SAN ANTONIO – What’s the key to getting rid of crime? One neighborhood says it may have the answer: dealing with people who are chronic breakers of city code.
The idea got the attention of city staff who are working with the Heritage neighborhood on the west side for a solution.
"You have your good areas and your bad areas,” Robbie Robinette with the Heritage Neighborhood Association says.
She says most of Heritage looks lovely, with manicured lawns and quiet streets. But it also has pockets with graffitied walls and overgrown yards.
"I'm a person that, if you're going to complain, let's have a recommendation or suggestion,” Robinette says.
And she has plenty of them – so many, she and her neighbors put together a PowerPoint presentation for their councilman and the assistant city manager. It showed examples of chronic code violations and how they could be prevented.
One slide showed a picture of nine-foot weeds in front of an abandoned house.
Today, those weeds have been abated.
"That means the city came out, they mowed it, it was charged to the tax roll,” Robinette says.
She says it looks like progress but it’s really a band-aid because the weeds keep growing, the city keeps fixing it and the property owner doesn’t take responsibility.
"Things needs to be changed so we don't deal with this on a long-term basis,” Robinette says.
She also had some ideas for sidewalks.
"We don't have any codes that say people need to keep curbs free of debris and vegetation,” Robinette says.
She also wants to stop the graffiti that covers some rental properties.
"Anyone that lives in owner-occupied, if they have graffiti, there's really nothing in the code that says they have to remove it,” Robinette says.
She practices what she preaches by volunteering to clean graffiti and picking up illegally-places signs. She says it’s all about having pride in the place you call home.
“You’ve got to have your neighborhood looking good,” she says. "If you have all this around your neighborhood, to me it decreases property values.”
Robinette's goal is to find a way to bring neighborhood leaders and city staff together then find a way to change the codes to address modern needs.