Quality of life in Los Alamos

If you could pick just one thing to improve your quality of experience living and/or working in Los Alamos, what would it be?

New Blood: Retail Game Shop

My husband and I were considering opening our game shop in Los Alamos. The last message in this heated thread was almost a year ago; have things improved for new retail businesses? Could a town this size support a game/hobby store? Thanks for any input. Currently we reside in Albuquerque and are from El Paso, TX. Los Alamos sounds like a better educated and higher paid El Paso... which can mean a safe place to live but boredom beyond comprehension.

Support local business

My new year resolution was to do a better job of supporting local businesses. If we all try to buy local when we can, it will help the town economy.

Local Mechant Takes Advantage of Monopoly

We used to have two businesses in Los Alamos that provided packaging and shipping services...and I certainly wish White Rock Ship It was still around. They were friendly, accommodating, and reliable. I certainly can't say that for UPEX. Today my wife and I brought them a decorative chicken we got at CB Fox, a little smaller than a basketball, and around 2 lbs in weight. We asked to have it packaged and sent to Colorado. The attendant proceeded to package the chicken in a box that would hold at least four of them, using peanuts to fill the void, and then put that box in another that would accommodate about 9 or 10 of said chickens, necessitating more peanuts of course. Ultimately, the package was bigger than my mother-in-law could possible carry, and I was served a bill for ~$90 ($102 including the 1/4 lb item I also had sent to Pueblo. I complained that that the price was outrageous and stated that I didn't want to send at all. The surly reply was that I had to pay for the packaging whether I wanted to ship it or not. I announced to everyone in the facility that I will never do business there again and will advise everyone I have to opportunity to find other shipping services. It's definitely the White Rock Post Office for me from now on.

New Resident - No Plans On Staying Around Long

Having moved here 2yrs ago I knew nothing of LA and came with an open mind. It didn't take long to realize that the only residents with open minds here were new to town. My family and I were viewed as outsiders and treated horribly. We felt looked down upon, belittled and extremely unwelcome while visting shops and resurants around town. At the time I remember the Chamber of Commerce hiring a "secret shopper" type business to spend time in town and report back their findings. What was reported was stunning to LA residence. Those hired individuals felt LA to be an unwelcoming / elitist community. What has been done to fix those issues? Nothing. The Council /community seems to think those findings are bogus. It seems that LA wants to stay in its own "bubble" and not embrace future growth or advancement. There's many posts stating the "old" vs. "youth" argument, and rightfully so. Every community needs an equal balance of both yet it seems that the youth really don't have much say in town. It should be to nobody's surprise that once out of high school kids don't want to return to LA. There's no social outlet, shopping is horrid, employment opportunies are non-existant and what few resturants we have work on the Lab schedule and leave us residence with no choice but to head into Santa Fe on weekends or anytime after 7pm. Finally, LA and it's heirarchy have this unwavering sense of elitism that seems to have trickled down into the community. I've heard how SF and Alb. folks hate people from LA due to us thinking we're better than them. Truth is, they are right. This community has alienated themselves from everyone not associated with LA / LANL. It's one thing to be proud of where you live and work, it's another to gloat, brag, belittle and look down upon those not living / working here in LA. My family and I had planned on settling down and making a life here. Not anymore. There's no way you can convince us to stay. We're not wanted now and I don't see that ever changing.

Wow are we talking about the same town?

Dear new resident, I am sorry our first two years in LA have been so hard. And I am totally baffled by your experience. I have been in LA for 15 years and have lived in three different neighborhoods. I also worked at the lab for a dozen years in three different division. Except for an occasional jerk (in particular, a couple school administrators a few years ago) almost everyone I've met has been pleasant and easy to deal with. I've made a lot of friends, and my children have been happy here too. When I frequent local business, people return a smile and greeting. Is it possible you are approaching people with a chip on your shoulder and putting them off? Do you look scary in some fashion? I am not trying to be mean or make you defensive at all, just wondering if there is some reason for the bad treatment you have received. It is a shame we have had such different experiences here, I wish you well and hope you find happiness.

The next step

Mr. Todd,
This forum seems to have generated more input than most of the others posted in the Monitors site. Perhaps this would be a good subject to post in the print version for all to peruse, and if they chose to, add comments.

Quality of life is a subject that impacts everyone that resides or works here. All of the points already made are valid and those that submitted them are passionate about the subject. Were they not there would not have been as much effort put forth to post their feelings here.

