KRQE News 13 did an alarming report regarding how one family living in a neighborhood have wreaked havoc for years on the entire neighborhood. The problem residence is in the Wells Park neighborhood. The havoc does not include just loud parties, loud music at all hours and suspicious persons. The havoc includes two SWAT standoffs, physical threats of neighbors, a family member who lives in the residence shooting a neighbor after an argument and even threatening a Channel 13 news crew. Two of the family members who live at the residence were involved in an officer-involved shooting with State Police near Lomas and Washington in May and both are behind bars awaiting trial. The Channel 13 report centered on the neighborhood’s complaints that the city for years has not done enough to help.
The link to the Channel 13 report is here:
The neighbors told KRQE News 13 the family hasn’t been the best of neighbors, an understatement if there ever was one. The neighbors feel they’ve been caught in the middle of the family’s problems for years. One neighbor who was interviewed refused to have his face filmed or go on camera out of fear and said:
“You wouldn’t want to have them for a neighbor. They disrupt the whole neighborhood. … They think they can do whatever they want and they’re above the law. I just want to see decent neighbors.”
CITY’S “ADAPT” PROGRAM
The city officials are now saying they are trying to find a solution. According to the city, it added the problem residence last month to its new ADAPT program. ADAPT stands for “Addressing Dilapidated and Abandoned Property Team”.
The ADAPT Program has replaced the Safe City Strike Force . The ADAPT program was started in July by the Keller Administration. Mayor Tim Keller’s new ADAPT program supposedly relies on new data to target the worst 100 properties. The goal of the ADAPT program aims to get dilapidated and crime-riddled homes a fresh start. The program is part of the Fire Marshal’s office.
Under the ADAPT program, city officials meet with homeowners to address crime and code enforcement problems in hopes of turning things around. According to the city, it has 124 properties enrolled in the ADAPT program and the city claims 96% of those property owners are working to fix the problems.
According to Albuquerque Fire Rescue spokesperson Lt. Tom Ruiz:
“The whole premise of the ADAPT program is to help the property owners, not punish them.”
Some of the Wells Park neighbors are not at all convinced this will be enough and said the city has given the owners of the problem residence way too many chances. Others are hopeful the city actions could finally bring some peace and quiet to their neighborhood.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
It is very difficult comprehend how the city ADAPT program is going to be able to reason with anyone who shoots at their neighbor, where SWAT needs to be called out and where 2 family members have been involved with and officer-involved shooting with State Police. It extremely doubtful that any pressure placed on such neighbors by the Fire Marshal’s office threatening to take civil code action will change their conduct. Instead of trying to help the property owners who have terrorized a neighborhood and give them a fresh start they should be evicted from the property by a court order.
The ADAPT program is nothing more than extensively watered-down version of the Safe City Strike Force that worked so well for 8 years. The biggest differences with the ADAPT program and the Safe City Strike force is that the Strike Force had upwards of 45 for staff, including APD detectives and APD’s code inspection teams and the resources to review between 75 to 100 residential properties a week. The Strike Force had the staff to take aggressive code enforcement actions to declare properties a nuisance and filed actions in State District Court for civil injunctions and court orders for clean ups. The Safe City Strike Force was highly successful because the City Attorney’s Office was in charge and would take legal action.
Confidential sources within City Hall have said that Mayor Tim Keller felt the Safe City Strike Force had a too “aggressive sounding title”, he and others did not like it as fitting into his “ONE Abq” slogan and the city wanted to soften the approach to nuisance abatement. Confidential sources have also said Mayor Keller’s previous Planning Director made it known to the housing code inspectors he felt housing code inspections and posting residential homes as “substandard” was not a priority. The former Planning Director was reluctant or refused to allow inspectors to file misdemeanor charges as was done in the past.
ADAPT TO YOUR PROBLEM NEIGHBORS
ADAPT conveys the message that city residents need to accept or adapt to dealing with a criminal element living next door to them wreaking havoc. What Keller fails to understand is that for residential property owners who feel the sting of crime in their neighborhoods and living next door to magnets for crime, a slogan of One ABQ is meaningless when their own quality of life is affected, not to mention a reduction in property values. But then again when it comes to Mayor Tim Keller, slogans, images and press conference appear to be all that is important to him. On more than one occasion he has appeared on TV news casts to take credit for “teardowns” done by the city.
In his first budget ever submitted, 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 of $425,000 for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. $125,000 was allocated to hire two additional code enforcement specialists. $300,000 was allocated to secure or demolish neglected structures.
In the 2019-2020 approved City budget, a mere $711,000 is allocated for Mayor Keller’s “Addressing Dilapidated and Abandoned Property Team” (ADAP) Program. Mayor Keller with his new “ADAPT” program has dissolved the Safe City Strike Force and failed to follow through on his funding of the Safe City Strike Force contained in the 2018-2019 fiscal budget.
ADAPT is essentially a “passive aggressive” approach now being done by the Fire Marshal’s Office. ADAPT is a somewhat clumsy approach, or an inept approach, which will not work, or have little success when dealing with felony conduct, meth labs, crack houses, magnets for crime, and nuisance properties. But hey, at least it does not sound too aggressive to fit into a “ONE Abq” slogan as we all must ADAPT to our nuisance neighbors making us miserable.
For more on Safe City Strike Force see: