Defunct program could cost Albuquerque hundreds of thousands of dollars | KOB 4

Defunct program could cost Albuquerque hundreds of thousands of dollars

Ryan Laughlin
March 13, 2019 06:16 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — City officials are working to return around 230 vehicles back to their rightful owners, but until then, the cars are sitting in a forfeiture lot.


"This is something that I wanted to end and wrap up in short order when I took office," Mayor Tim Keller said.

Last spring, Mayor Tim Keller got rid of a program that allowed police to seize vehicles from certain suspected criminals. After he ended the program, a judge found that city program unconstitutional. 

Albuquerque City Attorney Esteban Aguilar Jr. said that the mayor made the right call when he pulled the plug on the program that seized vehicles from people suspected of certain crimes. 

"He had to balance the rights of the people in the community, with one of the tools designed to keep people safe, and so that's left us with a fair number of vehicles still on the lot," Aguilar Jr. said. 

The City Attorney says they've been trying to track down the car owners since December. If no one claims the cars, they have to go through the courts to legally claim them. There are over 300 cars in the lot, but only around 230 waiting to be returned. 

"Either they've not responded, we can't track them down, or they've told us they don't want their vehicles anymore," Aguilar Jr. said. 

The vehicles are in a lot owned by Ayala Properties, and the lease is expiring. The mayor is asking City Council to renew it for the next two years.

If approved, the lot would cost taxpayers more than $220,000 in 2019, and more than $230,000 in 2020. 

KOB asked the mayor if that's spending too much for a lot of unwanted cars. 

"Well, I want everything free, so, of course I do. I think it's a fair price that we tried to negotiate, but I'd always want a lower price," Keller said.

They hope to get rid of those cars in less than two years. 

The renewed lease will have to be voted on by City Council. It moved through committee on March 11 and it will be voted on next Monday, March 18. 


Ryan Laughlin

Copyright 2019 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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