ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – They’re literally off the map.
The Pajarito Mesa has long been home to several hundred families who don’t have the same kind of access to first responders because there are no county roads and no maps of the area. Yet, that hasn’t stopped some residents from demanding something be done.
Residents say without an emergency response map, they’re more susceptible to crime, but they’re also worried when a life or death situation arises, no one will be there to help. The county says it’s an unfortunate reality of where they chose to live.
Carlos Proffit, a 30-year Pajarito Mesa resident, has heard it before.
“So remote it’s not on the map,” says Proffit.
Yet, he says that’s no excuse when it comes to first responders being able to find his home.
“The main issue is we should be on the first responders map. If it were inhabited, if it weren’t inhabited, if there were a crime, if there were no crime, we should be able to describe this land,” explains Proffit.
For years, Proffit says he’s put up with illegal dumping with very little cooperation with law enforcement.
“The burned vehicles, the stripped vehicles … Dead cattle, dead hogs, dead sheep,” Proffit says.
He worries the absence of emergency responders maps contributes to even more serious crimes on the mesa.
“Delinquents, people that do crimes, they’re very good at sensing weakness. They know where there is no law enforcement, they know where law enforcement has no will and no way,” Proffit explains.
Bernalillo County Commissioner Art De La Cruz says he understands concerns of people like Proffit.
“Unfortunately, Pajarito Mesa is thousands of acres of privately held land that the county has no easements or right of ways onto so, it makes it very difficult to map the area,” explains De La Cruz.
In the past, the county has tried to make improvements to emergency response times, including a GPS grid map. Yet, both De La Cruz and Proffit recognize its shortcomings.
“They gave me a way to describe my house and it works, I don’t know, maybe 20 percent of the time,” says Proffit.
Yet, De La Cruz says there’s not much he can do without cooperation from the large landowners.
“We have to have them come together, create a plan of some sort for future roadway development … They would have to donate right-of-way, if they did that, then you could take utilities, you could identify roads,” explains De La Cruz.
De La Cruz says he’s tried to make it happen, but unfortunately for people like Proffit, many of those landowners don’t live in New Mexico.
Proffit thinks he might have a solution to the mapping issue. He wants to see the county use latitude and longitude as a way to locate residents.
De La Cruz says the county has made a number of improvements for Pajarito Mesa residents including a county staff member who’s assigned to the area, a brush truck to handle fires in emergency situations and potable water.