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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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.
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.
It has been 6 years since SPP purchased and began flying the United States flags on neighborhood street lights on/around national patriotic holidays. Our current Flag Ambassador, Mike Evans on Candlelight Ln, is unable to continue his efforts in this volunteer activity, so a new volunteer is needed. If you are interested in volunteering to become the next SPP Flag Ambassador please let Mike Evans or our board president, Tom Caver at President@ShepherdParkPlaza.com. Duties of this position consists of owning or having access to a pickup truck and be the lead person in getting our flags flying in the neighborhood on 4 national holidays. Other responsibilities include storing the flags in your garage as well as storing the rig used to easily install the flags. The process of flying the flags requires 2-3 person, so scheduling assistants is also required.
Also, the Civic Club has approved the purchase of new flags as our current ones have approached their useful life, so be on the lookout for new brilliant flags on the next time we fly our flags which may likely be Veterans Day.
Harris County Constable’s Office, Precinct One
Presents a FREE
Child Passenger Safety Check
Did you know that 4 out of 5 child seats are incorrectly installed? Come learn how to secure your children the right way! Check-ups will take approximately 30 minutes per seat. Certified Technicians will check each child safety seat for:
- Properly working parts
- Correct installation
Friday, August 14, 2015
8:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon
White Oak Conference Center
7603 Antoine Dr, 77088
By Appointment only. Call 713-755-7677**** Or Tracie.Mathews-Segura@cn1.hctx.net
Shepherd Park Plaza is a supporter of the Precinct 1 constable program. One of the benefits of being a participant is that SPP female residents can participation in a free Rape Aggression Defense (“RAD”) program. The RAD approach to personal safety begins with awareness, prevention, risk reduction and risk avoidance, and progresses to hands-on physical defense techniques designed especially for women.
Participants in the program will learn a wide range of tactics to protect themselves if attacked. The practical techniques are designed to maximize the strengths of a woman’s body and build upon existing instinctive responses to provide women with effective self-defense options.
This is a 12-hour program that will be taught over four consecutive nights from Monday – Thursday evening, August 10th – August 13th from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at St. Stephens United Methodist Church at 2003 W. 43rd, Houston, TX. Participants are encouraged to attend all four sessions.
This program is open to women who are residents of Shepherd Park Plaza and Candelight Plaza that are 14 and over. Teenagers ages 14-17 must be accompanied by a female adult. The class is designed for 8 to 25 participants. To sign up, please go to: http://pct1constable.net/2015/07/02/81015-81315-shepherd-park-candlelight-plaza/
A special THANKS to St. Stephens for hosting this program.
In anticipation of heavy rains forecast this week, we hope that all residents, their families, pets and homes don’t experience any flooding. But in the unfortunate event this happens, please report any flooding to the City of Houston, whether or not you are filing an insurance claim or requesting FEMA assistance. You can report flooding to the City of Houston by contacting 311 – either by calling the number or by using the 311 App on your Smart phone. An insurance claim or FEMA assistance request will still need to be handled separately.
July 15th 7-9pm, Berryhill @ Palapa Area
The Holiday Season in Shepard Park Plaza is a magical time of year! Many of our residents light up their homes with incredible decorations that rival Rockfeller Center. To all of you in that category, we truly appreciate the work you put into your Holiday decorations. You make SPP a wonderful place to call home.
We would like to keep the traditions of SPP strong by starting the planning process early to avoid the last minute rush before the holidays. Are you a decorating super star? We want to hear your tips and tricks! Are you looking for help getting started with your decorations or want to coordinate with your neighbors? We will be brainstorming ideas! Are you looking to outsource your decorations? We will have vendors available to help out! Our veteran Christmas Arch decorators will also be available to share info on how to build, store and budget for the arches.
SPP Christmas in July will be on July 15th from 7-9pm in the Palapa area at Berryhill. Please come out to start the planning process and meet your neighbors. No pre-work required, but ‘eager’ decorators can start coordinating themes with their streets or cul-de-sacs in advance of the meeting to get the creative juices flowing! Hope to see you there! All attendees will be entered into a drawing to win an early Christmas gift!
For questions contact Tom Dornak, Elizabeth Cardner or Courtney Selindis.
Houston’s hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. While the last few years have been quiet, it’s always a good idea to be prepared in case a storm threatens our area. What do you need to do to be prepared? Find complete information, including detailed checklists, at the Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management.
And if you want a direct list to the checklist, here it is!