DA's office targeting abandoned buildings

'Operation Clean Sweep' targeting 30 buildings

Published On: Mar 04 2013 04:57:07 PM CST   Updated On: Mar 04 2013 04:53:05 PM CST

The Bexar County District Attorney's Office is on a mission to clean up neighborhoods that have abandoned buildings and that are not up to code.

So far, 14 properties have come into compliance and avoided prosecution, but the remaining buildings' owners have been charged with criminal violations and their buildings are slated to be torn down.

Maria Coats has lived in the Windsor Oaks area for the past three years, and said she is relieved the county is finally getting involved.   

"We have plenty of children," she said. "It is a hazard."

Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed led the charge in "Operation Clean Sweep." 

Its goal is to crack down on illegal dumping, sanitation nuisances, and related threats to the health and safety communities in unincorporated areas of Bexar County.

"(I'm) amazed that this exists in our community. (We're) going to do something about it in our community," said Reed.

Operation Clean Sweep was announced in October and targeted 30 locations. 

On Monday, two properties in the 7600 block of Windsor Oaks were torn down. They were gutted by fires years ago. 

Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson said, "We're going to see to it that these neighborhoods are not subjected to this kind of nonsense; good decent people living around a pig sty like this is unacceptable."

Bexar County Sheriff Susan Pamerleau said the abandoned buildings, unfortunately, attract illegal dumpers, drug users and criminals. The sheriff said tearing them down will help patrolling the areas easier.

"This makes it easier for our folks to do their job, because it takes away a place where they can hide," said Pamerleau.

The cost of demolition is estimated at $15,500 per property.

The District Attorney will seek recovery of the county's expenses through property liens and other available civil remedies. 

The DA's office will also seek to demolish additional sites where the nuisance has not been abated. 

The county commissioner's office says it will take at least 30 days to level and clean up each property.