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Most residents to return to Las Palmas after city code investigation

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TWC News: Most residents to return to Las Palmas after city code investigation
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Some East Austin families will get to go home Thursday after they were evacuated from their residences Wednesday evening.

Fifty people from 16 families were evacuated from the Las Palmas apartments in East Austin Tuesday evening after the ground shifted, and a resident began to notice cracks appearing in the walls and floors.

The families of Las Palmas had housing advocates, city officials and the property owner on their side Wednesday while they worked together all day to investigate an unstable second floor walkway.

"All indications lead to some type of joist or support beam that was compromised as the building aged and the foundation shifted," property owner Boone Nerren said.

The concerns at Las Palmas are common in buildings more than 20 years old. Nerren put all the residents up in a motel for the night while the stairway is repaired. All but three residents will be able to return by Thursday evening. Those three tenants will be relocated to other one bedroom apartments on the property.

Many of the displaced residents were pleased with the owner's response to the incident.
Still, tenant Hector Lopez wants to make sure the property manager pays attention in the future.

"For them it’s very difficult, and it’s a horrible feeling because they pay their rent on time, but when they ask someone to fix something they do not fix it," Lopez said.

Officials say Nerren's cooperation makes this situation different from others like it.

"The property owner has been proactive to find alternative housing, has footed the bill for that, has gotten fencing up to keep it safe, hired extra security," Melissa Martinez with Austin Code Compliance said.

Nerren has also arranged for CapMetro to transport the children back to Las Palmas so they can take the school bus.

This incident comes months after a walkway collapsed at the Wood Ridge Apartments, just a mile from Las Palmas.

During their investigation at Wood Ridge, code compliance officers discovered hundreds of violations. To prevent future evacuations, code compliance plans to create a multi-family housing unit tasked with evaluating the city's older properties. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP