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Spotlights on old ‘Bank of the West’ building keeping one Albuquerque neighborhood up at night

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque neighborhood in the heart of city is shedding light on an issue that’s keeping them up at night. For at least two months, massive lights atop one of the city’s tallest buildings have been flooding the Fair West Neighborhood.

“I have a tri-level house there and those lights shine directly in my windows. {laughs} All night long!” said Kathy Jackson, who lives blocks away from the problem.

“When you walk out, that’s the first thing that generally catches your eye,” said Nicholas Hamill, president of the Fair West Neighborhood Association.

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“This is a first; that was a very bright light, which can be seen several blocks away. So this is one of the more unique ones that we’ve seen to date,” said Jeremy Keiser, deputy director of the City of Albuquerque’s Planning Department.

It’s hard to miss the super bright floodlights on top of the old ‘Bank of the West’ tower at the corner of San Mateo and Central.

“It must have started at the end of February, beginning of March. And, I got hold of 3-1-1, and they sent back a thing saying it was taken care of. Well, it’s still shining in my windows! {laughs} all night long,” Jackson said. She says the first time she made a report to the city, the lights wen out for two days; but then, they came back on and have been on ever since.

Neighbors say the lights from this building are so bright, it looks like the lights are on in their homes at night, even blocks away.

“You can walk down the street and it’s bright as day and in your house and in the kitchen and in the bathroom and the bedroom. It’s like you have the lights on full,” Jackson says. She says she, along with other neighbors, have had to buy blackout curtains to deal with the excess light at night. “I bought blackout curtains in the bedroom but still if you get up and go to the bathroom it’s bright as day and then in the summertime I want to open my windows so the blackout curtains don’t work if you have the window open,” Jackson said.

She admits there’s a lot of crime in the area, but says the lights haven’t made a difference.

“I have been told that it was for security for the buildings and what was parked in the parking lot,” Jackson said, however: “All the crime that’s happened on my street in the last three months has been in the middle of the day. So the lights wouldn’t help that at all.”

Hamill agrees: “I walk the streets pretty frequently, at night as well, and it’s business as usual around here. It’s a very nice neighborhood in a lot of ways but we do have a lot of property crime.”

The city’s code enforcement went out to the building on April 18, and found the property owner is in violation of the city’s light pollution-related ordinances. “The owner was given until May 3 to come into compliance,” Keiser said.

When that deadline came and went with no change, the city went out again on May 8 and issued a pre-criminal notice. “Your pre-criminal notice is the last opportunity a property owner has to come into compliance with any violations with ordinance. If they do not, code enforcement will look at pursuing civil penalties against the property owner,” Keiser said.

In this case, if the lights don’t come down by May 22, it’s a penalty of $500 per day.

So far, no one has heard from the property owner; however, neighbors say they still want to work with them to find a solution.

“I’d love to have a good working relationship with the owners who are trying to bring more housing into the area,” Hamill said, “I’m hoping that this is going to be a productive conversation where everyone can kind of come to the table and find a resolution.”

“I’ll just be delighted when they turn the light off,” Jackson said.

If the civil fines stack up, and pass the threshold of $10,000 dollars, the city said it can place a lien onto the property and can potentially foreclose it.

The property owner has until Wednesday. KRQE News 13 tried calling them as well, but we did not get a response.

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