High utility bills for East Side church draw attention to problem property next door

Pastor says church’s bill skyrocketed from $150 to $500 after the suspected squaters moved in

SAN ANTONIO – An East Side church says it’s noticed a spike in its utility bills shortly after suspected squatters moved into the abandoned property next door to their building.

Pastor Ronald Glover with Temple Missionary Baptist Church said the church’s utility bills of about $150 turned into $500 last fall.

“We found out that someone had got up on the pole and connected directly to that house,” he said, pointing to 727 Morningview next door. Records show the property belongs to Bexar County, which confirmed the property is deeded to the county.

Glover attempted to figure out why the people had moved in and allegedly connected to their water and electricity.

“They’re making this their home. But do they really own the property?” Glover questioned.

He said the church wouldn’t have issues with them, but the utility bills remain high.

“I already forgive them. I just want it to stop. I don’t want to keep paying their bill,” he said.

District 2 Councilmember Jalen McKee Rodriguez’s office staff have worked on the situation since December. His office issued the following statement about the property:

“Our office has been in constant communication with Code Enforcement, SAFFE, and SAPD about the property at 727 Morningview. Currently, there is an ongoing legal matter with the previous property owner that is making its way through the court system. We are working with the County commissioner’s office to determine the best outcome for this property.”

Greg Zlotnick, clinical assistant professor at the Center for Legal and Social Justice at St. Mary’s School of Law, said Texas law gives squatters rights, but specific criteria must be met.

Government agencies often have to take methodical steps before pushing someone out of their living situation.

“They may be looking to come to a solution where, you know, if people are coming there to live in a home because they maybe did not have one before or otherwise can’t afford one, they may look for a solution that doesn’t harm those individuals down the road,” Zlotnick said.

About the Authors:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.