Foreclosures’ effect on blighted properties hard to determine

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

The city’s foreclosure suit against derelict and delinquent property owners is progressing but what if any effect that will have on Clovis’ battle against blight has yet to be determined.

Clerk Leighann Melancon said in the two weeks since the city filed its foreclosure against more than 100 property owners, a little more than half a dozen people have settled their debts, getting their properties off the list.

And she expects many more will do the same before the 60-day window closes.

In the end, the number of properties that end up being foreclosed will be greatly reduced from the initial number, she said.

Properties included in the suit are those with liens for unpaid water, sewage, trash and abatement bills.

Lien amounts range from as little as $180 in some cases to $50,000.

It’s not the first such suit the city has filed, with previous similar foreclosure suits in 1988, 1994, 1998 and 2004.

And, “This is a small list comparatively,” Melancon said, explaining some of the past suits involved more than 200 properties.

Some of the properties named in the suit are those that could be considered part of the community’s blight problem, an issue that has drawn attention particularly with the re-designation of Cannon Air Force Base bringing in an influx of new personnel.

But there are blighted properties that aren’t on the list, Mayor Gayla Brumfield said.

And it is difficult to predict what kind of an effect the foreclosures will have on efforts to beautify the community.

Brumfield is a member of the Keep Clovis Beautiful Committee.

She said the group, which includes members who are city building personnel is, “really committed to making some changes,” and often discusses properties that appear to be a health or safety issue and are candidates for demolition.

The committee meets 5:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall.

Building safety personnel are made aware of problem properties and evaluate them.

But the foreclosure suit, while outside the scope of the group’s work, could intersect with the objectives of the group and contribute to the betterment of the community, she said.

“Hopefully if somebody buys them, they will go in there and fix them up or if the city ends up owning them, then we’ll take care of them,” she said.

“If there’s some junky places that we can’t even get people to pay liens on … I think some people just abandon them … then I would think in the overall picture it should help,” she said.

But Brumfield admitted this is uncharted territory for her and she really can’t predict what if any impact it will ultimately have.

“It will be interesting to see how works,” she said.

Melancon said some of the properties on the list have been in arrears as long as four years and have been included after numerous notices were mailed to owners.

Editor’s note: The following is the original list of properties and owners filed by the city in its foreclosure suit. The city hasn’t updated the list. Some listed may have already settled.

1309 Connelly