Cotulla clean-up: Compliance improving, Garcia reports
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CARS TAGGED, WARNING LETTERS MAILED
A renewed drive to rid Cotulla of abandoned cars, demolish derelict buildings and keep properties in order has produced results, according to Joey Garcia, the municipal code enforcement officer.
Addressing councilors at their December 8 meeting, Garcia said letters have been mailed to several property owners who have failed to keep weeds and brush under control, and at least nine have taken aggressive steps to bring their lots into compliance with city ordinances.
Warning letters mailed by the city represent one of the steps now being taken to clear the community of debris and potentially hazardous conditions, Garcia said. Dilapidated and long-abandoned structures, overgrown lots, and hulks of inoperable vehicles have been the officer’s target for several weeks.
Councilors put code enforcement into high gear last month when they agreed to begin demolition proceedings for several buildings that Garcia has reported are either in a state of collapse or pose a threat to the public wellbeing, either as a habitat for wild animals or as a haven for drug users and others with criminal intent.
Garcia works closely with Streets & Parks Supervisor Robbie Thomas in coordinating structure demolition after property owners have been notified their buildings are derelict and deemed hazardous. Fees for the job are attached as a lien against the properties.
In the past month, Garcia has also targeted abandoned vehicles that he told councilors are clearly blocking traffic, some of them in service alleys and others on principal thoroughfares. Those vehicles, he said, have been parked for extended periods of time, appear to be inoperable, and some are overgrown with weeds and brush.
The city council agreed last month to allow the code enforcement officer to take action on an agreement with a wrecker service for the removal of vehicles that are abandoned on public rights of way.
Last week, Garcia reported that he has begun tagging cars and trucks blocking city streets and that owners will have 48 hours in which to remove them. Failing that, he said, the vehicles will be towed to a storage yard in Gardendale.
City Hall has secured new software that will enable the code enforcement department to keep track of all its warning letters, responses, compliance, and further action taken, including deadlines for towing or demolition, and any fees attached thereto.
Under the city’s arrangement with the vehicle towing service, applicable fees may be charged by the company to vehicle owners.
“The wrecker service has been scheduled,” Garcia said, adding at last week’s council meeting that first on the list will be any vehicles remaining on the Hwy 97 right of way between downtown and the high school campus.