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Thread: Sanctuary City: San Antonio 's Bexar’s smelly trash woes on the cusp of cleanup

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  1. #1
    Senior Member lorrie's Avatar
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    Jan 2006
    Redondo Beach, California

    Sanctuary City: San Antonio 's Bexar’s smelly trash woes on the cusp of cleanup

    Bexar’s smelly trash woes on the cusp of cleanup

    Published 4:30 pm, Thursday, March 9, 2017

    Trash piles up in Camelot II, an unincorporated portion of Bexar County that is surrounded by San Antonio and the city of Windcrest in 2015.
    A city/county deal put an end to such scenes, but state legislation that would affect other Bexar unincorporated areas is still needed.

    At long last, Bexar County’s trash problem is on the cusp of a real cleanup.

    Will the latest legislative effort move the mounds of garbage that have (unfairly) defined some Bexar County neighborhoods for years?

    We should all hope so.

    State Sen. José Menéndez’s “Clean up Bexar County” legislation hasn’t received the attention it deserves — trash sure isn’t sexy — but it’s arguably one of the most important local bills this legislative session. Why? Because San Antonio shouldn’t have neighborhoods where children walk through piles of garbage to get to school.

    Such basic decency is worth cheering for, right?

    Senate Bill 1229, and its companion, House Bill 2763, would empower Bexar County’s Commissioner’s Court to require trash service in unincorporated areas. Think of neighborhoods on the Northeast Side such as Camelot II and the Glen where numerous landlords have refused to require trash service at their properties, creating a festering public health crisis.

    Those two neighborhoods have received considerable public attention, but sadly, the issue is county-wide. Maybe it’s not quite as extreme in other parts of the county, but there are plenty of trash hotspots out there.

    During a visit to Camelot II last week, dumped couches and rotting mattresses were baking

    Trash woes are particularly prevalent in unincorporated areas that also fall in the city of San Antonio’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ), a 5-mile buffer that extends beyond city limits where it’s unclear if the county can mandate trash service.

    This would change if Menéndez’s bill becomes law. Bexar County could mandate trash service in the ETJ. So, if a given neighborhood spins out of sanitary control, the county can intervene. Also, landlords that own two or more rental properties in the ETJ would be required to have trash service. They also would have to register their properties with the county.

    But the bill is also nimble in its approach. It affects just Bexar County, so residents in other counties are not affected.

    Property owners and neighborhoods can keep their existing trash service, so no one is going to be forced to change service. And as for competition, Bexar County can contract with either public or private service providers, which means those private companies are not at risk of losing business. If anything, they stand to gain customers.

    “I think people from Bexar County who have seen how bad this is definitely agree and see (the need for legislative action),” Menéndez said. “There are a lot of people who just see this as a basic issue.”

    I ran the bill by Mark Hurley, president of Water Meadow Inc., which owns numerous rental houses in the Camelot II area, and the lone concern he raised surprised me.

    “It simply does not go far enough,” he said. “It should be all the landlords and the owners in that area.”

    Hurley thought focusing on landlords with at least two properties created an unnecessary loophole since there are plenty of out-of-town landlords who only own one property. From his perspective, one trashy house fuels another.

    But the general point of the legislation is to crack down on slumlords while not micromanaging individual property owners. Menéndez has to thread a certain needle here — respecting rural property rights, ensuring trash service companies don’t lose customers, honoring existing service — so the bill becomes law.

    For years, former State Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon has championed legislation such as this, and for years that effort has come up short. If Menéndez can break this cycle, it will be a great benefit to the community. It will also be a fabulous way to honor McClendon’s service, and a feather in the cap of rookie state Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins, who is championing this bill in the House.

    Anyone who has followed the trash saga in Camelot II knows the pilot program between the city of San Antonio and Bexar County has been a smashing success. Streets and alleys are significantly cleaner, and bills are being paid. It’s worked so well, the city will likely extend the pilot program to the Glen neighborhood. But it’s just a pilot program. Temporary and limited.

    This legislation, combined with Converse’s likely annexation of 12 miles in Northeast Bexar County, would end the region’s trash problems. No more emergency cleanups that change nothing. No more garbage oozing and seeping down the street. The legislation deserves bipartisan support from the Bexar delegation.

    May we never again have another neighborhood blanketed in trash.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Aug 2005
    Why are they just picking on "landlords"? People who own their own homes and don't have trash service are dumping too.
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