One post in particular has me extremely concerned. If in fact a member of the community was told that their opinion didn't matter or that they were not wanted or needed here we all have a problem. I would be interested to know if it was a councilor that made these remarks or a citizen that happened to be present at the meeting.

Another point of concern, I submitted a request for information and have never heard anything back from the county. Several weeks ago I requested the data that has been collected to date from the CRC websites on-line survey. I expected to receive a response stating that it was intended for release but to hear nothing at all is a concern. I have to assume that the survey was/is conducted using tax dollars and as such the data acquired should belong to the citizens. I now have to assume that what was submitted was less than flattering. I'm also surprised that that the Monitor has not asked for more public input on issues that involve our community. Perhaps putting forums such as this in the print version would draw more community input and involvement? Perhaps not but we won't know until we try.

The harsh words and response

The harsh words and response came from other citizens. I do remember being blown off by the Council but I assume it was done nicely since it does not stand out in my memory.

Only one?

Only one? Any of the topics already listed could be my one. So what is the root cause of these problems? Just my opinion here; it's our (lack of) leadership in the county. We elect officials to look after our interests, yet it seems that there are a few special interests that garner the lions share of attention from our leadership. I frequently attend council meetings and seldom ever hear anyone throw out real problems. What I do hear is many telling the council how rosey things are and by the way I'd appreciate support on my special interest issue. Our infrastructure is falling apart, roads are disintegrating, utilities are aging and nearing failure, yet we spend time and resources discussing art in the park, or the charter. Not that both are needed, but perhaps some prioritization would be in order? How many actuall get out and vote during county elections? Not many. Could it be because many feel that the leadership will do what they want no matter what the voters say? Also, how many of our county employees actally live in the county? Is there no one living here that is looking for a job? I realize that we can't expect EVERYONE to live here, but we could for example allow hourly workers to live off of the hill while exempt employees would be required to live within the county. I don't know why I'm bothering with this question, our leaders don't want to hear from us anyway.

County Workers

I believe ALL county workers who are "exempt" should have to live in the county of Los Alamos. I know plenty of people who have applied for jobs at the county, who were degreed and lived in the county, only to be turned down. Then you find out that they hired someone who was related to someone else and who ARE NOT property owners in the county. Sickening. Not to mention the number of county workers per residents or households. Another example of norther New Mexico welfare.

What would improve the Quality of life?

Business. Shopping, not HAVING to go to Santa Fe or Espanola to purchase an athletic supporter for the boy. REALLY? With all the sports teams here, NOT ONE STORE carries required safety equipment?

That being said... The county, if it is serious, will talk to all the business owners who have had stores here in the past, say, 20 years, that are now closed, and will find out WHY they closed. They have the permits, and can do this.

My $0.02.

Well, here's my $0.02: There

Well, here's my $0.02:
There are 2 main reasons retail businesses have failed in Los Alamos; Number 1 is they don't have enough day-to-day paying customers to cover the rent. Number 2 is that the cost of commercial rental space in Los Alamos is astronomical. Consider that most of the empty commercial space is owned by just a handful of folks and they know sooner or later "the lab" will need the space, so they charge a premium rent that only "the lab" can or will pay.

Retail businesses don't have a chance at carrying enough of the right items that customers want, at competitive prices, in quantities to cover overhead costs.

When I lived here as a kid/teen in the 70's-80's, we had at least 2 shoe stores, a small movie theater in White Rock as well as the main one in LA proper, a bowling alley, KFC, Taco Bell, Mel's Diner, Sparky's Diner, Gibson's Discount Store, TG&Y, Clement & Benner Dept store (now CB Fox), Shalako Shop (gifts and jewelry and "touristy" items), Sears Catalog and Appliance Store, Strings & Spokes Sporting Goods, craft and toy stores, and more. We always had shopping, dining and entertainment options and teenagers had job opportunities.

The County and Chamber of Commerce Business Development are trying to bring businesses here but until the commercial rental space is affordable, Los Alamos residents are destined to drive to Espanola, Santa Fe and Albuquerque for the athletic supporters and anything else Metzgers, CB Fox or Smith's doesn't carry.

Los Alamos used to have 2

Los Alamos used to have 2 sporting goods stores in town, along with a department store, several restaurants, 3 pizza joints, etc. The reason why they are gone is simple and 2 fold: 1-the greedy landlords downtown would rather rent to the lab at elevated rental rates than rent to retail and 2-the new road to/from Santa Fe makes the trip to Sfe 35 minutes vs the 1.5 hours that it took 20 years ago.

If the residents would vote to zone the downtown area RETAIL ONLY, the lab would be forced back across the bridge where it belongs and the landlords would be left to the free market forces of supply and demand.

