The city’s newly-revitalized building standards commission has voted to order the demolition of four dangerous buildings in south Del Rio.
The commission met Nov. 20 and held public hearings on whether the structures at 105 Frausto St., 204 E. Viesca St., 100 Urista St. and 1103 Taini St. met the criteria for dangerous buildings and whether those buildings should be ordered demolished.
City Public Works Director Craig Cook, who also serves as the city’s dangerous buildings official, spoke to the commission about the notice requirements in the city ordinance and the steps he and his staff took to meet those requirements.
105 Fraustro St.
Cook began by reviewing the structure at 105 Frausto St. with the commissioners.
“In my opinion the structure meets (four) of the five criteria or minimum standards to be substandard. Uninhabitable is the first one. The second one, in danger of falling or injuring persons or property. The third one is a fire menace. The fourth, damp and unsanitary, that’s the only one this building doesn’t meet, in my opinion, and five, the building is open and unsecured,” Cook said.
“Fire destroyed this building on the Aug. 14, 2017,” he said.
He said the owner of the property and the building is listed on county appraisal records as Betty C. Rodriguez. He said utility services to the building were closed on Aug. 29, 2017.
Cook said there is a city lien of about $800 on the property for clearing the lot previously.
“I’ll remind you that if the determination is to demolish the building, the city demolishes the building because the owner fails to do that within 30 days of today, and that bill, whatever we pay a contractor to demolish the building, will also be a lien put on the property,” Cook said.
“It’s irreparable, in my opinion, because of the fire, and removal of the structure is the only option,” he added.
Cook showed the commissioners a series of photos of the structure that showed the effects of the devastating fire that gutted the house.
“Again, I recommend the commission find this building substandard, as I have, and determine it to be demolished,” he said.
Commissioner Juan Fernandez made a motion the structure be demolished, and Commissioner Tomas Robles gave the second.
Cook said if the motion passed, the owner would have until Dec. 30 to demolish the building.
If that is not done, the city will take steps to demolish the building.
Commissioner Hector Canales said he would vote with the majority, but added he was concerned the owner may not have received notice of the city’s intentions.
Cook said when he stopped by the property the second time, he spoke with a neighbor, who expressed happiness that the city was working toward having the building cleared from the lot. The neighbor also told Cook the owner was in California.
“He said he had talked to the guy several times, and the guy always said he was going to demolish the building and clean up the lot, so the neighbor talked like they had a relationship, so I kind of thought when we put the notice on the door and wall, the neighbor would see that and contact the owner,” Cook said.
The four commissioners then voted unanimously to demolish the building.
204 East Viesca St.
The building at 204 E. Viesca St., Cook said, meets three of the five dangerous building criteria: It is inhabitable, it is a fire menace due to its dilapidated condition, and it is open and insufficiently secured.
Cook said according to the Val Verde Appraisal District, the structure was built in 1993.
“Now it is basically a skeleton. It’s the wood frame and almost all the siding is gone. Most of the roof is gone. The flooring’s going,” Cook said.
He said the county appraisal district lists the owners as Eliud and Rachel Guerrero of San Antonio.
Cook said he spoke with Rachel Guerrero several days before the hearing. He said she had acknowledged receipt of the mailed notice from the city.
“She realized that the structure was in the state it was. The pictures were no surprise to here. She told me that she and her husband were not able to come tonight and participate in the hearing,” Cook said.
He said utility billing for the house had ceased in 2009.
“Removal is the best option,” Cook said.
After some additional discussion, the commissioners voted unanimously to accept Cook’s recommendation that the house be demolished.
100 Urista St.
The commission also considered demolition of a building at 100 Urista St.
Cook said in his opinion, the building met three of the five criteria for a dangerous building.
“It’s uninhabitable, it’s a fire menace because of its dilapidated condition, and it’s open and insufficiently unsecured. The front door is just a screen door. You can walk right into the house. The structure in my opinion is beyond repair,” Cook said.
He noted the house was built in 1940 and according to the appraisal district, is owned by Juanita Bailey.
Cook said he spoke with Bailey through a translator.
“She told me that she bought the property from the city a couple of years ago. She bought it sight unseen at an auction and didn’t even realize there was a structure on the property. I think getting this package made her realize there was a structure. But when she bought it, she didn’t realize that, so she asked me if she demolished it or if we did, if she would be able to rebuild, and I said at the time, I was not sure. I told her I would check. I have (since) confirmed I was wrong, because the property is in the floodway, and she cannot build because you cannot build anything in the floodway,” Cook said.
Cook said Bailey also told him she had talked to someone about demolishing the structure, but he became ill and was unable to do it. He said he explained the 30-day deadline to Bailey, and “she did agree that it needed to be demolished.”
“I think Ms. Bailey would be happy to have us do it on her behalf, but she doesn’t know she can’t rebuild. I need to tell her that,” Cook said, adding Bailey had intended to come to the hearing, but last-minute work requirements interfered with her intention to attend.
“I would recommend to the commission that you determine to demolish it,” Cook said.
The commissioners spent some time discussing if Bailey could remodel the house, and Canales noted, “The city should have never sold her the property.”
Fernandez made a motion the building on the property be torn down.
Canales gave the second, and the commission voted 3-1 to approve the motion.
Bailey arrived at the meeting and spoke to the commission after the commissioners voted.
1103 Taini St.
The final house considered during the commission’s Nov. 20 meeting is located at 1103 Taini St.
Cook said the dilapidated building in question was located on one portion of the lot, and the owner lived in a second structure on the property.
Cook said the owner of the property, Juan Manuel Veliz Sr., has been notified. Cook said in his opinion the structure in question met four of the five criteria qualifying it as a dangerous building.
“It’s beyond repair,” Cook said.
After some additional discussion, Canales made a motion to order the structure demolished, with Fernandez giving the second. The commissioners voted unanimously to approve the motion to demolish the structure.