SAN ANTONIO – Two apartment complexes that are now under new ownership were at the top of the list in a Defenders study of code violations during a recent 19-month period.
The Defenders asked the city for information on code violations from Jan. 1, 2012, through July 31, 2013.
The Reserve at Pecan Valley apartments on East Southcross tallied the most number of code violations during that period. The damage there was widespread during that period, including some apartments that did not have windows or doors.
Resident Jesse Soliz lived in an apartment where there was a hole in the ceiling that leaked rain water.
"One night, I was just sleeping and it just fell in out of nowhere -- (the ceiling) just fell in," Soliz said.
The good news for residents there is that those violations occurred under the old ownership. An employee working in the complex said the new owners are working hard to clean up the problems.
Soliz said he was looking forward to improvements.
"The last guys didn't really do their job," Soliz said. "Look what happened."
New owners are also making improvements at the Nob Hill Apartments on Callaghan, which came in with the second highest number of code violations during that period.
Management emailed this statement to the Defenders:
"The community was recently acquired by a new ownership group who has been working diligently with the City of San Antonio to address prior code violations. Extensive repairs are in progress and additional capital improvements are planned for 2014. The new owners will continue to cooperate with the city and residents as the property is renovated to address these concerns."
Overall across the city during that 19-month period, the top code violations were trash and debris, with 35,410 violations; bandit signs, with 19,029 violations, and overgrown vacant lots, with 12,483 violations.
Rod Sanchez is director of Development Services, which includes Code Enforcement Services. He said the department used to focus on legally closing cases but is now focusing on getting results.
"The goal is 45 days, 90 percent of the time we want to see the grass cut, the junk vehicle removed, the trash and debris removed," Sanchez said. "So we've changed our focus to compliance and not necessarily case-closure."
Sanchez said that means officers now get a report card on how many of their cases are coming into compliance and are urged to proactively seek out and solve neighborhood problems.
"People want to see the violation eliminated," Sanchez said. "They want the grass cut, they want the junk vehicle removed, they want the trash and debris removed."
Cases are now going to court more quickly and if properties still are not cleaned up, the city has the work done and bills the owners.
"In general, we have a decent compliance rate," Sanchez said. "Most people don't want to go before a judge. At that point, if they don't (clean up the property), we the city will actually hire a contractor to go clean up the mess and then we'll bill them and put a lien on their property if we have to."
Citizens who would like to report a code violation are urged to call the city's 311 number.