City says ‘clean up or pay up’ on neglected property

By Ryn Gargulinski: Quay County Sun

Tucumcari residents who let their homes or property go to pot should take heed, officials said. The city says clean up or pay up — with fines up to $502.

The maneuver is not all about aesthetics, said Pete Kampfer, director of the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corp., although that’s a major factor. It’s also about the economy, he said.

“When potential recruitments come to town, they look at many things, one of which is if people keep their yards clean. The number one concern we’ve had from potential recruitments has been that they do not keep them clean.
“I’ve had potential businesses tell me ‘The way you take care of your community is very poor,’” he said.

Kampfer said Tucumcari, when compared to places he said are more cleaned up like Clovis or Hobbs, is at a definite loss for attracting new businesses if the properties remain rundown or in disarray.

The clean-up efforts, which have been ongoing with the Chamber of Commerce and Keep Tucumcari Beautiful, are being newly enforced by economic development and city officials.

But key players must work together, Kampfer said, for the system to get results.

Compliance officer Sharon Porter works step one of the system, she said, by going out and issuing 10-day notices for those who violate the cleanliness codes. She said violations range from overgrown weeds to junk cars to abandoned appliances. If the mess is not cleaned up after 10 days when she returns, a criminal complaint is issued and the individual has to appear in court.

“It’s up to the judge what he does,” Porter said, adding Judge Joe Dominguez may give them more time to clean up or a fine, usually starting at $100 and increasing from there if they continue to ignore the issue.

“It’s all been pretty much a compliance,” Porter said about her five weeks on the job so far. The most difficult owners to track down, she said, are those who don’t live in town.

“So far so good,” Porter said, adding the city is working to get Tucumcari clean, not issue a mass of fines.

Kampfer concurred that the point is to boost overall economic development, not rake in violation money.

“It’s one big solution that will be part of a whole scenario,” Kampfer said. “It’s a first step — and a good step — forward and a positive solution.”