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Justin Schatz is The Paper's daily news reporter. He has reported on New Mexico for KRQE News, Searchlight NM and the Santa Fe Reporter.

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Albuquerque residents can now track 15 of the most rundown and dilapidated properties in Albuquerque through the city’s Problematic Properties Program. Director of Planning Brennon Williams joined Mayor Keller in front of an infamously problematic building on the corner of Mesilla and Zuni to announce the new task force. The program will be run by the Code Enforcement Division of the Planning Department.

Addressing dilapidated properties has been a significant issue that the Keller administration promised to address in 2018. City Councilors Pat Davis* and Don Harris of Districts 6 and 9 launched a pilot program in 2019 to address nuisance properties in their districts titled “Dilapidated Commercial Buildings and Properties Ordinance.” The pilot program required owners of dilapidated properties to register properties with the city, develop a plan to fix them up, or pay a fine. According to the law, owners of neglected properties had 60 days to either fix their property, tear down a condemned building, or pay a fee. The ordinance targeted the abundance of older and neglected buildings in their districts, many of them located in the Central Avenue corridor. The program was deemed a success and led the city to expand the program to encompass properties throughout the city. 

The property where Director of Planning Brennon Williams joined the Mayor to announce the new initiative has been vacant for the last six years. AFD recently responded to a fire on the property, which inspired city officials to call attention to the problem. The long process is one reason why the city is attempting to make the process more timely and efficient. “The idea of this is if we shine a light on it, things will change faster in six years,” Keller said.

Although Williams noted that the process to take action on a dilapidated property is intentionally long, he also hopes that by highlighting properties that attract crime and other nuisances, the city will better communicate and coordinate with owners of those properties. “This is a long process, and this is a long process intentionally. When we’re talking about knocking down somebody’s fourplex, house, or apartment building, we want to give that property owner every opportunity to come forward to work with the city, to work with code enforcement to engage in those matters, some big some small, that are necessary to get a property like this back into habitable or usable condition,” Williams said.

Williams emphasized that the goal of this initiative is not to rob the owner of their property but to ensure that the property is up to city code before it becomes a nuisance for the neighborhood. “Compliance is the ultimate goal. We don’t want to have to be here talking about knocking down buildings,” Williams said. “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,” he added. 

The city hopes that this program will encourage property owners to take greater responsibility for their properties and their effects on the surrounding neighborhood. Williams commented that some property owners live out of the state and cannot monitor their property’s condition. He hopes this program will better notify and communicate with these owners. “There is a responsibility that this property owner and property owners like them have to the rest of the neighborhood. The city’s job in this venture is to ensure that those standards and those responsibilities by those property owners are being met,” he said. 

A task force of 15-20 employees will be assigned to monitor and address complaints about dilapidated and nuisance properties in Albuquerque. Albuquerque’s return to normalcy has allowed the city to refocus on the issue, the mayor noted.

According to the Problematic Properties Program’s website, approximately 300 residential properties are considered substandard. 

To find the top 15 dilapidated, you can visit the city’s Problematic Properties Program website. A successor list of substandard properties is also listed on the website.   

Editor’s note: City Councilor Pat Davis is an owner and publisher of The Paper.

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