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Monday, January 13, 2014

Slum Watch in Dignowity

Lets face it, we have a slum lord problem in our neighborhood. We have abandoned and neglected properties and in some cases dangerous structures that create unsightly blight.  In the midst of what is becoming a tangible revitalization effort in our part of the world we are still saddled with properties that are owned by individuals or investors that for whatever reason do not take care of their properties. Neglected and distressed properties are a huge problem for neighborhoods and the city. Studies have shown that vacant and distressed properties have an adverse affect on a neighborhood's quality of life, property values and the overall sense of community. Vacant and neglected buildings raise the probability of increased crime as they become havens for petty burglars or drug dealers/users. Despite the fact that residents and the neighborhood association over the last several years have loudly complained about these properties there seems to be little or no progress made on this front. Something needs to done.

A friend of mine recently sent me a link to a blog called Baltimore Slumlord Watch, you can find the blog at  The blog began in 2009 as a way for Baltimore residents to share information about the city's many slumlords. Started by a resident who was tired of watching out of town “investors” and others who can negatively impact neighborhoods as a result of their negligence.  The blog has become a way of publicly calling out property owners who let their properties become an eyesore.

Last year one my neighbors, Tyler Tully, wrote an excellent article in the Rivard Report ( that addressed the urban decay that affects San Antonio's inner city neighborhoods. The article referenced Baltimore as a model of how urban decay can be addressed. Unfortunately San Antonio is not Baltimore. As Tyler points out in his article, code compliance in San Antonio is like a pit bull with out teeth. There are city ordinances in the books that specifically spell out steps to be taken to address vacant structures and vacant lots. You can find those ordinances at  Yet it is a slow and excruciating process to hold these slum property owners accountable.

I personally know some of the good folks that work for the city's code enforcement department and as residents we tend to beat up on our code enforcement officers for the lack of visible progress on those neglected and abandoned properties that litter our own neighborhood. These code enforcement officers are doing their jobs within the confines of the ordinances. The real problem as Tyler pointed out in his article is the lack of an incentive for owners to fix up their properties because they do not want higher property taxes and current laws designed to protect responsible property owners in essence also protect irresponsible property owners.  In his article, which was published in July of 2013, Tyler provided some great ideas and solutions that could be implemented to attack the urban decay that is visible in our inner city neighborhoods. So here we are six months later and the only thing that I know of that has occurred is the reorganization of the city's code compliance department. We still have many of the same neglected properties that were present when we first moved into the neighborhood in 2007! 

So in the spirit of the Baltimore Slumlord Watch blog I will periodically be posting an image of a neglected property in the Dignowity Hill area that has been deemed unsafe, abandoned or has been neglected beyond a reasonable amount of time. The information for these properties comes from public records that are easily accessible by anyone on the Bexar County Appraisal District web site:  The intention is to highlight these properties publicly and perhaps motivate both the city, county and these property owners to do something positive about their properties. We need to do something about this pernicious slum lord mentality. If you own property in Dignowity Hill then keep it clean or clean it up!

 819 Lamar
Property Owner: Patel Balubhai
Legal Description:NCB 1368 BLK 5 LOT 19
This property has been declared a dangerous premise by the city.
A notice on the structure indicates that the property went before the city's Building Standards Board on November 14, 2013 

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