Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
Albuquerque’s code enforcement division has 300 vacant and uninhabitable residences on its radar, and even if they are not necessarily pretty, officials say most remain relatively stable and quiet.
But there are more vexing empty properties that command particularly high levels of city attention and resources, and those sites are now the subject of a new “worst-of” list.
Leaders on Wednesday unveiled a new online roster of Albuquerque’s “Top 15 Problematic Properties” – something they say is ultimately an effort to expedite resolutions, whether through rehabilitation or demolition.
“Maybe if we shine a light on this, things will change faster than (in) six years,” Mayor Tim Keller said Wednesday in front of a pair of Southeast Albuquerque fourplexes on the list, 400 and 404 Mesilla SE.
The City Council this week cleared both buildings for demolition at the Keller administration’s request, formally designating them “so ruined, damaged and dilapidated as to be a menace to the public comfort, health, peace or safety.”
City Planning Director Brennon Williams told the council that 400 Mesilla has been the site of repeated trouble, including a fire last weekend and numerous responses by the Albuquerque Police Department over the past year. The city already has filed about $20,000 in liens against the property to cover such interventions as board-ups and cleaning, he said.
He said that the property had been in its current condition about 4½ years and that the owner has had several conversations with the city, offering assurances that it would be fixed.
“None of those actions has taken place,” Williams told the council.
The new list is intended to raise the profile of such properties – both to encourage owners to tackle the issues and to show neighbors that the city is aware of, and addressing, the situation, a city spokesman said.
By law, the city has to give the owner at least one year before pursuing demolition of a substandard property, but it often waits longer than that. Williams said Wednesday that the city’s goal is compliance and that code enforcement will invest time working with owners who express a willingness to address violations.
“We make every effort from an enforcement standpoint to let a property owner know what the issue is and what can be done to correct it,” Williams told a news conference. “It’s only when we don’t get any communication back and forth … (and) good faith efforts are not made that we take a property like this through the council process.”
About 15 to 20 make it to the council annually, according to the Planning Department.
Williams said that selecting the top 15 most problematic properties is somewhat subjective but that criteria include the amount the city has spent on board-ups and other remediation, the number of calls to the police and fire departments, and the length of time it’s been considered substandard.
He said properties that rise to the top 15 have likely prompted “hundreds” of actions by the city, including calls and emails to the owner, site visits and filing liens.
The list of problem properties is available at cabq.gov/problematicproperties.