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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Seminar Report: Deed Restrictions, Code Violations and Conflict Resolution

How's that for a snappy and inviting topic? Okay, I'll keep it short.

My wife and a few neighbors attended a nice seminar put on by the Deed Restrictions and Architectural Control (DRACO) officer for GNWCIA, Jose Morlett on Tuesday evening and it was well worth the two or so hours.

A few things to consider. Did you know that in the Great Northwest, there are 4,958 homes? Did you know that in Emerald Valley, about 45% of the homes are rental properties?

One of the things we learned was that when a first notice of a deed restriction violation is warranted, the "door hanger" type ticket goes to the home (occupant). On the 11th day, if no action is taken, the letter with a picture of the violation goes to the homeowner. With so many rental properties, can you see the disconnect?

Another interesting thing: From 1976 to 1996, there was no full time DRACO. So, you may have been living here for 20 years with a violation and then all of the sudden, somebody comes up and says, hey, that's a violation!

The DRACO understands this and his intention is to work with homeowners to make everyone happy and work things out in the best interest of the neighbors. Jose always welcomes your reports of violations and will keep your name out of it. So call him at 681-2983 or e-mail him and let him look into the chickens in your neighbor's yard so the issue can be resolved for everyone.

John Kelly, the Code Compliance supervisor for our area gave a really nice and informative presentation regarding common violations and some of the limitations his officers have. He pointed out that the city has multiple ways of contacting his office including via the city portal and a handy code compliance reporting web page here. Check it out.

There were lots of questions from the attentive audience. One smart audience member raised the question about garage sale signs. He stated that if you pay a fee in order to obtain a garage sale permit, should that not include the authorization to post signs for the garage sale? The answer is that at one time it did! But, when some city council member got tired of seeing garage sale signs still up on Mondays, they changed it. Luckily for all of you holders of weekend flea markets, they usually won't take action on the signs during the weekend.

Officer Kelly hit too many other areas to list, but he did mention that on the weekends, they do patrol for garage sale permit violators, for people attempting to use the HEB parking lot as an extension of the Red McCombs used car lot, people selling or giving away dogs along the side of the road, and those guys who post the bandit signs such as "We'll buy your house cheap" or "Vote for Sheriff Ralph Lopez"

I'm not quite sure why I find that funny, but I do.

Ms Sandra Hackard from the Bexar County Dispute Resolution Center came and passed out some materials and gave a nice talk on the services provided and the benefits of dispute resolution. Did you know that $15 of every lawsuit filed in Bexar County goes to support the Center? I didn't.

They offer information, referrals, and other information, but they don't offer legal advice. Basically, if you contact them and they can't help you solve the problem on your own (get you to talk with your neighbor first), then they figure out exactly what the dispute is, send out letters to both parties and within two to three weeks, you go and have a resolution session.

The center has over 130 volunteer mediators - people who are lawyers and counselors and such. And, they handle everything from family disputes, child visitation complaints, sold vehicle complaints etc. This is a free service!

And that was that. By the way, the GNW provided coffee, sodas, cookies and sammitches and this was really a worthwhile event. Kudos to Jose Morlett. This guy needs a raise and a bonus!

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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