My $.02

Quality of life Los Alamos

The issues are abundant regarding Los Alamos. First being the fact that LA Public Schools are OPEN to anyone who can drive their kids to/from the school. So, when you are living in Espanola, Pojo or Sfe, and you work at the lab, you can enroll your kids in LA Schools without paying any of the property tax or living in the county. This should be immediately stopped. If these middle class people want their kids on the hill, they should have to move into the county to do so. This would directly address your disparity of age issue. I can see the schools wanting to up their enrollment, but OPEN is not the way. With the road and accessibility of LA very easy to get in and out of, it's too easy to live in a lower cost area and put you kids in the best schools in NM without paying the property tax, and other high cost of living in LA.

The second biggest issue is the fact that the lab occupies realestate in the townsite. This causes the rents to be so high that local shops cannot remain open without high prices to pay for lease space. VOTE and ZONE the lab back behind the fence where it belongs. They can build to suit and take the town back. With the government out of the realestate in town, there would be a lot of buisnesses opening. The greedy landlords won't like it much, but there would be growth and choice in town.

UNM-LA could be so much more that what it is, but UNM ABQ will NOT allow anything other than a feeder school situation like it is now. Bring another type of school to LA. Voccational schools attract mid 20s to mid 30s citizens. The biggest problem with this is that there's no option for food and housing for these people. Again, if you have the middle class living in LA, they will work in the stores, restaurants and just maybe the "service" or lack there of, would be better addressed. There would be a bigger pool to choose from.

The road and access to Sfe and Espanola crippled that town. Why in the world would you want to shop at the little to no choice stores in LA when you can travel 35 mins to Sfe for better variety and better prices. Along the way or on your trip to Sfe, you can also get MUCH better food.

It starts with the schools. CLOSE the enrollment PERIOD. NO EXCEPTIONS. There are parents who will move up there for the schools and those people will begin to demand more choice.

No child should be denied an education

As the best school system in the region, it would be sad and counter productive to turn away kids looking for a better education. It makes a lot more sense to provide a way for parents to pay for their kids education at a similar rate to LA residents. There is no reason LA residents should be paying for off-hill kids education, since their parents work at the lab they should be able to pay their fair share.

Its hard for me to stress

Its hard for me to stress only one thing, I find Los Alamos to a strange and confusing town to live in.

With the blatantly inflated prices and service with an attitude it becomes easy to understand why so many individuals choose to shop and eat off the Hill. Combine this with the strange hours that local business keep the problem gets worse. It feels like so much of the town opens at 6am to closes by 9am only to reopen for 1 hour at Noon and again only open between 3-7pm.

How does anyone in Los Alamos stay in business like that?

I think there aren't enough

I think there aren't enough opportunities in Los Alamos for young people. Where can you work?? Smiths... ha! The Hill Diner... Haagen-Dazs, ok well where does that leave the rest of us? More opportunities need to be made in Los Alamos to draw more young people in instead of out. So what if there are more "old people" opposed to "young people"? At the end of the day if there were other opportunities that wouldn't be the case. We need more open-minded ideas on how to draw people in, since its so small there needs to be a way for us to abide by what people need or desire.

We are a one horse town. My

We are a one horse town. My greatest fear is that Los Alamos is running the risk of being putout to pasture because they only thing that keeps this town limping on is the Lab. What will happen when the next round of downsizing hits hard or half the work force finally retires?


Yes, I agree the biggest problem with LA is it is a one horse town. The lab has been downsizing for years, and I bought a house before LANS, and paid way too much because 10 years later I still owe more than the houses worth now. It sure would be nice if It were possible to generate a better job market so we don't all go bankrupt if the "down with government" people downsize us all right out of our livelihood.


No, No, No, you completely missed what I was saying. The ratio of older citizens to younger is growing more divergent each year. This was shown with a dramatic graph by Steve Brugger at Council a month or so ago during his low cost housing presentation. We are losing our previous good mix of average age distributions in Los Alamos. Retirees are beginning to dominate Los Alamos. I don't think it is healthy for a town to be skewed so heavily to one end of the age distribution spectrum. We need to figure out why younger families don't want to live here (or why they can't) and we need to get back to the age distribution balance that Los Alamos use to have not long ago. That "balance" is now out-of-wack, not any persons.

