If you will imagine for a moment that a bureaucracy is an entity with hopes and dreams, it is clear the County wants to wear big boy development pants. This is reflected in actions over the past decade or so that have put Bernalillo County on more or less equal footing with the City of Albuquerque. Significantly, the legislature eliminated the planning and platting jurisdiction of the City about the time the Water Authority was created.
The separate Water Authority truncated water policy from planning by creating a new bureaucratic animal. Patterned on a Southern Nevada regional utility, the Water Authority, unlike municipalities, has no statutory basis for land use planning considerations. Water service is now a technical question of whether an area can be served, not whether it should be.
Eliminating Albuquerque's planning authority over the unincorporated area and creating a purely technical water utility was specifically intended to facilitate unfettered development of the unincorporated area.
The proposed Santolina Master Plan and massive rezoning (hello!) is the County's unincorporated land development responsibility. It is now solely within County jurisdiction. If approved, the County will serve this urban county population growth, as if it is a city.
But, if it isn't obvious already, the City is part of the County. Not separate. The County budget is made up, in large part, of Albuquerque's property tax base. The County may approve anything and the City gets no say. But the City, as the County's tax base purse, will pay for it.
This is true no matter what schemes and structures are used to finance anything initially. If the County approves Santolina, we all own it - Albuquerque residents will pay for the mistake for years.
If Commissioner Art de la Cruz, and the newspaper, and the real estate boosters and speculators want the County to play city, they should support the County's incorporation as a municipality, without the city and its tax base.