The Z Pet Hotel & Spa is no more.
Mark Edwards, owner of the popular pet boarding, day care and grooming center near Cerrillos Road, said as long as the Interfaith Community Shelter at Pete’s Place remains nearby, his Harrison Road business will remain shuttered. He closed Z Pet Hotel & Spa on Monday.
Edwards said he does not plan to find another place for the business.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “I’m staying in the same location. I’m not opening until the shelter is gone.”
Edwards said problems associated with homeless people on Harrison Road have become untenable. Both sides of the street are strewn with shopping carts and clothing, and neighbors have complained about other problems, including drug use and crime.
“It’s party time all night,” Edwards said. “It’s getting more and more common. What am I supposed to do? I’m closing my business.”
Z Pet Hotel has been at its current location since August 2005. The homeless shelter took over Pete’s Pets next door, a former pet shop, in the winter of 2009-10 with a city-funded rental. The city bought the property in 2010 and leased it to Interfaith Community Shelter, which operates Pete’s Place.
Edwards said he made the decision to close the business at the beginning of the month, and in the following week, had customers pick up their pets. He stopped taking reservations and made arrangements with other pet boarding and grooming businesses.
“I cannot serve my customers safely on the most dangerous street in Santa Fe,” Edwards said.
He also posted a notice on the Z Pet Hotel & Spa website and Facebook page to announce the closing.
“Due to several incidents in the area that have occurred recently, we have decided that we can no longer ensure safety for our clients and staff while the shelter is still operating next door,” the notice reads in part. “There are longstanding issues of open drug use and dealing, vandalism, aggressive and threatening behavior from some shelter clients, loitering on the road and sidewalks, and trespassing.”
The closure is the most recent event in the city’s struggles involving homeless people and the Cerrillos Road corridor. Some critics of the shelter have called for its removal from the area, but others have noted moving the facility wouldn’t address the roots of Santa Fe’s long-term homeless problem, which they say would simply be moved to another part of town.
Eleven businesses, including Z Pet Hotel, filed a lawsuit in October 2020 against the shelter, complaining they have been “deprived of the quiet enjoyment of their property” by its operation.
The plaintiffs added the city of Santa Fe to the lawsuit in July, said Albuquerque attorney A. Blair Dunn, who is representing the plaintiffs.
The city filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, and Dunn said he is working on a response. A trial is set for July, but Dunn does not expect that date to stick.
“The lawsuit is about the failure of the city to enforce vagrancy and trespassing law,” Dunn said. “On top of that, the city renewed the lease for Pete’s Place for four years.
The lawsuit maintains Pete’s Place does not meet the standards for operating such a facility. We want a real location that is adequate to meet the needs of the homeless. We want to have a real solution. We want a solution that works.”
Pete’s Place acting Director Beverly Kellam told The New Mexican in November she shares concerns about Harrison Road. But she added homelessness and homeless encampments are not the fault of any agency.
“The authority of the shelter over individuals who are homeless ends at our gates,” she said. “We have no power or authority to move the people off of Harrison Road.”
Pete’s Place has had fluctuating leadership this year with longtime executive Joe Jordan-Berenis retiring in April but returning after his replacement, George Lyon, left after three months.
Jordan-Berenis died in October with Kellam serving as interim executive director until Korina Lopez became the new executive director Dec. 1 after running the emergency homeless shelter at the midtown campus.
The city’s motion to dismiss argues in part that case law has established the city is not liable for actions of third parties on the property or damage on private property caused by people who frequent the shelter.
Mayor Alan Webber and District 1 City Councilors Signe Lindell and Renee Villarreal did not immediately return messages left on their cellphones.
Kyra Ochoa, director of the city’s Community Health and Safety Department, told The New Mexican in a November email the agency recognizes the conditions on Harrison Road and looks “forward to working with the leadership team at Interfaith to improve them.”
“Interfaith is bringing on a new leader whom we plan to work closely with to monitor and address the needs on Harrison Street and the surrounding neighborhood,” she wrote.
Customers expressed disappointment at the closure and the situation on Harrison Road.
Z Pet Hotel customer Loie Fecteau said she has taken her pet to the kennel for nearly 10 years.
“I can totally understand their need to shut down,” Fecteau said. “There used to be a small clump of folks at the corner of Cerrillos and Harrison. But it’s just gotten increasingly worse and take on a different tenor. It feels more sketchy, more dangerous and the volume [of people] has increased so much.”
On Z Pet’s Facebook page, Maya Mirabal wrote: “This is absolutely awful. … I really wish that you did not have to close because the city cannot understand what their choices have created in this area.”
Edwards took over Paw Print Kennels on the Frontage Road near the Fashion Outlets of Santa Fe in June 2005 and acquired the Pet Guardian Boarding Kennel on Harrison Road in August 2005. He consolidated the two operations at the Harrison location in 2008 and renamed it Z Pet Hotel & Spa.
“You have no idea what we have been subject to for the last eight years,” Edwards said. “I am putting my clients, staff and myself in harm’s way on the most dangerous street in Santa Fe.”