A second-floor walkway collapses at the Wood Ridge Apartments on Burton Drive. The city evacuates more than 160 residents from their homes and discovers that all 15 of the complex’s second-story walkways are substandard or in imminent danger of collapse.
Five months later and one mile away, 60 more people are evacuated from the Las Palmas apartments on Town Lake Circle after a tenant hears a loud crack from a sagging walkway.
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Apartments with most code complaints
These 10 Austin apartment complexes received the most complaints for possible code violations since 2007. Canyon Oaks (now called Solaris), Wood Ridge, Highland Cove (now called Uptown Crossing), Trestles (now called City Point), Princeton (now called Wilshire West) and Spanish Palms have recently been sold, and the new owners have either begun or completed extensive renovations.
Name / Address / Year built / # of units / Complaints / Violation notices
Canyon Oaks / 1700 Burton Drive / 1968 / 562 / 292 / 158
Wood Ridge / 1900 Burton Drive / 1972 / 134 / 157 / 102
Oak Hollow / 7201 Wood Hollow Drive / 1972 / N/A / 133 / 65
Villas de la Luz (formerly Austin Commons) / 1656 Rutland Drive / 1971 / 240 / 132 / 50
Highland Cove / 909 Reinli St. / 1969 / 88 / 99 / 67
Trestles / 1071 Clayton Lane / 1983 / 396 / 77 / 27
Cross Creek / 1124 Rutland Drive / 1976 / 200 / 59 / 29
Princeton / 4411 Airport Blvd. / 1963 / 90 / 56 / 20
Spanish Palms /1007 E. Rundberg Lane / 1972 / 112 / 56 / 30
Sunrise Bluffs / 1704 Nelms Drive / 1996 / 364 / 54 / 19
Thousands of code complaints result in few penalties
Since 2007, Austin has recorded more than 3,000 code violation cases at apartments and other multifamily properties, but less than 7 percent have led to citations or referrals to the city’s Building and Standards Commission. The numbers spiked in 2011-12 when a walkway collapse at Wood Ridge Apartments led to hundreds of violations and 15 referrals to the commission.
Fiscal year / Code violations cases / violations issued / citations written / referred to Building Standards Commission / referred to municipal court
2007-08 / 380 / 216 / 28 / 6 / 3
2008-09 / 477 / 196 / 58 / 4 / 1
2009-10 / 428 / 200 / 19 / 4 / 5
2010-11 / 575 / 266 / 16 / 6 / 1
2011-12 / 889 / 498 / 19 / 24 / 4
2012-13* / 405 / 224 / 13 / 0 / 0
*through June 6 (fiscal years begin Oct. 1 and end Sept. 30)
Source: Austin Code Compliance
Investigative reporter Dave Harmon has covered criminal courts, the Texas-Mexico border, initiatives to revitalize Austin neighborhoods and a wide range of other topics since joining the Statesman in 1995. Sarah Coppola has provided City Hall coverage since 2004, including reports on a flawed tax break program for historic homes and on poor oversight of financial benefits for neighborhoods near the Holly Power Plant.
Two City Council members offer plans to better identify, track and impose penalties on shabby apartment properties.