Court decision delays demolition of neighborhood eyesores

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Dozens of vacant buildings are creating a nuisance in Lubbock neighborhoods. Some have been there for months, others for years.

The City of Lubbock says a Texas Supreme Court decision has made it more difficult to remove the eyesores.

According to documents KCBD obtained, an old apartment building at 6127 Ave. R was condemned in October 2010. The property owner was given 90 days to repair or demolish it.

But that didn't happen. The building is still standing. You can see boarded up walls, chipped paint - and official documents say it has unsanitary conditions. After a year and a half, Emilly Parker and several south Lubbock residents say it's increased crime.

"People are sneaking in doing drugs. Sometimes they will have parties over there. We've called the cops and sometimes it gets taken care of and sometimes it doesn't," Parker said.

Another unpleasant site sits at 206 Temple Ave. It was ordered to be fixed or torn down October 2010 after catching fire.

"They put a notice there that they were going to tear it down in 30 days, but it's been over 30 days and we just keep looking at it every day," said neighbor, Gonzalez Silva.

You may recall the mural at 709 E. Erskine Street. That building is part of the same problem. In March 2011, the owner of the property was given a 30 day notice to repair, remove or demolish it. But once again, the old motel is there.

Stuart Walker with the codes department says they have gotten hung up on who owns those properties or been bogged down in other legal battles.

In a regular case, he says if a property owner does not abide by their order they will put a lien on the property and take matters into their own hands. That can cost taxpayers nearly $3,000. And sometimes, Walker says, they don't get the money back if it's foreclosed on.

"The up front result is what I will tell taxpayers - we were able to abate that nuisance in the neighborhood," Walker said.

A Texas Supreme Court decision in July of 2011 is making the codes department start from square one on buildings that haven't been condemned. So instead of a committee full of citizens deciding if properties can be demolished, it's now up to a municipal judge.

"Everything that went through the standard structural commission before July 2011 and had orders placed on it was no longer a good order," Walker said.

This means the codes department is now facing a backlog of dozens of structures.

"I'm trying to keep my yard clean and nice, but when I turn around and see this, it's pretty disappointing," Silva said.

The new process started in January of 2012. So far, the codes department has gone through two cases. They meet once a month and hope to get all of these building through the system quickly.

If you have complaints about a structure, the codes department asks you to call them at 806-775-3000.

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