ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – The city of Albuquerque is literally picking up the pieces from a longtime hoarder in the first major clean-up effort since the city got a permanent injunction on the northeast Albuquerque house earlier this year.Read: Stipulated Settlement, Permanent Injunction Order >>
This residence has been highlighted in Larry Barker investigations for more than a decade. The city finally marked the house at 318 Mesilla NE as unlivable because it doesn’t have running utilities, though Wednesday’s clean-up effort was only on the outside of the home.
“It’s been literally 20 years in the making,” Planning Department Deputy Director Brennon Williams said.
“We’ve been back and forth in court,” neighbor James Mondloch said. “The city’s made some hard efforts to clean the place up before but he just trashes it out again.”
The homeowner, John Gallegos, has been to court at least 11 times for zoning, health and safety violations but continuously gets away with just small fines before his neighbors say he trashes the place again.
“It’s preposterous, I think, is the only word to describe it,” said Stephen Buzard, a relative of a neighbor.
In February, the city obtained a permanent injunction allowing crews to clean the outside of the home, including excessive storage, weeds, litter, and to remove four inoperable vehicles.
His two cars that do work are so full, the trunks don’t close.
On Wednesday, Gallegos left cleaning crews waiting to start for over an hour because he wouldn’t let them on the property until Albuquerque Police arrived.
The clean-up will cost Gallegos about $7,000 and the city will continue to check on the property to make sure it stays clean.
“He’s expressed some interest in connecting to utilities and cleaning the inside of the property so that maybe he will be able to occupy the home,” Williams added.
Neighbors aren’t convinced this will be the last clean-up effort.
“Hopeful but pessimistic because I know the history of this man,” Mondloch said.
Gallegos had 46 days from the date of the injunction to clean up the house, but he did not, which is why the city was able to get a contractor to do it and put a lien on the house.
Gallegos’ mother owned another reported hoarder home at 4112 Tara Drive. The bank took it over, renovated it and it is now up for sale, the Planning Department said.Photos: Longtime hoarder house, 318 Mesilla NE