DA cracking down on illegal dumping in East Bexar County

Residents: Dilapidated homes, illegal dumping are long-standing problems

By Eileen Gonzales - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - A crackdown on illegal dumping is taking place in East Bexar County in the Gibbs Sprawl and Walzem Road areas.

Law enforcement and county staff are starting by targeting the Camelot II Townhomes and will eventually include Windsor Oaks and Glen Townhomes.'

Bexar County Criminal District Attorney Susan D. Reed was joined by County Commissioners Tommy Adkisson, Kevin Wolff and Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon to unveil the plan on Tuesday morning. 

The plan came as very welcome news to many people who live in the area.

Dangerous, dilapidated abandoned homes and illegal dumping are big problems -- and have been for years, residents said.

Bexar County Sheriff's Office records show many of the abandoned homes have become havens for drug use and prostitution. 

"We worry about health, we worry about safety, we worry about everything," said resident Kenneth Thomas. "Dead animal, rats. It's ridiculous out there."

Residents have staged neighborhood cleanups but said they could only do so much on their own. Many are relieved to now have county officials involved.

"We've posted notices on the doors of the houses that we've identified that we feel are health issues," said Reed. "We've sent a notice to the landlord and we've sent a notice to the tenant."

The notices were placed on the doors of the 30 worst identified offenders in the Camelot II and Windsor Oaks neighborhoods on Oct. 1.

By law, owners and residents that are given notice have a period of 30 days to clean up the nuisance on their properties. 

Otherwise they will be issued criminal citations for Class C misdemeanors and could face fines of $50 to $200 for a first offense. Subsequent offenders face fines of $200 to $1,000 and up to six months in jail.

Reed said the county could eventually move in to clean the properties and file liens for the cost of cleanup. If those liens aren't paid, property owners could face foreclosure. 

"I'm very serious about it," said Reed.

McClendon has also joined in the crackdown. She said she recently filed a bill would require mandatory solid waste pickup.

Right now, it's up to residents to go to the dump or hire a private contractor to remove solid waste from their property. Many residents believe this has led to many of the issues with illegal dumping. 

Although the solutions will take time, many residents say they now have hope.

"Once it's completely cleaned up, (it's) going to be a beautiful neighborhood," said Thomas.

For a list of recent stories Eileen Gonzales has done, click here.

Copyright 2012 by KSAT.com All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.