Backyard wall leaning over sidewalk prompts city inspection


A big backyard wall in a newer city neighborhood has caught the attention of city building inspectors who are concerned about it leaning into a nearby sidewalk. 

The roughly 10 to 12-foot wall towers over a portion of sidewalk in the Volterra subdivision, south of Four Hills. City inspectors now say the homeowners will have to fix it. 

The leaning wall is enough to spook some neighbors out of even walking near it. 

“I don’t walk by the sidewalk, I walk over there,” said neighbor Chris, gesturing toward the road. 

City inspectors have noticed it, too. 

“The wall is listing, it’s leaning,” said Brennon Williams, deputy director for the City of Albuquerque’s Planning Department, which oversees code enforcement. 

The backyard wall along Gulf Stream Road SE is holding in the newer home’s backyard. It’s also leaning toward the sidewalk. 

“It will collapse sooner or later,” said neighbor Chris. “I’m not a structural engineer but I can tell you, as a layman, it’s going to collapse.” 

The wall was recently reported to the City of Albuquerque’s 311 website, with the complainant writing with a concern that the wall could fall into the sidewalk. 

City of Albuquerque building inspectors reviewed the wall this week and say there’s an issue. 

“It appears to him that the wall has not been built to meet the building code standards,” said Williams. 

The city says the home’s base retaining wall is up to code. However, they say the second part of the wall is problematic. The additional roughly six-foot-tall wall of cinder blocks appears to be too tall, according to the city. 

“We don’t have any record of anything other than the retaining wall being permitted,” said Williams.

It’s unclear who built the wall, but ultimately the city says the current homeowners are responsible. The city says an inspector doesn’t believe the wall will fall over, but the homeowner will have to get it fixed.

“Either the wall will need to be reinforced or modified in some way to strengthen it,” said Williams. “Or, ultimately it’s possible, the wall, or portions of the wall that weren’t permitted will need to be removed and reconstructed.” 

KRQE News 13 spoke to the homeowner about the wall on Thursday evening. The homeowner said the wall was there, along with the lean when they moved in in 2010. They believe either the previous homeowner or the developer built it. The homeowner also told KRQE News 13 that private home inspectors were notified of the lean during the home sale in 2010, but said it wasn’t a problem.

The homeowner also told KRQE News 13 that the homeowners association has told them the wall along Gulf Stream Road can’t be modified, per HOA regulations.

Court records show the current homeowners are among a group of neighbors who’ve filed a lawsuit against the neighborhood home builder over the quality of construction work the builder and associated contractors did. 

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