Clean up of problem properties within the City of Carlsbad continues as a primary concern as officials dealt with an increase of orders during a two-year period.
City of Carlsbad Planning, Engineering and Regulation Department Director Jeff Patterson said the Carlsbad City Council passed 29 resolutions in 2022 asking property owners to clean up weeds and trash debris compared to 13 in 2021.
He attributes the larger number to growth in manpower from the City of Carlsbad, stronger property condemnation efforts and support of city councilors and administrators.
Patterson said in 2023 he hoped to see condemnation orders go down as the City of Carlsbad continued enforcement of the act passed nearly 50 years ago.
“I’m pretty sure they’re going to make it a priority. We continue to receive complaints from the public and it does continue to impair our first responders’ ability to perform their duty in emergencies,” said City of Carlsbad Attorney Denise Madrid Boyea.
“I don’t anticipate any change in the city’s prioritization,” she added.
Madrid Boyea said city statutes limit weed growth to 12 inches in height on properties in the Carlsbad City limits.
Patterson said the City uses all means to contact property owners regarding cleanup of neglected properties.
“The first response is usually by code enforcement when they identify a property that is out of compliance. Code enforcement will try to make contact first with the resident at the property or the property owner if that’s different,” he said.
Patterson said if contact is not established then the Planning Department asks the Building Inspector and the City of Carlsbad Fire Department’s Fire Marshal to make notes and reports on the property.
“They will put a report together detailing the extent of danger and fire (hazard) and how it could spread to (other) properties, and those reports are combined and sent to the legal department,” he said.
Patterson said Madrid Boyea’s office sends a letter to the property owner stating the City Council could take a condemnation action.
“They’ll usually get a 30-day time frame telling them council has passed a resolution. The resolution gets sent to the property owner and gets posted at the property,” he said.
Patterson said if the property owner does not comply within 30 days the City hires a contractor to perform clean up.
Madrid Boyea said the City makes exceptions for elderly people and the disabled who often need help.
She said the City Council shows compassion to property owners and grants extensions.
Tall weeds a safety hazard for Carlsbad population
Patterson said weeds over 12 inches tall create problems to Carlsbad commuters trying to navigate traffic.
“It can also hamper people walking down the street from seeing around the corner or seeing oncoming traffic,” he said.
Patterson said weeds were a fire hazard as the fall and winter months dry vegetation growth that happens during the summer rain season.
“Once they become dry, they can uproot and start moving from property to property and in case of a fire can spread to other properties,” he said.
Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway said residents have a responsibility to keep the community clean and free from weeds.
“In addition to beautification issues, this becomes a safety issue when you consider mosquitos and other hazards. The city needs to do its part, but we also appreciate all of the help we can get,” he said.
Noxious weeds serious threat to environment and economy
Eddy County is home to nearly 20 noxious weeds, according to the New Mexico State University College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences (NMSU ACES).
Native plants have trouble competing with weeds, which can spread quickly and have negative impacts on ecosystems, read an NMSU ACES website.
Weeds can cause displacement of native plants and animals, increase fire danger and soil erosion, increase flood severity, soil salts and decreased water quality, per NMSU ACES.
Weeds cause severe economic impacts in agricultural and rangeland settings causing decreased crop yields, lower available forage for range animals resulting in decreased live in livestock.
Noxious weeds were cited as the second largest threat to New Mexico’s endangered native plant species, according to the New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA).