ultra Health, “medical marijuana sales in New Mexico in the third quarter exceeded the same period in 2019 by 62 percent. New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program of 34 licensed producers reported $55 million in cannabis sales in 2020, a jump of $21 million.” Earlier this month, the United Nations’ Commission for Narcotic Drugs voted to remove cannabis from its list of most dangerous drugs, and a floor vote was held in the U.S. House of Representatives December 4 on the MORE Act, (Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act). The bill officially passed by a vote of 228-164. Next stop, the U.S. Senate.

According to the official House description, “This bill decriminalizes marijuana. And specifically, it removes marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act and eliminates criminal penalties for an individual who manufactures, distributes, or possesses marijuana.”

“The bill also makes other changes, including the following:
• replaces statutory references to marijuana and marihuana with cannabis,
• requires the Bureau of Labor Statistics to regularly publish demographic data on cannabis business owners and employees,
• establishes a trust fund to support various programs and services for individuals and businesses in communities impacted by the war on drugs,
• imposes a 5 percent tax on cannabis products and requires revenues to be deposited into the trust fund,
• makes Small Business Administration loans and services available to entities that are cannabis-related legitimate businesses or service providers,
• prohibits the denial of federal public benefits to a person on the basis of certain cannabis-related conduct or convictions,
• prohibits the denial of benefits and protections under immigration laws on the basis of a cannabis-related event (e.g., conduct or a conviction),
• establishes a process to expunge convictions and conduct sentencing review hearings related to federal cannabis offenses, and
• directs the Government Accountability Office to study the societal impact of cannabis legalization.”


Despite some suspicions and misgivings, the Village Council approved purchase of a conservation easement on 12 acres of farmland at its December 8 session. The vote was three-to-two to pay $960,000 for an easement on the Haslam farm between the Corrales Main Canal and the Corrales Lateral irrigation ditch at the end of Kings Lane. Councillors Stuart Murray and Kevin Lucero voted no, citing prospects that a more desirable tract might become available during the next six months.

That was almost certainly a reference to the long-discussed, and negotiated possibility that the Trosello tract farther north along the east side of Corrales Road might be saved from development as home sites. Murray, Lucero and several villagers had argued that the Village had negotiated an option to purchase the Haslam tract this past summer and still had six months remaining to exercise it. They argued there was no hurry to close on the Haslam land.

With the council’s action December 8, the closing is expected by the end of this month. That would leave approximately $1.5 million remaining of the $2.5 million raised from municipal general obligation bonds approved by voters in March 2018 for farmland preservation. Former Village Councillor Fred Hashimoto urged a delay on the Haslam property. “Some very attractive proposals might pop up between now and June 1, and the council should not cave now to prematurely spend potential funds which might be used for a possibly more valuable proposal in the next coming months.”

In his remarks to the council, Hashimoto suggested “undivulged” reasons might have led to an early decision. The reasons stated, he said, “are not compelling reasons. Perhaps undivulged ones exist. I don’t know. Perhaps someone wants the Haslams to get a windfall before year’s end.” Those questions drew sharp responses from Councillor Dave Dornburg and Mayor Jo Anne Roake. “I think it’s kind of folly to assume that another deal is going to come out of the woodwork at this day and age when property values in the village are only going up,” Dornburg said. “I think there has been enough man-hours and due diligence put into this process that the time has come to put it to a vote.

“There may always be another option down the road, but in my humble opinion, while I’m sure there are other pieces of property that people would rather have, this is the option we have and it meets the intent of conservation easement that we’re trying to protect.” Murray responded. “I’m not going to dispute the process. They have been working on it quite a bit. I have no objection to Mr. Haslam’s property. It’s a beautiful piece of property.” But he doubted that the offered parcel could be successful as a farm. “I’ve seen farmers back in my hometown who had 150 acres and couldn’t make a go of it and had to work two jobs to make a living…”

Mayor Roake cut in to say that was not relevant, and that waiting another six months on the Haslam option is not really an alternative, given the amount of time it has taken to get the Haslam option ready to execute. “Between getting our financing and getting the bonds issued and getting it approved through the N.M. Finance Authority and all the other gates that we have to go through actually does put the time limitations on this process. I want to address the idea that we can actually wait for months, because all of the pieces that you have voted for have gotten us to the point now where we are issuing the bonds, and that has to be done in a certain time frame… all of this was done based on two different appraisals and two different reviews by N.M. Taxation and Revenue, so I think that’s a false analogy.

