Victoria Building Mugs

The Victoria City Council meets at the Municipal Court building, 107 W. Juan Linn St.

The Victoria Housing Authority is asking the City Council to waive about $3,400 in permit fees for 12 affordable apartments the group is planning to upgrade.

The housing authority’s nonprofit affiliate, the Victoria Affordable Housing Corporation No. 2, is planning to completely rehabilitate the 12 units at its North Street Apartments complex. The aging buildings at the complex had fallen into disrepair before Hurricane Harvey caused additional damage, according to city documents.

Now, the Victoria Affordable Housing Corporation is preparing to invest $500,000 into upgrading the buildings as part of grant funding from the Caterpillar Foundation and the Victoria United Way.

Caleb Staudt, the president of the United Way’s board of directors, urged the City Council to support the request to waive permit fees.

“The VCUW Board of Directors fully supports this rehab project and hopes the City of Victoria can provide some financial assistance to help leverage as much as possible the donated and grant funds for this project,” he wrote in a letter.

Staudt described the apartments as “uninhabitable” in their current state.

Only half of the North Street Apartments were occupied before Harvey, meaning the improved buildings will bring new affordable units online in a city that’s starved for housing options for low-income residents. Renters have struggled to find solutions to the region’s strained affordable housing stock, which was further reduced by Harvey. Many residents have been unable to find stable housing that they can afford, forcing them into substandard homes or leaving them without a regular place to sleep at night.

Council members will weigh a resolution waiving the fees at their meeting Tuesday.

The council will also return to a discussion about whether to charge residents with alarm systems a registration fee. Elected officials balked at the idea when they first discussed it in December. The Victoria Police Department proposed charging an annual fee for residents with automatic alarm systems to offset the time spent on false alarms triggered by such systems.

Department heads from the Victoria Public Library, Victoria Police Department and Victoria Fire Department will also present annual reports at Tuesday’s meeting.

Ciara McCarthy covers local government for the Victoria Advocate as a Report for America corps member. You can reach her at cmccarthy@vicad.com or at 580-6597 or on Twitter at @mccarthy_ciara.

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Ciara McCarthy covers local government for the Advocate as a Report for America corps member. You can contact her by emailing cmccarthy@vicad.com.

(6) comments

Glenn Wilson

"The Victoria Police Department proposed charging an annual fee for residents with automatic alarm systems to offset the time spent on false alarms triggered by such systems." - Better yet, how about instituting a false alarm fee to be levied against the owners of the offending alarm, instead of forcing people who had nothing to do with any false alarms to pay what amounts to yet another tax whose proceeds could be going to anything or anyone.

Grace Butler

This was what I wondered as well. Is there some law or ordinance preventing charging for false alarms? I know that usually there are rules that prevent you from charging for someone who calls 911 in good faith, but there are also laws that punish people for lying or falsely calling the cops...so surely there must be an option somewhere between the two?

Ciara McCarthy Staff
Ciara McCarthy

Hi Grace, Sorry I'm late in getting back to you. Under the current ordinance, there is a fine, but only if an alarm system triggers eight or more false alarms. The proposed ordinance would kick in at the fourth false alarm.

Here's the breakdown of the proposed fine schedule:
1st through 3rd false alarm - $0
4th through 5th - $50
6th through 7th -$75
8th or more - $100 and suspension of response. (You could get response reinstated for $100.)

Let me know if you have any other questions!

Grace Butler

Thanks for sharing the additional details! Definitely think something should kick in well before eight false alarms, the proposed fines sound like a good idea.

Brian Vandale

Why should the permit fees be waived ? The permit fees aren't waived for the residents, that want to improve their property. I 'm guessing they'll also get a tax incentive also.

Grace Butler

Did you miss the part where it's a nonprofit offering affordable housing to people who need it? In a city where there is already frightfully few options? It makes economic sense to waive the permit fees here, because it offers residents who might otherwise leave or be homeless the opportunity to stay and be economically contributing members of the city. Just cause you're grumpy you don't get fees waived doesn't mean this isn't a good thing.

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