AUSTIN (KXAN) - About 50 residents of the damaged Las Palmas apartments in Austin will be moved from the complex Wednesday as property managers determine how to address the structural issues that forced an evacuation the day before.
"A framing issue in three units was discovered and is currently being examined by the city and our staff," officials from the complex said in statement late in the afternoon. "We are pleased to report that after initial review, the city has notified us that all but these three units are considered safe for our residents' return.
"We are currently working to return those residents to their homes and have secured temporary living accommodations for the remaining residents on site."
The problems at Las Palmas became public because a resident at the complex at 2409 Town Lake Circle complained to management that he woke up to cracking noises.
"I was afraid it was going to collapse over us and we were all going to get killed." said Hector Lopez, who has lived at Las Palmas for the past three years. "It's a huge problem and something that could've been avoided."
Police were called on Tuesday evening. When officers arrived to talk to the individuals, they noticed that one of the apartment buildings was in a precarious state. That's when the Austin Fire Department was notified.
The decision was made to evacuate residents from 18 apartment units -- 16 of which were occupied by a total of 50 people. The apartment management was able to accommodate living arrangements for seven families on-site and the rest of the residents were placed in hotels.
The property manager says the building hadn't been inspected in decades and the foundation was cracking in the building.
"Time, age, wear, and tear were to blame." said Boone Nerren, the property manager. "Construction codes at that time aren't the same as they are now."
Austin's Code Compliance officials said preventing something like this from happening again at other locations around town is nearly impossible.
With a short staff and a growing number of aging apartments, the Austin City Council approved the hiring of four new inspector positions starting at the beginning of the fiscal year, Oct. 1.
Code compliance said although the new hires will help the situation, the problem is much greater than they can currently handle.
"We don't have the manpower right now," said Ron Potts, with the city's code compliance office. "We are dealing with about 12 different apartment complexes and over 4000 units that we are inspecting and that is a huge work load for our current staff."
Las Palmas management said they are now working with both the residents and the city to fix the problem.
"The residents are our main priority." said Nerren.
But for Hector Lopez, he says the huge inconvenience leaves him with one wish.
"I just want them to give me another apt or at least get my belongings so I could get on with my life," Lopez said.
Code compliance says their work is far from over at The Las Palmas Apartments. They are now checking the rest of the units to make sure they are up to code as well.
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