It also does not help that

It also does not help that the Los Alamos Police Department has long ago decided that all individuals under 25 should be treated as hostile and guilty until proven innocent. Which will not happen as long as we keep Judge Kirk

Such harsh treatment in the age range of 12-25 makes many of these individuals act with the mindset of Im already guilty, so I might as well just do it and act out


I agree 100%. The way the youth of this town is viewed and interacted with is in desperate need of change.

Many residents and businesses view the rapidly disappearing youth of this town with disdain. The feeling I get is that if you are not quietly participating a certain forward movement for the Laboratory you are to be meet with great suspension. More so for individuals between 13-25.

So yes, there is a serious problem with the interaction of different age groups within Los Alamos. This problem goes both ways and all age groups share some responsibility for the situation. Sadly, I do not see how to go about fixing this problem as of yet.

Quality of Life in Los Alamos

I think that the Quality of Life in Los Alamos does not totally depend on the age ratio of older citizens to younger. I was raised in Los Alamos and left in 1973. It has really not changed much since I was there. I can remember when LANL and ZIA dominated the employment. There is not much to offer the younger generation when it comes to employment, activities, etc. The lab has changed due to government cuts. Benefits are not what they use to be and are not drawing graduates to the lab. There are not alot of restaurants that stay for any length of time so that takes away employment opportunities. There is not many stores where residents can shop for clothing and food. No wonder everyone tends to travel to Espanola or Santa Fe to shop and eat, there is a lot more to offer residents by driving off the hill. The age distribution is possibly out of balance due to the fact that Los Alamos has not changed much over the last 40 years. For some reason new businesses just do not seem to make it, has anyone thought of a reason why? Is anyone in the city trying to bring in more business and job opportunities? If nothing is done about the way Los Alamos functions, it will be left with only retirees. Los Alamos to a lot of people down here in Albuquerque is still a town that continues to complain but does nothing to improve the situation. It is still a closed community, it just does not have the front gate anymore.


Take a look at page 18 of Steve Brugger's affordable housing presentation found here:


It's got the chart of what is happening to our population age trend.

Now that is what I call out-of-wack!!!!!

Graduate University

I've lived in a lot of towns and the best towns of all have always been college towns. Los Alamos has had that type of college town feel because of the Lab and it's connection to UC Berkeley and it's draw of post Docs from other campuses. Now that the Lab has been turned over to a corporate entity and it's mission is being re-worked, I believe we will slowly loose that collegial feeling that this town has always had. Creating a four year and graduate studies University in Los Alamos will help maintain and enhance the quality of life here. It will provide jobs, it will attract many businesses to support a college, the town and the student population (including tons of retail). Students will provide a willing entry level work force that we so desperately lack, cultural events will flourish, it will help restore the balance of older citizens to younger citizens that has gone completely out of whack in Los Alamos. UNM-LA is great but it is a community college feeder to the mother ship college in Albuquerque. UNM just wants to suck our students to Albuquerque when they are ready. We should keep them here, providing Los Alamos with vitality. We have a perfect environment for this type of institution, it fits in with our general outlook and population (highly educated), land is becoming available from the lab, we have the money at the current time to get this started. All that is stopping us is the vision from our leadership.

Having a far better Bachelor

Having a far better Bachelor and Graduate program selection would greatly improve life in Los Alamos. But it must be paired with a town that has a lively feel in order to help draw in students and retain them. If Los Alamos had even a small fraction of the liveliness of Bolder or Durrango this would not be a challenge.

All study and no play makes Jack go away!

Having gone through the UNM-LA to Mothership UNM Main, I have to say that UNM-LA is part of the problem. The advisers and support staff are horribly unhelpful, under qualified and uninformed. As well as students who are not destined to have a career in science are not given much importance. A Los Alamos trend not unique to UNM-LA.
Thank goodness many of the teachers are top notch, if only the system would let their light shine a little brighter.

Unbalanced, out of whack older citizen

Greg, as an "older citizen" I don't feel unbalanced and out of whack. It's (which means it is whereas its is possessive) unsettling to find out that we older citizens need to be replaced by younger citizens, here just to get a degree at some currently unestablished university who will then leave town.

There is only one alternative to aging, and that's dying young. At some point you might realize that aging is not for the faint of heart and that you don't want to be categorized as being unbalanced and out of whack

As the "Younger"

As the "Younger" citizen I do feel things are out of whack. I spoke up ONCE and only once at a Council Meeting, and at the appropriate time, and was told that my opinion on any matter was not important. And this was then expressed by those "Older" Citizens around me with a "You know we don't like or need you here"

SO YES, it is out of whack. And I will take my degree, money and family to the next town with an open and willing Laboratory the next chance I get.