Albuquerque homeowner fights city over sidewalk requirements

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque homeowner is going to battle with the city over sidewalk requirements in front of his home.

Today’s city rules mainly force property owners to build sidewalks around the streets surrounding newly developed homes.

However, the homeowner at the center of this latest battle isn’t building anything new. Instead, he’s facing a sidewalk building requirement because of an uncommon type of change to his property in the Old Town area.

Richard Chavez is the homeowner facing the sidewalk requirement. His property near 15th Street and Mountain Avenue is surrounded by a lot of other homes with little to no sidewalk out front.

“There’s no sidewalk all over the place,” said Chavez. “Never had an accident, never had a report of a fatality of any sorts what-so-ever.”

Chavez may soon be required to add sidewalks based on a specific change he’s seeking to his property and the city rules that come with it.

“Based on what the property owner is proposing to do, the sidewalk requirement affects the project,” said Brennon Williams, Planning Director for the city of Albuquerque.

Chavez’s proposed project is a request to subdivide his property, which is technically four individual lots. Today, Chavez has two homes of the four-lot space, which is treated as one large parcel. Chavez is seeking to divide the lots into two separate parcels.

However, that change that would remove the home’s grandfathered sidewalk rules.

“In order to do that, again the current standards or the current rules come into play,” Williams said in an interview with KRQE News 13 on Tuesday.

The current rules would force Chavez to build a sidewalk around both sides of his corner lot facing the street, amounting to several hundred feet of sidewalk.

“They’re basically trying to force this neighborhood to look like the Northeast Heights,” Chavez said.

In order for Chavez to build the sidewalk along his property, the project would require him to remove part of the fence and some landscaping. However, his neighbors wouldn’t have to continue his work as the neighbors are not asking for a subdivision of their lot. The new sidewalk would end right where a tree sits. Chavez estimates the project could cost him $16,000-$20,000.

“This really is a tax on me to install sidewalk,” Chavez said.

The city says the rules are ultimately about filling in the city’s sidewalk gaps.

“There are certain triggers, and there are certain thresholds that once those are crossed, then requirements kick in,” said Williams.

Chavez is appealing the city’s decision. His case will go before a Land Use Hearing Officer in January. Albuquerque City Council will ultimately have to decide if they agree with the Land Use Hearing Officer’s decision, which will be based in part on Chavez’s argument.

Last year, the city’s Inspector General reported that Albuquerque needs more than $400 million of new sidewalks and curbs to make the city ADA compliant.

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