Our Engagement Process for Midtown

The midtown site is the geographical center of Santa Fe. At the crossroads of three major streets and the Rail Runner, and surrounded by neighborhoods with deep roots where many residents have lived for generations, it truly is the heart of Santa Fe. As such, its redevelopment can unite our city and heal some of the deep disparities we face as a community. For midtown, surrounding neighborhoods and the city as a whole, the stakes are high.

The University of New Mexico Design and Planning Assistance Center has been brought on as the city’s public engagement consultant to develop a robust engagement process that centers equity and community voice, and that generates recommendations to the city that help to define future use, governance and redevelopment of the property.

Community engagement here in Santa Fe — and in many places throughout the country — often struggles to include the voices of key populations. In a report of the city’s 2018 engagement about midtown, nearly two-thirds of respondents had above-median incomes, a majority were over 55 and almost none were younger than 25. Only 17 percent of respondents were Hispanic and only 0.3 percent completed the survey in Spanish.

Gaps in equity during planning processes can lead to deepening inequity throughout the city. In 2015, the City Council unanimously passed the Resident’s Bill of Rights (Resolution 2015-65) that created a guide and framework for equitable development in Santa Fe. In 2018, the City Council passed Resolution 2018-54, calling for a community engagement process to bridge gaps in the initial process. The public engagement process led by the UNM design center will unite those ambitious resolutions and set a precedent for equitable community development in Santa Fe.

To do so, the UNM design center is partnering with a team of organizations committed to equity and participatory processes. These Midtown Engagement Partners include Chainbreaker Collective, Earth Care, Littleglobe, Santa Fe Art Institute and YouthWorks.

While each of our missions and constituencies are different, we are united in our collective goal to develop pathways to equitable representation so that everyone in our community can fully participate in imagining and manifesting an equitable future for this important site.

Building upon efforts by the city, this campaign is focused on engaging the voices and leadership of communities of color, low income and people often left out of the planning process through door-to-door canvassing, youth-led conversations and the Voices at Midtown series on a variety of important topics related to midtown. Engaging, creative and interactive site activations in the fall will welcome the entire community to the property so they can embody and imagine the site as a vibrant, connected and walkable neighborhood.

Partner organizations have long-standing ties to the community and are committed to centering leadership of directly impacted community members. Recommendations that emerge will be authored in partnership with underrepresented communities that know the challenges and opportunities best, because they live with them every day.

Commitment to this kind of equitable and authentic community engagement requires both time and resources. This process is an unprecedented investment in Santa Fe and our future. We are grateful for the support of our elected officials and city staff who understand that community engagement requires deliberate relationship and trust building. The communities we represent are relieved to know the city has made a genuine commitment to a future in midtown with all of us in it. Decades from now, midtown will continue to be the heart of Santa Fe. We owe it to future generations to ensure it is not broken.

To learn more, follow along at midtowndistrictsantafe.com.

Check out the Midtown Team presenting at the August 25, 2021, Governing Body Meeting. See the presentation and questions from councilors between minute 18:29 and 1:41:00. 

Check out the Midtown Team presenting at the March 9, 2022, Governing Body Meeting. See the presentation and questions from councilors starting at minute 32:07 .

Midtown Timeline.png

My View, Santa Fe New Mexican

August 14, 2021