Often, it is the beauty and aesthetics of surrounding homes and neighborhoods which draws new residents and keeps others there. However, an abandoned property which appears to have become a public safety hazard has become a nuisance in one of our local neighborhoods.
Sitting right in the heart of the Heights, an abandoned property which has shown no signs of movement in months now sits with debris strewn about and an abandoned pool filled with leaves, twigs, and even what appears to be a TV in its waters—and the effects have already been seen.
“This neglected pool has become a terrible mosquito breeding zone, as well as an un-fenced drowning hazard for children,” one reader wrote in an email to The Leader about the property at 420 E. 26th St., which is registered to a Carroll J. King according to HCAD public records.
The property has been reported to the city’s 3-1-1 system, as well as the department of Health and Human Service pool department and Councilwoman Ellen Cohen’s office, and Porfirio Villareal with the city of Houston’s Health Department acknowledged that officials are indeed aware of the problem, having previously issued a citation for the Heights property back in March.
“For every citation we issue, it can be up to $2,000, and however many charges they rack up, they must go up to a municipal judge and explain why they have not corrected the problem,” he said. “Then the judge decides how much they must invest to correct the problem.”
While Houston Health Services has previously installed some temporary netting around the property, residents say nothing has been done to deal with the mosquito problem or to permanently repair the fence.
“It is only a matter of time before this property becomes a vector for mosquito-borne diseases or the scene of a tragic accident,” a reader wrote.
Villareal assured residents that all measures the city can legally enact, it has done so. Inspectors were back out at the property Tuesday afternoon, taking mosquito control so they could treat the pool with pesticides and ensure the temporary fencing erected is still in good standing.
Unfortunately, however, Villareal says the city’s jurisdiction ends with issuing citations and building temporary fencing to prevent potential tragic accidents, seeing as the physical property remains under private ownership despite sporting a neglected look.
“We wouldn’t have jurisdiction [for more permanent fence work]. We cannot go into people’s property and take such action,” he said. “In theory, we could go back every day, and every day we go back it could be another issuance due to violations. But it’s not like we can go put a permanent fence — it’s physically on someone’s property. It’s private property, and it’s up to the legal system.”
The property is noted as an “active concern,” and Villareal noted that in the meantime, residents can take matters into their own hands to help deal with (or prevent) the mosquito problem via inexpensive contraptions known as mosquito dumps, which kill larvae before they mature into biting adults.
“You can basically throw them into standing water, and it’s a very quick solution. You just drop it in, and it gets rid of the breeding,” he said.
The Leader attempted to reach out to King for comment as to her intent with the property, but was unable to reach her as of press time.