Property owners facing fines, jail time for ignoring notices to pull weeds

There’s a big problem in Albuquerque with people not pulling their weeds, and the homeowners who are ignoring the city’s warnings are now facing big fines and even jail time.

Overgrown weeds can be hard to avoid on sidewalks, behind alleys and in driveways.

“It is unsightly. Also, there’s an allergy component to it as well,” Carmelina Hart with the city’s Planning Department said. “And then, they can dry up and turn into tumbleweeds, and then it becomes a fire hazard.”

The city’s code enforcement gives homeowners and businesses 15 days after the first violation notice to get rid of any weeds on its list of so-called nuisance weeds and weeds that are bigger than four inches. 

If necessary, the city will give home and business owners a second notice and another 15 days for the clean-up.

“If it’s not remedied then, then it turns into a legal issue and it goes to court,” Hart explained.

So far in January, there have been 11 criminal violation notices which can carry penalties of up to $500 a day and 90 days in jail per violation.

Julie Holian, who rents a house off Juan Tabo and I-40, said she’s going to court later this week because of cacti and tall bushes reaching onto the sidewalk.

“I was really a little scared and upset but I understood that I needed to get out here, so it was kind of like a blessing in disguise just to get my butt out here and getting it done because it really was getting out of control,” Holian said.

In a separate case, a woman let a wall of weeds stack up at her property near Central and Carlisle.

According to city records, she has been reported to the city four times and never showed up to court, so now there’s a warrant out for her arrest.

Court records show there were more than 110 criminal violations for weeds given in 2018, mostly in March and April.

Metro Court could not say how common it is for people to actually get jail time orhow much they pay up for the violation.

The city said it is not out looking for overgrown weeds, but check if someone has reported a problem through the city’s 311 app.

View the city’s list of nuisance weeds here.

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