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Today's News

  • Today in history Aug. 18
  • Baer clarifies accessory dwelling units

    The Los Alamos Monitor followed up with Community Development Department Principal Planner Tamara Baer about how accessory dwelling units are dealt with in the current development code.

    The first question was regarding Baer’s statement to the Planning and Zoning Commission that an accessory apartment and a primary dwelling unit are classified as one dwelling unit.
    The Monitor asked what section of the code defines that.
    “It’s not spelled out in the code,” Baer said. “But it’s always been the assumption that an accessory apartment doesn’t count towards density, because if it did, it wouldn’t be listed as an accessory apartment, it would simply be two primary dwelling units on a single lot.
    “So if you have two primary dwelling units on a single lot, then you have to meet all the code requirements for size and density.”
    Baer contends that the current code is at fault for not being clear, but that codes in other municipalities clearly define an accessory unit differently than a primary dwelling unit.
    “And I think when we get around to making other code revisions we need to do that: an accessory dwelling unit does not count toward the density,” Baer said.

  • Parade rolls down Central
  • Ahrens gets experience with policy making in D.C.

    Los Alamos resident Daniel Ahrens had an awesome summer.
    In April, Ahrens learned that he was accepted into the White House Internship Program, a program that introduces young people to the world of policy-making, research and other aspects important to the White House’s day-to-day operations.
    Ahrens, a junior at the University of California, Berkeley, who is studying environmental science, was assigned to the White House’s Domestic Policy Council’s Native American Affairs team. Every day, from May until August, Ahrens reported to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, located next to White House’s West Wing.
    The DPC makes sure that not only is domestic policy carried out, but it is in accordance with the president’s priorities and goals.
    Ahrens said he was a little overwhelmed on his first day, but he quickly got the hang of things.
    “Luckily, I had an amazing team I was working with… They really made me feel at home and that I was team player,” he said.
    Much of what Ahren did with the DPC was practical, day-to-day things that helped move the president’s initiatives forward.

  • Action-comedy set to film in Santa Fe, Albuquerque

    SANTA FE (AP) — The New Mexico Film Office says an action-comedy starring Oscar-winning actors is being filmed through the end of September in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
    The film, “Villa Capri,” features Tommy Lee Jones as an ex-military operative and Morgan Freeman as a former lawyer. The two must put aside a petty rivalry to defend their resort community.
    Publicist Diane Slattery says production will spend about six weeks in New Mexico.
    The state film office says the movie includes about 120 crew members, 12 main actors and 650 background actors from new Mexico.

  • Safety reminder for Thursday

    The Los Alamos Police Department has issued a reminder to Los Alamos motorists to be careful Thursday, the first day of school for all students.
    On Thursday, police estimate there will be about 3,000 students taking buses and driving or walking to school on their own.
    “Los Alamos Police Department would like to take a moment and remind motorists that school returns Thursday,” said LAPD Spokesman Cmdr. Preston Ballew. “Officers will be out in school zones for traffic enforcement to ensure that all students, parents and staff return from summer break safely and that they have an enjoyable school year.”
    The LAPD also advised parents whose children will ride the Atomic City Transit to know how the bus system works, and what their particular route is to and from school.
    “Please ensure that your children are aware of the bus routes they are supposed to take,” Ballew said. “Last year, at the start of the school year, several children were reported missing because they were confused about the different bus routes and got off at the wrong destination.”
    Ballew encouraged parents should ride the route with their children as a practice run.

  • Rep. Lujan visits Los Alamos

    U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-Dist. 3) spent Friday afternoon touring the Los Alamos Nature Center, the Los Alamos Teen Center and visiting National Park Service representatives at Manhattan Project National Historical Park visitor center.
    Lujan spent most of his time listening and asking questions of Pajarito Environmental Education Center Executive Director Katy Watson, teen center Director Sylvan Sierra Argo and MPNHP Interim Director Charles Strickfaden.
    Lujan had a difficult time tearing himself away from the nature center. He was fascinated by the 3-D topo map and accompanying Los Alamos Trails App, which helps visitors navigate local trails. He approached the terrariums and aquarium holding native species of fauna and fish with the enthusiasm of a youngster.
    “I love what you’ve done here. What a great vision to have when you were putting this all together,” Lujan told Watson.
    Lujan lingered in the observation room, watching birds feeding in the wildlife area outside the window and pouring over photos of bears and other wildlife caught on camera at night.
    “You could just come and sit here for days,” Lujan said.

  • Today in history Aug. 16
  • DOE responds to new WIPP leak theory

    The Environmental Management Los Alamos Field Office of the Department of Energy responded this week to a former Los Alamos National Laboratory physicist’s alternate theory about what caused a 2014 radiation leak at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad.
    The DOE is standing by its initial analysis of what happened to cause the rupture of a barrel of transuranic waste Feb. 14, 2014.
    “The overarching conclusion of the technical assessment team was that specific chemical contents inside one particular drum, in combination with physical configuration of the materials led to a chemical reaction that breached the drum,” said Steve Horak, a communications specialist with the DOE Environmental Management Field Office in Los Alamos.  “A separate DOE board of experts and an independent expert board confirmed these results and we see no reason to question them now.”
    The DOE concluded that the barrel was packed with an organic kitty litter, that when combined with the contents inside the barrel, set off a reaction that eventually blew the lid of the barrel and spread the waste throughout the room, an underground, salt-lined chamber. The chamber has since been closed off and shut down along with the rest of the plant.

  • Council approves language for sheriff ballot question

    The Los Alamos County Council voted 5–2 on Tuesday to approve language for a ballot question that asks voters whether to “consolidate all remaining powers and duties of the office of the sheriff to the police department and to abolish the office of the sheriff as an elective office effective Jan. 1, 2019?”
    County Manager Harry Burgess drew councilor’s attention to a statement in the staff report that read, “Should council fail to adopt the resolution, it would be acting in violation of its ordinance to allow voters to decide the question in the November general election.”
    “You did adopt an ordinance to pursue this, and this is just a subsequent act to determine the actual question that would be on the ballot,” Burgess said.
    Sheriff Marco Lucero attended the meeting with several others who have spoken against the ordinance in the past, but none of them spoke during public comment.
    Councilors Pete Sheehey and James Chrobocinski voted against the ordinance.