Dissatisfied with LACDC and Chamber of Commerce – Los Alamos Reporter
BY AARON WALKER
If I owned a local business, I would tear up my Chamber of Commerce membership after Tuesday night’s county council meeting. Patrick Sullivan, executive director of the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation, made some very revealing public comments on how LACDC and the Chamber view small business.
At that meeting, Council was discussing a “stacked pedestrian zone” proposal to send to the Planning and Zoning Commission that would change the zoning to ban offices on the first floor downtown. During public comments, Sullivan said high rents were not a limiting factor in business development, but the county’s population was the main issue. “The best way to help our local business is to increase the customer base, that is to say to increase the number of people in our community and to focus on housing specifically in the city center.”
If population is the determining factor, I wonder how long will it take Los Alamos to reach the population of the city of Santa Fe? Our commercial rents are similar to theirs, so it is reasonable for Mr. Sullivan to expect a population boom of around 64,000 for our population to match rent. The only problem is that around 84,000 people do not fit into Los Alamos County, so his “more downtown life” argument is completely irrelevant when trying to solve the problem.
One of the “benefits” of being a member of the Chamber of Commerce is “advocacy”. Their own website even says, “We defend the business and tourism interests of Los Alamos.” It’s interesting, because on Tuesday night, Mr. Sullivan made a specific case AGAINST small businesses and FOR owners (who are also in the House). Instead of advocating for businesses struggling to stay afloat due to astronomical rents and outdated buildings, LACDC chooses to stand up for homeowners and their narrow understanding of our downtown area.
It seems that the LACDC / Chamber of Commerce is nothing more than a group of lobbyists for owners and developers, rather than an advocate for small businesses. I guess the owners aren’t the only “bad guys” in downtown right now.
“US Census Bureau Highlights: Santa Fe City, New Mexico”. Highlights from the Census Bureau, 2019, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/santafecitynewmexico/PST045219. Accessed May 7, 2021.
“United States Census Bureau Highlights: Los Alamos County, New Mexico”. Highlights from the Census Bureau, 2019, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/losalamoscountynewmexico. Accessed May 7, 2021.