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Fatal fire prompts city to consider new boarding home ordinance

Possible ordinance would give code enforcement more teeth

SAN ANTONIO - The San Antonio City Council will be presented with a new ordinance on Wednesday, aimed at making San Antonio’s boarding homes safer.

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The ordinance -- although in the works for some time, according to city officials -- is being presented just months after a boarding home fire claimed four lives in August.

That boarding home on Norwood was dangerously out of code, lacking a certificate of occupancy as well as certain fire safety measures, according to city officials.

“The ordinance City Council will be presented tomorrow during its B Session will have some basic life safety measures in there,” said Rod Sanchez, director of Development Services for the city.

Among the proposed changes are requirements for fire sprinkler systems, kitchen health inspections, and background checks for boarding home employees.

Boarding home operators would be required to get an annual permit from the city for a $1,000 fee each year.

They would also have to submit to annual inspections to check for code compliance.

“The point here is to increase public safety,” said Sanchez.

Boarding home operators have complained of increased costs that could be levied on them if city council agree to consider and votes to pass the ordinance.

Fire sprinkler systems can often run $15,000, and some owners argue that could put them out of business.

But the city said they operate commercial entities, and should be subjected to the same guidelines as others in the city.

If the ordinance is passed, the city has agreed to let those operators who come for an inspection early have more time to meet requirements.

City Council would have to set a date to consider the ordinance in full session in order to vote. There was no word Tuesday when or if that would happen.


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