“It is unsafe” Two-story house in affluent neighborhood at-risk of demolition order by city commission

El Paso News

Courtesy of the city of El Paso

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Inspectors deemed a two-story home and pool belonging to owners of properties in an affluent neighborhood unfit for habitation after members of a homeowner’s association complained of the properties’ condition.

The properties are owned by Jose and Irma Fong who the city repeatedly reached out to to address growing concerns of the home’s condition on Bronze Crest Lane. Jose Fong is listed as an owner of the property that houses Buck’s Cabaret in East El Paso.

The neighborhood is part of a gated community that overlooks the city near Scenic Drive.

Courtesy of the city of El Paso

On Wednesday, five members of the Building and Standards Commission, at first, voted unanimously to request demolition of the home within 30 days at the recommendation of Tony De La Cruz, the city senior plans examiner. At issue, was the failing of a wall on the property that impacted the house altogether.

Later, after hearing comments from Jose Fong, they ordered he have an engineer draw a plan to restructure the failing wall at the home or demolish the property within 30 days.

They also voted to order Jose Fong to demolish a failing pool near the home that was built close to a cliff within 30 days.

Lillian Crouch, whose property neighbors the Fongs’ properties, told the commission there have been concerns about the condition of the home and pool by the Sierra Crest Homeowners Association.

“It is just an eyesore. It’s unsafe. And, we have children that live on that street, on Bronze Crest and they like to ride their bikes and things up there,” she said. “I agree with the recommendation by the city. And, the sooner you can do it, the better.”

Inspectors told the commission they’d never gotten into communication with both of the Fong’s but got in touch with their daughter Erica Cadena through email and text message. A notice was sent to Buck’s Cabaret to notify Jose Fong about the commission’s meeting on Wednesday.

De La Cruz said if Fong did not meet the requirements by the commission’s vote, they could assess civil fines against him.

Jose Fong and Mayela Mejia during Wednesday’s building and standards commission meeting. / Courtesy of the city of El Paso

Jose Fong and Mayela Mejia attended the meeting to address some of the concerns the commission had. Mejia said a fence had been placed around the lot and claimed that a previous city inspector that a wall inside the structure was well built.

But De La Cruz pointed that the inspector’s remarks came before the wall collapsed. He also mentioned a wall inside of the home had not yet fallen apart when he spoke with Fong in January.

Inspectors for the city said Fong’s pool is considered an accessory structure under city code, and requires a main structure to compliment it in order to stay. And, inspectors said he was advised not to build the pool but built it anyway.

Photo courtesy of the city of El Paso

Mejia claimed Jose Fong did not receive notification about the meeting because he had sold the property where the cabaret is.

“Part of the reason and issue that Mr. Fong has had is because of his ex-wife’s property. So, that affected him,” Mejia said. “Because of the rain, that had a lot to do with it.”

Mejia, who spoke on Fong’s behalf, said floods from earlier in the year and the failing structure nearby caused the erosion where his property began.

Alejandro Lozano, an advisor who also spoke on Fong’s behalf, said there is an interest in reinforcing the buildings so they do not continue to degrade.

Mejia also said that Fong has not been able to remedy the buildings’ walls because of the pandemic and getting labor to finish the work has been scarce.

Courtesy of the city of El Paso

Irma Fong purchased the property at 16 Bronze Crest Lane in 2018, according to the El Paso Central Appraisal District’s records. Jose Fong bought the lot next to the home where the pool was being built around the same time, records show.

The home was first owned by the couple’s daughter Erica, according to the appraisal district’s records and was bought by an Adrian Porras. He owned the house for seven years before Irma Fong purchased it.

In its condition, the appraisal district still values the property at $458,669.

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