ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – The new “No trespassing” signs at underpasses across the city may not be up much longer after the New Mexico Department of Transportation admits they’re outdated.
The signs at 13 locations along I-40 and I-25 appeared around the time the city’s new panhandling ordinance went into effect earlier this month, but one has nothing to do with the other.
NMDOT said a Safe City Strike Force supervisor with the Code Enforcement and Zoning Department asked the state for the signs in October, before city council passed the pedestrian ordinance, to help curb the number of people who trespass.
“We did so because there were people living and loitering in some locations, which brings safety concerns for both them and motorists,” NMDOT public information officer Emily Cantrell said in an email to KRQE. “It is also illegal for anyone to camp, vend, park or live in the NMDOT right-of-way.”
A closer look at the fine print on the “no trespassing” signs shows there is no reference to the city ordinance at all, but instead cites an outdated county ordinance that states unlicensed car dealers can’t sell vehicles in empty lots.
The county said that ordinance was repealed more than 20 years ago.
The signs also list a state statute about criminal trespassing, which does not say anything about prohibiting panhandlers, but charges vendors, campers or people who may live there with a misdemeanor.
The confusion left locals wondering why the city has not put up its own signs citing the pedestrian ordinance.
“I think it’s completely pointless and has nothing to do with the issue at hand. I feel like it was an excuse to put up the signs or push another rule,” said David Martinez of Albuquerque.
“It can be misleading to someone who might not know exactly what the situation may be,” added Orion Prophet.
City Councilor Trudy Jones’ office said it had no idea the signs were posted, adding the decision to order signs to enforce the pedestrian ordinance is still a matter of finding the funds.
In an email to KRQE, NMDOT said “the signs that were put up were outdated and we will work on getting them replaced.”