What are you able to do a few pesky home in your Albuquerque neighborhood?

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Between Albuquerque’s weak local economy, online shopping, or the popularity of large retail stores, the city has more than its fair share of empty shops, restaurants, and office buildings. Many of them are eyesores and attractions for crime. It’s a nuisance that the community realized long before the impact the pandemic had on the economy. Now it’s noticeably getting worse.

KRQE investigated

People who live in southeast Albuquerque’s Elder Homestead Neighborhood turned to KRQE News 13 about a building they say has caused problems for years. Ryan Kious said the once popular restaurant became vacant about five years ago just four doors away from his. It’s on the corner of the Gibson Boulevard neighborhood.

“We had homeless camps, we had garbage trucks, we had open air dumps,” Kious explained. Now the vacant building is boarded up, fenced in and all kinds of weeds are growing through cracks in the sidewalk and sidewalk. He’s sick of the eyesore.

“I mean, at some point, harassment becomes a danger,” said Kious. “And that happens in every abandoned property.” The problem with its pesky neighbor is one that the city encounters all too often.

“We want economic justice, we want jobs. We want a vibrant southeastern Albuquerque. ”

Ryan Kious, lives in Albuquerque

“We will begin to hold property owners responsible for not maintaining their building and for the fact that it complies with the regulations in our entire city,” said Mayor Tim Keller at a press conference in June 2018. A promise that announced that he would would tackle a long list of rundown, dangerous properties in Albuquerque. What started out as red marking of buildings became ADAPT about a year later. A program that would investigate the worst of the worst.

“ADAPT means business,” the mayor said in a new interview with KRQE News 13. “For example, we are mortgaging your property and we are on the way to demolish it; But we’ll also tell you what you can do to prevent this from happening and make it safer. ”Under the leadership of the Fire Marshal, the abandoned and dilapidated building team is working to force owners to repair or demolish their buildings. The task force consists of lawyers, inspectors and the police.

The city uses a rating system to determine whether a property should be targeted. Inspections, 311 complaints, 911 calls, and police reports affect the total. Since the start of ADAPT in 2019, the city has, according to its own information, checked 194 commercial properties. It is not clear how many of those qualified for the program.

“You have to document the related crime problems and then get a court to agree,” the mayor said. The ultimate goal, he added, isn’t always to demolish a property. This could get expensive.

“Why don’t you fix the lights? Why don’t you fix the electricity and fire problems? ”Mayor Keller announced. “And when they do that, they sort of graduate out of – or graduate in compliance – and then out of the ADAPT program.” However, it can take up to five years to achieve this ADAPT degree. So the city said it hadn’t gotten around to demolishing a single building as part of the program.

“The way the law works, the process will stop when this owner starts making good changes,” said Mayor Keller. “And so many owners play with it a bit. They put up a fence, tidy up the property or make a change, and then they wait. ”Because in order to comply with the law and be left alone, the property must be tidy and crime-free. The standards for a “good neighbor” are set out in an ordinance that Pat Davis passed by his city council about six years ago.

Removing weeds, boarding up windows, and putting up a fence around the perimeter are some of the improvements that can make the city retreat. “But we will be there,” added Mayor Keller. “And so we come back to them straight away after six months.”

Impact of the pandemic on progress

“They were successful, but … we can do two or three of these a month,” commented Davis. “We have much, much more to do if we are to catch up.” He said the backlog existed before the pandemic but believes the problem is now exaggerated because of it.

“Older families who built these buildings and small businesses had rented them out to the next generation of business owners over time and these people couldn’t work during COVID and many of them just left their leases,” Davis explained.

In addition, the mayor said that ADAPT officials were prioritizing enforcement of the COVID-19 health ordinance until about six months ago. Davis said this resulted in less attention being paid to the growing problem. The city, which is now working to catch up, said finding landowners could be a challenge.

“When the owners have gone or died and the bank owns their property, these national banks usually don’t even know they own that property in Albuquerque, much less know how to look after it,” Davis said.

Or the property owner doesn’t live in New Mexico. That’s what the mayor said delayed any move with the mall in Juan Tabo and Central where he pounded his promise home in 2018. The abandoned shops continue to be a source of trouble for the city. The crews reacted to a fire there on November 11th.

“I mean, we want someone to use it, that’s what you really want. But if they don’t really voluntarily sell it to us or to someone else, we can’t force them, ”Mayor Keller said of the mall.

“You can keep paying the bank if no one pays you, but it has to meet these standards,” Councilor Davis added. “You have to be a good neighbor, you have to be ready to lease or sell it at all times, and that’s what our rule says.” The city can only continue to apply the property preservation ordinance.

“If the landlords don’t do that, we can step in and do it, but we need a lot of money for that. And that might mean less money for other cool ideas, but it might be more urgent right now, ”explained Davis. He has already asked the mayor to provide $ 400,000 for the next budget.

The city is trying to use those dollars on everything from hiring more lawyers to buying more boards and fences to secure abandoned buildings. You could also use some of the money to better track the scope of the problem. There is currently no list of all vacant commercial properties in all of Albuquerque. “We don’t know how many there are until people start calling us,” said Davis. “And as frustrating as it can be not to get an answer straight away, I promise you, we’ll see this data and need it for our work.”

For people like Kious who deal with these places, that means more calls and more waiting times. He said he would keep calling but a long term solution was needed to keep the city going. “When people come and see properties like this – abandoned, dilapidated – and then the trash and weeds that come with it, we’re going to have a hard time finding other stores in that part of town,” Kious said.

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