Members of the Del Rio Building Standards Commission have ordered the demolition of a small, vacant house on the city’s south side.
City Public Works Director Craig Cook, who also serves as the city’s dangerous building official, presented information about the house, located at 114 Live Oak St., to building standards commission members at their April 29 meeting. Three of the five commissioners participated in the meeting, which was held via teleconference.
Before considering the fate of the Live Oak Street house, the commissioners discussed another abandoned house at 108 Yucca Drive, located in the same neighborhood.
108 Yucca St.
Cook told the commissioners that Blanca Boyd, the daughter of the property’s owners, who are deceased, was on the phone to answer questions about the Yucca Street property.
“It is severely dilapidated, and it is abandoned, and no one is living there at this point,” Cook said, adding he believed the building met four of the five criteria to be deemed dangerous.
“It is uninhabitable. It is in danger of falling and injuring persons or property. It’s a fire hazard, and it is open and insufficiently secure,” he added.
Cook said the building at 108 Yucca St., was constructed in 1940 and was a concrete slab foundation, with wood siding over adobe walls.
He said there was a fire at the building in 2008.
“I think this structure is beyond economical repair. It is clearly a serious fire hazard, and removal is the best option,” Cook said.
He noted the next item on the commission’s agenda, a building at 114 Live Oak St., lay within 660 feet of the Yucca Street house. He told the commission the state does not allow cities to demolish buildings within 660 feet of each other in the same calendar year and said he would later ask the commission which of the two buildings commissioners believed the city should raze first.
Cook also reviewed a series of photos he had taken of the Yucca Street building and lot.
“My recommendation is the commission determine this structure is to be demolished by the owner,” Cook said.
Boyd told the commission the actual property does not belong to her.
“It belonged to my mother in care of my father, who has passed already, and so the property has not been put into probate. I don’t know how Texas law works, and I don’t know whether I can even tear it down legally because it’s not mine,” Boyd said, adding her mother is now deceased as well.
Boyd said she is facing a similar situation in California, where she lives, regarding a house where her parents had lived. She said she is unable to make legal decisions regarding that house since she is not the actual owner and can’t make decisions for the deceased owners unless she is appointed the executor of their estate.
“Because of the virus, our courts have pretty much closed down except for emergency legal procedures, and probate isn’t considered an emergency, so we’re kind of all on stand-by,” she said.
Boyd asked if she could even legally consider tearing the house down. She said she and her brother are their parents’ only living heirs. She admitted her brother, who lives in Del Rio, “has been remiss” in caring for the property.
“Is it possible for me to get an extension, so I can get an attorney and get into probate? The best-case scenario: I would like to get rid of the property,” Boyd said.
“I agree totally that it should be knocked down, and the property should be cleaned and sold as a vacant property,” she added.
Cook said the city has met the legal notice requirements to inform the owner of the hearing and the city’s intention was to ask the commission to order the building demolished. He said if the commission voted to have the building demolished, and the city demolished the structure, a lien of about $15,000 would be assessed against the property. Cook added he believed Boyd could find a contractor to do the demolition work for far less money.
“As the dangerous building official, I can tell you that you can have the building demolished if the commission so directs,” Cook told Boyd.
Commissioner Tomas Robles said even if Boyd were given an extension to begin the demolition, he would still like to see the house boarded up and secured.
“She needs to board it up so nobody can come in and out,” Robles said.
Cook said the commission could consider a “secure no later than” date and a “demolish no later than” date.
Cook suggested a motion to clean the lot no later than May 27, secure the structure by June 24 and to return to the commission with information about demolishing the structure by the commission’s July 29 meeting.
Commissioner Jesus Salgado made that motion, with Robles giving the second.
Commission Chair Isidro Valdez Fernandez voted against the motion.
114 Live Oak St.
Cook told building standards commission members the house at 114 Live Oak St. is sited less than a block away from the property they had discussed previously, 108 Yucca St.
The owners, Rosa Elia and Jose Luis Perez, give the Live Oak address as their home address, Cook said.
He said he has mailed a certified, return receipt requested notice regarding the property. Anticipating it would be returned, Cook said he found the couple owned other properties in Val Verde County and wrote them a letter in early March telling them if they were the owners, they needed to be aware of the notice regarding the Live Oak Street property.
“Basically, what I’m telling the commission is that while I’ve met the duty of notice, it’s likely that the owner of this property won’t ever find out that we’re talking about this property, much like the owner of 105 Frausto St., which is the only building we’ve demolished,” Cook said.
He said he believes the Live Oak Street property meets three of the five criteria for dangerous buildings.
“It is uninhabitable. It is a fire menace and it is open and insufficiently secured, which is an understatement. It is on a corner, of Live Oak and Flores streets . . . All the windows are broken out and open, and all the doors are open, and the rear of the building is mostly gone,” Cook said.
Cook said there have been fires at the building, in 2002 and in 2005.
“Repairs to this building would require substantial reconstruction. It is well beyond economic repair . . . It is a fire hazard and an attractive nuisance for all sorts of unwanted people. My recommendation is that it be demolished,” Cook said.
He reviewed a series of photos taken of the structure, noting the building is adjacent to Arteaga Park.
“This is just a hazard waiting to happen,” Robles said.
“I agree, and being next to the park, you have young kids, and they could get in there and hurt themselves,” Salgado said.
Fernandez then made a motion to demolish the structure at 114 Live Oak St., with Robles giving the second. The three commissioners present then voted unanimously to order the structure demolished by June 8.
Cook said the demolition is estimated to cost $11,100.
He asked which of the two structures the commission wanted to demolish this year, and Fernandez, Robles and Salgado all said they preferred to see 114 Live Oak to be demolished first.