City cracking down on overgrown weeds

Jared Tucker

The weed problem in Portales is growing out of control, according to police and residents.

Portales Police Deputy Chief Lonnie Berry said 87 notices were given out to property owners in July who were in violation of the city’s nuisance ordinance.

Of those notices, Berry said, 61 complied and cleaned up their property, five got an extension, and three got a lien put on their property since the city had to mow the weeds.

Berry said police dispatch receives about 15 to 20 complaints per week about weeds, and only has one code enforcement officer to handle them. Police service aides help with hanging notices, he said, but cannot write citations.

“If there’s one house on a block (that’s in violation), there might be five or six calls from different people about that one house,” Berry said.

The city’s nuisance ordinance says weeds can’t be more than 10 inches tall. Once a resident is notified that they are in violation, they have 14 days to comply.

If the resident doesn’t comply, then the city will mow it, and tack on all related costs to the property’s water bill, plus an additional $200.

The charges must be paid to continue getting city water and sewer service.

“Our biggest problem right now is not so much people who live here, it’s houses that are vacant or in foreclosure. Were trying to find out who exactly is responsible and who can get those cleaned up,” Berry said.

That’s the problem one neighborhood is facing with a vacant home on the 2000 block of Aspen Street.

Vangie Encinias said she and her neighbors have been taking turns mowing the weeds at the vacant home for the past three years, since it became vacant.

“We have not had any luck with whoever has the lien on the house,” Encinias said, adding her neighbor, 88-year-old Velma Gardner mowed the vacant home’s weeds Wednesday morning.

“It’s one heck of a mess,” Gardner said, “The bank says they have a contract for someone to clean it up, then they’re going to sell it. But so far, they haven’t.”