Neighbors battle over historical district designation

March 14, 2011 4:53:14 PM PDT
There is more fallout from efforts to designate Glenbrook Valley as a historic district. The League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, is investigating allegations of possible civil rights violations during the designation process. For Leticia Ablaza, her goal is clear.

"I want the will of the neighborhood to be respected," said Ablaza.

She claims the Glenbrook Valley Civic Group is forcing an historic neighborhood designation and shows us petitions she claims were forged.

"This is what's on the petition and this is what's on the retraction. Two different signatures and she swears she didn't sign this and she showed me her driver's license to show this is not her signature," said Ablaza.

The woman's name on the petition is Van Tran. She was not at home, but spoke to us by phone.

"I didn't sign the petition, my name was forged," Tran told us over the phone.

When we asked her if she remembered anyone coming to her house to sign a petition, Tran replied, "No, I was working at the time and not at home."

Jason Frankel helped to gather the petitions and says the Glenbrook Valley Civic Group stands by the signatures.

"The signatures were gathered, they were gone over, they were certified, the history of the homes were backed up to see if those people were the owners and as far as an investigation into civil rights, I don't see where any rights were violated," said Frankel.

An historic designation, says Frankel, would preserve the look of the neighborhood and keep the mid-century modern style architecture intact. The civic group gathered 51 percent of the signatures of their neighbors.

However, Secundino Vazquez is one of 240 neighbors who have signed a retraction. Vazquez says he doesn't read English and initially signed the petition without understanding.

"Because we trusted the neighbor and I've known the neighbor since 1994 and I thought it was going to be good for all," said Vazquez.

LULAC is now investigating whether civil rights were violated.

"They weren't explained exactly what it meant to be in an historical district. The information they said was given to them in Spanish, but didn't fully explain everything," said Herlinda Garcia of LULAC.

The US Department of Justice and the Texas Attorney General's Office are working with LULAC on the investigation. They have asked that City Council delay any vote until the investigation can be completed.