Channel 4 did an “investigative report” that was very weak and disappointing at best.
You can view it here:
The report was about the cities’ recent efforts to take civil code enforcement action against motels on central that have hundreds of calls for service for a variety of crimes, including auto thefts, assaults, domestic violence and violent crimes such as rape and murder.
It was reported that motels become “magnets for crime” and nuisance properties under the law and city ordinances.
The report featured Albuquerque City Council Pat Davis who talked about city ordinances and laws he has no real knowledge about.
Pat Davis said that for years, the city lacked a willingness to go after so-called nuisance properties.
Davis should know, he was part of the problem.
Those years the city lacked a willingness was from 2010 to 2017 under the previous Berry Administration, but Davis did not disclose that fact.
Davis went so far as saying there’s a “new approach” which makes hotel owners more accountable for crimes on their property.
No, Councilor Davis, it’s not a “new” approach, it was an approach that was abandoned, you know it and you should have disclosed it to Channel 4.
Davis went so far as to say:
“Neighbors are starting to demand we do more to address these problem properties and quite frankly we should. It’s not just the city fighting back, the court is willing to back us up … If you want a sort of scumbag motel in Albuquerque right now you look at what happened in the Sahara [hotel which is under a court order] and you realize that you could be next.”
Such bravado coming from a City Councilor who did absolutely nothing to help fund the Safe City Strike Force but voted repeatedly to fund the disastrous ART Bus project for millions and refusing to put it on the ballot.
SAFE CITY STRIKE FORCE
In 2002, the Safe City Strike Force was formed to combat blighted commercial and residential properties.
Thirty (30) to forty-five (40) representatives from the Albuquerque Police Department, the Albuquerque Fire Department, the Fire Marshal’s Office, the Planning Department Code residential and commercial code inspectors, Family Community Services and the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office participated comprised the strike force.
Seventy (70) to one hundred fifty (150) properties a week, both residential and commercial properties would be reviewed by the Strike Force.
The Safe City Strike Force would handle referrals from the general public, neighborhood associations, the Mayor and the Albuquerque City Council.
The Albuquerque City Council would be given weekly updates on the progress made in their districts on the nuisance properties found.
The Safe City Strike Force routinely prepared condemnation resolutions for enactment by the Albuquerque City Council to tear down substandard buildings.
Over a period of 8 years, the Safe City Strike Force took civil code enforcement and inspection action against some 6,500 properties, both commercial and residential.
From 2002 to 2009, the Safe City Strike Force took code enforcement action against 48 of the 150 motels along central and forced compliance with building codes and mandated repairs to the properties.
The City Attorney’s Office repeatedly sought assistance from the District Court to secure injunctive relief against nuisance properties.
The Strike Force would even go so far as to evict tenants when conditions existed that endangered their health and wellbeing, such as leaking gas lines and open sewers.
The City would provide vouchers for temporary housing when there was an eviction.
The Central motels that were demolished were not designated historical and were beyond repair as a result of years of neglect and failure to maintain and make improvements.
The Central motels that the Safe City Strike Force took action against include:
The Gaslight Motel (demolished)
The Zia Motel (demolished)
The Royal Inn (demolished)
Route 66 (demolished)
The Aztec Motel (demolished)
Super-8 (renovated by owner)
The Travel Inn (renovated by owner),
Nob Hill Motel (renovated by owner)
The Premier Motel (renovated by owner)
The De Anza (purchased by City for historical significance)
The No Name
The Canyon Road (demolished)
The Hilltop Lodge
American Inn (demolished)
The El Vado (purchased by City for historical significance and now renovated and reopened)
The Interstate Inn (demolished).
The Safe City Strike Force was responsible for the demolition of at least seven (7) blighted motels that were beyond repair.
The Safe City Strike Force took action against violent bars on Central that were magnets for crime.
Many Central bars have hundreds of calls for service a year placing a drain on law enforcement resources.
A few of the bars located on or near Central that were closed or torn down by the Safe City Strike Force include the Blue Spruce Bar, Rusty’s Cork and Bottle, the Last Chance Bar and Grill and Club 7.
The Safe City Strike Force closed Club 7 and the owner was convicted of commercial code violations.
The Safe City Strike Force took enforcement action against a number of convenience stores on Central that had substantial calls for service to APD.
In 2005, The Safe City Strike Force identified convenience stores that had an unacceptable number of “calls for service” which resulted in the convenience stores being considered a public nuisance by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD).
Outdoor phones at the convenience stores used for illicit drug transactions were identified.
APD felt the convenience stores were relying upon APD to provide security at taxpayer’s expense rather than hiring their own private security company.
In 2005, as Director of the Safe City Strike Force, I was able to negotiate a stipulated settlement agreement with three major convenience store corporate owners of seventeen (17) convenience stores throughout Albuquerque and they agreed to pay for private security patrols.
The Safe City Strike Force was responsible for the closure of Louie’s Flea Market and the Star Flea Market, two Westside flea markets both on Old Coors Road South of Central.
Area residents felt the flea markets brought down property values.
Both flea markets had been around for decades and caused extreme traffic congestion on weekends they operated causing problems for the established or developing residential areas.
Both flea markets were found by the Albuquerque Police Department to be locations where stolen property was being sold and both had an excessive number of calls for service.
Some of the most tragic and heartbreaking cases that the Safe City Strike Force dealt with involved “hoarders”.
Hoarding is a pattern of behavior that is characterized by excessive acquisition and an inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects or animals that cover the entire living areas or exterior of a home or property.
The Strike Force dealt with approximately 10 cases of hoarders.
One hoarder involved an elderly woman who was housing over 60 cats in her 1,200 square foot, three bedrooms home.
The home was not fit to be lived in as a result of contamination by the animals and walls had to be removed down to the studs to remediate the contamination.
Dead cats were found in her freezer.
The City removed the cats, cleaned up the property and placed a $40,000 lien on the home for the cleanup of the contamination.
Another hoarder had accumulated an extensive amount of items in his front and backyards to the extent that the area had become rat infested and the City forced a cleanup of the area.
KELLER COMMITMENT TO REINSTATE SAFE CITY STRIKE FORCE
Mayor Tim Keller made a firm commitment to reinstate the Safe City Strike Force when he requested $3.9 million for the city’s Code Enforcement Department and the Safe City Strike Force in the adopted 2018-2019 budget.
$ 1.5 million in additional public safety spending was added by the city council.
The Safe City Strike Force and the Planning Department received a funding bump up to $425,000.
$125,000 has been allocate to hire two additional code enforcement specialists.
$300,000 has been allocated to secure or demolish neglected structures.
The $300,000 for board ups of blighted properties is a good start, but significantly more will be needed to address the approximate 3,500 substandard properties throughout Albuquerque.
In 2009, the Safe City Strike Force had upwards of $1 million dollars consisting of federal grants and city council allocations.
Channel 4 needs to be far more diligent when it does investigative reports in getting to the truth of things rather than believing someone like Pat Davis who has been part of the problem and who has little credibility with his own constituents.
It is the Keller Administration that needs to be asked what efforts are being made now to combat blighted, slumlord properties, not a City Counselor who seeks publicity and who has no idea what he is talking about.