A city commission may determine the fate of over 150 residents of a dilapidated apartment building tonight – and issue orders to “vacate, repair, demolish or secure” the complex.
After the collapse of a second-floor walkway at the Wood Ridge apartments on Burton Drive in Southeast Austin, the city ordered several residents to evacuate. Residents say apartment management failed to respond to complaints of deterioration.
Several mishaps have occurred in the evacuation process. City officials have since told the Austin American-Statesman apartment managers failed to adequately supply residents with resources following their displacement. The City of Austin’s Building and Standards Commission is holding a public hearing this evening.
Though the owners of the apartment complex operate out-of-state, the management company can be held accountable for the state of the complex, says city Code Compliance Division Manager Melissa Martinez.
Martinez says the residents are getting help from friends, family members and the community. “A lot of the non-profits have come together,” says Martinez, in an effort to assist the displaced residents.
The apartment complex is the only item on the commission’s agenda tonight. They may order the owners of the complex to repair the buildings by a certain date with penalties to enforce progress.
The current system used to assess apartment safety relies on residents’ complaints. “If anyone feels like the property they’re living in is substandard, if they have concerns or questions, they can call 3-1-1, which is the city’s information center, open 24/7,” says Martinez. “They can lodge a complaint, we’ll have an inspector go out and determine whether the complaint is valid, and from there the process takes course.”
Martinez hopes for rapid progress at Wood Ridge, and says she hopes the commission will “pressure the property owner to ultimately bring this property up to code.”
The Building and Standards Commission meets at the City of Austin’s Rutherford Lane Campus, 1520 Rutherford Ln., tonight at 6:30.