“All of this work has taken place since July. It has taken a long time. It’s a lengthy and complex process,” the mayor stressed, making the point that the administration does not actually have another six months to exercise the Haslam option. Murray resumed questioning the push to move ahead, saying he is suspicious that the final appraisal on the Haslam property came out exactly the same as the original. “It’s a little suspicious to me that the appraisal came in at exactly what was asked for. If you look at properties around —I even did a little rough estimate myself using a…”

Again Mayor Roake interrupted. “Actually that tells me that there’s an excellent appraiser. But I have a point of order.” Murray said he disagreed, so Roake asked the Village’s negotiator, Michael Scisco of Unique Places LLC, to explain how the appraisal was arranged. Scisco said the reason the original appraisal was so accurate iwa that they had access to another appraisal on a property right across Corrales Road just two months earlier.

Before the vote was called, Councillor Dornburg made another plea for approval. “I think it’s a good idea today, it was a good idea six months ago and it will be a good idea six months from now. If we don’t think it’s a good idea, that’s a different conversation. But we have the will of the people for a bond to buy conservation easements. We have a great conservation property in front of us. If you like the property and think it meets the will of the people, either today or in June, the answer should probably be the same.” The motion to purchase the Haslam conservation easement was approved. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIX No. 17 November 21, 2020 “Haslam Easement May Be Approved By Council Dec.8.”)

More than 40 acres of Corrales farmland has been brought under conservation easement since the effort began here in 2000. Villagers overwhelmingly approved a bond proposal for $2.5 million for that purpose in 2004, but the last of those bond proceeds was spent in 2015. Since the bonds now have been paid off, more bonds were issued without increasing property tax.

The first conservation easement here was donated by former Corrales resident Jonathan Porter on land west of Corrales Road at the south end of the valley. Similar to the Haslam farm, the Porter tract is not visible from Corrales Road, nor are most others.

Corrales’ interest in preserving farmland dates back at least to its incorporation as a municipality in 1971. The first master plan produced for the new Village government in 1973 recommended techniques be explored to accomplish that. Successive planning documents and ordinances over the years have endorsed that goal. (See Corrales Comment Vol. II, No. 8, August 20, 1983 “Can Corrales Stay Farmland Forever? Yes, Say Planners, & Here’s How.”)

Corrales’ first conservation easement of six acres along Mira Sol Road in 2001 was donated by the landowner, not sold. Jonathan Porter believed in keeping fertile land under cultivation and his donation of the easement to the Taos Land Trust provided helpful tax benefits.


A review and proposed revision of Corrales’ land use regulations will be carried out next year by the Mid-Region Council of Governments. Village officials expect to contract with the Albuquerque-based MRCOG by the end of the year to conduct such an assessment, according to Village Administrator Ron Curry.

The task will include a review of the Village’s Comprehensive Plan and related zoning and land use regulations covered in Chapter 18 of the Corrales Code of Ordinances. Topics for review are expected to include residential densities, commercial uses, outdoor lighting, signs, landscaping, cell towers, stormwater management and many others —as well as assessments as to whether villagers are complying with those regulations.

An outline provided by Curry indicates that MRCOG planners would “work with a possible steering committee to develop policy in regards to changes to the ordinances.” Recommendations would be submitted to the Corrales Planning and Zoning Commission as well as to the Village Council. Curry did not indicate how long such a review is expected to take.

In the outline provided to Corrales Comment December 11, Curry said the contract with MRCOG would include:
• review of the current Comprehensive Plan, which would include reviewing by zone category (Residential-Agricultural - One-Acre Minimum Lot Size; Residential Agricultural - Two-Acre Minimum; Commercial; Professional Office; Municipal; Historic; and Neighborhood Commercial - Office);
• conduct land use analysis to assess non-conforming lots;
• a matrix of current zoning ordinance requirements by zone to identify redundancies and gaps;
• create approval and permitting process flow chart to gauge language clarity and to identify if current practices align with the stated procedures.

