new mexico
Population: 1,736,931
Counties: 33
Governor Gary E. Johnson

Key Laws/Overview/Media

Click here for the amount of protected land in New Mexico, and click here to review New Mexico's federal transportation spending.
Source:  Pew Center on the States & Changing Direction:  Federal Transportation Spending in the 1990s. Surface Transportation Policy Project

In 1996 the state legislature enacted Senate Joint Memorial 34 which requested the Local Government Division to conduct a comprehensive study of the costs and benefits of growth and the evaluation of growth management alternatives.1  The report, Growth in New Mexico: Impacts and Options was issued in December 19962 and offers a comprehensive analysis of issues and options for statewide growth management.  Similar to Delaware's population projections, the New Mexico report estimated that by 2015 there will be 650,000 more New Mexicans than in 1995.3

The report, which stops short of recommended policies, offers a menu of 35 policy options which may be pursued at the state and/or local level.4  The options are characterized into four major headings: 1) land use strategies; 2) intergovernmental agreements; 3) public facilities techniques; and 4) economic development.5  Suggested actions include, among other things: streamlining of state and local permitting; reforming the state zoning code; requiring consistency between adopted plans and local decisions; creating a growth management consensus project; establishing a statewide task force on growth; requiring coordinated planning; establishing a regional review and permitting process; developing growth management joint powers agreements; focusing scarce public dollars into public investment areas; and incorporating economic development into any growth management package.6  The report discusses key recommendations from reports from other states, including the May 1996 Arizona Town Hall.7

The report has been receiving favorable response from the local front-line planners who have used it as a resource guide in evaluating their own land use regulations and policies.8 However, for planning and growth management to become a reality in New Mexico, local citizens and the state's legislators, mayors, and other government officials need to take up the banner.9 Planning reform legislation is a ripe topic in New Mexico, with 1000 Friends of New Mexico, the New Mexico Municipal League, and the newly created localism effort at the Local Government Division all advocating for growth management.10  A Growth Management Appropriation Bill, S.B. 193, was introduced during the 1997 legislative session which would have funded a study for the purpose of high growth, but it failed to win support.11  Although a bill to establish a commission to undertake strategic planning at the State level passed the legislature in 1997, it was vetoed by Governor Johnson.12 A proposal in 1998 was also vetoed.13

The impetus and support behind both the Senate Memorial and Appropriation bill comes from 1000 Friends of New Mexico.14 According to reports, 1000 Friends is beginning to make some headway.15  Private anti-planning sentiments are beginning to diminish as people realize that no planning equals no protection.16  Several stakeholder interests at a forum recently sponsored by the organization were able to put aside their differences and focus on ways to implement some statwide planning legislation.17  Current projects include fostering cooperation in the development community and the implementation of a Growth Circuit Rider Program, designed to educate rural constituencies on the importance of controlled growth.18  At a recent 1000 Friends Panel, ten action options were identified for inclusion in the State's growth management strategies.19

Since the Local Government Division published its report, it has completed a planning survey of local governments.20  The survey revealed that while 77% of all responding municipalities and counties had some type of comprehensive plan, only four in ten communities had any regional land use agreement and only 39% had a planning department.21 Survey respondents identified a need for technical assistance to create plans, professional assistance from land use attorneys, and regional planning assistance.22  Some respondents suggested the resurrection of a statewide planning office to help localities with the lack of funds and to provide guidelines to local communities in implementing their own comprehensive plans and growth management strategies.23  In the meantime the Division has developed strategies that localities can use to manage their own growth.24

In October 1998, the New Mexico Chapter of the American Planning Association adopted four new policy guides, including a policy growth management and planning enabling legislation.25  The Chapter set forth a fifteen point general policy position supporting a comprehensive revision of the state planning, subdivision and land use enabling statutes.26  This policy was strengthened with the release of a memorial by the New Mexico Municipal League, which requests that a legislative committee study revisions of the land use planning enabling legislation.27

The above material is excerpted with permission from "Smart Growth at Century's End: The State of the States" by Patricia E. Salkin, published in The Urban  Lawyer, Sumr 1999 v 31 n 3, p. 601.  For a complete copy of the article, please contact The Urban Lawyer

Key Laws:
For an overview of New Mexico's planning and zoning statutes, see the excellent summary provided by the American Planning Association

"Living Large."  Albuquerque Journal.  December 10, 2000.

