Debris and trash can take a toll on quality of life and the spirit of a neighborhood. Wouldn’t it be great if there were someone you could call or report these nuisances to? A team that could help us keep our neighborhoods and community free of the blight if and when the city Solid Waste and Department or Neighborhoods don’t?
The City Council District F Hot Spot Team does all that and more.
The Hot Spot Team program was the brainchild of Jerry Davis, the Houston District B council member from 2012-2020, to address illegal dumping that was out of control. He urged other council members to use their district funds to create Hot Spot Teams that could focus on those recurring trouble spots.
But only recently did District F, including the International Management District area, have the additional help of a Hot Spot Team. According to City of Houston District F Council Member Tiffany D. Thomas, “I really felt that our District needed a Hot Spot Team. The team is funded through our own district F funds.”
“Frankly,” according to the Thomas, “the city currently just doesn’t have the infrastructure to keep up, but we are working on it with programs and resources like the Hot Spot Team.”
The Hot Spot Team is a supervisor and two other workers. These public servants work part-time — each member has an additional full time occupation — and work diligently, doing the work of many. The debris they remove is often from illegal dumping. They also remove those pesky bandit signs —sometimes 300 hundred a week — everything from “we buy houses” to “work from home” ads.
In other areas, unauthorized placement of stickers on street signs have become a problem.
“We understand the need for area businesses to advertise but these signs are against city ordinance,” Thomas said.
The Hot Spot Team, made up of people with ties to the community, even goes beyond cleanups. They have helped senior citizens and people with disabilities with assistance on projects such as landscaping. They are also tasked with maintaining land easements.
Cleanups go behind discarded tires and mattresses. Sometimes the problems are caused by business clean-ups and objects unloaded by tractor-trailer rigs. The workers walk the neighborhoods and use signs to announce their presence.
‘“The priority is addressing the issues and violations as quickly as possible. We can figure out the long-term solutions, but this provides a way to address the issue quickly. We will talk about how we can move forward in repairing the problems long-term. This is short term but in the interim, it is about action,” Thomas stated.
Other hot spots include abandoned cars, landscaping materials, and building materials. The team alerts the Houston Police Department so citations and fines can be issued. Crime Stoppers of Houston offers a $5,000 reward for information leading to charges against illegal dumpers.
The team welcomes donations from community partners to keep the work going and volunteers for cleanups and landscaping work. The team recently worked with grant funding that allowed then mow lawns in the summer for elderly homeowners. The team is always looking for outside funding to expand its work.
According to the District F 2021 Annual Report, the Hot Spot Team accomplished the following last year:
- Total Work Orders Completed: 466
- Total Hours Worked: 3,312 hours
- Tree Waste: 15,110 lbs.
- Mattresses: 125
- Furniture Waste: 253 pieces
- Tires: 563
- Trash Debris: 26,220 lbs.
- Shopping Carts: 175
- Bandit Signs: 6,786
- Landscaping: 30,000 sq. ft.
District F residents can report issues by calling the city at 3-1-1 or sending an e-mail to the Hot Team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Individuals or businesses look to provide additional funding or receive additional information should write to email@example.com.
— By Jessika Leal