“Our Village Attorney, Randy Autio, will be working with us step-by-step to ensure the legality of the work, plus add his experience as needed into the process,” Curry said, explaining that the tasks outlined above “represent data collection and research, outreach and input gathering, preparation of a document, and we will be able to update the Zone Map.

“These processes can be challenging, but we believe that with our knowledge base within the village, plus with the technical assistance of MRCOG, we will be successful.” Among the current hot topics sure to be addressed are the threat of increased residential density due to proliferation of “casitas” (secondary housing units in zones where only one dwelling per acre is permissible) and short-term rentals, as well as proposals for senior living complexes.

At the December 8 Village Council meeting, Councillor Stuart Murry requested a report from Curry on the Village’s regulations for casitas and short-term rentals. Corraleños’ concerns are growing over an apparent erosion of protections against increased housing density here. It came to a head earlier this year when a home builder erected a casita at the same time he built a new home on West Ella Drive. (See Corrales Comment Vol. XXXIX No.13 September 19, 2020 “West Ella ‘Casita’ Draws Neighbors’ Ire.”)

Construction of a large casita next to a new home underway at 489 West Ella Drive this past summer riled neighbors, including the mother of former Mayor Scott Kominiak. The former mayor said the current administration has played favorites for what some villagers consider violations of the Village’s net one-acre subdivision rules.

“This is about administrations and building inspectors signing off on things that do not comply with our code, unless you jump through three or four loopholes, while they hold long-term residents hostage to strict interpretation of the code as they see it,” Kominiak explained in an email to Corrales Comment August 17.

The construction site on West Ella Drive was at least the third project in recent years where a house and casita have been built simultaneously in seeming contravention of the one-dwelling-per-acre regulations. Corrales’ laws allow casitas, or guesthouses, on a one-acre lot, as long as the secondary residence does not have a full kitchen. And the builder at 489 West Ella, Wade Wingfield, assured Corrales Comment that the casita there complies with that rule.

“You can have a separate living quarters as long as it doesn’t have a fully-functioning kitchen,” Wingfield said August 11. “You can have a refrigerator, a microwave, a sink and anything else, but you just can’t have a stove and oven.”  Wingfield said the project underway obtained all the permits and approvals through the Corrales Planning and Zoning Department. Since the earliest days of Corrales’ incorporation as a municipality in 1971, a bedrock policy has been adherence to low-density housing. Candidates for elective office here have always vowed to protect the one-acre minimum lot size rule. But even going back to the early 1970s, many Corrales properties already had casitas which were often rented for extra income. Commonly, property owners would seek permission for secondary dwellings so that a relative or other caregiver could assist an ailing or aged resident in the big house. But even such hardship cases were often denied.

Still, for many Corraleños, it has been a truism that sooner or later the one-acre minimum rule would fall. If and when that day comes, the quality of Corrales’ drinking water will become an unavoidable issue due to septic leachfields. Last summer, Corrales Planning and Zoning Administrator Laurie Stout explained how the casita on West Ella gained approval, and suggested the Village Council may re-visit the rules in the months ahead. “In Section 18-29, the definition of dwelling unit in Village Code states: dwelling unit means any building or part of a building intended for human occupancy and containing one or more connected rooms and a single kitchen, designed for one family for living and sleeping purposes.”

The definition of kitchen, she added, “means any room principally used, intended or designed to be used for cooking or the preparation of food. The presence of a range or oven, or utility connections suitable for servicing a range or oven, shall be considered as establishing a kitchen. “This means a second structure on a lot, as long as there is no range or oven (or utility connections for such) meets the letter of the law in Village of Corrales Code. Contractors can and will exploit this loophole if their clients request.”

At that time, Stout said the mayor and council may try to tighten up relevant regulations. That review will apparently get under way next year, Curry told Corrales Comment December 11. “Potential options in Corrales could be looking into limiting the size of the accessory unit, requiring that it merely be an addition to the home, etc.,” Stout said. “The intent of the N.M. Statute is to allow family members, such as elderly parents, to live on-property with their relatives.  “The reality is that often at some point the separate structure ends up having a kitchen added retroactively, and that structure eventually becomes a long-term rental with a tenant —thus becoming a zoning violation.”

