With apologies to those still laboring in the field, my career choice - city planning - got hijacked sometime around the mid-eighties and has been going downhill ever since. The rise of organized private property rights movement(s) and the interests of various private financial machinations and entities loosely coalesced to assist in this decline by weakening land use and planning laws and touting free market ideals ill-fitted to real estate. So pardon my skepticism about planning reforms cooked-up like fast oats.
That there is today no connection between land use planning and capital planning will come as no surprise to most of us involved in either one. But there is a connection, albeit loose and voluntary, between local government capital planning and the state in New Mexico. And there is still a requirement in statute that the state develop a multi-year capital projects program using those plans and the plans of other agencies. There is also a division of the Department of Finance charged with doing all that.
I point this out only because some proponents of capital outlay reform now seem to be under the impression that all this is new. It isn't. Most improvements to the process within one bill, HB 307, could be accomplished without legislation. Representative Moe Maestas made this point in a committee hearing. "That can happen today." The provision of staff and oversight of the capital project process could happen today with adequate funding and without new law. There is no appropriation with the bill.
Hey, don’t get me wrong. I love government. But adding two new boards to a process won’t fix a thing and it won't be transparent or streamlined. There is a phenomenon I’ll call access overload where, as in the case of Albuquerque, the number of public agencies and layers of meetings open to the public have multiplied into an impenetrable maze of calendars and agendas. Sure, they're public meetings but public input gravitates toward the interesting not the mundane. Irregularities can hide in plain sight when oversight and watchdogs are dispersed.
HB 307 also carves out exceptions to the capital planning process for transportation and water trust board projects that don't exist now. Some legislators sound intent on holding onto the potential to submit projects independent of the new review and ranking council. The bill may codify - set in statutory stone - the problems proponents wanted to fix.