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Crime Prevention Alert
Posted on May 1st, 2024
Re-posted from Fall, 2023
From Sheriff Javier Salazar, Bexar County Sheriff’s Office
Everybody loves to post pictures like this from vacation, and why not? You work hard and you absolutely deserve some time off. The problem is you don't want to advertise to the world you are out of town and your home is unprotected. Believe it or not, criminals can and do monitor your social media. "We are having a great time in Paradise for the next few days!", is like blood in the water for criminals.
If you do go out of town, here are some tips.
    •  Keep it quiet! Don't tell anybody outside your most trusted inner circle. Save the vacation pics until you return.
    •  The best bet is to make it look like your home is currently occupied. Have a trusted friend/neighbor/relative come to check on your place at least daily. They can turn different lights on or off. They can also leave a TV or music on at different times. If there is no car left in your driveway, ask your trusted friend to park an extra car there at your home from time to time.
    •  If you receive the newspaper, pause your delivery, and also pause your mail delivery. Try not to have packages delivered in your absence. Have your trusted friend remove any newspapers, packages, handbills, or flyers from your door every morning. Posting flyers is actually a common way for burglars to check if people are home. If they place a flyer on your door and it's still there several days later, they know there's a chance nobody is home.
    •  Be mindful of trash pickup. Make sure your trash cans are not left out by the curb.
    •  Have someone try to keep up with lawn maintenance if your absence is extended. Again, DO NOT tell any landscaping companies you will be out of town.
    •  Make sure all doors are locked, and alarms are constantly set. Security cameras on all sides of the home are a must. Security lighting on the perimeter of your home should be turned on/off daily by your trusted friend or set on timers. Constantly leaving lights on your outside perimeter could be a signal to potential burglars that nobody is home.
    •  It's also a good idea to not leave valuables inside the home. Jewelry and large sums of cash should be in a safety deposit box at your local bank. Firearms should be removed from the home and kept somewhere safe until your return.
    •  If your home is currently on the market, pause any showings for the duration of the time you'll be out of town. Not every potential buyer who asks for a walk-through of your home is an actual buyer! Also, you don't have to tell your real estate company why you're pausing showings—just that you don't want showings for a certain time period.
    •  Call your local law enforcement agency to ask that a patrol drive by on your residence. They will ask who should be there, which cars will be in the driveway, and dates of departure and return. They will then send a patrol officer or deputy to go by the house daily. The BCSO non-emergency number is 210-335-6000. SAPD is 210-207-7273.
Fire Risk Prevention and our Conservation Easement
Posted on Mar 5th, 2024
     We continue to be in a severe drought and wildfires burning in west Texas and California are reminders that fire prevention and safety is everyone’s responsibility. The How to Prepare Your Home For Wildfire Fact Sheet from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a useful review for every homeowner. Excepts copied below.
Immediate zone
The home and the area 0-5’ from the furthest attached exterior point of the home; defined as a non-combustible area. Science tells us this is the most important zone to take immediate action on as it is the most vulnerable to embers. START WITH THE HOUSE ITSELF then move into the landscaping section of the Immediate Zone.
  · Clean roofs and gutters of dead leaves, debris and pine needles that could catch embers.
  · Replace or repair any loose or missing shingles or roof tiles to prevent ember penetration.
  · Reduce embers that could pass through vents in the eaves by installing 1/8 inch metal mesh screening.
  · Clean debris from exterior attic vents and install 1/8 inch metal mesh screening to reduce embers.
  · Repair or replace damaged or loose window screens and any broken windows Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating.
  · Move any flammable material away from wall exteriors – mulch, flammable plants, leaves and needles, firewood piles – anything that can burn. Remove anything stored underneath decks or porches. 
Intermediate zone
5-30’ from the furthest exterior point of the home. Landscaping/hardscaping- employing careful landscaping or creating breaks that can help influence and decrease fire behavior
  · Clear vegetation from under large stationary propane tanks.
  · Create fuel breaks with driveways, walkways/paths, patios, and decks.
  · Keep lawns and native grasses mowed to a height of four inches.
  · Remove ladder fuels (vegetation under trees) so a surface fire cannot reach the crowns.  Prune trees up to six to ten feet from the ground; for shorter trees do not exceed 1/3 of the overall tree height.
  · Space trees to have a minimum of eighteen feet between crowns with the distance increasing with the percentage of slope.
  · Tree placement should be planned to ensure the mature canopy is no closer than ten feet to the edge of the structure.
  · Tree and shrubs in this zone should be limited to small clusters of a few each to break up the continuity of the vegetation across the landscape.
Extended zone
30-100 feet, out to 200 feet. Landscaping – the goal here is not to eliminate fire but to interrupt fire’s path and keep flames smaller and on the ground.
· Dispose of heavy accumulations of ground litter/debris.
· Remove dead plant and tree material.
· Remove small conifers growing between mature trees.
· Remove vegetation adjacent to storage sheds or other outbuildings within this area.
· Trees 30 to 60 feet from the home should have at least 12 feet between canopy tops.*
· Trees 60 to 100 feet from the home should have at least 6 feet between the canopy tops.
     Our community has a conservation easement, overseen by the Texas Land Conservancy, which protects the land from development and includes restrictive covenants that prohibit removal, destruction, or cutting of trees (except Chinese privet and other exotic plants), spraying with biocides, or disturbing or changing the natural habitat. The covenants specifically include limiting cutting or clearing of vegetation. Guidance from the Texas Land Conservancy stipulates that general clearing of brush from the land changes the natural habitat and is not permitted, and any/all changes within the protected land must be approved in advance. These limitations have raised questions about fire risk associated with the conservancy easement.
From the Texas Land Conservancy: Property Owners adjacent to the conservation easement with questions or concerns about management of the land in the easement may submit questions or request approval of a plan for a specific area along the shared boundary where they would like to thin cedar and possibly dead brush. The plans should be based on firewise or similar protocol for justification.
     Property owners adjacent to our conservation easement may trim limbs that overhang a wall or fence into a homeowner’s property and remove it as waste without seeking permission. Property owners who want to clear any vegetation along the shared boundary should submit a plan to the HOA for review by the Texas Land Conservancy. A description of the proposed vegetation to be removed would be good, but marked photos of the proposed work would be better. If maintenance is approved, a Stewardship Committee will conduct or supervise the maintenance. Any work that might be approved should be very limited, such that a homeowner or single helper could accomplish it easily.