Controversy over increased requests to operate short-term rentals in Corrales burst into public view in late 2019. when a real estate investor began using the former church building at 5220 Corrales Road for rentals. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXVIII No.17 November 23, 2019 “Law Would Restrict Disruptive AirBnB Rentals.”)

At its August 21, 2019 session, the Corrales Planning and Zoning Commission grilled the late Nick Mystrom about his plans to use the residence as a rental through Airbnb. He had come before P&Z seeking approval for a home occupation permit, while admitting he had been renting it out for more than a year, several times for wedding events.

Several residents in the neighborhood attended the commission meeting to complain that activities, especially parties, at 5220 Corrales Road were disruptive and unpleasant. Mystrom died September 25, and the property changed hands. The incidents described by neighbors were just the latest complaints arising from rentals in residential areas; often problems have arisen when rowdy guests rent Corrales homes for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

At the November 2019 Village Council meeting, where councillors agreed to post and publish an ordinance to establish better control over short-term rentals, and collect lodgers’ tax and gross receipts tax on such rentals, Stout reported “It is estimated that we have about 100 short-term rentals operating in the village,” Stout said. “Right now, we have no way to regulate them. This new ordinance will give us the tools to do that.”

The new law was adopted and later amended to better control parking and to clarify how many people could stay in such facilities at any given time. But those changes have not resolved the issues. A former member of the Corrales Planning and Zoning Commission, Mike Sorce told Corrales Comment December 12 that he had been called by a man in Wisconsin recently who wanted to buy his home near the top of West Ella Drive to use it for short-term rentals as an investment property.

The caller told Sorce he represented a group of investors who wanted to buy homes in Corrales for that purpose. Sorce warns that the Village needs to take action now to better control short-term rentals including Airbnbs. “If we don’t, we’re going to get overrun with these mini-motels.” Other communities around New Mexico have taken steps to meet the problem. On December 10, the Santa Fe City Council approved major changes to its regulations on short-term rentals.

Among the changes: no more than 1,000 permits will be allowed for short-term rentals in Santa Fe, no person can have more than one permit and no unit can be rented out more frequently than once in a seven-day period. The Village of Los Ranchos and the City of Albuquerque also have taken action, or are preparing to do so.

Los Ranchos Planning and Zoning Director Tiffany Justice explained the primary concerns this way. “Impact to Long-Term Housing Options: Short-term rentals can remove houses from the market and create neighborhoods of vacant homes during off-seasons. “Impact on Neighbors (character, sense of community, nuisances): Short-term rentals can change the character of a residential neighborhood to commercial if there are many of them on the same street, as there would be fewer familiar faces in the neighborhood. The likelihood of nuisance (noise, on-street parking, traffic, events) also increases as those who rent short-term rentals are usually on vacation or sometimes renting for a special event.

“Competition with Lodging Industry: In communities with a lot of tourism, short-term rentals collectively are a competitor to the established lodging industry, and there is a desire to ‘level the playing field.’”


No Starlight Parade this year, and no St. Nick community party, but a Christmas lights display has been assembled as a drive-by event at the Corrales Recreation Center. Colorful lights decorating the Village’s dump trucks, road graders, old fire trucks and other vehicles are illuminated each evening at dusk for motorists and families to enjoy while briefly passing the parking area at the east end of the rec center.

Those decorated vehicles will be parked and displayed right adjacent to the front playing field so that most of the parking lot will still be available for the Corrales Growers’ Market which holds its last market Sunday, December 20. Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Siverts said the parking of privately owned vehicles will not be allowed; only Village government equipment will be in the display. The event is not meant to be a stationary substitute for the popular Starlight Parade.

Due to COVID-19 concerns, visitors to the display will not be allowed to come into the parking area. The lights are to be enjoyed drive-by only, Siverts emphasized. “You’re not supposed to park and go in to look at it,” he said. The display will remain up and lit through December 28.


The pandemic is affecting families and local businesses, but also Corrales institutions that depend on fundraisers to support their work. For example, Friends of Corrales Library (FOCL), which normally holds two major book sales a year, has done neither. But it has created an online “giving tree,’ to which you may contribute.

Now through January 15, visit corrales to give online. Designate the category you would like to support: DVDs and music CDs; Spanish collection; children’s collection; general adult collection; adult programs, including author series, craft kits, ukulele lessons and similar; kids’ programs, including summer reading, craft/science kits, holiday event materials, writing contest prizes and the like.

