5500 block of Richmond Avenue - Welcome to the Twilight Zone!

You're traveling through another dimension - a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's a signpost up ahead: your next stop: Lower Greenville, Dallas Texas.

A City code inspector drives by a house falling down in the DTZ and never hears a board crack. A police officer sees crimes taking place, and never writes a ticket. The streets are just blurs, nothing remaining in your memory longer than it takes for a neuron to pop.

While Lower Greenville in general tends to go in and out of the Twilight Zone, depending on who at City Hall needs bonus points, a notable exception is the 5500 block of Richmond Avenue. Tucked just a block west of Greenville Avenue, most folks don't even know it's there because of the strange dog-leg turn needed to find it.

The street gets a lot of side traffic due to the shopping strip on Greenville, and the fact it doesn't have any stop signs or speed bumps. People speed down the street to avoid the delays on Belmont (signal lights and speed bumps). During the weekend, beer trucks travel at high speeds to make deliveries to the bars - of course, these drivers don't care that 2-ton trucks are prohibited on these little streets.

Zoning hasn't been enforced in years. The City has allowed an apartment to exist on the block [garage duplex in the back and a duplex in the front]. The apartment is still rented out on a regular basis.

Construction and renovations have come and gone, teardowns and fixes have been done - yet almost all of it without permits or inspections. And when someone from the City finally does come out, they usually shrug their shoulders and wonder where that hissing noise is coming from.

We know the City hears the complaints - we have the email replies telling our neighbor that they intend to do something one day and even issue a few (ignored) citations. But nothing ever seems to change.

It does not seem to matter who represents this DTZ street at City Council. And there's the email - a ton of it - to prove that nobody at City Hall even cares to care.

Let's look at some for examples, courtesy of a neighbor who has been fighting City Hall for years, with nothing positive to report.

Let's start with an inventory of issues from June 2000, as recounted by a neighbor whose family has been living on this street for nearly 30 years.

2026 Euclid Ave.

  • Reported that there was no building permit.
  • The house extension is built right on the adjacent property line of 2030 Euclid Ave.
  • The make shift walls are not in code
  • The patched roof is evident there is no inspection being pursued
  • This house looks like something from a third world country's shantytown

5516-5518 Richmond Ave.

  • This house has always been a duplex
  • In 1999 a second completely separate duplex house was built in the back complete with kitchens
  • The property now contains 4 separate families and roommates
  • Due to the over crowding there is always cars parked in the yard and there are no less than 7 vehicles at any one time for this residence

5517 Richmond Ave.

  • The house has not been occupied in 18 years
  • The windows are painted
  • The wood is rotten on the out side
  • The roof needs replacement
  • The backyard is full of brush

5528 Richmond Ave.

  • Again a house that is overcrowded
  • The tenants refuse to obey the parking restrictions set on Richmond Ave. between 6:30 PM and 6:30 AM
  • I have witnessed several public servant cars pass right by these houses and not even stop. While mowing Saturday at 7 PM within an hour, two DPD cars pass the house at without even stopping.

Dear diary ...


6/30/2000 - We know that our houses are zoned for single through our own efforts of acquiring building permits, yet there are several houses that are being used as duplexes There is one house that has a 2100 sf. two story house built behind the existing house, in the backyard.

7/13/2000 - The guy at 5516-5518 Richmond has not won many friends with his neighbors. His construction crews continue to use our backyard as their personal path and parking to his construction site. His structure is less than 3 feet from the property line, and he plans to bulldoze the driveway, and pour a new one right up to the property line, taking about a foot off of the side of our yard (we do not believe their survey flags are correct). Their crew has wrecked our fence.

7/14/2000 - There has been a formal complaint filed through 311 on behalf of the home owners in the area concerning the house at 5516-5518 Richmond that is being used currently as a duplex, but now the owner has intentions of building a loft garage two story apartment in the back yard. The foundation of this structure is 3 feet from each property line, and 20 feet from the alley. The size of the structure is approximately 50'x30', and the home owner says that there will be full living quarters upstairs, and 1/2 living quarters, 1/2 garage downstairs.

7/21/2000 - The foreman of the house under construction ran off with his money, plans and permits, not paying the workers. He was paying for labor, and material separate. The workers are still working, and being paid daily by the owner. He has been red tagged for not displaying his plans, or building permits.

