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Austin Council Member Sabino ‘Pio’ Renteria facing two code violations

The city’s Code Department has identified two violations at Austin City Council Member Sabino “Pio” Renteria’s home in East Austin, which the city said stemmed from a patio cover and a storage structure.

Renteria said he hasn’t received any written notice of what he called “minor” violations but said he’ll do what it takes to comply with city code. The District 3 council member, who became the target of an ethics complaint last month amid the debate over rules for short-term rental properties, said he believes those who made the code complaints likely had a political grudge as well.

Acting on a February complaint alleging Renteria was using his home for a campaign office and bringing loud noise into the neighborhood, a city inspector paid a visit March 10.

That was too late for the inspector to see any sign of the campaign operations Renteria said his friend Manuel Jimenez, who ran for a Travis County constable seat in the March 1 Democratic primary, set up in his home.

But the inspector did find that a “patio cover” and a “small structure at the rear of the yard” had been built without permits. The storage structure also violated the 15-foot setback on the side of the yard next to a street and the five-foot setback at the rear end of the yard, said Robert Alvarado, a Code Department assistant division manager.

The department mailed notices of violation to the property owners, Sabino Renteria and Lori Cervenak-Renteria, on March 16. The owners have 14 days to come into compliance, and, if they do, the case will be closed, Alvarado said.

Renteria said that roughly five years ago, he tore down rooms of his house that had been infested by termites and left the roof up, creating a carport that he now uses to store items such as tables and chairs. He pulled a demolition permit for this work but not a building permit, Renteria said.

“I really didn’t build anything,” Renteria said.

Renteria said that more than a year ago, he built a box frame, put sheet metal over it, and braced it up against his fence to create a cover for items such as his lawnmower and motorcycle.

Coming into compliance for an unpermitted structure would mean obtaining a building permit, which requires a successful inspection, Alvarado said. As for the setback violations, the owners could move the storage structure or seek a variance from the city.

Failing to come into compliance could bring fines of up to $2,000 per day per violation.

Alvarado declined to say who made the three complaints about Renteria’s home between January and March, but the American-Statesman has filed an open records request for the information. Those complaints were merged into one case, Alvarado said.

Renteria also faces the ethics complaint filed last month by the owner of a vacation rental management company, who alleged Renteria should refrain from voting on new regulations for short-term rentals, as he has rented out the garage apartment in his backyard. The city’s Ethics Review Commission is slated to hear that complaint April 13.

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