Carrollton Trying to Force Apartment Complexes To Reduce Crime. Property Owners Are Fighting Back

Categories: Legal Battles

SevillaApartments.jpg
The owners of Carrollton's Sevilla apartment complex were not happy when it was included in the city's mandatory crime reduction program.
Last June, the Carrollton City Council passed a measure aimed at cleaning up apartment complexes in the city that had become magnets for crime. The ordinance set out a number of very specific requirements on things like fencing and landscaping, but the crux of the measure was the crime index, a number assigned to every apartment development in the city.

The crime index is simply a number: the ratio of police service calls and arrests per 100 units, calculated at six-month intervals. Complexes whose scores are above a certain number (not set out in the ordinance but calculated from time to time by the city manager based on the average crime rate at apartment complexes) would be forced to enroll in the city's "Mandatory Crime Reduction Program."

That's the part that irks apartment owners. As part of the program, complexes whose crime index is too high are required to post signs alerting residents and would-be tenants of the designation, make various improvements to the property, and pay a $500 fee, with additional penalties of up to $2,500 per day. A slew of complexes appealed their inclusion in the program to the city. When those appeals were denied -- the ordinance only allows the appeals board to determine whether an appellant's score is, in fact, higher than the threshold -- three complexes sued the city.

The most detailed suit, first reported by Courthouse News, was brought by an investment group that owns Carrollton's Sevilla Apartments.

Adam Sparks, a San Francisco-based investor who owns apartments across the country, wrote in an affidavit that the requirements of the crime reduction program are misguided and unfair. For one, the ordinance singles out apartment complexes from all other commercial and residential developments. In addition, the way the crime index is calculated, by simply including all calls for service or arrests whether or not they were preventable, is arbitrary and capricious. There's also no proof that the required signage and expensive improvements would do anything to reduce crime, not to mention that the appeals process is a joke.

All this amounts to a violation of apartment owners' due process and property rights under the Texas Constitution, the lawsuit argues. Whether that's the case will be up to a Dallas County district judge, but the ordinance certainly seems less like a way to reduce crime as to hassle apartment owners. A city spokeswoman declined to comment due to pending litigation.


Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
25 comments
oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

Irving replaced entire Apartment complexes and some neighborhoods with vacant lots .Crime on those property's went done to almost zero.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

Dallas has a similar program in place, and it hasn't been very effective from what I've seen.

cantblockmeever
cantblockmeever

I'm gonna take a wild guess that those apartments are full of the innumerable amazing vibrant benefits of Divershitty.

Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

At one time, my wife and I lived in one of the complexes targeted by this. If it forces the complexes to crackdown on bad tenants, I have no problem with this. I saw apartments that were one or 2 bedrooms housing at least 8 people (which was a violation of their lease and the law). Yet, the apartment managers would do nothing about it. And, as more people who followed the rules left, the complex became worse and worse.

The thing is, if the apartment managers/owners maintain a complex, they can attract good tenants at a reasonable rate. However, to many owners are trying to extract the maximum short term profit rather than maintain their properties.

CraigT42
CraigT42

Yeah it is easy to call the owners slumlords, and dump the blame on them,  but if they spend the money for the improvements and then raise rents they are preying on the poor, or are racists.

The fact is that most crime (at least the type of crime that results in calls to 911) is committed by poor people, so if you have "affordable" apartments you end up with crime.

Anyone who has ever owned or purchased a rental property can tell you that renters tear shit up.  That costs money to fix.  So the landlord is now between a rock and a hard place.  if he makes the improvements then he has to raise rents and no one can afford to live there and he goes broke.  if he doesn't make the improvements then he can't ask as much for the unit and gets the criminal element moving in, so he goes broke a little bit slower.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

The problem with decaying properties is they don't get better, they get worse......and property owners should be FORCED to make adjustments, or pay fines.  It takes all of probably one week for a property to go to the sh+tter!  The place across the field from us has gangs that try to infiltrate it, and seems the city works well with the property to keep from martial law. Nothing worse than a "rogue property: in the neighborhood. 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

Gotta say, yeah it would suck for the apartments to have to post the signage but you avoid that by not having a shitty apartment complex.   

katie1224
katie1224

What does landscaping have to do with crime prevention? Do people go postal and assault others when they see long grass?

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

How dare Carrollton force slumlords to maintain their property.  Does't Carrollton want to be "world class" like Dallas?

gangstead1
gangstead1

Looks like the apartment owners decided a lawsuit is cheaper than fixing up their slums.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

 @RTGolden1 Having an ordinance and enforcing the ordinace are different.  Carollton also enforces their ordinance about trashed up yards 

"It shall be unlawful for any owner or occupant of any property or a portion thereof, occupied or unoccupied, within the City to permit grass, weeds, brush or unsightly vegetation to grow thereon to a height greater than ten (10") inches."

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

@cantblockmeever For sure. The ex Crip who saved the Dallas police officer lives there.

drtz
drtz

 @CraigT42 There's nothing in the ordinance about making the complex less shitty.  The "improvements" are only about improving visibility (through landscaping and lighting) and locking down common areas.  Here's the full ordinance from the Carrollton website if anyone's interested:

 

http://www.cityofcarrollton.com/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=9325

 

The mandatory requirements start on page 6.

 

This probably should have been linked to in Eric's article.

CraigT42
CraigT42

 @kergo1spaceship 

So where should those gang members live? How do you know they are gang members at all.  Do you deny them a rental application if they wear red or have a tattoo? Then you are a bigot and a racist and the city will come after you for that.

drtz
drtz

 @katie1224Overgrown shrubs and untrimmed trees can make havens for criminal activity.

CraigT42
CraigT42

 @drtz What's your point.  gates and locks don't cost money? Both to build and to replace/repair when the residents break them or tear them down?

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

 @CraigT42 

 

Hold up hoss, hold up!  I think the gunshots and the guy selling drugs was a good indicator.  I watch them across the field with the binoculars. Between the cops, the complex, and the city, they seem to have it under control, but it seems like a powder keg that is waiting to blow. 

 

I prefer "those people" live in your neighborhood, in Dallas. 

drtz
drtz

No, my point is that gates and locks won't raise the desirability of the property enough to have a significant impact on rental rates.  A shit-hole with a gate is still a shit-hole.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

 @CraigT42  @kergo1spaceship Property owners are liable for all sorts of events that happen on their property, even if they're not personally involved in the events.  I believe homeowners have even been sued by criminals who have illegally entered a home and been injured in the process.

drtz
drtz

 @CraigT42  @kergo1spaceship Sight lines deter crime.  Nobody wants to make a drug deal when everybody in the complex can look out the window and see you doing it.  Unless everybody in the complex is a criminal, which is exactly the situation this ordinance is trying to prevent.

CraigT42
CraigT42

 @kergo1spaceship Those indicate criminal activity, not gang membership. And unless they were seen committing those criminal acts, or had convictions for those criminal acts before applying to live in the apartments, how was the management/owners supposed to decide that the tenant was a gang-banging drug dealer.

FORCING (your emphasis) a property owner to buy gates or bushes isn't going to keep anyone from selling drugs. Nor is that property owner the one committing the crime.  All he is doing is renting living space.  He is not a cop, or a parent, and it is ludicrous to try to make him take on that role.

drtz
drtz

 @kergo1spaceship Indeed, but the ordinance doesn't have any requirements for aesthetics.  They're not talking about HOA-style requirements here.

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...