In a city that has seen abandoned homes and business spaces vandalized and sometimes set on fire, a move is underway to prosecute the owners of such properties.
The El Paso City Council has approved a measure tasking City Manager Tommy Gonzalez with reviewing new Texas laws giving local authorities increased powers to pursue those owners.
One of those new laws, HB 36, was passed last year by the Texas State Legislature, allowing local officials to act in cases of “prolonged litigation” regarding abandoned properties whose conditions may have worsened during the litigation process.
The council measure as proposed by City Representative Alexsandra Annello asks the City Manager’s office to “develop and implement a recommended action plan to address buildings that are vacant, have substandard conditions, and/or violate ordinances within the city.”
A survey conducted for the city several years ago documented more than one hundred abandoned buildings in just the downtown area alone that were vacant and in various states of disrepair.
Many of those structures are regarded as problematic not just because of their condition, but also because they tend to attract the homeless and vagrants.
A city official said that a strengthened ordinance addressing the issue could also lead to the demolition of many of the most distressed properties.
By Garry Boulard
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