Santa Fe is on life support: An open letter to its Governing Body

Dear Governing Body of The City of Santa Fe:

Though I am doing my best to give you the benefit of the doubt, I am finding it increasingly difficult to see the logic and benefit of your actions. Trash appears to be your main concern, evidenced by two (2) initiatives: 1) The paper grocery bag fee; and, 2) the proposed ban on individual “miniature” sales of alcoholic beverages. These two (2) initiatives, to me, highlight the disconnect that exists between our City Council and the people of Santa Fe.

For starters, your mandated switch to paper bags from plastic has been proven to be a fiasco of epic proportions. Your data suggests that few people are using recyclable bags. Your response? Charge people an unlawful tax to use anything other than “green” bags. I can’t think of anything else to call your “next steps” other than stupid and misguided. Look, people are creatures of habit. If you want to change behavior, you have to do it slowly, and fold in the new behaviors over time. To force an entire community, including business, to make major changes, all at once, is to ask for nothing more than egg in your face.

As for the miniature ban, has it ever occurred to you that the reason there are so many miniature bottles strewn about is that: A LOT OF PEOPLE DRINK FROM THEM? Has that not entered your thinking? I realize that Carmichael’s introduction of this nonsense into his district has been hailed as a raging success; HOWEVER, I’d LOVE to see data that indicates that the legislation has done anything to reduce actual alcohol use. My guess is that it hasn’t. I suspect that any new legislation that forces businesses to change their product offerings will only make doing business in Santa Fe all that much harder.

Now, I’m all for our governing body to make Santa Fe a better place. And I do think government can play a role in helping to reduce alcohol use, but targeting businesses is the wrong front on which it should battle. What I would prefer to see are partnerships between the City of Santa Fe, the Public Schools, and other interested agencies/parties that would: first, sponsor educational programs directed towards reducing alcohol/opiate/marijuana use; and also, create pathways towards economic development such that our home-grown talent stays here.

If you, as a governing body, can find ways to do those things, Santa Fe will be more beautiful. There might still be trash strewn about, but maybe it’ll be trash created from old business plan drafts and candy wrappers from children too happy to realize they’ve littered. There’s a reason alcohol bottles litter Santa Fe: It’s a dying economy and its residents are reflecting that slow and painful death. The alcohol serves to numb people to the reality that you are in part creating by interfering in business processes.

Juan Blea, MA, LADAC

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