As chairman of the city Planning Commission, Brian Gutierrez knows the ins and outs of zoning and land use.
But Gutierrez’s insistence on parking his tow trucks and other equipment on a private roadway near his company has drawn the scrutiny of a nearby business owner, who said Gutierrez hasn’t complied with attempts to solve the problem.
Gutierrez, who runs a scrap metal recycling buy-back center off Baca Lane in the city’s south side, is using a cul-de-sac outside his property line as part of his business, which the owner of the private road says is not permitted.
When a reporter visited the property Friday, a tow truck, a front-end loader and a dumpster filled with smashed-up junk cars were parked in the cul-de-sac outside Gutierrez’s business, Santa Fe Recycles with Mr. G’s. A dump truck with his business logo was parked farther down the road.
Gutierrez, who is running for the District 1 City Council seat on Nov. 2, downplayed operating his business outside his property line, writing in an email Monday that others on Baca Lane do the same.
“Baca Lane is a well used road by all [businesses] in the [industrial] park,” wrote Gutierrez, who provided pictures of vehicles belonging to other business owners in the roadway.
“To make the record perfectly clear I have no non-running junk vehicles on Baca Lane,” he added. “The [vehicles] you see [in the photos] are those of other [businesses] located in the park. This includes any wrecked vehicles you may see in the photos.”
In a follow-up email Wednesday, Gutierrez claimed ignorance over what is and isn’t allowed on the roadway.
“Now that you have informed me that use of the road is not permissive, I will keep that in mind,” he wrote.
Gutierrez questioned Monday whether he was the target of a political hit job.
“I do question the timing of the story, and would relate it to the fact that I am running for city council in district 1,” he wrote.
District 3 City Councilor Roman “Tiger” Abeyta said Wednesday he received a call about business owners parking their vehicles on Baca Lane “a few months back.” The call came from Leo Ferran, who is the managing member of Baca Lane LLC, which owns the roadway.
“When we get calls like that, I refer them to constituent services and then they go through the appropriate department,” Abeyta said. “In this case, it would probably be planning and land use.”
A constituent services call taker said Wednesday she was unable to provide any information about the status of the complaint.
“Because you weren’t the constituent that filed the complaint, I can’t give any information on that,” she said, adding a request could be made through the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act.
“I can’t release anything,” she added.
Bobby Padilla, the city’s inspection manager, said he couldn’t divulge any information either.
“Please file for public requests for records with the City Attorney’s office,” he wrote in an email Tuesday.
Gutierrez acknowledged in a text message his business “must make use of the street” on “days that we are rearranging our yard.”
Initially, Gutierrez didn’t respond when asked whether that was an allowable use. Instead, he wrote that in his 22 years on Baca Lane, there has never been a neighborhood association.
“Please keep in mind that Baca Lane is a private easement,” he wrote. “We could start an association to address issues such as this. I would imagine a better first step would be getting the road in better condition.”
Ferran said he has worked with all the tenants and owners on Baca Lane to address the roadway issues. “All have complied except for Mr. Gutierrez,” he said. “For the most part, everybody does their best.”