SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Z Pet Hotel & Spa is suing the city over its issues with the homeless. Mark Edwards has owned the pet grooming business for 17 years but says he was forced to close his doors last month because of the city’s homeless problem.
“When my staff or my clients would turn off of Cerrillos or come through there, the people wouldn’t get out of the way so they felt threatened and intimidated trying to pass through a crowd of people that wouldn’t move out of the way,” said Edwards.
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Edwards says sometimes the homeless people outside his business would harass and pound on employees’ and clients’ cars. He says things got bad in 2016 and only escalated from there, with the situation getting completely out of control in 2020.
“I think the breaking point for me was when the officers who basically were called constantly by me or other businesses and residents in the area and they would come and say there is nothing we can do,” Edwards said.
Four other businesses in the area, including the Z Pet Hotel, as well as some residents of a condo nearby, are suing the city and the Interfaith Community Shelter for not doing enough to fix the problem.
“The city did a motion to dismiss this lawsuit because they thought that they weren’t involved with this because they had no responsibility to the people on the street and the shelter took the same stance,” added Edwards.
A spokesperson for the shelter says they have no authority over what goes on off its property. They say the people who are congregating outside are not allowed in the shelter because they don’t follow the rules including doing drugs.
“It’s almost like that was accepted on that street, whatever behavior was going on in that street, at any given moment, the city accepted it and allowed that,” Edwards said.
Edwards says the lawsuit is at a standstill right now, but he hopes to reopen one day if the shelter is relocated. The City of Santa Fe released a statement saying in part, they are working with the shelter to address the concerns. They say the police department has deployed its bike team in the area to clear the sidewalks and move people away. The city says the motion to dismiss the lawsuit is still pending.