Old Town merchants fear zoning laws may hurt local businesses

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) –Businesses in Old Town are looking for a change. Some store owners in the historic district believe the zoning laws are too much and are preventing them from thriving.

Jeff Warren said he moved his art gallery to the Old Town district about a year ago.

“We had a little LED sign that said ‘Open’,” Warren said.

A sign that he said city code enforcement told him had to go.

“We get notices about a sign in the window that I didn’t know we were supposed to have and I didn’t really know how to respond,” Warren said.

The zoning code for Historic Old Town says illuminated signs are prohibited, but that’s not all.

“We have cavernous pueblo buildings without display windows so we need an outdoor display to depict what it is we sell inside,” said Old Town business owner Jason Pollak.

The code also limits what and how businesses can display merchandise outside.

“This lady across the street, she hangs t-shirts on her door. Some may think it’s a little unsightly, I don’t see a big issue with that the city has made a big issue out of it,” Warren said.

It even prohibits racks and tables, items Jason Pollak said typically draw people into his store.

“This woman spent $2,000 on clothing in an hour because she saw a $20 pair of jeans outside twice when she walked by the second time she came in. That’s how vital it is. If somebody doesn’t see those jeans they don’t come in,” Pollak said.

Pollak is the president of the Old Town Albuquerque Merchants’, Residents’ and Landlords’ Association. He said the code unfairly restricts Old Town merchants.

“There is a chained folding A-frame sign for the breaking bad tour right on the plaza next to the hacienda for as long as I’ve ever been in business,” Pollak said.

Merchants are hopeful with a new administration, change will come.

“If it’s a historic venue let’s celebrate that let’s all get together and make it a good tourist place,” Warren said.

The Old Town Albuquerque Merchants’, Residents’ and Landlords’ Association has been in contact with the Mayor’s Office and they are working to set a date to discuss their concerns and potential changes to the zoning law.

KRQE News 13 reached out to the city Monday, but no one was available for comment.

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