City not giving sidewalk violation notices during pandemic

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – People in Albuquerque are now required to repair the sidewalks in front of their homes faster under new rules, but the city isn’t enforcing those rules, at least for now.

The responsibility for fixing buckling and cracking sidewalks falls on the property owner.

“The challenge is that most of our sidewalks are kind of at the end of their life,” City Council President Pat Davis said.

Last year, city crews inspected about 1,800 sidewalks and one-third of them were reported to the city through the 311 app. It’s unclear how many of those were in violation.

“We also need residents to step up, it’s part of keeping our neighborhoods up and keeping our property values up,” Davis said.

To make these fixes faster, the city’s updated sidewalk ordinance went into effect back in March. It reduces the number of field inspections, gives property owners up to two notices, and 90 to 120 days from the first notice for repairs that can run into the thousands.

“For a safety issue, under the old rule, it could take as much as six months or a year for that to get fixed. This helps us move more quickly,” Davis explained.

But, the city hasn’t given any notices since that change because of the pandemic. The Department of Municipal Development is calling it an unnecessary financial burden.

“We’ve been working really hard not to throw that on top of people in the middle of [COVID-19],” Davis stated. “But, it is important because some of these issues have been around for five or six years.”

The effort for these fixes stems from a report on ADA compliance from the Office of Inspector General. Albuquerque, at last check, needs more than $400 million worth of repairs to sidewalks, driveways, and curbs.

“We’re talking about thousands of miles of sidewalks in the city that were laid out 50 to 60 years ago,” Davis added.

Depending on the status of the pandemic, the city plans to start giving sidewalk notices with the updated process in the fall. Property owners who receive a notice can fix the sidewalk themselves or use a city contractor. Last year, the city helped repair 228 sidewalks, which they say is typical.

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