Audit: Safety risks are not fully considered in Austin demolitions


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Buildings being torn down to make way for new ones–it’s happening all across Austin. A newly released city audit shows safety risks involved aren’t all being taken into consideration.

Currently, the areas around South Lamar Boulevard and east Austin have the most open demolition permits for single family homes.

The audit found some properties may not even be tested for asbestos as state law requires. Another concern is the presence of lead paint. The audit states there does not appear to be any process in place to determine whether a building has lead when the city is reviewing a demolition permit application.

Other findings include the need for additional safety measures on site, like closing off a sidewalk, may not be identified before a demolition happens. And there’s no process in place to verify if a contractor is licensed. San Antonio requires demolition contractors to have a city license.

R.C. Beall, owner of Texas Coffee Traders, has been in east Austin almost 20 years. In that time, like anyone in that part of town, he’s seen a lot of changes.

“It’s not about good or bad development, it’s about how it’s happening. And really paying attention to it being done well,” he said.

His business is surrounded by demolition sites.

“The wind blows right across us,” Beall said. “You don’t know what you’re breathing. You don’t know what’s in the demolition part.”

Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo says it’s time for the city to look at policies that would require a higher level of oversight for demolitions. One example is exploring the legalities of requiring single family homes to also have an asbestos check. Right now, the state only requires testing for commercial and multi-family buildings.

Map of Demolition Permits by Zip Code

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Austin-Travis County

More Austin-Travis County News

SPONSORED: Saving the Planet in :60

SPONSORED: Avoid idling your car

SPONSORED: Keeping cool and saving the planet

SPONSORED: Taking public transit to fight climate change

SPONSORED: How changing your air filter can save the planet (and save you money)

Tracking the Coronavirus

Coronavirus Cases Tracker

Latest Central Texas COVID-19 Cases

More Coronavirus Live Blogs

Trending Stories

Don't Miss