Nasty Neighbors: Abandoned car wash attracts squatters

Neighbors tired of cleaning up property themselves

Neighbors in the Brookwood community in Northeast Bexar County are tired of taking matters into their own hands when it comes to an abandoned car wash at 6478 Montgomery Drive.

"It's an embarrassment," said Maria Reyna, president of the Brookwood neighborhood association. "As concerned citizens and residents, we worry about this place."

And there is plenty to be worried about.

Vacant since 1992, the car wash is covered in graffiti. Open drains are full of stagnant water, soda cans, spray-paint cans and even blankets.

In the back of the property, the walls are partially demolished in what appears to be an old office. Open drawers dangle from the walls and a swarm of bees buzz outside.

"We find empty purses where I'm sure its someone who gets their purse snatched," said Reyna. "More disturbing than anything, we find shoes. We find baby's clothes."

"It's an access for what I would call unsavory characters," Jack Roden, also a member of the Brookwood neighborhood association.

Since 2008, Reyna said, neighbors have held cleanup days at the car wash, which they did most recently just a few weeks ago.

"We came out here on March 19. It looked wonderful for a few days," Reyna said. "And as you can see its right back to where it was before."

Reyna said they removed a toilet and mattresses from the office.

Bexar County records list the property owner as Maya Hzu. Reyna said Hzu has attended many of the cleanup days.

KSAT 12 called Hzu several times to ask about the condition of the property. The first time, Hzu answered but quickly hung up when we asked about the car wash.

Calls from another number got the same response.

KSAT 12 tried visiting Hzu at her home, but could not because she lives in a gated neighborhood.

Bexar County Public Works director, Renee Green, said the county has fined Hzu $1,635 for code violations.

Hzu has been scheduled to go to court 13 times.

"Eight of those were resolved before it went to trial, meaning the property owner complied and cleaned it up," said Green.

But it doesn't seem to take long before the old car wash returns to its messy state.

"If you lived here, is this the way you would want it to look?" Roden asked of Hzu.

"We've had just about enough," Reyna said.

Green said the car wash has not been deemed an unsafe structure. The county cannot seize the property if the owner continues to pay taxes on it.

But Green adds the county will do what it can to continue to try to get Hzu to keep the property code compliant, just as neighbors say they will do what it takes to get it cleaned up.

For a list of recent stories Myra Arthur has done, click here.

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