Resident, Houston at odds over city's annual fees


It was a letter she wasn't expecting and while she questions the city's timing, it may just be a big coincidence. Either way, there are important details anyone who gets the same violation notice should know.

Lisa Shelton says she complained to the city in an email. She sent it to the mayor and to several council members. That same day, she was unaware the city was drafting its own letter to her.

For close to 10 years, Cornell Morton and his wife, Shelton, have lived in their Houston home. And not until now have they had their address on their house.

Morton is affixing the numbers because on Wednesday night his wife got a letter from the city of Houston telling her that she was in violation of city ordinance 10-217A for not having visible numbers on her house.

"My neighborhood is full of homes that don't have numbers on the house," Shelton said.

What bothers them so much is that the letter is dated December 15 -- the same day Shelton wrote an email to the city complaining about new fees. The email read, "The city services and expenses need to be reduced, not increase costs to the citizens. The entire country has had to learn to live on less, the city government needs to do the same."

"It seems an outrageous coincidence that because I voice opinion to my city government that I'm being targeted. It's harrassing. It's kind of an outrageous allegation, but it is a strange coincidence," said Shelton.

She did get a kind response from Mayor Annise Parker, but still she wondered about the violation and why on the notice it appears to indicate she needs two permits to fix the error. The city told us, however, that the notice is confusing but that no permits are needed-

"The form actually has footnote numbers, and so if there is a violation that matches that footnote number by that number it'll have that number," said Montecella Flaniken with the city of Houston.

The city also says that while the violation could carry a fine, they almost never levy one.

"So there's no money involved," Flaniken said.

The city says it was asked by Shelton's neighborhood civic club to check the neighborhood in general for various violations. They say she was not singled out.

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