Letter to the Editor: City “Clean and Lien” Campaign Unfair To Property Owners
Letter submitted by Christine Bustos
On July 10, 2018 the City of Espanola Councilors unanimously voted to approve Resolution 2018-15. It is being called the “Clean and Lien” campaign to clean up the City of Espanola. Approximately three weeks ago the 43 (now 42) buildings identified in this resolution had big yellow Public Hearing signs placed upon them. This sign had a copy of the resolution giving notice that the owners of said building were guilty of their buildings having issues from having weeds and debris in the yard to abandoned, damaged and dilapidated structures. It further states that “if the Owners do not timely undertake such removal or remediation, the City Council authorizes the City Administrator to take actions it deems necessary or convenient to Lien the individual properties, pursue foreclosure of the property by any legal remedy so as to recover its costs and expenses in cleaning the property”. The City Manager stated that by the end of this process, as many as 200-300 structures will be identified and placed on this list. As a partial owner of one of the identified properties, I disagree with the blanket process the City has entered into. In the Memorandum written to the Mayor, Council, City Manager and Planner Director from the Coppler Law Firm, it clearly states that 25 of the identified properties have previously received zoning citations for violations of the zoning code. The other 18 structures have never been cited. The building that I, my brother and my Aunt own falls under the never been cited. Therefore, it was a shock to come home and find that large yellow sign. I agree that there are structures in this town that are in need to updating and in extreme cases demolition. I agree that we as owners should make sure our building are not a danger to the public and are not open to drug and transient traffic. I do not agree that the City saw fit to shove everyone under a single umbrella with little or no information on the issues of our individual buildings. I also do not agree with the way we were notified. The City Manager and City Councilors advised the many property owners that were present at the meeting that each owner and property would be evaluated on a case by case basis. The following evening our new Chief of Police Louis Carlos gave an interview on KOB-TV. To quote the interview: “The opioid crisis has hit Espanola hard. Now, the city’s new police chief has a plan to end the cycle of addiction. Chief Carlos says the city has already identified 43 homes that are either abandoned or foreclosed, where people go get high”. In one fell swoop, those of us identified on the Clean and Lien campaign have also been named for allowing drug trafficking on our premises. So much for case by case basis. So much for the respect the City of Espanola should have for the constituents who voted them into office and pay their salaries.