Problem property ordinance getting significant changes

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Planned changes to a proposed ordinance aimed at fixing up vacant commercial buildings would give owners more time to clean up their act.

That ordinance, first proposed in February by city councilors Don Harris and Pat Davis, originally gave owners of vacant buildings three months before they had to meet certain maintenance standards and register their buildings with the city. Owners who did not comply faced a $500 a day fine.

“We ought to be making sure that if you want to start a business on Central Avenue your neighbor is not scaring your customers away,” said Davis.

But the draft version of the ordinance drew a sharp response from many in the business community, including commercial real estate development association NAIOP.

“We were concerned it was more of a broad brush, more of a shotgun approach to trying to solve this problem than it was aimed specifically at the bad actors,” said NAIOP president Lynne Andersen.

A revised version of the ordinance weakens some parts of the original bill while strengthening others.

Under the changes, a building wouldn’t fall under the ordinance until it’s been vacant for a year and it increases the requirements for how much of a property needs to be vacant for it to count. It slashes the fee required to register a vacant building with the city from $500 to $200 and lowers the fee to renew that registration. However, it also increases maintenance standards building owners are required to follow.

“It’s not an easy problem often to fix,” Andersen said. “This ordinance I think will really start putting some teeth in what the city is able to do.”

“If nobody’s doing work there, we have a new tool in our toolbox to go after them and clean up the property for everybody else,” said Davis.

The bill is scheduled to go before the city’s Land Use, Planning and Zoning Committee on Wednesday. It still would need full council approval and Mayor Richard J. Berry’s signature afterwards.

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