Rotting food, odor from house raising concerns from neighbors

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – People in one Albuquerque neighborhood have had enough with their neighbor and it has nothing to do with noise or trash. You could see just stacks and stacks of old food like meat and vegetables piling at least four feet high under their carport. Despite this, the City said it’s not technically violating code.

“I think it slowly started growing,” said Monique Rubalcava. She and her mother, Connie Ranjel, have lived in their South Broadway home for 11 years. But last year, they said their next-door neighbor started leaving out boxes of food in the backyard, attracting flies and rodents and creating an overwhelming stench.

“Started seeing boxes of milk, yogurt, dairy, like sour cream,” said Ranjel. “Packets of meat, raw meat, fish eggs; just all kinds of things.” KRQE News 13 checked it out and the smell was strong. The family said they want to leave their swamp cooler on but they can’t leave it on for long because the smell from the neighbor’s house will then seep into their house.

“It keeps happening, she brings more [and] it’s like if she gets rid of something she replaces it with something else,” said Ranjel. KRQE News 13 knocked on the neighbor’s door and the family declined to comment. However, inside their carport, they had piles of old vegetables and food stacking up and the smell was even more overwhelming. It’s not clear where the family is getting the food but some of the boxes are from the Roadrunner Food Bank.

The City’s code enforcement has visited the house before after neighbors made complaints but said what they were able to see didn’t violate city code. “Any items that were in question were underneath the carport from a technical standpoint under the code that doesn’t constitute outdoor storage,” said Brennon Williams with the City of Albuquerque’s Planning Department. “A carport is essentially a building as it’s defined and because of that there was not – indicated there was an observable code violation.”

Even with the items in the backyard, the City said they can’t inspect the property unless they get permission from the owner or have a court order. But the neighbors just want something to be done. “If she needs help, they need to provide her with the help,” said Ranjel. “The neighbors here, we are willing to help we just need a little push to get it done.”

The City said they will visit the home again to see if there are any violations. KRQE News 13 also reached out to Roadrunner Food Bank. They told us they will check to see if their food is being wasted. The City said if they do notice a violation, they will work with the property owner to get them to compliance.

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