ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – For months, city inspectors have been trying to get a man to clean up a big mound of used tires he’s been keeping at his northeast home in the middle of an Albuquerque neighborhood.
Wednesday, the roughly six-month-old issue suddenly disappeared just a day after KRQE News 13’s camera first showed up.
Still, the city says the problem shouldn’t have happened in the first place.
Since August 2017, Albuquerque Code Enforcement inspectors have been keeping their eye on a home along Maxine Street NE, off Indian School near Juan Tabo.
As late as Tuesday, at least 30 tires were visible from the street, stacked along the side of the house.
Numerous online 311 complaints show neighbors have repeatedly complained about excess tires being stored behind the home as well, with a photo showing more than 30 tires being stored in what appears to be a backyard.
“It’s just not something that people want to look at,” said Albuquerque Deputy Planning Director Brennon Williams, speaking about the tires.
Williams, who oversees Albuquerque Code Enforcement, says the tire storage is a violation of the city’s residential zoning code and the weed and anti-litter ordinance. Along with being considered a fire hazard, the tires are also said to be a nuisance and a health hazard.
“There are public health and safety concerns,” said Williams. “You get water inside these tires, which therefore allows for mosquitoes to breed and you’ve got the smell of those rubber tires in the hot sun.”
While many homeowners store tires for their personal vehicle at different points throughout the year, Williams says the storing of excess used tires at a home is considered a commercial, or business activity that’s not allowed in a neighborhood.
“We want to make sure that residential uses and activities are kept separate are kept away from these types of commercial activities, which can have a negative effect on a neighborhood,” said Williams.
As it turns out, the city is very familiar with the home on Maxine Street. The city says it first spoke with the listed homeowner, Daniel Lucero, about the issue in August.
“Apparently, (inspectors) spoke to the resident who indicated that he was the owner, he knew that the tires needed to be removed and he would be working quickly to take care of that,” said Williams.
In September, a criminal complaint was filed against Lucero. The city accused him of failing to clean up the tires.
“The property owner never answered that criminal complaint,” said Williams.
In October, a bench warrant was filed against Lucero for failing to appear in court on the tire-related charges.
No one answered KRQE News 13’s knocks at the door of the home on Tuesday or Wednesday. However, on Tuesday a neighbor said that he had informed the man living in the house that a news crew was looking at his property.
On Wednesday, a neighbor told KRQE News 13 that he saw the homeowner cleaning up the tires.
“I saw him hauling some trailers out here today, so maybe he already got the warning shot,” said a neighbor.
The tires that had reportedly been at the home for months were gone on Wednesday afternoon, removed from the side of the home.
“Our primary goal is compliance,” said Williams.
The case against the homeowner will likely be dropped now as the homeowner has finally complied with city regulations. However, the city says the issues shouldn’t have happened in the first place.
“Not on a residential property,” said Williams, of the tires. “If it is associated with a commercial operation or with a business, that’s something we want to have our inspectors look at and take care of right away.”
While the city says it’s illegal, several neighbors defended the actions of the homeowner on Tuesday and Wednesday, one neighbor saying that the person living in the home “has a job,” that the man is “not on welfare,” and that KRQE News 13 should not “hassle” him.
“If the stuff catches on fire, it’s going to be his house that burns, it ain’t gonna be mine,” said the neighbor. “And everybody has insurance, so, I mean, you know, the guy’s trying to make a living.”
The city says people can dispose up to five tires a day at some transfer stations or head to the Cerro Colorado Landfill if they have more.