Veterans Day Recognition

If you are a veteran living in Shepherd Park Plaza, please let us know something about your military service and experience so we can publish it in the Pulse in November. So far seven veterans in Shepherd Park Plaza have notified the Pulse Editor about their military service.

For any others, please email the Pulse Editor at Pulse@shepherdparkplaza.com by October 15th if you would like to be recognized.

And THANK YOU for your service to our country!

Building Permits and Code Enforcement

By Chuck Blesener

There are always homes in our neighborhood that are being remodeled, repaired or changed in some way.  Most of these residents get approval from the civic club, hire a reputable contractor, and obtain the necessary building permits from the city.  Then there are always some who try and save some time and money by taking shortcuts.  It is important that we enforce the deed restrictions and building codes to maintain our property values and the quality of life in our neighborhood.  Any obvious lack of permits where construction is ongoing will be reported to the city for enforcement.  If you observe contractors working on a home where no building permits are visibly posted, contact a civic club officer or go to the shepherdparkplaza.com website and click on the link to the Architectural Control Committee.

Building permits are required if you are in the corporate city limits of Houston and are doing projects which include construction work on new or existing buildings, remodeling, or building repair work.  Most projects require a permit.  Any alteration, repair, remodel, renovation, or new construction requires permits.  All mechanical, electrical, and plumbing work must be permitted and performed by a licensed tradesman or contractor.  Some exceptions to the requirement for permits include – painting, carpet/tile/wood flooring, interior trim and similar finish work, wood or metal fences up to eight feet tall, residential storage sheds less than 120 square feet, uncovered decks up to 30 inches above the ground.  Roofing does require a permit.

Even where a permit is not required, residents and contractors are required to follow city building codes and neighborhood deed restrictions.  When obtaining a permit, home owners will have to complete and sign an affidavit under penalty of perjury that is called “Declaration in Support of Application for City of Houston Building Permit”.  You will swear that you understand what a deed restriction is, that you understand that copies of the deed restrictions are available for your review, and that your project does not violate any of these deed restrictions.  If any statement in your Declaration is false, the city may void any permits obtained, may order you to remove part or all of your project at your expense, and can prosecute you for perjury for lying on an official document.

The best way to avoid problems and speed up your application process is to submit your plans for any project to the Architectural Control Committee of the SPP Civic Club (deedrestrictions@shepherdparkplaza.com).  After your plans are reviewed and approved, you will receive a letter that you can furnish with your application to the City.  More on building permits and code enforcement next month.

Beware Of Sollicitors

By Chuck Blesener

We have recently seen a sharp increase in the number of solicitors going door to door in our neighborhood. We have gotten many complaints that they are rude, intrusive, accomplished liars, seeking money fraudulently, and showing up late into the evening. While our Deputies and HPD officers can’t run them off, they can check them out and discourage them.

Councilmember Ellen Cohen’s office tells us that some state laws were changed in a recent legislative session that required the City of Houston to rescind the ordinance regulating solicitors, and prevents HPD from enforcing ‘No Soliciting’ neighborhood signs. They are no longer required to register with the city, obtain permits, or wear picture identification. The police can still enforce ‘No Trespassing’ signs but they must be placed on the front of each individual home to be legal.

Many solicitors prey on seniors thinking them to be easy targets but all of us can become victims. While a few of them represent charities, politicians, or religions, most are scam artists seeking to separate you from your money. Signing a petition is their introduction to asking you for money; selling magazines that you will never receive is their way to steal your identity off your check information; hiring them to do jobs around your home is inviting them to steal from you or to come back and burglarize your house.

HPD and the Constable recommend you always respond to someone at your door so they won’t try and break in with you in the house. You do not have to open the door to anyone you don’t recognize. Just tell them you are not interested in whatever they are selling and to go away or you will call the police. If they say they are from a utility or company to do work in your home or yard, verify their identification, verify they are in a marked company vehicle, and call the company to verify they are supposed to be there. In any case, if they appear suspicious or refuse to leave, call Constable Dispatch at 713-755-7628 or HPD at 911.

It is advisable to not do business with anyone who comes to your door that you did not call or do not recognize. Do not give money to anyone, sign a petition for anything, hire anyone, or buy anything from someone who rings your doorbell. Research and investigate all charities and businesses before you give them money. Contact and deal with them personally by mail, telephone, or online.