Drug addiction and safety concerns near the Pete’s Place Interfaith Community Shelter dominated a community discussion hosted by the city on Tuesday night.
Much of the discussion centered on the deteriorating conditions around the shelter, located at the corner of Cerrillos and Harrison roads.
Residents and business owners painted a picture that included drug trafficking, aggressive behavior and sexual assault, especially along Harrison Road.
These problems have led some to request the relocation of the refuge.
Santa Fe resident Susan Guevara said the situation only escalated in the 14 years she lived near the facility.
“The situation has gone from ‘Aw, gee, that’s a drag’ to absolutely scary,” Guevara said. “I told the city council and the mayor [Alan] Webber that we have already had assaults there; we will see batteries soon. This is one of the main reasons why this shelter should be located in a more suitable location.
George Lyon, announced as the shelter’s new executive director in May, said that regardless of where the facility is located, the underlying problem will persist.
“We will resolve the situation with your help,” said Lyon. “It’s not just Pete’s Place. If you move Pete’s, you just move him to another area. The problem is a disease that is hurting our community, and without a concerted effort this will not change. “
Police Chief Andrew Padilla said the community must come together to find a solution to the problems.
“The location where it is, it is there,” said Padilla. “Until we come together as a city, county and state and identify a better location, unfortunately we have to deal with this situation as a community and as a group.”
The city approved a new four-year lease with the shelter in October. The meeting, held virtually via Zoom, was a requirement of the city’s agreement with Pete’s Place.
Captain Matthew Champlin said the police department typically receives complaints about vagrancy, which affects the quality of life for business owners and residents in the area.
The city has no ordinance against vagrancy.
According to the police department, 118 calls for service were made on Harrison Road from June 1 to July 13.
During the same period, Champlin said the department made 140 road tours to the area, also known as proactive close patrols.
“This is the highest number of close patrols that I have seen during this period in an area,” said Champlin.
Community Health and Safety Director Kyra Ochoa described steps the city has taken to alleviate security concerns, including adding $ 90,000 to an Allied security contract for Harrison Street over the past year. exercise.
City officials have also detailed a budding plan to increase access to sidewalks along Harrison Road, often hampered by tents, according to residents.
Improvements to the irregular street lighting along the road to help address safety concerns in the corridor have also been proposed.
Mark Edwards, owner of the Z Pets Hotel and Spa on Harrison Road, said he believed it was currently more dangerous during the day than at night and didn’t think infrastructure improvements would help with safety.
“I have a 13-year-old volunteer who lives in the Homewise Project who doesn’t feel safe enough to walk to my business to volunteer,” Edwards said. “She’s not even allowed out of my business until her mom is in the parking lot.”
Santa Fe resident Miguel Gabaldon said if the city widened the sidewalk it would lead to more sidewalk campsites and the need for law enforcement.
Councilor Renee Villarreal, who led the sidewalk widening effort with Councilor Signe Lindell, said while she didn’t believe it was a solution to the issues swirling around Harrison Road, it had helped respond to an elector’s request.
“I don’t want to ignore the people who want this,” Villarreal said.
Villarreal said that while she was concerned about homelessness, she was receiving more complaints about drug dealers, drug use and gangs.
“The complaints we receive are not complaints against homeless populations,” she said. “It’s really about the people who prey on these people.”
Champlin said stopping a drug problem was not a solution, adding that a better alternative was to provide support services.
Mayor Alan Webber agreed.
“You can’t stop someone for being homeless,” Webber said. “It is not a crime in our city. It is a crime to be a drug dealer, to threaten someone with violence, to be a member of a gang that throws stones and intimidates people and blocks them in their cars.