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Such a Santa Fe Story…

Such a Santa Fe Story…

Busker hits sour note with police after locking piano to park bench

  • By Daniel J. Chacón | The New Mexican
  • Updated 

Stephanie Chavez first noticed the abandoned piano in Cathedral Park when she got to work Monday morning. Covered with a stained canvas dropcloth and chained to a park bench, it was painfully obvious this was no Steinway. “I don’t know what the story is,” Chavez, who works in a jewelry store across the street, said Friday.

It’s not a story so much as it is an only-in-Santa Fe tale.

 

The piano is at the center of a dispute between its owner and the Santa Fe Police Department, though the discord appeared to have been amicably settled late Friday with a handshake — and the issuance of a citation.

 

Left in the downtown park on a rickety, homemade dolly with chipped green paint and sagging tires taken from a wheelbarrow, the piano belongs to busker David Vigil, a local musician who also is an artist with a studio on Canyon Road. Though the instrument is somewhat mobile, Vigil had been leaving the piano behind overnight — first on the Plaza and later at nearby Cathedral Park. Vigil, 64, said moving the piano back and forth is difficult, so he figured he could lock it up much like people lock up their bicycles.

 

When police told him not to leave it on the Plaza, he did so, assuming stashing it at the less-traveled Cathedral Park would be OK. So, Vigil secured the piano to a park bench with a bicycle lock. “I know it’s at my own risk, but I don’t think anyone is going to steal a piano because it weighs so much,” he said.

 

True enough, perhaps, but police recently installed a lock of their own. “We warned him a couple of times before that he could not do that,” police spokesman Greg Gurulé said.

 

“It’s considered defacing city property,” Gurulé said. “He continued to do it and so we wanted to cite him. He didn’t come around to be cited, so we locked it in hopes of getting that citation into his hands a little better.”

 

The maneuver worked.

 

Officer Joshua McDermott, who says he’s known around downtown as “Officer Smiley,” cited Vigil for wrongful use of public property. “What’s my fine?” Vigil asked when the officer handed him the citation late Friday afternoon. “You’re actually going to go to court,” McDermott responded. “We’re actually going to talk in front of the judge and get it figured out.” “I’m just going to plead guilty,” Vigil said. “I want to make sure you have your time in court,” the officer responded. “I already know what she’s going to do,” Vigil said, referring to Municipal Court Judge Virginia Vigil. “The judge is going to recuse herself because she’s my sister.”

 

“Oh! There’s a twist!” the grinning officer said before proceeding to help Vigil push the piano across the street toward the Plaza. Along their route, both men posed for pictures. When McDermott wasn’t looking, Vigil playfully stuck his tongue out.

Vigil said he didn’t blame police for coming down on him, adding “they have to deal with a lot of (expletive).” “They’re just wonderful people — and I’m a great liar,” he said, jokingly. “I think they think they’re just doing their job.”

 

McDermott, often on the downtown beat, said police had received seven complaints about Vigil’s piano. “It’s a violation of the busker’s ordinance and it’s misuse of public property because the park benches are made for people to come sit,” McDermott explained.

 

Vigil, who also plays the guitar, said he bought the piano for $120 from a local family who, he said, had left it outside for years in their wood yard on Canyon Road.“I’ve been rebuilding it and restoring it,” he said of the piano, which has at least one or two keys that don’t work.

 

Plaza food vendor Roque Garcia said the police department should leave Vigil alone. “It’s a long ways to take it all the way to Canyon Road,” Garcia said. “They should let him. He’s not doing anything wrong. He’s a regular, born and raised here in Santa Fe.”

 

Vigil, who rolled the piano down to the Plaza from his studio on Canyon Road about a week ago, said he’ll try to find private property in the downtown area to store the piano. Ideally, he said, he would want a golf cart to pull it back and forth.

 

“I’ll figure something out,” he said. “Santa Fe is a big small town.”

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Eldorado Real Estate Report – Oct. 2017 – March 2018

Eldorado Real Estate Report – Oct. 2017 – March 2018

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Santa Fe Home Prices Surge

Santa Fe Home Prices Surge

Santa Fe Home Prices Surged in First Quarter
  • By Joseph Ditzler | The New Mexican
  • Updated 
  •  (1)

Falling inventory is a concern as the spring selling season gets underway, said Kurt Hill, association president. The number of homes of all types listed for sale in the city and Santa Fe County at the end of March dropped to 953, down from 1,254 at the end of December and 1,391 in March 2017, the group’s quarterly reports show. That number has steadily declined from nearly 4,000 in mid-2008.

 

“My biggest concern is inventory. We have built very little since 2008,” Hill said Wednesday. “We can’t help but see prices go up without building.”

Housing affordability continued to decline, the association said. In the first quarter, the median household income in the Santa Fe area was 85 percent of what is necessary to qualify a buyer for a median-priced home under current interest rates. The affordability index was 90 percent one year ago, according to the association.

 

Hill said demand for affordable housing is increasing as employers such as Meow Wolf and Presbyterian Healthcare Services, among others, bring new workers to the city. On the other hand, the conversation around affordable housing in Santa Fe is becoming more urgent and involves more sectors of the community, he said.

 

“We’re going to get to a critical situation soon unless we have some bust in the dam,” he said. “What that is, I don’t know.”

 

The $360,000 median price of a single-family home sold in Santa Fe during the first three months of this year was 11.6 percent higher than the first quarter of 2017, according to the data released Wednesday. The median was 10.8 percent above the fourth quarter 2017 median, $325,000, the data showed.

 

In Santa Fe County, the first-quarter median sales price rose 7.9 percent to $441,685 over the first quarter of 2017. However, it fell 13.2 percent from the fourth-quarter median, $508,750.

 

In the city, 225 single-family homes were sold in the first quarter, 19 more than sold in the same period last year. In the county, 158 homes were sold, seven more than first quarter 2017, according to the Realtors association.

 

Homes of all types in the city and county spent less time on the market, an average 90 days, than the same period in 2017, an average 140 days. That number has declined steadily from a high of 220 days in first quarter 2012, according to the association report.

 

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