If you’d rather, send checks to FOCL, PO Box 1586, Corrales, NM 87048. Any amount you give will make a difference. Corrales Arts Center and Corrales MainStreet similarly could not hold their annual fundraisers, Got Art! and Starry Nights. Their Holly Daze Collection 2020, now until December 12, 5 p.m., is an online auction supporting both groups. Gift certificates will be emailed to winners.  All other items must be picked up at the Corrales MainStreet Office between December 14-17. Jump into the auction at:

Old San Ysidro Church, supported by the Corrales Historical Society, has long been closed, with no in person events possible. It mounted a first ever online Fine Arts show in October, to benefit local artists as well as the church. Currently it is selling seasonal cards online, featuring three images, 10 cards for $10, including envelopes. Woodcut of Old Church, a Navajo Nativity, and a photo image, Snowy Day Old Church. View the cards at Email with your order.

CHS marketing chief Carolyn O’Mara says right now she has a new order of the woodcut coming in soon, and a decent inventory of the Navajo Nativity and the Snowy Church cards. “Printing takes three business days, and then they ship. Then we fold, assemble and place in cellophane sleeves as soon as we can, usually the same day we get the shipment.” To avoid shipping costs —$15 per set, with two sets minimum— place an order to pick up via email above.

Also on tap in a reimagined format, is the CHS Festival of the Nativities Show, now a video montage, prepared by Lisa Sparks. Begun in 2017, the Festival of the Nativities displays over 100 nativities each year, loaned by private collectors and typically displayed for one weekend in December for public viewing. Look for the montage link via

Over the years CHS has displayed nativities from around the world, the southwestern United States, and New Mexico. Some nativities are one-of-a-kind, while others are special family heirlooms. While the nativities project is seen as CHS’s gift to Corrales, in these pandemic times donations are always welcome, to help preserve and maintain the iconic 152-year-old adobe structure, Old Church.

Not surprisingly, the annual Winter Craft Show, yet another anticipated event at Old Church, will not be held this year due to pandemic restrictions. Organizers encourage collectors to visit the CHS Facebook page, to view work and order directly from the artists. CHS also reminds everyone to go to Amazon/Smile before shopping Amazon, and chose CHS as a recipient of a percentage of your purchases. You also can use your Smith’s Rewards Card in similar fashion.

Meanwhile, the usual seasonal Corrales Fire Department food and gift drive is as needed as ever. Thus far Corrales generosity is substantial. The day before Thanksgiving, Commander Tanya Lattin posted on social media platform NextDoor the following: “Today I finished getting food out to 23 families, thanks to all of you! It was a three-day process and the most unique Thanksgiving meal packaging and delivery in my 23 years of working on this project.”

“We changed it up, not only supplying turkeys and all of the things that go with Thanksgiving, but added some pre-made meals from local restaurants. Each of you added smiles to so many faces over the last three days. I think I have smiled more in recent days than I have in the last eight months. This is all thanks to you, the wonderful Village of Corrales citizens.”

The December project will operate differently this year. Lattin explains that if you want to get gift tags, or adopt a family in need of food, just call her at 702-4182 or email Donations of money to Kiwanis Club of Corrales referencing the fire department are welcome. Or, feel free to send checks to Corrales Fire Department, 4920 Corrales Road, 87048.


The Village of Corrales began offering free COVID-19 face masks to village residents and businesses November 10. “We want to do everything we can to encourage mask use.  That is an enormously powerful weapon against the current surge of cases,” said Mayor Jo Anne Roake. “We want to be sure everyone who needs one has one.”

Businesses that need a supply can call Sandy Rasmussen at the Corrales MainStreet office, 350-3955.  Individuals can get masks via the fire station at 898-7501. If you need them delivered as you are staying home, this can be arranged, according to the mayor.

Coming soon, a video that covers the importance of masks, social distancing and protecting each other, first responders and other essential workers.  Look for it on the Village website website,, under “COVID -19 Resources.”  And don’t miss the COVID-19 jingle created by Arlene Thomas and Dave Cross, posted in a series of signs along CW Horse Farm on Corrales Road. The project was sponsored by the Village, Music in Corrales and MainStreet.