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Montrose Voice, No. 329, February 13, 1987
File 004
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Montrose Voice, No. 329, February 13, 1987 - File 004. 1987-02-13. University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. October 22, 2020. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/3247/show/3225.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(1987-02-13). Montrose Voice, No. 329, February 13, 1987 - File 004. Montrose Voice. University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/3247/show/3225

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Montrose Voice, No. 329, February 13, 1987 - File 004, 1987-02-13, Montrose Voice, University of Houston Libraries, accessed October 22, 2020, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/3247/show/3225.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Montrose Voice, No. 329, February 13, 1987
Contributor
  • McClurg, Henry
  • Wyche, Linda
Publisher Community Publishing Company
Date February 13, 1987
Language English
Subject
  • LGBTQ community
  • LGBTQ people
  • Gay liberation movement
Place
  • Houston, Texas
Genre
  • newspapers
Type
  • Text
Identifier OCLC: 22329406
Collection
  • University of Houston Libraries Special Collections
  • LGBT Research Collection
  • Montrose Voice
Rights In Copyright
Note This item was digitized from materials loaned by the Gulf Coast Archive and Museum (GCAM).
Item Description
Title File 004
Transcript FEBRUARY 13. 1987/MONTROSE VOICE 3 Abandoned Buildings Draw Ire of Civic, Business Groups By Sheri Cohen Darbonne Montrose Voice Following what Houston Fire Department arson investigators say is the fifth suspicious fire in a few weeks time to start in a vacant building on lower Westheimer, representatives of local business and homeowner organizations are waging war against negligent property owners and non-responsive city agencies they say are carelessly allowing the hazardous open buildings to proliferate in the neighborhood. A house at 203 Westheimer, the former site of an Oriental "modeling studio," burned for the second time in less than three weeks Monday afternoon, Feb. 9. Fire engines and other emergency vehicles blocked access via Westheimer to the Southwest Freeway Milam ramp and the downtown corridor for over three hours. The house and a nearby building at 108 Westheimer, also vacant, were the scene of two fires which started separately on Jan. 14, according to arson investigators. Five lower Westheimer arson cases are currently being investigated, and the fire department has not found reliable evidence to connect the fires, investigator Butch I^ewis said. Fires in vacant buildings are usually considered arson because, in the absence of electricity and appliances, there is generally no other reason for a fire to start, Lewis said. Open buildings on lower Westheimer pose a particular hazard because ofthe number of transients in the area, Lewis noted. Local attorney Sharon Weintraub approached the Neartown Businss Alliance Wednesday, Feb. 11, urging support of an aggressive letter-writing campaign intended to "scare" owners of potentially dangerous buildings into cleaning up and boarding up their properties as required by city ordinance. Weintraub spoke as a representative of "The Coalition of Montrose Organizations," an action group including members of NBA, The Greater Montrose Business Guild and two area resident organizations, Neartown Association and the Avondale Association. The coalition had drafted a letter several weeks earlier, urging property owners to take action within 10 days to bring their property into compliance with the laws and warning that owners have been held liable for criminal acts occurring in unsecured buildings, Weintraub said She added, however, that she did not feel the letter should be sent out until the neighborhood groups decided on a definite follow-up plan of action. Gail Ramsey, who at first suggested the NBA endorse the letter and facilitate its immediate mailout, withdrew her motion on the condition that the coalition or a special committee meet to discuss action on the letter prior to the next alliance meeting in March. "Otherwise, I withdraw under protest," Ramsey stated. "We have been fooling around with this(vacantbuildingissue) for the past six months, and if we don't do something now, there will just be more buildings burning until next month." John Daniel told members he had spoken with Luke London of the Houston Department of Public Works, who he described as the city contact for dangerous buildings in the Montrose area. London assured him he would get involved in investigating specific cases of hazardous conditions if they are properly reported and documented, Daniel said. Daniel agreed to invite London to the March 11 NBA meeting. A major problem exists in contacting of City Councilman George Greanias, said complaints received by Greanias are turned over to the health department for investigation. "The first step is to ask the owner to board it up. If that doesn't work, the owner may be ticketed," Phillips said. Phillips cited financial constraints of BETTER LAUmS & QARDETIS Total laiun maintenance Commercial—Residential • Landscape • Trash Remoual • Chimney Sweep • Tree Serutce • Stumps Removed • Complete Sprinkler Systems FREE ESTIMATES! BEST PRICES! 523-LAWN the owners of abandoned, burnt-out buildings as complete, up-to-date, records of the property holders seem to be rare or non-existent. Many of the properties have changed hands many times, and some owners are foreign corporations or individuals who cannot be traced. Even the police and fire departments do not have complete lists ofthe owners. "We have a partial list, that's all," Sgt. D.V. Williams, supervisor of the Neartown Police Community Center, said. "We have a lot of problems with these vacant buildings when vagrants break in or go into an open building. Officers go in and chase them out, but they come right back when the officers leave," he explained. "If we could contact the owners, we can put these vagrants in jail," Williams said, noting that many would stay there because they would not be able to pay the $800 bond for criminal trespassing. "But they can only be arrested with the owner's permission ... if we can't contact the owners, there's nothing we can do." Lewis said the arson investigators working on the recent lower Westheimer fires don't know who owns the property at 203 Westheimer. Vernon Black, administrator of the Houston Health Department's Office of Housing Conservation, which enforces many ofthe building ordinances, said it is not difficult to use county tax records to determine who is paying taxes on the property. Delays are due to the fact that every mortage holder, lien holder, and anyone else with a possible interest in the property must be notified before any action can be taken, he said. It is these "owners" who are sometimes hard to find, and this is one reason it takes time to respond to dangerous building complaints, according to the administrator. "The city must allow due process to everyone with an interest. Otherwise, we're liable to suit subsequent to a demolition by someone saying they weren't notified." Black said. Terry Phillips, who works in the office the city and the escalating rate of property abandonment in Montrose as other reasons for the continuing problem. "We have only a certain number of men who tear down buildings ... they are literally being abandoned faster than we can tear them down," Phillips said. Getting permission to tear down a building is cumbersome because of the legal restrictions, he added. Black said there are currently at least 25 cases of code violations in some stage of investigation in the Montrose area. But neighborhood forces insist the city is unnecessarily sluggish in enforcing its own laws when it comes to vacant Montrose buildings. Warren Duncanson, a member ofthe Avondale Association, said he is "spearheading" a group of neighborhood property owners who are investigating the legal possibility of filing class action suits against negligent holders. Duncanson said the area's "ghetto look" due to the abandoned properties has made it impossible for him to lease out a retail space he owns on Westheimer. Other property owners have had similar problems leasing or selling what would otherwise be considered good locations for new business, he said. Rock "N" Horse Help Us Celebrate Our 1st Anniversary Sat. Feb. 14 Champagne Fountain and Food with JUSTINE (ALL GIRL BAND) with Shannon, Susan, Susan, Anna Marie 9pm-1am Open Tue.-Thurs. 4pm-2am Fri.-Sun. 3pm-2am 5731 Kirby 520-9910 Narene Kee. owner GENERAL REPAIRS Happy ■§ Valentine's mMfW/ Day W< V 1411 Taft IW-*____J) 522-2190 TRANSMISSIONS
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