1000 Friends of New Mexico
115 2nd Street, SW
Albuquerque, NM 87102
Tel: 505-848-3964

Tackling Traffic with Transit: How Albuquerque Can Provide Viable Transportation Choices. NMPIRG Education Fund, Albuquerque, NM. Website:

Hits and Misses: Fast Growth in Metropolitan Phoenix.  Morrison Institute for Public Policy, Arizona State University, Tempe AZ.  Report on the web:

1 Senate Joint memorial 34 (1996).
2 Ken Hughes, Growth in New Mexico: Impacts and Options. New Mexico Local Government Division (1996).
3 The report points out that this amounts to the combined current populations of Albuquerque, Las Cruses, Santa Fe, and Roswell. The report also claims that New Mexico will be the second most favorite place in the country after California. Id.
4 Id. at 99-112.
5 Id.
6 Id.
7 The Arizona report addressed: developing a statewide vision that incorporates goals for Arizona's future in managing growth and protecting the environment; and the adoption of the Four C's... coordination, collaboration, cooperation and common sense. Id. at 55-59.
8 Correspondence on file with author, Dan Hughes, dated November 13, 1997.
9 Id.
10 Id
11 S. B. 793, intorduced February 10, 1997.
12 H.B. 340 (1997).
13 H.B. 922 (1998) was Supported by New Mexico first.
14 1000 Friends of New Mexico is a bi-partisan organization whose goals reflect a basic desire to address land and water-use issues in New Mexico, as wellas to protect the traditions and values endemic to the State, through the use of public forums and prepared reports. It is patterned after similar groups in California, New York, New Jersey, Hawaii, Oregon, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The Santa Fe New Mexican, September 21, 1997.
15 Telephone conversation with Lora Lucero of 1000 Friends of New Mexico, October 30, 1997.
16 Id.
17 Id.
18 Id.
19 The state should strive to: incorporate economic development into growth management packages; use public dollars to encourage community redevelopment; streamline state and local permitting; document fiscal impacts of growth; document existing contradictory and conflicting state policies, programs, and processes; view environmental quality and quality of life as economic assests; promote diverse small businesses; put a premium on human resources; use collaboration as a decisionmaking tool; and recognize that growth and development are not synonyms. 1000 Friends Panel, Talking Points, November 15, 1997 (on file with author).
20 Planning Survey of New Mexico Local Governments, Local Government Division, September 5, 1997.
21 Id. at 6-7.
22 Id. at 7.
23 Id. at 8.
24 1) Pay for infrastructure as you grow, not after; 2) focus public investments on designated growth areas; 3) zone for smaller lot sizes; 4) buy lands to preserve open space: 5) fill in land already served by infrstructure; 6) manage growth on a multi-jurisdictional basis; 7) preserve rural farmland; 8) designate a community growth boundary; 9) think skinny streets and small parking lots; and 10) promote neighborhood development with mixed use zoning.
25 New Mexico Chapter of the American Planning Association, "Policy Guide on Growth Management and Planning Enabling Legislation," Adopted by the Membership on October 1, 1998. The three other policy guides adopted address water planning, affordable housing, and infrastructure financing.
26 Id. The 15 points are:
1) Provide state goals for areas of statewide concern or interest.
2) Ensure adequate funding and support to facilitate the planning process.
3) Eliminate inconsistencies and conflicts in the current enabling laws.
4) Require an integrated and mandatory planning framework for all levels of government (state, regional, counties and municipalities) while recognizing the varying capacities of each.
5) Provide clear direction on the substantive requirements of local comprehensive plans (with required and optional elements, level of specificity for each element and internal consistency between different elements.).
5) Provide clear procedural erquirements for adoption and revision of comprehensive plans, including early, continuing and meaningful public participation in the process.
7) Require consistency between a community's plan, regulations and development decisions.
8) Require a streamlined development review process that provides a measure of certainty and predictability to all stakeholders.
9) Provide effective processes for planning and cooperation at the regional level.
10) Require that new developemnt be phased in with the provision of adequate public faculties, services and infrastructure, while addressing infrastructure rehabilitation and deficiencies in already developed areas with adequate funding.
11) Provide clear statutory authority for communities to use innovative tools to accomplish the goals and policies in their comprehensive plans (such as unified development ordinances, adequate public facility ardinances, urban service areas, urban growth boundaries, transfer of development rights, development impact fees, environmental review and mitigation monitoring processes).
12) Ensure that local and regional plans are consistent with state planning goals, encouraging flexibility and local autonomy to best address the challenges at the local level.
13) Provide both incentives and disincentives to ensure that communities undertake meaningful planning for the 21st century.
14) Provide a level of review (either at the state or regional level) to ensure that local comprehensive plans are consistent with statutory requirements.
15) Reinvigorate a state planning office to coordinate state-wide planning activities at all levels and to provide necessary technical assistance and review.
27 New mexico Chapter of the Anerican Planning Association, Newsletter (December 1998).