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Today's News

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Parade rolls down Central
  • More charges filed in apartment explosion

    More charges have been filed in connection to a May 9 apartment explosion at Caballo Peak Apartments in Los Alamos.
    Juan Gonzales, 28, was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute marijuana (first offense). The charge was added to other charges police filed against Gonzales on the day of the explosion.
    Those charges include bribery of a witness, two counts of resisting, evading or obstructing an officer.
    Police also have accused Gozales’ brother, Joseph Gonzales, of causing the explosion. Police allege that he was attempting to make a substance called “marijuana wax,” a more powerful form of the illegal drug.
    According to an online paper published by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, marijuana wax requires large amounts of butane to produce.   
    The drug distribution charge against Juan Gonzales stemmed from a search warrant issued on the day of the explosion. It was for a car owned by Juan Gonzales and his wife. When the search warrant was executed, police allegedly discovered more than five ounces of marijuana inside the vehicle. They also allegedly found a black duffle bag with marijuana, a weighing scale, several small plastic bags and two mason jars.
    Police also confiscated a laptop computer and a cell phone that was inside the vehicle.

  • Comp plan will not address accessory apartments

    During its Aug. 6 work session on the comprehensive plan update, the Planning and Zoning Commission spent considerable time discussing accessory apartments and short-term rentals such as Airbnb, but decided those were development code issues that should be addressed at a later date.
    According to Chair Philip Gursky, the current development code “favors the broadest range of accessory and multiple unit housing. It’s a function of the history of the town and the history of the time when the ordinance was adopted.”
    The board rejected the idea of including accessory dwelling units in the comp plan by restricting them in certain neighborhoods. According to Gursky, that would be the only way to address the issue in the comprehensive plan, which deals with permanent land use.
    “The question is, do we recommend, as part of the changes to the comp plan, that we provide some more restrictive or more explanatory discussion about where they ought to be allowed,” Gursky said.

  • Rebuilding season ahead for LAHS volleyball

    A familiar face is what the Los Alamos volleyball program needed for what is expected to be a rebuilding 2016 season.
    Diana (Dee Di) Stokes, who has previously spent a combined six years as the Hilltoppers head coach, will inherit a young squad that graduated seven key players from last year’s district championship team.
    “I think every year the goal is to make it to the state playoffs,” Stokes said. “Last year they graduated seven seniors. So this year is going to be a rebuilding year. We’ll have to see what we can do to build up some big hitters and setters in there.”
    Despite going into the season with one of the youngest rosters in team history, Los Alamos will be a favorite to repeat as District 2-5A champions and make its 11th-consecutive state tournament appearance.
    However, that success could depend on how Stokes and her coaching staff can develop those young pieces into important role players.
    “I think this year the team is going to be very strong. We have a really good setter that is coming up and we got a strong defensive team,” Stokes said. “We’ve also got a good tall front line that we’ll be working on.”
    Stokes also said that confidence within the team will be key in rebuilding the Hilltoppers.

  • Today in history Aug. 16
  • Water restored on Orange, Nickel

    About 50 residents on Orange and Nickel Streets were temporarily without water this morning as the county carried out part of a planned pipe connection to Los Alamos High School from 36th Street. Water was restored around 11 a.m. this morning. 

  • 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.