9/22/2000 - I told him before he got started on building a fence I would help him. I offered labor, and some money to help buy the materials. Since his other neighbor wasn't going to help him with anything, it was the least I could do. We never discussed the construction, except he said he built a retaining wall (he dropped the elevation of his yard when he removed the drive, and foundation at the garage). We never discussed cost either. He just started building an 8' high fence all around his yard. He then presented me with a bill for $2,500 and told me it was my half. I told him I was willing to give him $1,500. He then asked for $2000. I said no, $1,500 is all we had budgeted for the fence. His threats have included loud biker-obnoxious-vulgar-language and obscene parties coming from his backyard. Of which he said that we'd gladly pay him the extra $500 to put up the fence. I asked him so what you are wanting is "protection money" and he said kind-of.

9/22/2000 - After a call from him three weeks ago (he started out saying he planned to go to small claims court over the fence), we talked about what he wants to achieve in our relationship as neighbors. I quickly defused his hostilities, and he admitted that the only winners in such a situation are the attorneys. A lot more was said, but basically, he took my original offer of $1,500, and replaced the fence that was taken down over his childishness. I took a tour of the house he is building in the backyard shortly after our conversation. It has a fireplace, and there will be a kitchen. Although it did not have electrical, HVAC, or drywall, the areas were clearly defined by the plumbing walls. He told me the building inspector basically told him, once he got his final building inspection, and a green tag upon completion, he can do whatever he wants to do.

12/4/2000 - He clearly told me that the building inspector said, as long as he doesn't have a stove in the apartment, then he'll pass inspection. He also was told, he could do whatever he wanted to, after he gets his final inspection, and green tag. While the apartment down stairs is wired, and has a vent-a-hood with the stove sitting in the garage itself, it passed his final inspection. The upstairs on the other hand has a fireplace, and kitchen area (at the time I took a tour of the facility, the kitchen upstairs was not complete). What also gets me is that he has told me that he plans to run these apartments from the electrical, and gas lines from the main house. Even though he has built an eight foot fence in the backyard, from our second story window, we can clearly see "yellow hoses" above ground running from the house, along the east side of his fence to the apartments. If this is the case, we've got gas lines that are exposed, above ground, and clearly not in code. This is speculation on my part, however with what he has done so far, we are not surprised.


From the City of Dallas, 6/19/2002 - The correct address is 2026 Euclid. On 6/17/02, a Notice of Violation was issued (in person) to stop construction and obtain permits for the add on. The notice also advised to eliminate the open storage. Reinspection is 7/17/02; 5516-5518 Richmond Ave. The duplex is permitted. An inspection found no evidence of cooking devices or overcrowding. The night inspectors will investigate the cars parking on an unapproved surface.; 5517 Richmond - The structure is vacant and secure. On 6/3/02, a Notice of Violation was issued by certified mail to repair and paint the main structure and to place bulky trash out at the appointed week. The painted window glass is not a code violation. No roof violation could be seen from the right-of-way. Reinspection is 7/3/02

From the City of Dallas 6/19/2002 - I take exception to your remark about the 2026 Euclid address. When I received your e-mail, I sent an inspector to the address the day. We also alerted building inspections and they visited the site also. A written notice and verbal notice to obtain permits was given to the owner, as it was stated the work was being done at night by "mexicans". A few days after that, my inspector obtained a signed notice from the owner to obtain permits. I visited the site on 6/21/02 and talked to the owner. I gave him until 6/25/02 to obtain permits or I will personally issue citations. If permits are not on the system by close of business 6/25/02, I will issue these citations.

Reply to the City of Dallas, 6/25/2002 - I am sorry you took exception, however my records never indicated “Mexicans” [I did say Hispanic which is an accurate statement and should not be construed as an insult to the residence or construction workers] and according to the response sent into the City's web site on 04/22/02 and numerous calls to 311 about the incident it is clear that it did take an email to specific City officials to get a response back. Despite 2026 Euclid having applied, or plans to apply for a building permit, it is clear to me that it has taken almost two months for the City to act or respond. This type of “non-permitted” construction is typical within my neighborhood, which only hurts our property value and also non-code compliant construction to continue.

