U.S. Mayor Article

Albuquerque Mayor Chávez Celebrates First Anniversary of Community Enforcement and Abatement Task Force
Credits City Spirit with Cleaning Up Problem Properties

By Mayor Martin J. Chávez
April 28, 2003


March 27 marked the one-year anniversary of the creation of the city of Albuquerque Community Enforcement and Abatement Task Force. Since its inception a little more than a year ago, the Community Enforcement and Abatement Task Force has had a major impact on cleaning up problem properties within the Albuquerque area and contributing to the reduction of crime. I am pleased to report that the Task Force was also able to secure federal funding to be applied toward improving neighborhood quality of life.

In a series of meetings with neighborhood associations, I heard from citizens that boarded up and dilapidated buildings around Albuquerque were a visible impediment to the quality of life. After these meetings, I pulled city department heads together to discuss an action plan, which resulted in the creation of the Task Force.

The team consists of representatives from the various enforcement departments within the city of Albuquerque. Members include representatives from the Albuquerque Police Department, the Planning Department, the Albuquerque Fire Department, the Legal Department, the Family and Community Services Department, the Zoning Department, representatives from the District Attorney's Office, and city council Staff Members. The Task Force represents an aggressive and coordinated level of code enforcement never accomplished in the past that is now having a direct impact on troubled neighborhoods.

The group meets once a week to review 45 to 60 properties. Decisions are made regarding what enforcement actions will be taken. The Task Force enforces the city's Codes and Ordinances including provisions of the city's Criminal Code with emphasis on the Nuisance Abatement Ordinance, the Uniform Housing Code and related rules and regulations. The Task Force also initiates civil complaints for temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions and to have properties declared nuisances under state law.

During the first year of existence, the task force reviewed approximately 560 properties. The properties included residential homes, businesses, apartment complexes and abandoned properties for code violations and for the initiation of nuisance abatement actions. The Task Force took specific enforcement action against no less than 153 properties, within the first year of its existence. The 560 properties reviewed during the year includes properties where individual property owners took action on their own after contact was made by one or more of the Task Force representatives.

The enforcement actions taken also included the negotiation of, and entering into nuisance abatement plans with the various property owners. I believe the enforcement actions have resulted in the reduction of calls for service by the Police Department at the properties involved. There is no doubt that the reduction of calls for service at the properties has had a fiscal impact on the Albuquerque Police Department. The reduction of calls for service at the various properties has been in the thousands. The actual fiscal impact of the reduction in calls for service can only be speculated to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In conjunction with the Planning Department, a total of 118 board-ups were accomplished. This involved the securing and "boarding-up" of properties with funding provided by the Albuquerque city council and a grant from Housing, Urban and Development (HUD). The city council allocated $150,000.00 during the last fiscal year to be used for board-ups. Further, the Family and Community Services Division was able to secure an additional $150,000.00 with HUD for board-ups.

During the first year of the Task Force, 22 condemnations were initiated in conjunction with the Planning Department with the funding provided by the Albuquerque city council. There are another 7 condemnations which are pending before the city council. More condemnations in the last year were initiated than in the previous 4 years.

The Task Force also initiated 14 lien foreclosure actions to recover monies expended on the board-ups. The foreclosure actions involve $60,000.00 in liens. Approximately $12,000.00 has already been recovered on the lien foreclosure actions.

With respect to graffiti vandalism cases, the Task Force initiated a total of 70 lawsuits for graffiti vandalism. All civil lawsuits were initiated in State District Court seeking restitution, compensation for property damage and for punitive damages. A total of 214 individual graffiti vandals were sued along with 66 of their parents for a total of 280 individuals sued. The Task Force reviewed approximately 1000 police offense reports covering the last 3-year period. Individuals that were arrested for graffiti vandalism were automatically sued by the Task Force where the city was involved with clean up efforts. As of April 2, 2003, $42.060.32 in settlements has been collected from individual graffiti vandals. Additionally, over $60,000.00 in default judgments have been secured against graffiti vandals with collection action taken including garnishment of wages and liens on properties.

I salute the men and women who are associated with the Community Enforcement and Abatement Task Force and congratulate them for improving Albuquerque's quality of life.

For further information on Albuquerque's Community Enforcement and Abatement Task Force, contact Deborah A. James with the city of Albuquerque 505-768-3036,

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