County making headway cleaning up NE side mess
Change in laws could give county more power
The first 90 days of Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed's fight against dangerous structures and trash on the Northeast side is being called a success.
Reed got involved in the mess because county authorities have very few rules allowing them to enforce cleanup, unlike within city limits.
The biggest problem area is just outside Windcrest and just outside San Antonio, said Adriana Biggs, the head of White Collar Crime at the Bexar County District Attorney's Office.
"We're having to go under the health and safety code to have the place declared a public nuisance," Biggs said.
She said Bexar County rules are not enough to enforce cleanup, so the district attorney's office has stepped up both on the civil and criminal side to go after property owners.
Addresses of offending properties are published, notice is given and some have been cleaned up.
Others may face more drastic measures.
"The property owners that have received notice," Biggs said. "There are some locations we've identified for possible demolition."
Michelle Tapia lives in that Northeast side neighborhood and applauds all efforts to clean it up.
"I'm OK with it,” Tapia said. “I'm happy that they're doing something because back in the past, like for over (the last) six years, it was a mess."
But there are some questions.
At least one property was on the list of those needing to be cleaned up, but did not appear to be in violation.
"I think they got the wrong house,” said resident Saul Ramirez. “It's a mistake."
Biggs said the real solution is to give the county more power to take action against the offending property owners. She said that would have to happen in the legislature, which convenes next week.
State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, who now represents that area, is helping sponsor legislation to give counties the power. She said it is because there has been an outcry from the people of that area.
"This is a clear instance where the residents and the people of that community are coming to the legislature to say help us," Van de Putte said.
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