Homeowners want ‘weeds’ pulled from city property

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Homeowners hear it from the city every year: pull your weeds or pay up.

But when it comes to one city-owned property, some neighbors think the city isn’t following its own rules and they aren’t happy about it.

Meanwhile, the city says it is complying with its own policies.

The property in question sits on the corner of Cody Court NW and Congress Avenue NW near Coors Boulevard and Eagle Ranch Road. The city has been trying to sell of the vacant lot for years and in the meantime, they’ve let large orange “Munro’s Globemallow” flowers grow virtually unchecked.

The city says the flowers are considered wild, native vegetation but many neighbors say they’re unwanted, unsightly weeds.

The neighborhood where the plants are growing has no shortage of privately owned, empty lots with plants and weeds. But some neighbors say the city owned lot might be one of the worst.

“It’s visually not too attractive,” said Mark Heckart, a nearby neighbor.

“A lot of the houses are really nice in this area and to see an area with overgrown weeds is pretty ridiculous,” said Taylor Losee, another nearby neighbor.

It comes as surprise for some the lot is owned by the city, as well.

“Well I’m not real pleased with it,” said Heckart.

Heckart has lived across from the vacant lots for more than a decade.

“It’s no other word than a nuisance, I guess,” said Heckart.

Heckart calls the plants “weeds.” He says the annoying plant’s seeds and sand from the lot are constantly blowing into his yard. He even built a small black cloth fence along the sidewalk next to the lot to try to stop the stuff from blowing out of it.

“They told me not to do that but I did it anyway, just to keep the sand and weeds down,” said Heckart.

Another neighbor sent KRQE News 13 a series of photos of the weeds, asking, “where’s Code Enforcement?” After all, the city’s website warns residents that “weed season is here” and that city ordinance requires weeds to be pulled.

Some of the plants are more than six feet tall. Taylor Losee is another neighbor who doesn’t like what the city is growing.

“I’m more afraid of the fire hazard than anything,” said Losee. “I’d like to see the city clean it up.”

The city says it hasn’t gotten any 3-1-1 complaints about the plants, however, Safe City Strike Force representatives told News 13 on Wednesday that they would be pulling the plants from the lot in the next week.

However, Albuquerque Code Enforcement contends it has done nothing wrong. They say the Munro’s Globemallow plants are not technically weeds, so the city doesn’t have pull them.

“These are not weeds, we can only cite for an ordinance violation if it truly violates the ordinance and because these aren’t weeds it doesn’t constitute a violation,” said Brennon Williams, Code Compliance Manager for the city of Albuquerque’s Planning Department.

Williams says the city only cites people based on a 2012 “Weed Identification Handbook” compiled by the Planning Department. That handbook was approved by Albuquerque City Council. The Munro Globemallow is not part of the handbook. Therefore, Williams says the Munro Globemallow is not technically a “weed” in the city’s eyes.

Albuquerque property owners who let weeds grow on their property can get a citation for up to $300 for the first violation and $500 for every violation after that.

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