It used to be a problem property that Albuquerque police found themselves going to, again and again, every single day. But now, they say the Sahara Motel is no longer the problem it once was.
The city now says it will dismiss its lawsuit against the property owner of the motel on Gibson near San Pedro. The Sahara Motel has been under court supervision for the last year after the city sued the motel property owners under the nuisance abatement ordinance.
After a few hearings in the case last summer, the city and the motel entered into an agreement where the motel would be given time fix numerous problems. Now, the city says the owner has met all the requirements and police calls for service at the property are way down.
“We took a different approach to this,” said Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis, who oversees the southeast city district the motel is in.
Two years ago, the motel was one of the busiest locations for police calls for service. In the first eight months of 2017, APD responded to at least 193 calls at the motel. So far this year, APD has responded to just one call at the motel.
“In terms of like, the turn-around stories for Albuquerque, I think this is probably the most visible and one of the most important for the southeast,” said Davis.
Over the last year of court supervision, Davis says the Sahara has changed drastically.
“Through a lot of work, a lot of people, and a little bit of help from the court, it’s now a safe place for people to live,” said Davis.
“It’s remarkable,” said Brennon Williams, deputy director of the city of Albuquerque’s Planning Department, which oversees Code Enforcement. “The owner has taken the time to invest money and get permits, and get licensed professionals in there to make those corrections.”
Some of the fixes include plumbing, heating and cooling repairs, and the addition of new warning signs. The motel was also required to add security enhancements, including cameras and gated entrances.
The motel also now requires background checks on tenants, all of whom are living at the property on a longer-term basis.
KRQE News 13 spoke to a few neighbors who didn’t want to go camera Monday, but said they were very familiar with the problems the motel had in the past. Neighbors we heard from told News 13 say they remain cautiously optimistic as to if the motel’s problems have been fixed for good.
The city says with its success helping the Sahara, it’s now hoping to use a similar model to stamp out problems at another motel: The Bow and Arrow Lodge on Central near Wyoming.