7/14/2002 - I've called 311 and even gone to the city's web site to report the house down the street at 2026 Euclid and the construction they seem to be doing [it looks as if they are trying to add about 600 sq.ft. to their house right to their neighbor's fence line]. They seem to be trying to hide it behind a make shift fence. There is no building permit in sight, it doesn't appear to be in code and is being built during the weekend and evening hours. I've also reported on the city's web site the house that's abandoned at 5517 Richmond. The yard is in pour shape, the house's roof is in need of replacement, the boards are rotten on the side of the house. There are piles of brush in the backyard. The house hasn't been lived in for over five years. The window glass is painted as if it's a crack house. The people in at 5516-5518 Richmond use the drive to park about four of their 12 cars [yep that's the house with the two story in the backyard]. Can the city look at them and my butthole neighbor that built the apartment in the back of his duplex?


From the City of Dallas 5/14/2003 - They can own hens but not roosters within the City Limits. We will be sending a letter to the violator's address giving them 10 days to remove the rooster from the City. At the same time I will be assigning this to an officer to follow-up in the field. If after the 10 days the animal remains in the City we will begin to issue citations for possession of a prohibited animal I apologize for the waiting period but the City Attorney's office request that we give them a reasonable time to comply with the request to remove the animal before we issue a citations. Most people comply once they are aware of the ordnance.


To the City of Dallas, 7/30/2004 - The house at 5516-18 Richmond Ave is a duplex and the owner who purchased this house three years ago built a second structure in the backyard that is a garage apartment, with living quarters both downstairs and upstairs. It is a long story about how he got approval, passed inspection, even though the structure in the back has fully functioning kitchens in both units. The owner has since purchased another property and has duplicated what he has done at 5516-18 Richmond.

The house or houses are currently occupied by 10 or more young adults.
The vehicles and recreation vehicles are parked throughout the neighborhood because the driveway is overflowing with cars. One of the tenants recently purchased a recreation boat where he uses it on the weekends, and parks it next to my house during the week. The other vehicles are also parked along side my house and the tenants, despite asking them to use the sidewalk will cut across our yard to the duplex.

7/13/2004 - The house at 5532 Richmond had a wild party last weekend. The police came and actually towed some cars away that were parked on the side where the No Parking signs are. They argued for hours, but the wreckers prevailed and took the cars. The occupants of the house then took a truck and took out the sign in front of their house. The then defaced another No Parking sign with a black marker.

To the City of Dallas, 6/13/2004 - It has been over 3 months since you sent me this reply stating that you were going to take appropriate action. It has also been over 5 years since I mentioned to city hall that the property at 5516-18 Richmond Ave had a duplex up front and a duplex in the back [garage apartment upper and lower level] and essentially is being operated as an apartment complex or 4-plex. Right now the property has two lease signs in the yard, and has one tenant in the 600 square feet lower level garage apartment. This street is zoned single family living isn't it?

10/27/2004 - Well, the problem neighbor will be no more. If you recall, he's been a slum lord, owning a property in Kessler Park, the house next door and two over on Hudson. He was strapped for cash and owed money on all houses. The bank was going to foreclose on all of the houses, so he pooled his resources and paid 90 days for the two houses on Hudson, letting the bank seize the house next door and on Hudson. The renters have been transient and are moving out this weekend.


8/10/2005 - The house @ 5517 Richmond has been vacant for almost 20 years. We were glad to see the sign in the yard go up and the renovations begin, but the group renovating the house has left the site, and haven't been back in over 3 months. The house is in worse shape than before the renovations, and the new roof only has tar paper on, it lacks shingles, and with the rain we've had recently, the inside is getting as wet as the outside.


3/26/2006- The house at 5517 Richmond has been abandoned. The builder left 9 months ago and the roof is exposed plywood. The city 311 was called on 01/15/06 but 3 months later, nothing has been done. The house had not been lived in for over 15 years. Then a builder came in and bought it. Last year he took it down to just the walls and then built a garage and completely reframed the roof. He only added tar paper to the plywood, and then hasn't touched the house since July of 2005.

We called the city in January using 311 because the door had been wide open for weeks. We reported the roof at that time too. As you can see, it is now in the same condition as before, or worse. The house to the left of this house has that two-story structure in the backyard. The young man that lived in the back is on the run after being arrested for selling drugs. All I know is his name is Rocky and he has been seen at the house in the past few weeks, coming and going from the back.

By Avi S. Adelman under Neighborhoods , Dallas City Hall