4 Investigates: The dump next door, hundreds of abandoned properties in Albuquerque
July 30, 2019 10:38 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- In New Mexico’s largest city, abandoned properties pose a complex problem – becoming havens for crime, drug use and fires started by squatters.
In August, the Albuquerque City Council will consider proposals to demolish four abandoned properties. Those properties include: 247 Espanola St. NE, 8400 Chico St. NE, 600 Dallas St. NE and 2401 Quincy NE, according to a city planning official.
The abandoned properties problem is widespread throughout the Duke City.
4 Investigates obtained data for all the Albuquerque properties eligible to be condemned. The City of Albuquerque has identified more than 260 properties that have been deemed “unsafe” for at least a year.
Albuquerque City code inspectors frequently visit one long-abandoned home near Chico and Wyoming.
“You see a lot of illegal dumping here, trash… people dump furniture, shopping carts, syringes,” said inspector Christopher Romero. “We don’t want children here obviously. We don’t want anyone here because we don’t’ want anyone getting hurt.”
Albuquerque’s interim planning director, Brennon Williams, said demolition is the city’s last resort after giving the property owner at least one full year to clean up their act.
“It’s a waste to spend money on maintaining a property that nobody’s going to take responsibility for,” Williams said.
When asked how to hold property owners accountable, Williams replied: “The most direct method – which is allowed under state statute and under ordinance – is to put a lien against the property for that, the costs that are incurred and then arguably the lien – based on tax payer dollars – can be foreclosed on.”
Abandoned properties are also contributing to a recent surge in house fires across the city. With 874 structure fires last year, Albuquerque has seen a 21 percent increase over the last five years.
The city often cleans up and clears out blighted homes when property owners are either not responsive or can’t be located.
In the past, the city would deploy the Safe City Strike Force to deal with the problem properties. However, Mayor Tim Keller has now launched a new program – called ADAPT – which relies on new data to target the worst 100 properties.
“The data collection and the analysis that goes into the current program is much more strategic. It was a little subjective in the past and the city was criticized for that,” said Williams, adding: “This approach is much more purposeful than it was in year’s past.”
However, change doesn’t happen overnight. It often takes months if not years to deal with "substandard" properties – which can be a nightmare for neighbors.
MAP NOTE: This map was generated from data provided by the City of Albuquerque on July 17, 2019. The map only includes substandard properties that have been on the city’s radar for at least one year.
How to refer a property that could be eligible for ADAPT
Updated: July 30, 2019 10:38 PM
Created: July 30, 2019 05:17 PM
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